The great country songwriter Curly Putman is dead. He wrote such hits as “The Green, Green Grass of Home,” “D.I.V.O.R.C.E” “Dumb Blonde” and “He Stopped Loving Her Today.” Pretty amazing writer.
In the world of music and work, the Fort Worth Symphony is on strike. These aren’t unions we think about much so the politics behind it is pretty interesting.
The Country Music Awards basically always suck, but at least this year it tried to be interesting by pairing up Beyonce with The Dixie Chicks. The response of right-wing trolls was to be expected. Sadly, the CMAs didn’t seem to anticipate this and responded by stripping the performance from the internet. That is not the right reaction, especially for a musical establishment that has never exactly been in the forefront of fighting racism. The show is defending itself by claiming it is just getting rid of a promo in there, but that doesn’t quite past the smell test.
I saw Ryley Walker last week at the Columbus Theater in Providence. I have his Primose Green album and while I can’t say it’s a true favorite, I thought, he’s a pretty good guitarist and so the show will be worth a few bucks. In fact, the band was really cracker jack and I enjoyed the hell out of that show. One of the big surprises I’ve seen live lately. Check him out if he’s around.
Kate Tempest, Let Them Eat Chaos
The new Kate Tempest builds on the strengths of her brilliant first album–a style that punches you in the gut with lyrics that rivet your attention. Both albums are thematic. Everybody Down was a relationship story about a low-level drug dealer. Let Them Eat Chaos takes a neighborhood full of insomniacs as its topic, binding together individual stories of desperation and anger, such as the character between Europe is Dead, an angry Brexit voter. What a talent.
Desert Mountain Tribe, Either That or the Moon
An interesting jam band with a pretty good rock sound. Lyrics are pretty iffy. Sound nears bombastic, which I don’t actually mind, but it might be a bit much for some. Good for the jam band circuit. Probably not something I am going to listen to much going forward.
God Don’t Never Change: The Songs of Blind Willie Johnson
Like most tribute albums (the great tribute to Johnny Paycheck, near perfect except for the unfortunate inclusion of Hank III, excepting), this a mixed bag. Tom Waits does 2 songs. Great. Lucinda Williams does 2 more. Also very good, a rare instance in the last 10 years of her doing something worthwhile. The rest of album is a big shrug of fairly predictable people doing predictable versions of the songs. Rickie Lee Jones, Maria McKee, and Susan Tedeschi all add up to old white people music. Given that’s the target audience, good for it. None of it is bad. The Waits and Williams make it even almost good.
I thought the new Rhianna was pretty outstanding. An album about getting high and partying, a subject hardly new to pop music, sounds cliched. And of course it could be. But like love or sex, these topics never truly get tiresome in the right hands. And these are the right hands for an album filled with great hooks and edgy lyrics. She isn’t changing the world here. Instead, she is just putting out a real solid album.
On a non-musical note, this is a good place to thank Patricia for finding my Amazon Wish List and sending me the new Library of America collection of Albert Murray’s nonfiction writing. I really appreciate it when someone does this. Makes the writing worthwhile.
As always, this is an open thread for all things music or anything else except for politics.