This week, I’ve been listening to mostly albums from 2018 I did not get to last year as I continue to work through my To Listen To playlist on Spotify. I’m only 1 1/2 years behind on it. If you think that is bad, you should see my stack of books.
So, here are this week’s five new(ish) songs worth listening too, mostly from the spring of 2018.
My favorite album of this week’s listening was easily Red Shahan, who I’m pretty sure one of the old IHSS guys turned me onto a few years ago. This one is off last year’s Culberson County, which I wrote a short piece on earlier in the week. I’m a sucker for the charged up, small town, poor but dangerous portrait painted in this song. It’s the kind of music that makes you want to read Winter Bone or something from Elmore Leonard again. This whole album is a soundscape worth exploring.
Old Crow Medicine Show–Dixie Avenue
OCMS continues to kick along, putting out fun bluegrass. They have made some band changes, and added some electric guitar on their 2018 album, Volunteer, their sixth studio album. It was their first use of electric since Dave Rawlings played on a little-play diddy called Wagon Wheel. That guitar on this album, paints the corners and is used sparingly, except for on Dixie Avenue. A lot of bluegrass bands going electric could easily screw it up, but OCMS pulls it off nicely on this one. This album was produced by Dave Cobb, who is doing the best music of the last five years. This one is an ode to the place where Ketch Decor and Critter Fuqua hailed.
I have yet to make it to an Old Crow Medicine Show concert, although I did get to see them back Gillian Welch and Dave Rawlings at the last Levon Ramble at the Ryman before Levon passed.
Charley Crockett–How Long Will I Last
Texas-native Charley Crockett was a festival discovery for me a couple years ago. Charley is a descendant of Davy Crockett. Charley has roamed, from Texas to Louisiana to New York to California. He combines that Texas swing with some cajun and blues, and makes it work. He blends the French Quarter with the Deep Ellum. But singing a song called How Long Will I Last is especially poignant for a guy who just found out he has a congenital heart condition and has mad aortic valve flaps fused together.
Brothers Osborne–Weed, Whiskey and Willie
Brothers Osborne are one of those acts that walks the line between what I consider my kind of country and what I don’t. I was told once that in pop country, they drink because they want to; in real country, they drink because they have too. I love that description. These guys generally fall somewhere in the middle. They are also a frequent writing partner of Thompsonville, IL’s Kendall Marvel, who also writes with Chris Stapleton a lot. So, some street cred in their favor there. This is a live, spare version of this one. Like I have covered before, I prefer the spare sound more often than not, which usually explains my love affair with Dave Cobb.
Just don't take my smoke, my jug of brown liquor or my country music
I've got bottles and vinyl stacked to the ceilin'
I get stoned for survival, it helps with the healin'
And when it all goes to hell the only thing I believe in
Is weed, whiskey, and Willie
Willie Nelson–Last Man Standing
Speaking of Willie, he put out another album last year called Last Man Standing. It is kind of depressing, as Willie largely takes stock in the end being near, and contemplating on all the people he has lost along the way. This one is the title track. Willie is near the top of my “need to see live” list, because I know he doesn’t have many years left. From listening to this album, Willie knows that too.