Tag Archives: Emmylou Harris

Album Review: Sons of the Palomino (self-titled)

Rating: 7/10

Before I get too in-depth about this album, I would like to talk about what Sons of the Palomino are trying to do here. With this album, the band tries to recapture an era and a feel, that of the Palomino, a club where classic country stars played during the 80s and 90s. Megan told me I should read the band’s biography before listening to the album, and though I would have liked it anyway given how country the material is, I’m glad I knew all of the information about the band’s goals going in. It helps give the album a special feel.

As for the album itself, I did not love the whole thing. There were songs that I felt were too sleepy for my taste, like “Old Roads and Lost Highways”. Then, the album had a couple songs which I did not connect to emotionally, like “Whiskey Years”. I should have liked the latter more than I did, as it tells the tale of a man looking forward to the day where he can be sober and not have to drink his pain away.

For all of the lackluster moments on this album, though, I felt a real love for the instrumentation. Even on songs I did not care for, I always loved the actual musicianship. The steel guitar, fiddle, piano…it all goes back to the days of an older style of country. It’s a style that I personally gravitate toward, so even when I was ambivalent about the actual lyrics, I always liked the instrumentation.

With all of the things I didn’t personally get into about this album out of the way, let’s talk about the good stuff. The first track, “Runnin’ Around,” is what convinced me I needed to hear what this band were selling. It’s a mid-tempo country song about a man who knows his girlfriend is cheating, and how he won’t be there when she comes looking for him. Done a million times? Sure, but this band makes it fun, and again. The instrumentation here is stellar. The next song, “Authentic,” brings in something else unique about this album. At various points, there are featured guest stars singing in parts of the song. Well, the band certainly couldn’t get more “Authentic” than John Anderson, and let me tell you. Hearing him on this track was awesome. The actual lyrics tell of being real and true to yourself, and not trying to be some fake version of country. In the days of pop country, and many people not knowing what country really is, this song is a must-listen. “Countryholic” is pretty hilarious, as the song discusses a man who just loves Waylon and Willie, steel guitar, and boots. It’s a bit cliché, but I chuckled a few times.

I liked the slower and more feeling-driven “Outta This Town”. It’s all about a man who can’t seem to leave his hometown. The planes never stop there, the train never makes a trip to the town, and he gets a woman pregnant and marries her. Thus, he’s stuck in the town. This one features Emmylou Harris on backing vocals, and I thought it made a nice change from all the faster songs. As much as I’m bored of all the drinking songs in today’s mainstream country scene, “Hole In The Wall” was an easy listen. I didn’t love it, but it was pleasant enough. The lyrics revolve around wanting to find a little bar with cold beer, a small dance floor, and a jukebox. I just liked the instrumentation, the lyrics, and everything combined to make this an enjoyable, if not completely amazing, song. My favorite emotional song is definitely “Unbroken People”. It’s all about feeling the pain of losing loved ones, but leaning on platitudes people say like “everything will be okay,” or “you’re gonna make it.”. This was the song that really resonated with me emotionally, where most of the others failed to do so. Finally, there’s “Used to be a Country Town”. I loved Gretchen Wilson’s part of the song, and it really just made me want to go listen to more of her music. The song itself is all about how they used to party in a town that used to be country. They wasted their money, but they had fun doing it.

Overall, I liked this album. The guest stars featured made it really unique. There were some I actually missed until I later went back and looked at who was featured. I did not catch Vince Gill or Jamey Johnson. The musicians did a wonderful job at bringing back the sounds of 80s and 90s country, too. I love good piano, fiddle and steel guitar, and I got all three of those in spades. Lastly, I must talk about the skills of the lead singer. Jeffrey Steele has quite the vocal range. When I was first listening to this album, I thought there were more guest stars than the site of the Sons of the Palomino alludes to. In fact, it’s just that Steele can sing in both very low and very high registers. It’s pretty awesome stuff. I think if you like the 80s and 90s era of country music, you are doing yourself a disservice by not checking this album out. The instrumentation is great, there are some really well-done songs here, and seeing names like John Anderson’s on a contemporary project like this is really cool.

Buy the Album on Amazon

Female Fridays: Featuring Jamie Lin Wilson

Someone said they’d like me to do a feature on Jamie Lin Wilson, and that day has come. I am excited to feature Jamie on this Female Friday.

How You Might Know Jamie

Much like her friend Courtney Patton, whom I covered two weeks ago, you might not know Jamie Lin Wilson if you aren’t familiar with the Texas scene. If you are, she’s a member of the Texas-based group The Trishas. She can often also be found singing with Courtney.

Bio

From a 2014 article by The Daily Country, on the influences for her debut album,

The type of music she likes to make is, she says, influenced by “the greats” — Emmylou Harris, Kris Kristofferson, Guy Clark, Townes van Zandt, John Prine, Rodney Crowell and Tom T. Hall. But it’s equally inspired by those friends and contemporaries, including the Trishas and song-swap pals like [Courtney] Patton,Drew Kennedy and Owen Temple. “Their style creeps into my style and vice versa,” she says. “I love that. We’re a little team.”

From an interview with Newslang on her style of songwriting:

The song I wrote with Jason [Eady] and Adam [Hood], we started with a photo. I sent this picture of an old abandoned house in Yancey. The yard is overgrown and the windows are broken. It hasn’t been lived in for a very long time. There was a chair on the porch facing out that had been there ever since the last people moved out. They left this chair on the porch. I took a picture of that and sent it to them saying that there was a song in this picture and we needed to write it. That was one of the easiest co-writes because we all had the same image. Half of co-writing is trying to get that same image in your head. We figured out that was a great way to co-write.

Jamie Lin Wilson has gained a great reputation in the Texas scene as a singer and songwriter. However, for many years, she was simply a collaborator on other projects. Her career began fifteen years ago while she was in college; she was simply inspired by the sight of Natalie Maines, the former lead singer of the Dixie Chicks, singing and playing guitar. Shortly after this, Jamie started a band called the Sidehill Gougers (later known only as the Gougers) and began writing songs. She released a solo EP in 2010 called Dirty Blonde Hair and made a name for herself as a member of the Texas-based female group the Trishas. During a Trishas hiatus, Jamie Lin Wilson finally took time out of her life–which by this time included a marriage and three children–to record her first full-length solo record. Holidays & Wedding Rings, released on May 19th, 2015, has been met with much-deserved praise and appreciation. Finally, people everywhere are being exposed to one of Texas country’s best-kept secrets.

Why Jamie Belongs on Country Radio

Her case is similar to Courtney’s; as I said with Courtney, I am not going to spend time explaining why independent/Americana/Texas artists deserve to be treated fairly in the mainstream. This is a headache-inducing topic that can only be improved through sources such as Saving Country Music, Country Perspective, and this site that give these artists an equal playing field and hopefully more fans. This post, however, is about Jamie, and what she brings to country music in general. Well, firstly, and I don’t know why I have to keep writing this sentence on these features, she’s country! This should need no further explanation. She has relatable, real-life experience in her songs–you don’t have to have partied in every cornfield and club in the South to relate to her lyrics. Similar to Courtney’s, her songwriting tells the stories of real people in real-life situations. Like Lindi Ortega’s, Jamie Lin Wilson’s voice is unique. Blake Shelton would say, if somehow she were ever able to stand before him on The Voice, “There’s no one quite like you in country music right now.” Well, Blake, this is because mainstream Nashville doesn’t want originality, and that’s what Jamie has to offer.

Tracks I Recommend

Most Jamie Lin Wilson apologists will say I shouldn’t pick apart Holidays & Wedding Rings, and indeed it is a great album. These are just personal favorites.

1. “Just Some Things” (featuring Wade Bowen)–Holidays & Wedding Rings
2. “Whisper on my Skin”–Holidays & Wedding Rings
3. “Here Tonight”–Holidays & Wedding Rings
4. “She’ll Take Tonight”–Holidays & Wedding Rings
5. “You Left my Chair”–Holidays & Wedding Rings [this is the song written with Jason Eady and Adam Hood]

Listen to Holidays & Wedding Rings

Finally, I was told to check out Jamie’s videos with the Southern Gospel Revival, and all of you should too.

Album Review: Lindi Ortega–Faded Gloryville

Rating: 8/10

As mentioned in Female Fridays, Faded Gloryville is Lindi Ortega’s fourth album for Last Gang Records. She brought in producer Dave Cobb from 2013’s Tin Star, as well as Colin Linden from 2012’s Cigarettes and Truckstops. Dave Cobb seems to be on a roll–he worked on Jason Isbell’s Something More Than Free as well. Lindi experimented with “a more Muscle Shoals sound,” for which she got help with Ben Tanner of Alabama Shakes and John Paul White of The Civil Wars. The result is the most soulful album of her career to date.

The album opens with “Ashes,” which is also my favorite track. Basically, the premise is that she was once in love, but now the fire has burned out, and he has left her with “these cold, dark ashes.” Lindi’s voice soars through this song, singing, “Darling, this is madness, why don’t you come back to me? Don’t leave me in the ashes of your memory.” The title track is similar to “Tin Star” and is an ode to the disillusioned dreamers who feel like there is no hope left. However, unlike “Tin Star,” which was only for musicians, this feels more universal. It is a theme that I feel Ortega uses too often, but this is still a good song, and I prefer it to “Tin Star.”

“Tell it Like it Is,” takes a more bluesy, soulful approach. Lindi is trying to persuade a man to stop pretending and “tell it like it is.” It’s a more interesting version of Clare Dunn’s “Move On.” Next is “Someday Soon,” which is one of the more relatable songs on the album. Lindi says she’s been “spending all my nights on someone that just ain’t right” and looks forward to a day “someday soon” when she can move on from her disappointing life. This is another song that stood out for me and will hit different people in different ways. Lindi then does a cover of “To Love Somebody,” and although it is unique, I prefer the original. Some people will probably love it, I am just not one of them. It was released ahead of the album, and it was the only song I heard beforehand that I didn’t like. I haven’t warmed up to it much.

“When You Ain’t Home” is an upbeat song ironically about the narrator feeling lonely while her lover is away. I said before that I hear Dolly Parton, Stevie Nicks, and Emmylou Harris in Lindi’s voice, depending on the song, but never have I heard so much soul in her voice. I can’t think of anyone to compare her to, and while it sounds less country, it makes her sound even more like just Lindi. This side of her adds to the individuality that she so obviously prizes. I can’t say I love this song, but I do love what it brings out in her.

“Rundown Neighborhood,” is a lighthearted track about two friends who look out for each other in a bad neighborhood. They are “bad for each other,” but that’s all right because they will always have each other’s backs. Among other things, they share whiskey, rum, cigarettes, and weed. Next is “I Ain’t the Girl,” a relatable song in which Lindi tells a guy she’s not the girl for him because he’s too straight-laced. She likes “long-haired guys” who are “rugged with tattoos,” and he wears a suit and tie. It’s a fun song, but it speaks to many people who feel like they are with the wrong match. As a girl who doesn’t like pretty boys like the one she seems to be describing, I am a little biased toward this song.

In “Run Amok,” Lindi pours out her frustration with someone who is doing “every crazy drug,” alcohol, etc. It’s upbeat and catchy, but a line still caught my attention–“When you run with the devil you burn everything you tuch, bridges and money and everyone you love.” In the end, she finally gives up and decides, “I’ll just let you run amok.” The album slows down to close with “Half Moon,” a thought-provoking ballad. This is actually one of my favorite songs on Faded Gloryville, but I was surprised that I enjoyed it because it is one of those that has to be heard to appreciate. She compares people–or at least herself–to “Half moons hanging in the sky,” with something to hide, but still shining some light. This is probably the most country song on the album, and the mystery in her voice fits the lyrics very well.

All in all, this is my favorite Lindi Ortega album as a whole. Some people will not like it as much as her previous material because of the more soulful songs, but I think this is more in her wheelhouse. This is also a better mix of ballads and upbeat songs, as well as a better balance of lighthearted and dark material. Faded Gloryville is a solid album and one that I would recommend, especially for people who have just been introduced to her work.

Listen to Album

Female Fridays: Featuring Lindi Ortega

Her new album, Faded Gloryville, is available today, (expect a review shortly), so today the Female Friday spotlight is on Lindi Ortega.

How You Might Know Lindi

If you watch ABC’s Nashville, you may have heard Lindi–she has had several song placements on the show. (Interesting that a TV show would help promote her, but radio won’t…)

Bio

From a 2013 interview with
Saving Country Music
in reference to her motivation to make music that might not have mass commercial appeal

But my motivation comes from my influences, and people that have stuck to their guns. I read a lot of biographies. If there is one thing I can respect more than anything, it’s individuality in music. And I think back in the early era of country music that was so apparent. Like you could really tell your Johnny Cash from your Waylons from your Merles. They all had a distinct thing happening. And they were all really great at what they did. It was really important for me to etch out my own thing as a student of that.

From one listen to Lindi Ortega, I can tell she means every word she says. She easily has the most unique female voice in country music today.

Lindi Ortega (born May 28, 1980, from Toronto, Ontario), wrote her first song, “Faded Dress” at the age of seventeen. She spent many hard years in the Toronto music scene, where she gained the nickname “Indie Lindi.” Her struggles as an artist, as well as the universal struggles of musicians, are often referenced in her songs. The best example of this is the title track from her 2013 album Tin Star, where she sings of the “tin stars” who are “lost in the shining stars of Nashville, Tennessee.”

After struggling for about a decade and eventually moving to Nashville, Lindi signed with Last Gang Records in 2011. She has released three albums since then, including Little Red Boots, (2011), Cigarettes and Truckstops, (2012), and Tin Star (2013.) She is known for her unique soprano voice, wich has been compared to the voices of both Dolly Parton and Emmylou Harris. When I first heard her sing, I heard Dolly Parton and Stevie Nicks, but in other songs I can hear Emmylou Harris as well. Her albums have received much critical acclaim, and she has been nominated for several awards by the Canadian Country Music Association. In 2014, Lindi won the CCMA Award for Roots Artist or Group of the Year and was nominated for Female Artist of the Year. She has also been nominated by the CCMA for 2015’s Roots Artist or Group of the Year.

Since this column is dedicated to promoting females, it should be noted that my first exposure to Lindi Ortega came shortly after the “tomato” incident in May. Lindi spoke out about the comments in an article called
“I Say, Include Women”
Lindi comments,

Women have had to fight to be treated as equals in society. We have had to fight for equal pay. We have had to fight against sexism, harassment, misogyny. And as if we don’t have enough battles, now we have to fight to get equal play on the radio. The entertainment industry has got to be one of the most difficult industries for women, because we are faced with so many double standards. We decide to have children and suddenly we are asked about how we can handle having a child and a career. Or the public is more concerned with who designed our dress rather than what inspired our craft.

But circling back to “take women out,” just think of those words: “TAKE WOMEN OUT.” I can’t begin to describe to you how my blood boils at those words. Erase us, delete us . . . make it so we don’t exist.

I highly recommend reading this; when I read it, I immediately wanted to check out her music. When I did, I found songs from each of her first three albums that I enjoyed. I would not have known about her if she hadn’t spoken up about this. Her fourth album for Last Gang Records, Faded Gloryville, comes out today, and I will have a review soon.

Why Lindi Belongs on Country Radio

Lindi Ortega is not seeking airplay at all. Up to this point, she hasn’t released anything with widespread mainstream appeal and seems to stick to her “individuality” that she values so much. I would argue that that is exactly why she belongs on the radio. I have seen comments on other sites by Canadians who say she doesn’t even get played up there. What do we hear every time we turn on a show like The Voice? They want uniqueness, originality, individuality, etc. I hear Blake Shelton talk all the time about turning on the radio and immediately recognizing someone’s voice. If uniqueness is what we’re going for, Lindi Ortega should be getting radio airplay. She has the most distinct female sound in country music.

Tracks I Recommend

Lindi has a lot of dark material, and I am not always a fan of dark albums, so I don’t prefer to listen to everything on all her albums. Having said that, most of it is good, and if you have a taste for it, you will like most of it. These tracks are my personal preferences. Also, just like with Ashley Monroe, her new album is off limits.

1. Murder of Crows–Cigarettes and Truckstops
2. Little Lie–Little Red Boots
3. Cigarettes and Truckstops–Cigarettes and Truckstops
4. When all the Stars Align–Little Red Boots
5. Angels–Little Red Boots
6. Bluebird–Little Red Boots
7. The Day You Die–Cigarettes and Truckstops
8. Tin Star–Tin Star
9. I Want You–Tin Star

Listen to Little Red Boots

This was my first introduction to Lindi’s remarkable and distinct voice. Like I said, I hear Dolly Parton and Stevie Nicks. Certainly not a bad comparison.