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Five Albums You Should Be Listening To Right Now: Country Edition
Dust off your boots — we’re goin’ country for this week’s Five Albums.
By The Half-Hearted Dude
Every two weeks, titans of the mediasphere give Nerve their music recommendations. This week: An all-country edition of Five Albums brought to us by The Half-Hearted Dude, from music blog Any Major Dude With Half A Heart.
1. Gillian Welch, The Harrow And The Harvest
Gillian Welch’s first album in eight years is mesmerizing. It draws you into its world of mystery and melancholy with modern Americana production and old Appalachian sounds. Welch’s clear and expressive voice, supported by collaborator Dave Rawlings’ close harmonies, glides effortlessly over the sparse, lovely arrangements, which pay a respectful tribute to country music’s rich legacy. This album is a monument to the majesty of restraint and simplicity.
Listen: “The Way It Goes”
2. Josh T. Pearson, Last Of The Country Gentlemen
A man of gloomy outlook and plaintive voice, Josh T. Pearson is not likely to cheer you up. There’s so much sadness and anger here, Last Of The Country Gentlemen might well be Pearson’s “primal whisper” therapy. With four of the seven melancholy songs longer than ten minutes, this is an intimidating album. But if you immerse yourself in it, the genius of this exceptionally powerful album will reveal itself.
Listen: “Thou Art Loosed”
3. Tom Rhodes, Better Son
Screw old the system of musicians being at the arbitrary mercy of record companies: Tom Rhodes sells his self-financed albums on the internet and at live gigs. His sophomore album of alt-country should by rights sell enough to pay the singer’s bills and more. In sound and in merit, it recalls one of the best albums of 2010, Ryan Bingham’s Junky Star. It’s well worth attending one of his shows to buy one from the man himself.
4. Over The Rhine, The Long Surrender
Understated, warm and gorgeously slow-burning, Over The Rhine’s The Long Surrender gets under your skin. Its raw, introspective lyrics delivered by Karen Bergquist in her plaintive, unadorned voice (from which the class of modern R&B over-singers could learn) and sensitive but textured production by Joe Henry combine with disparate elements (read: saxophone solos). Alt-country legend Lucinda Williams even pops in for two songs.
Listen: “All My Favorite People”
5. Ralph Stanley, A Mother’s Prayer
Some sixty-four years after making his first record, bluegrass legend Ralph Stanley gives us this album of Christian music that would serve as a compelling argument against even the most hardened of atheists. His worn voice might betray the now-octegenarian-Stanley’s age, but he has the confidence (and ability) to rock a few of the fourteen tracks a capella style, including a rousing version of Blind Willie Johnson’s "John The Revelator."
Listen: "A Mother’s Prayer"