Jon Brooks : Moth Nor Rust

Jon Brooks Moth Nor Rust jpg

 

Moth Nor Rust, released in 2009 on Borealis Records, finally found its way into my home only yesterday. The first few listens already made me realise just how exceedingly fine an album it is. Yes, it’s Folk music, but somehow the musical style (as much as I am fond of it) is irrelevant, as the songs on here are quite simply that. Songs, and stories. Brooks could arguably be classified as a songwriter in the tradition of Woody Guthrie, Pete Seeger or early Bob Dylan. No romanticising for the times of the Dust Bowl, Hobos and such to be found on here, though, his songs are firmly rooted in the early 21st Century.

At first listen his songs aren’t overtly personal, actually quite the opposite, as they are dealing with all kinds of people you meet on the streets. Whether these people are soldiers, working in a pub, an office or at Walmart, does scarcely matter – it’s their lives with all their contradictions, thoughts and problems these 10 songs are concerned with. Yet, for all this, they are highly personal stories too, Brooks’ convictions and beliefs permeate every one of them. So, you hear a lot of words such as justice, mercy, love, freedom and healing. Not many artists (whichever medium they are using) I can think of, can express their beliefs quite as eloquently and touching as Jon Brooks can.

Musically Moth Nor Rust is even more reduced compared with some of his other records (2014’s The Smiling And Beautiful Countryside and 2012’s Delicate Cages, still haven’t got the first two records of his) although these could hardly be described as lavishly produced either. On here it’s only him, his guitar and harmonica (and a bit of percussion, possibly only the body of his guitar). Still, the sound is clear, robust and rustic (but completely absent of traces of traditionalism and/or being ‘Country’), not in the least due to his resonant and muscular voice and the fine, natural guitar playing. Despite the lyrical themes and the often beautiful melodies (as on Small, War Resister, God Pt. IV, there is nothing maudlin or whimsical about these songs.

Moth Nor Rust is good for the soul. It’s a life-affirming record, making me believe the world has got the potential of being a slightly better place. All it does need is some more people taking his stance towards life and the world to heart, and doing the right things.

‘… if it’s not love, we can’t take it when we go..’ (When We Go)

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Back Road Bound’s Favorite Songs in 2015 (Pt. 02)

The Second part of my annual music roundup.

Listen here:

 

Jack White : Did You Hear John Hurt? (from Another Day, Another Time)

The Avett Brothers : That’s How I Got To Memphis (from Another Day, Another Time)

 

Another Day Another Time Cover Jpeg

Danny Schmidt : Cries Of Shadows (from Owls)

Danny Schmidt Owls Cover JpegEliza Gilkyson : Peace Call (from Land Of Milk & Honey)

Eliza Gilkyson Land Of Milk And Honey Cover Jpeg

Bruce Cockburn : Pacing The Cage (from Slice O Life)

Bruce Cockburn Slice O Life Cover Jpeg

The Honey Dewdrops : Loneliest Songs (from Tangled Country)

The Honey Dewdrops Tangled Country album cover jpegEric Bibb : Sittin’ In A Hotel Room (from Deeper In The Well)

Eric Bibb Deeper in The Well Cover Jpeg

Joan Shelley : No More Shelter (from Over And Even)

Joan Shelley Over And Even Cover Jpeg

Son Volt : True To Life (Live At The Bottom Line 2/12/96) (from Trace)

Son Volt Trace Cover JpegDonovan : Epistle To Derroll (from A Gift From A Flower To A Garden)

Donovan A Gift From A Flower Cover JpegDar Williams : If I Wrote You (from Many Great Companions)

Dar Williams Many Great Companions Cover JpegBill Morrissey & Greg Brown : Fishing With Bill (from Friend Of Mine)

Bill Morrissey And Greg Brown Friend Of Mine cover Jpeg

The Cowboy Junkies : Misguided Angel (from The Trinity Sessions)

Cowboy Junkies Trinity Sessions Cover Jpeg

 

Dave Carter & Tracy Grammer : Way Over Yonder in The Minor Key (from Little Blue Egg)

Dave Carter & Trace Grammer Little Blue Egg Cover Jpeg

Back Road Bound’s Favorite Songs in 2015 (Pt.1)

Wait, you think, that can’t be right. Eric Andersen’s I Shall Go Unbounded on a 2015 mix? Damn right you are, it dates from 1966. But with all of my year end mixes they only contains a fraction of new music. I have neither got the time nor the money (yeah, I know we’ve got filesharing nowadays) to listen/buy all the new releases I could be interested in. And I am always discovering both new and old music, so just putting new music on a mix doesn’t really make that much sense to me. I originally intended to make two mixes but as I am, as usual, somewhat short of time this will be the only one , at least for now, as the second part is already pretty much finished so I might upload that at some point.

You can listen to the mix over on my Mixcloud page:

Eric Andersen : I Shall Go Unbounded (from ‘Bout Changes And Things)

Eric ANdersen 'Bout Changes And Things Cover jpegBelieve it or not, I hadn’t really heard about Eric Andersen until last year, but once I heard Thirsty Boots, I immediately was hooked on his Dylanesque acoustic guitar/harmonica sounds. He certainly wrote brilliant songs judging from the uniformly excellent ones on ‘Bout Changes And Things, and his voice is a bit better than Dylan’s.

Robert Earl Keen : This World Is Not My Home (from Happy Prisoner (The Bluegrass Sessions))

Robert Earl Keen Happy Prisoner Cover jpeg Happy Prisoner without a doubt is my favorite album released in 2015. Why it is ranked so far down in some of the Best Of 2015 lists (e.g. somewhere way down in the 30′ s in No Depression) is absolutely beyond me. Nothing about this album couldn’t be called perfect: Neither the choice of songs (most of them very old or traditionals) or their rough-around-the-edges treatment (take Wayfaring Stranger, doubtlessly recorded hundreds of times, sounds totally fresh and new on here) could possibly have been done better in a Bluegrass context. Genius.

Dave Carter with Tracy Grammer : When I Go (from When I Go)

Dave Carter With Tracy Grammer When I Go Cover JpegOne or the other of Dave Carter and Tracy Grammer’s releases was always right next to my CD player for most of this year, and I probably listened to their music more than anybody else’s during the course of 2015. Due to Dave Carter’s early passing, they didn’t release too many albums, but every single one of them I own so far enchanted me to the highest degree. Theirs was a sound as gentle as imaginative, yet steeped in age-old traditions and the lyrics where alway astounding and captivating with their own kind of spiritualistic American realism. Their music is as pure and invigorating as a mountain stream.

Eric Bibb : Shingle By Shingle (from An Evenng with Eric Bibb)

An Evening With Eric Bibb Cover Jpeg

Yet another masterful release (recorded in 2002 and released in 2007) by Eric Bibb, an artist I have grown very, very fond of in the past 12 months. This concert shows him only accompanied by a bass player, in fine mood and on top of his game. All he needs to make a release as powerful and convincing as this if you ask me, although he is known not to limit his stylistic expressions and has got an all-encompassing sense of musical openness. Soulful sounds and lyrics, whether they are slightly melancholic (yet hopeful) as on Shingle By Shingle or full of glee as on Lonesome Valley or I Heard The Angels Singing, they are played to perfection in a nevertheless spontaneous way.

Conor Oberst : Four Strong Winds (from Another Day, Another Time)

Another Day Another Time Cover JpegFour Strong Winds is taken from the mighty fine concert performance inspired by The Coen Brother’s fab Inside Llewyn Davis. This is exactly how I like Mr. Bright Eyes/Desaparecidos like best. Just him, his brittle, still young sounding voice, a few acoustic guitars and background vocals (by Gillian Welch and Dave Rawlings), and a splendid song (by Canadian Folk/Country legend Ian Tyson). Lovely and melancholic.

Dar Williams : Southern California Wants To Be Western New York (from Mortal City)

Dar Williams Mortal City Cover Jpeg

A youthful Dar Williams convinces with this simple, affecting Acoustic Folk gem taken from one of her early releases, Mortal City is chock-full of gorgeous and intensively arranged songs, of which Southern California… is just one of my favorite songs.

The Pines : Banks Of The Ohio (from Pasture Folk Songs)

The Pines Pasture CD-cover jpegThe best of the young-ish Alternative Country/Dark Folk bands to come out of the US in a very long time in my opinion, The Pines don’t disappoint with this brief in between 7-song EP (read my review here). The traditional Banks Of The Ohio has hardly been done more melancholic and lovely than on here and is just one of the 7 (yes, that’s right) highlights on Pasture for me. Their next full-length album is due for release in early February 2016 (again on Red House Records), so watch this space.

Greg Brown : Poor Backslider (from Down In There)

Greg Brown Down In There Cover JpegAs soon as I heard and saw Greg Brown’s fantastic, spontaneous live rendition of Poor Backslider on the highly recommended Brown documentary Hacklebarney Tunes (available as part of the fine If I had Known CD/DVD compilation) I fell in love with the sad tale of a Hillbilly alcoholic going through all the motions that stem from such a scenario. This is a full-steam version with a fabulous slide guitar by Mr. Bo Ramsey (of course it is fabulous) and a brilliantly told tale straight of the American Heartland – who could do such a song better than Mr. Brown? Nobody, that’s who, if you ask me.

Bill Morrissey : Small Town On The River (from The Essential Collection)

Bill Morrissey Essential Collection Cover JpegSmall Town In The River for me has become one of Bill Morrissey’s signature songs. Like most of his songs it’s a wonderfully melancholic and beautiful tale of things not going too well, this time for a whole town.

Joan Shelley : Something Small (from Electric Ursa)

Joan Shelley Electric Ursa cover jpeg

Read my recent review of Joan Shelley’s 2014 album Electric Ursa here

Dave Rawlings Machine : The Trip (from Nashville Obsolete)

Dave Rawlings Machine Nashville Obsolete Cover Jpeg

The Trip is by far the most outstanding song on Nashville Obsolete (all of the almost 11 minutes of it). Totally relaxed and brilliantly executed and arranged (naturally I should say, this is a Dave Rawlings/Gillian Welch release after all)

Lucy Kaplansky : Every Grain Of Sand (from A Nod To Bob 2)

A Nod To Bob 2 Cover Jpeg

Like many songs on A Nod To Bob 2, Every Grain Of Sand made me realise (again) just how good a songwriter Bob Dylan is. Just listen to the lyrics on Every Grain Of Sand, that the stripped-down piano arrangement and Kaplansky’s vocals are quite beautiful does help too of course.

Jorma Kaukonen : San Francisco Bay Blues (from 2003-08-08 The Bottom Line New York City, NY)

Another artist I didn’t really have on my radar until a few months ago. Kaukonen is of course something of a legend, as a member of Jefferson Airplane and Hot Tuna, but I doubt there are many of both bands releases I would like better than the 35 song, 3 and a half hour set of expertly crafted, acoustic Swinging/Rock’n’Rolling and otherwise infectious Folk/Country-Blues fest that is this 2003 live set. Almost every song’s a hit and the musicianship (with a Mandolin and a slide guitar player accompanying him here) on display here is outstanding.

Jimmy LaFave : Not Dark Yet (from A Nod To Bob 2)

A Nod To Bob 2 Cover Jpeg

This version of one of the, for me, comparatively few highlights of Dylan’s later career, is outstanding due to its relaxed and wistful mood and the perfect, but not too perfect arrangement. Time for me to delve into LaFave’s other records I guess.

Judy Collins : Bob Dylan’s Dream (from Judy Collins Sings Dylan)

Judy Collins Sings Dylan Cover JpegBob Dylan’s Dream has always been a particular Dylan fave of mine, and this version is one of the best (and certainly the most beautiful) songs on an album that is, in parts, not doing Dylan’s songs justice, as quite a few songs are arranged far too tame and MOR for my taste. That said, there are a few other songs also worth hearing, but this is probably the most successfully realised one.

Donovan : Why Do You Treat Me Like You Do? (from Catch The Wind)

Donovan Catch The Wind Cover Jpeg

With Donovan being from Scotland, this is a departure from the usual and heavily North American-centric theme of this here blog. But Why Do You Treat me…? sounds suitably Dylanesque and is downright tongue in cheek fun

 

Derroll Adams : The Mountain

Derroll Adams (1925 – 2000) was an American Folk Singer, living for most of his life in Europe. He worked extensively with Ramblin’ Jack Elliott in the 1950’s and became friends with Donovan.

Having just discovered his work I do not yet know much about him and am not very familar with his music, but this song has a captivating quality I find hard to resist.

Season IV Kick-Off Party Bluegrass Stage: Gillian Welch & Dave Rawlings

I usually don’t just reblog all too often, but this is just too perfect not to. These guys just can’t do wrong, can they? This live version is as excellent as the studio one. Basically everything they ever recorded is THE best song ever recorded. And I’d stand by that every day. To think about the fact that I only noticed them about 3 years ago…

The Neighborhood

Bluegrass Stage

Nashville

kick-off party

Gillian Welch & Dave Rawlings may be the only recording artists taking part in the Season Premiere, whom The Neighborhood has not officially met, but their undeniably original sound, the passion that flows through each word of mesmerizing voices, and their position of hierarchy in the underground, grant them honorary residency and an open invitation to stop through any time, to share their powerful gifts and, perhaps collaborate on a show or two.

Hard Times

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Angel From Austin- Sara Jarosz- Edge Of A Dream

I usually don’t reblog all that much, but this is just too beautiful not to share that with you. You should also check out/follow the U of Music blog – not everything there is to my taste, but more often than not it is.

U of Music

Sarah+Jarosz+sjarosz_8088resizedStraight from the heart and soul of Sara Jarosz comes a tender and very intimate song named “Edge Of A Dream.”  Sarah is from Austin, Texas and you can hear the imprint

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