Colter Wall’s Songs of the Plains – A Country Music Review

Last November I reviewed Colter Wall’s self-titled album.  To say I liked it would be a gross understatement.  It had such stand outs as Kate McCannon, Bald Butte and Fraulein.  But the whole album was worthy.  Colter has a new album and I got my copy yesterday.

This is a theme album that can best be described as a country western celebration of the Great Plains.  Colter is from the Canadian Plains and he concentrates on Canada but he does include a ballad to Wild Bill Hickock.  I’ll list the tracks followed by a short comment or two.

In addition, I’ll summarize that as a whole the album is a good traditional country western collection.  And it suits me.  Hopefully I’ll provide enough information for the reader to make up his mind.

The full track list to Colter Wall’s Songs of the Plains:

  1. “Plain to See Plainsman” (written by Colter Wall)

Straightforward acoustic guitar and harmonica western.  An ode to home on the great plains.

  1. “Saskatchewan In 1881” (written by Colter Wall)

Upbeat Canadian folk song with a touch of humor.  Where else could you find a rhyme like, “Don’t pick no fights with Mennonites?”

  1. “John Beyers (Camaro Song)” (written by Colter Wall)

This is a short little revenge song.  Very catchy and fun.

  1. “Wild Dogs” (written by Billy Don Burns)

This is a song by Billy Don Burns and it’s literally a song narrated by a wild dog about his life.  The music has some good spots but it’s not something I care for.

  1. “Calgary Round-Up” (written by Wilf Carter)

A western about a roundup jamboree.  You could easily imagine the Sons of the Pioneers singing this song.  It even has yodeling.

  1. “Night Herding Song” (Cowboy Traditional)

It sounds like a spiritual mixed with a lullaby for the cows.  Most of it is acapella.  I like it.

  1. “Wild Bill Hickok” (written by Colter Wall)

Western ballad chronicling Wild Bill’s life.  Well done.

  1. “The Trains are Gone” (written by Colter Wall)

A dirge to the changing world of the old west.  Kinda downbeat.

  1. “Thinkin’ on a Woman” (written by Colter Wall)

A song a bout a trucker brooding over a lost love.  Amusing enough.

  1. “Manitoba Man” (written by Colter Wall)

A cokehead bemoaning his fate and thinking about his next score.  Not my thing.

  1. “Tying Knots in the Devil’s Tail” (Cowboy Traditional)

This is an upbeat western about two drunk cowboys tying, branding and knotting the devil’s tail.

Tyler Childers – Live on Red Barn Radio I & II – A Country Music Review

Regular readers know I’m a fan of Tyler Childers.  He’s a country singer-songwriter from Eastern Kentucky and he combines interesting vocals, his acoustic guitar playing, an excellent mix of country instrumental accompanists with his very creative lyrics.  I especially enjoy his ballads, a stand out being “Banded Clovis” on his “Purgatory” album.

The present review is of a live album from 2013.  The eight songs include two that were on other albums, namely “Whitehouse Road” from Purgatory and “Bottles and Bibles” from the album of the same name.  Listening to some of the other songs I would say you can tell that they come from an earlier period of his song-writing career.  They are simpler and less ambitious in terms of imagery and effect.  But they’re good and I take them as an excellent addition to my collection.  Interestingly two of the songs were written by other artists, “Rock Salt and Nails” by Bruce Utah Phillips and “Coming Down” by John R. Miller.  Now I guess I’ll be forced to look up their stuff.  How I suffer for my art.

Anyway, if you like Tyler Childers’ other stuff you’ll almost definitely like this live album.  Highly recommended.

High Top Mountain – Sturgill Simpson – A Country Music Review – Part 2

I ‘ve now had a chance to listen to High Top Mountain a good bit and I can say without a doubt that this is my favorite album by Sturgill Simpson.  And that’s because it’s country music.  He isn’t experimenting here with other genres and sounds.  It’s straight up classic country with plenty of energy, fun lyrics and excellent steel guitar.  For me the best songs are:

  • Life Ain’t Fair and the World is Mean
  • You Can Have the Crown
  • Sitting Here Without You
  • Time After All

But honestly, I think they’re all good.  Now how rare is that?  Most albums have three or four strong songs and the rest weak.  This album has twelve songs and they range from excellent to good.  They vary from ballads to up tempo rockabilly.  I’m just disappointed that his later albums don’t appeal to me as much.  Maybe these were all the country songs he wanted to make.  Well if that’s so, then I’m glad he made this album and that I found it.  I think it’s a keeper.

Panbowl – Sturgill Simpson – A Short Country Music Review

Yesterday I put up a post about Sturgill Simpson’s album Big Top Mountain.  I related how I had not loved his two other albums, “Metamodern Sounds in Country Music” and “A Sailor’s Guide to Earth” but that on the former album I thought that the song Panbowl was extremely good.  This post is to expand on that comment.  One of the things that country music can do is tell a story.  In fact, I think that possibly the best country songs are the ones that do that best.  Panbowl seems to be an autobiographical remembrance of youth and family.  It feels to me like a completely heartfelt expression of anguish at the loss of the simple joys of being a child in a family.  He paints a vivid picture of an extended family that provided love and belonging and what it means to lose this.

Admittedly I am attracted to strong sentiment so that might be the reason I rate this song so highly, but I think many country music fans will think this is an excellent song.  In any case I consider it the best song of his I’ve heard and this is because it seems honest and describes something I think is admirable, love of family.  Check it out and see if you agree.

High Top Mountain – Sturgill Simpson – A Country Music Review – Part 1

There is a lot of bad music out there.  And there is a lot of bad country music.  One of the ways I try to find good music is by association with other good music.  Case in point, a friend of mine at work told me about Colter Wall so I checked out his music and really liked it.  One of his songs is a cover of the old song Fraulein.  On that song is a second singer and looking him up it turned out to be Tyler Childers.  So I checked out his music and really liked it.  Looking over Childer’s album Purgatory I noticed it was produced by Sturgill Simpson.  Now I knew of Simpson.  I had his “Metamodern Sounds In Country Music” album and there was one song on that album called Panbowl that was extremely good but overall I was undecided if I was a fan.  But now I decided to take another look at Sturgill’s catalog.  I listened to his latest album, “A Sailor’s Guide To Earth,” and didn’t really care for it.  Then I went back to his first album, “High Top Mountain,” and really liked it a lot.  I’ll listen to a lot of it for the next few days and then I’ll finish up this review.  But I can say already it’s a solid country album and Simpson is a good singer songwriter.  The fact that I didn’t care for his later stuff as much might mean High Top Mountain is more or less all of his stuff I’ll like.  That’s okay.  Even finding a whole album you like is a feat worth noting.  This album is definitely a win.

The Raven is a Wicked Bird

“Well the raven is a wicked bird

His wings are black as sin

And he floats outside my prison window

Mocking those within

And he sings to me real low

It’s hell to where you go

For you did murder Kate McCannon”

(Kate McCannon, Colter Wall,  2017)

The Raven is a Wicked Bird

 

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When we got to the Visitor’s Center at the South Rim of the Grand Canyon this fellow was giving me the evil eye from a low hanging perch on a nearby tree.  He was croaking some kind of a challenge at me.  He probably wanted me to acknowledge his suzerainty over the whole South Rim of the Grand Canyon.  These ravens are enormous and don’t caw like crows.  They croak and bellow.  And anything you leave loose in your campsite is fair game.  They’ll steal anything smaller than a duffel bag that’s interesting looking, especially anything shiny or edible.  And just about anything is one or the other from their point of view.  One sat in a tree above our campsite and serenaded us with abuse at sunset and again at sunrise.  All in all, a very impressive creature.  Almost thirty years ago I read a book called “Ravens in Winter” by a guy named Bernd Heinrich.  He was studying ravens in Maine.  He described how intelligent and social the birds were.  I’ve always wanted to see them up close.  Now I’m jealous of those living in the west where they are very common.

25FEB2018 – Quote of the Day

I guess there’s nothing unusual about a songwriter being poetical but Childer’s lyrics impress me for some reason.
excerpt from “Tattoos”by Tyler Childers,  from his album “Purgatory”

 

Scott Miller’s Appalachian Christmas – A Country Music Review

Christmas Music in the Middle of February?  I know, what’s up with that?  So, I’m a slacker, so sue me.

Anyway this is an album of well known and not so well known Christmas songs.  It’s completely instrumental.  Lots of fiddle and mandolin.  I’ve actually been listening to it since before Christmas and even though it seems odd, it fits the dark winter nights very well.  Highly recommended.

Ryan Bingham’s “Mescalito” – A Very Short Country Music Review

Ryan Bingham is one of these new country singer/songwriters who sing about life and drugs and stuff.  There’s a definite southwestern flavor to a number of the songs and one song even features a Spanish lyric or two (Borachio Station).  My opinion of the songs varies from very good to meh.  For me the standout song is Bread and Water.  It’s got a sort of hard driving beat with banjos and guitars telling the story of a trek across the southwest.  The other songs vary in style and feeling going from traditional to more modern feels.  For me Southside of Heaven and Long Way from Georgia are the best of the rest.  Interestingly there’s a definite Springsteen influence detectable on the vocals of some songs.  I’m not sure if this is a positive or a negative for me.

If you want, listen to Bread and Water.  If you don’t like that song, then in my opinion don’t bother with the rest.  If you do then maybe Bingham might be interesting to you.  So that’s my read.

 

Since my readers don’t always stop by every day I figured I’d paste this poll on each post for a while to see what folks call themselves.  This is the post the poll came from  Who Are We?

… And that got me thinking. Who are the people who read my blog?  I thought it might be fun to see what the cross-section looked like.  If you feel like saying what you believe in, feel free to leave a comment and/or pick a label from the poll below.  I think it might be interesting.

 

Coming Soon
Total Votes : 56