Rather than being a specific statement of content, “Cowboy Psalms” is actually the title track of the newest release from Oklahoma poet Ron Secoy. In truth most of these tracks are religious, some less so. But all are lessons.
Picks here include the title cut “Cowboy Psalms” (equating herding herds and herding words), “Outlaw” (an O. Henry-worthy encounter at a campfire), the barroom braggin’ piece “Tall Tail” (his spelling not mine), “Adam & Eve” as cowfolk, “Ol’ Bill” and “Mustang,” an unu
What terrific fun this jazzy Colorado assemblage is!! Not thickly produced, Steel Horse Swing’s premiere album is just sweet and sorta vintage (surprise-surprise) Swing!
The band features our new friend Carlos Washington on lead vocals. We were introduced to him (and he to us) at this past November’s convention in Albuquerque. A former professional rodeo rider, Washington used to sing to earn his entry fee. At such events, he used to not be allowed to get away without singing the National
Here is an awarded yodeler who makes use of the yodel breaks in her voice to achieve a rather unique (and identifiable) style stamp in her “normal” singing. Paula Erlene (Williamson) is the wife and frequent stage performance partner of John Wayne double and Western novelist Ermal Williamson.
Two releases from Paula Erlene came in the same package. The first, “Across The Brazos” was actually released last year and continues to enjoy considerable airplay among the Western DJs. Picks on it in
In listening to this release, I was particularly struck by the skillfulness with which Clark’s poetry has been set to music. Creating songs using classic Cowboy verse is one of those classic slippery slopes, but Pegie Douglas just artfully skates along it! The tracks here are perfectly thought through and well executed. Now there are more successful Badger Clark-based songs from which to choose than just “Spanish Is The Lovin’ Tongue!” And remember this is “Volume Two,” too!!
The poems used
I’m sure I’m on record, probably in triplicate, as having maintained that what I think of as “sing-speaking” works well for a certain kind of singer…and particularly well when that singer is delivering saga songs. By “sing-speaking” I mean sounding a pitch on a word with minimal or no effort to sustain the note. Jerry Bell uses the technique. His title track on his new CD “Idaho Ed” is helped out by it as is his “Devil’s Rope.” But Bell’s spoken delivery on the poems remains the highpoint of
In a past review I drew a comparison between Chris Mortensen’s vocal styling and that of Neil Young, which Mortensen writes he finds “a bit puzzling.” Well, puzzle onward! For me it still holds true. To my ear on most of the tracks, something in Mortensen’s swoop onto and casual glide over notes still evokes
a bit of Neil Young, particularly in Young’s more recent material where he sings closer to Mortensen’s vocal range. And a certain rock sensitivity on Mortensen’s part is suggested by th
Here is one of those borderline cases. Is it Western, Western-ish or none of the above? It’s a case of moods, people and images that could slip into a Western framework…or avoid it totally. The tracks that do come closest are “Calamity Jane,” “Wood River Moon” and “No Kind Of Angel.”
In addition to a conundrum, what Alaska transplant to Montana Britt Arnesen has provided to us is a very original and poetic set of lyrics and melodic patterns set to the rich vintage slack key accompaniment of
By his own admission in his liner notes, Tom Hawk is a developing performer. Seemingly he is one who chooses to chronicle that development in album releases. This one is Step Two.
Hawk's debut release was all yodel songs as that was his mode of study coming in. Producer Greg Latta, given co-credit on Step Two's cover, provided guitar backing on the first album as Hawk didn't yet play. Now he does some, and Latta again provides additional instrumental support for the effort. The album is pr
Literal nuts-and-bolts terrain description songs can be an embarrassingly slippery slope that many artists have plunged down. Richard Elloyan is one of the few who can get away with it and, for the life of me, I'm not exactly sure how!! Just such a song (“Sunrise Side Of The Sierras”) leads off Richard Elloyan & Steve Wade's newest offering. It's dedicated to the late Steve Swinford, Elloyan's fast friend, collaborator and producer of most of his past releases.
The title track “Up For Adopti
Noted singer/songwriter and Western novelist Mike Blakely's latest release isn't specifically “Cowboy,” but much of the material is perfectly Cowboy in attitude and locale. Cases in point: “A Town Called Paradise” (population, two...where the air is fresh and the stars are bright), “My Same Old New Mexican Dream” (of amazing vistas, topography and the trout are biting...what more could you want!) or “Moonlight Colorado (an escape to the high country “listening to a Marty Robbins tune”). Being