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Nashville-based alt country, ‘bluesy poet’ dominate Ear Bliss spotlight

April 6, 2012

A touch of the Southern poet leads off this week’s Ear Bliss. Kevin Gordon was raised in Monroe, Louisiana and schooled at the prestigious University of Iowa Writers’ Workshop. His songs balance the elegance of a poet with the gritty detail of a novelist. As his new release Gloryland will attest, they are nothing short of compelling. From there it’s into the first album in some six years from Nashville eccentrics Lambchop.

Kevin Gordon
Gloryland
Crowville Records

A New York Times feature a month or so back pondered East Nashville-based singer/songwriter Kevin Gordon as musician or poet. If you’ve ever been fortunate enough to see him burn the strings of a guitar, no doubt you’d side with the former. If you’ve ever listened to his songs, and I mean really listen, the latter designation is the likely frontrunner. On his new release Gloryland, Gordon expands his vista as a roots rockin’ and bluesy poet of the South. Gordon’s roots are from below the Mason-Dixon and it is that experience that drives the centerpiece of Gloryland, an epochal piece of songwriting titled “Colfax/Step in Time.” Ten-plus minutes in length and heading toward a guns-a-blazing crescendo the entire route, it tells the true story of the time the Ku Klux Klan showed up when his seventh-grade Monroe, Louisiana school marching band performed in what turned out to be not so friendly territory. It as powerful a piece of songwriting. On the whole, Gloryland sears, simmers and steams. Gordon’s guitar work can crunch or go down deep and dirty, the perfect accompaniment to his storytelling songs rich in imagery and evocativeness, thinking man’s tunes from a tunesmith with an obvious touch with the written word. From recollections of a memorable trip to a ZZ Top concert during his youthful days (“Bus to Shreveport”) to “Colfax”, poetry with plenty of grit and soul describes Gloryland. Recommended. Visit www.kevingordon.net.

Lambchop
Mr. M
Merge Records

When it arose out of Nashville in the mid-1990s, the collective of “other-side-of-the-tracks” musicians and artists comprising the band Lambchop were quickly tagged as an alt country entity. Whereas the music was tinged with pedal steel and other tweaks of country instrumentation, the lush, hushed sounds of the band while offering sniffs of countrypolitan never quite fit the mold. It was so much more than that. Now some 20 years and 11 albums later, Lambchop, despite a four year recording hiatus, is back. The common thread between it all has been front man Kurt Wagner. Mr. M takes its inspiration from the passing of the singer/songwriter Vic Chesnutt, a close friend of Wagner’s whose oft-times disarming songs and quirky presentation drew many admirers. Mr. M carries forward many of the elements of past Lambchop releases, a combination of gentle soulfulness and cracked lyricism from the quiet-voiced Wagner. It’s a record that sneaks up on you, in a good way. Visit www.mergerecords.com.

LIVE SHOTS:

Friday is a busy evening on the local front. The always crowd-pleasing Red Molly perform as part of The Music at Lilypads series (Unitarian Universalist Church, 27 North Road, Peace Dale). Doors open at 7 pm and music begins at 7:30. Tickets were going fast, so check the web site at www.musicatlilypads.org.

Also on Friday night, Green Tea along with Off the Rez who feature members of Hardig Rhode entertain the jam band-loving masses at The Ocean Mist (895 Matunuck Beach Rd, Matunuck) starting at 9. Down Westerly way, it’s a night of hot piano boogie woogie and blues with the Al Copley Quintet at The Knickerbocker Café (35 Railroad Ave, Westerly) at 9.

Get your Easter Sunday going with some coffee and music as local singer/songwriter Dylan Sevey with a new CD-CP on the verge of release entertains at Java Madness (134 Salt Pond Road, Wakefield) starting at 11 am. Celebrate Easter afternoon with the Tim Taylor Blues Band at the Narragansett Café (25 Narragansett Ave, Jamestown) from 1 to 4. Later that day, check out open mic night at The Wood River Inn (1193 Main St, Richmond) starting at 6.

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