I've Been Listening to the Wooden Birds, Emmylou Harris, and Holly Golightly

Barsuk Records recently signed Austin folk band the Wooden Birds (pictured courtesy Aubrey Edwards)-- the new project of American Analog Set songwriter Andrew Kenny-- and it's right up my dusty country road. Their first record, Magnolia, hits stores May 12, and I've been thoroughly enjoying the hushed vocals and lazy string folk melodies that comprise it. It reminds me a little of Vetiver, but the lyrics don't have the same old-timey personality. But the Wooden Birds' more modern interpretation of folk music doesn't mean the record wants for authenticity; in fact, its sincerity stems from its refusal to indulge in kitschy Appalachia-speak (not to insult countrified lyrics-- I like those, too). Basically, Magnolia is the perfect backdrop for the hot warm, lazy summer evenings that, with any luck, we'll be enjoying up here very soon. For a little taste of the band, you can listen to and/or download Magnolia's first song, "False Alarm," on Barsuk's website, though my own personal favorite tracks on the record so far are actually "Never Know" and "Seven Seventeen." If Barsuk releases either of those for free, 'll be sure to write a big old blog post and alert you.

I love when Emmylou Harris sings about drinking, and I've been obsessed with "Two More Bottles of Wine" for the past few days. The song was originally written by Delbert McClinton -- who, incidentally, I saw in a park in Roseburg about seven years ago before I knew that he's written some of my favorite songs of all time, including this one -- but I'm glad Emmylou Harris made it famous. And why? Because it is, quite simply, the best song about drinking your sorrows away that I can think of, mainly because it's not completely maudlin as so many country songs about spurned lovers are. For once, it's not all, "my man left me so now I want to die." No, in this one, Emmylou herself up by her bootstraps and says, "Instead of worrying about that motherfucker, I am going to drink myself into a stupor and be merry." That is not, obviously, how the song goes. But it's the general sentiment.

Even though I regularly listen to country artists who are not from and do not live anywhere near the South or West-- and think it's the right of an artist to make whatever kind of music they damn well please regardless of geographical origin-- I still find it a little disconcerting to hear country music sung by someone from the other side of the globe if it's not done carefully. And Holly Golightly is from the UK, which is about as far from the American West as you can get. However, her interpretations of classic old country songs-- not to mention her hilarious, tongue-in-cheek originals like "Gettin' High For Jesus" -- sound about as natural and homegrown as it gets. Her twangy singing accent is quite convincing, and even though I'm sure there are people out there who can't abide the adoption of another country's subculture, I say to hell with that: if you can make a record that sounds as good as Dirty Don't Hurt, the album Golightly and longtime musical companion Lawyer Dave just released, no one should be able to say word 1 about where you were born. I've already talked about this record before, but I'm doing it again because it's more summer porch-sitting music, and the season is coming up.

comments powered by Disqus

Friends to Follow