Even for country cynics like me, there’s a lot of charm in this old album of heartache, pain and Leadbelly covers.
Being a child of Britpop and Big Beat, country music was never destined to be my thing. I grew up in a turgid era of Garth Brooks and Shania Twain. It wasn’t until about ten years ago that I heard Johnny Cash’s “American” comeback recordings, that I started listening to the country station while shooting my way around GTA: San Andreas. And yeah, it was pretty clear that it didn’t begin and end with Toby Keith and line dancing.
Maybe I’m still suspicious of modern country, even alt-country, but going back in time, listening to Willie Nelson, Waylon Jennings, Hank Williams and Johnny Cash, I’m well up for it.
And then there’s The Louvin Brothers. Nope, I hadn’t heard of them either, but it didn’t take long to get going with this one. The tracks of heartache and pain they sing sound real. They wail in vintage mono harmony, mixing their stuff with old Leadbelly songs. And it’s captivating.