Jaye’s long since become a well-adjusted Nashville fixture, finding kindred co-writers like Thad Cockrell, lending her luminous voice to Jessie Baylin’s latest and appearing in a JEFF the Brotherhood video. Jaye stretched her legs as a singer, songwriter and Hawaii-infatuated producer on 2010’s The Exotic Sounds of Courtney Jaye, which boasted a duet with Band of Horses’ Ben Bridwell and a Zach Galifianakis endorsement. Three years and a convalescence after a car wreck later, she’s releasing her best yet, an irresistibly hooky, unabashedly well-crafted roots-pop album called Love and Forgiveness. She’ll celebrate with a Grimey’s in-store today and a full-blown show Friday night at The Stone Fox (more on that in this week's forthcoming issue of the Scene). Jaye was only too happy to talk with the Cream about everything from her evolved musical philosophy to her Deadhead days.
If marriage is good for people, it’s good for all people. It’s like going to the gym. If it’s good for you, it’s good for everyone. It’s not just good for people depending on their sexuality
Killer quote, right? Read that and more after the jump.
You’ve talked about songs being almost journals for you. So the question is why chronicle?
Songwriting has always simply been a form of therapy for me. It’s just something I feel like I have to do. For just myself to simply understand my own reasons, my own paths, and take a step out of what I’m doing at the moment and in a way look at my life from a different perspective. Or tell a story or just decipher my own thoughts in a way. So it’s just kind of always been crucial to lay that stuff down and get it off my chest and out of my head and one way or another take the next step forward.
After Ron died a decade ago, Gail was determined to put her cachet with country music vets to work producing a tribute to him. All these years later, the album’s finally done — it’s called Unsung Hero: A Tribute to the Music of Ron Davies, and it’s packed with his romantic pop balladry, wry blues-rock complaints and dozens of other emotionally eloquent, melodically sophisticated shades of songwriting, performed by the likes of Shelby Lynne, John Prine, BR-549 (of which her son, Chris Scruggs, was a member), Alison Krauss and John Anderson. For a lot of the singers, the recording process served as an introduction to Ron and his work. But that wasn’t the case with his old pal Kevin Welch, or Jeff Hanna, who recorded one of his songs with the Nitty Gritty Dirt Band, or Dolly Parton, who met him by accident — literally. While pressure-washing Parton’s windows, Ron fell from a ladder and broke his hip. Says Gail, “Ronnie used to say, ‘A lot of guys have fallen for Dolly Parton, but not like me. Not the way I did.’ He was very funny.”
The release show for Unsung Hero is tomorrow night, March 29, at 3rd & Lindsley, and Gail Davies took the time to fill us in on who’s in the lineup, why both the album and the show proceeds are going to the W.O. Smith School, what getting to know Joni Mitchell did for her and how that Bowie cover figured into her brother’s songwriting career.
The venue isn’t the only thing that’s changed. In 2009, Lange had just released his first record under the Helado Negro moniker, Awe Owe — a mostly acoustic collection of hypnotic tunes drawing from South America’s generous well of pop music. Invisible Life (stream it below or at Helado's Bandcamp page) builds on those roots with a strong dose of electro, which featured prominently in the soundtrack of Lange’s youth in south Florida. The resulting tracks frequently turn the lilting Latin groove dance-floor-friendly, while the songs (most in Spanish, a few in English) remain introspective. That delicate balance of primal and cerebral is an undercurrent that runs throughout Lange’s body of work. Eager to learn more, we caught up with him on his way to Austin for a string of SXSW showcases.
What’s in store for this run of dates?
It’ll be a mixture of the most recent record and probably one or two [songs] from each of the records preceding it.
Will there be any new material in the mix? I remember the days when you exclusively played unreleased songs live.
Yeah, we just don’t work as quickly anymore because we’re so spread out and people have children. There’s a lot going on, so life got a little bit ahead of us as opposed to it being the other way around. Maybe if when we get together over the next few days, if someone has an idea for something to do that’s new, we’ll put it into the set, but there’s no plans for that right now.
Along with 1971's Rat On!, Swamp Dogg's Total Destruction is getting a long-overdue reissue. Alive Naturalsound Records has released spiffy remastered versions of the two albums on CD and vinyl, and it could be that a new generation of music fans will come to appreciate the work of a brilliant, prolific soul auteur. Born in Virginia in 1942, Williams has also had a close connection with Nashville for decades — with co-writer Gary U.S. Bonds, Williams penned a classic country song, "She's All I Got," which went on to be a 1971 hit for Nashville soul singer Freddie North, as well as a smash for country vocalist Johnny Paycheck.
Produced by Williams for Mankind, a Nashville soul label, North's version of "She's All I Got" is true country-soul crossover. Cut in Music City with producer Billy Sherrill after the North version had made the charts, Paycheck's version is stone country. The song has been recorded by around 90 artists, including Conway Twitty, Norma Jean and Floyd Cramer. A decade later, Williams came to Nashville and cut an idiosyncratic country album for Mercury. It didn't see the light of day until Williams himself released it on CD some years later.
Mason worked on Traffic's debut, 1967's Mr. Fantasy, before leaving the band in early 1968. He produced the first album by English progressive blues-folk rockers Family, Music in a Doll's House, before rejoining Traffic later that year. Traffic's second full-length, Traffic, appeared in 1968 with Mason's "Feelin' Alright," a two-chord pop-blues number that has gone on to be a rock standard. Joe Cocker's 1969 hit version is likely definitive.
Along the way, the versatile guitarist, singer and songwriter helped out on acoustic guitar on Jimi Hendrix's Electric Ladyland track "All Along the Watchtower." Moving to California, Mason hooked up with country-rock pioneer Gram Parsons, whom Mason had met at a 1968 Rolling Stones recording session. He played guitar with American soul musicians Delaney and Bonnie Bramlett on a 1969 tour that included another English guitarist enamored of blues and soul, Eric Clapton.
Romano co-founded the Canadian band Attack in Black — which started out in post-hardcore territory but grew less aggressive as time went on — and teamed with Baby Eagle of The Constantines to set up the tiny independent label You’ve Changed Records. Then he tested the waters with a lo-fi folk trio, Daniel, Fred and Julie. So far so good. Nothing here either a Nick Cave, Conor Oberst or John McCauley type wouldn’t do. And then there’s Romano’s current solo work. His latest album, Come Cry With Me, is an unabashed imitation of the most sentimental strain of late '60s and '70s country balladry. We’re talking lachrymose George Jones territory. The closest analogy to Romano’s thoroughly throwback songwriting and rhinestone suit-wearing is Jonny Fritz, but that’s an imperfect comparison at best; where absurdity is essential to Fritz’s music, Romano plays up the sensitivity of his pitiable protagonists.
Now signed to the Athens Ga.-based New West imprint Normaltown Records — also home to Lilly Hiatt — Romano’s making his third appearance in Nashville tonight at The Basement, and his first since he got his custom-made, chocolate brown gabardine suit. See the Cream's chat Romano him after the jump.
What is the plan for the record you’re about to record here?
Well, I'm going to be in Nashville for a couple of days. As is the style of a lot of people in that town, people are accustomed to working quickly. Last time I was in Nashville [Reid Paley] met me there, we wrote a bunch of songs and recorded them. There isn't much planned, other than we have an opportunity to do some hotel-room writing and some last-minute, spontaneous recording, which is sort of my favorite type of writing and recording. I prefer it. You can have mixed results, you can have fantastic results, you can come up with something that's not so hot, but the same thing can happen when you plan everything out to death and make demos and do things in a really calculated, slow way. So I like the spontaneity of going in and doing it in the moment.
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