Rolling Country 2017

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Nashville Scene will publish the seventeenth annual Country Music Critics Poll January 26, 2017. While we're waiting (or not), might as well paste comments I sent them that weren't from RC '16---anybody else got some of those? Or comments on newer releases would be good (still haven't gotten to Natalie Hemby's album, but nice clips).

dow, Thursday, 12 January 2017 01:45 (ten months ago) Permalink

Buck Owens’ The Complete Capitol Singles 1967-1966 starts with so-what songs and subdued settings, but his voice is already flexible and on point, mining each note and syllable just enough to check for whatever might be worth extracting--carefully but quickly (2 hours, 12 minutes of music here, and virtually every track is under three minutes, some of the best and worst just over two).
In the booklet he’s the first to assert that these early tracks were not so hot, because he didn’t have the cred to things his way under the success of “Under Your Spell Again” proved his point (several follow-ups glance off its template; whatever the commercial results, takes a while before one sounds nearly as good). It’s still a startling quality bump to a leap, the classic Buck suddenly materializing, declaring (no complaints, not like before). “You’ve. Got. Me. Unn-der, your spellll again, “ doing all the things he does with beats and short phrases in the California melding of country with rock ‘n’ roll appeal----in brief of course, though later he’ll sometimes bring in a suggestion of Latin and/or Caribbean curvature in the held vocal notes and supporting sounds, or, more on the per se country side, wail each note of the chorus over a thin ticky-tocky snare and rhythm guitar pick: this is music from another hit factory, for sure. Starting, as he says, with the rule of treble---no more tracks “where it sounds like the bass player is standing in front of the singer”----and little mono speakers in the control room, to check how the mix will sound on transistors and car radios: he wants it clear, and it sounds like he wants it edgey, baby: the bright metallic “Bakersfield Sound” of money-making machinery, in synch and bouncing off the tin roof sun, with jangling breezes and currents, dust and foliage and the available or at least glimpsed waters: all in in California chrome reflections cruising by.
Cruising by what, you may ask. Well--- not that he spends much time, after label-imposed early stints, hunkered down and brooding, but when he does, it’s all somebody else’s fault. Or, if he gets up and stumbles by the house that used to be his home, where his wifenkids still live, where he mumbles that he maybe kinda blew it---but he paid for it, and there they are, all warm and together and shit---but he can make himself grudgingly acknowledge his sins and thus join them in Heaven someday, after everybody’s dead---and this is all, at most, that taking responsibility etc can get you---so the exception proves the rule.
But he has no flair for “J’accuse!”, nor for guilt and expiation and other whiskey-selling Jukebox Gothic rituals, none of that cobwebbed indoor stuff. This is Cali, dude! Responsibility and wide-opening-mindedness gradually appear organically---transition first noticed in “Mental Cruelty”, where he brings Rose Maddox into a Divorce Court reenactment of how she took him to the cleaners; really nobody’s fault, shit happens, but all she had to do was drop those two little words---one starts with an “M.”, the other with a “C.”---and cha-ching. But, as she recites her part, dryly enough to seem wry, and hollow-toned, suggesting a prisoner-of-war’s forced confession, subliminally conveyed---time enough to devise a code, in that cell, she caps it all by barely bearing down on the mention of his “way of life”, which she declined to participate in any longer...and this is allowed! In a perhaps alternate time, he proposes that they stop “Kickin’ Hearts Around”, ‘cause it’s just too time-and-maybe-other consuming; in “Loose Talk”, he and Maddox rally against a common threat, of a mobocracy of gossiping, even gaslighting neighbors and fremenies: he assures her that the terrible things they tell her he does go ditto for tales of that flaming Rose. This same thing happens in another song on down the line----see, you just gotta keep moving. In yet another possibly alternate-universe turn, he gets turned on, not scandalized, by her going out, “Foolin’ Around”---didn’t know she had it in her, maybe, or maybe his competitive side, gets turned on, in a sporting way---he cheerfully proposes that she “come on home, and fool around with me..” Subsequently, when he’s got “A Tiger By The Tail”, he sounds a bit apprehensive, but also “one hand waving free”, as young Mr. D, can only wish for”--here ‘tis, over the Buckaroos’ rodeo jolt and swirl ( despite a few duds and placeholders, sound quality gets better and better, with more room for instrumental interplay, without stretching out).
The swirl gets get a little braincloudy in the resonant street-wide sunlight of “Waiting In Your Welfare Line”, where an inspired gentleman caller is sure you’ll give him another shot---after all, he gave up everything the first time he saw you, and it’ll all make sense when you bring it back---and if you do so in a “Welfare Cadillac”, that’s gravy---that song isn’t here, but it’s nice the way this one leaves its strictures in the dust of absurdist pop social commentary, if you want to take it as such. Mostly, of course, we get good clean fun---the speedy corn-plucking seasons of Hee-Haw aren’t far away--and here we also have some vocal x instrumental turns that still conjure drooling Byrds, Beatles, Parsons, Mavericks, and certainly certainly Yoakam (for instance).

dow, Thursday, 12 January 2017 01:49 (ten months ago) Permalink

Listened to Amanda Shires' 2016 album today, but better give it more spins before commenting. Meanwhile another from Nash Scene ballot reissues:

Dolly Parton, Emmylou Harris, Linda Ronstadt, The Complete Trio Collection: the title isn’t quite accurate, as the Wikipedia article on this round-up points out: several more tracks from the original Trio and Trio II’s 80s and 90s sessions turned up on solo albums, as did a few of the 20 that are included on the bonus disc. Some of the alternate takes and previously unreleased titles (which could have added variety of style, detail, and/or dynamics to the troika’s LP-length albums) sung strictly or nearly solo, seem more effective than the previously released versions: when the song is about and from a solitary place, other voices, at least when they enter at predictable points, can slightly dilute the brew, pad the impact, no matter how much they want you to know, “ You ‘n’ me both, Kid” and furthermore ,” I’m with you, Sister.”
But those responses are never far away, even in the darkest, starkest moments. It may seem, especially given Parton’s weepier tendencies as singer and writer, that they’ll all get stuck on a lover’s cross, and they def have their hang-ups, but don’t we all, and ain’t that country, but mainly there is, often enough (usually every few seconds, only a few DOA, although that’s another country tradition too, of course), at the very least, an implicit yet not too polite strength in self-assertion and solidarity. Which certainly goes with the blend of traditional and modern, in the sounds and sentiments. “Lover’s “Return”, written or anyway copyrighted by principals of the Original Carter Family, is mountain-y and civil, while informing the one who once dumped her, and now comes crawling back, “God doesn’t give us back our youth.” Parton writes and sings “Wildflowers” with folk tropes calmly moving to her wish granted, “the garden set me free.(Had to be, for the garden’s sake as well: “The flowers grew/Too close together.”).
Ronstadt’s robust tones are at their most flexible here, sometimes suggesting Karen Carpenter negotiating the maybe chromatic turns of “Goodbye To Love”, but then again she wisely lets the other two take most of the highest notes, but say if Carpenter had lived to cover “Live To Tell” or something with the same burnished intrigue---not the cheesier 80s….mainly I’m thinking of the 1987 Trio’s version of “I’ve Had Enough”, which is immediately recognizable by its combination of romantic to almost but never quite post-romantic eloquence, blunt and frilly, in lyrics and melody. It sounds sophisticated, wised-up yet still maybe naive and nostalgic at some points, or wanting to be, hoarding the crumbs, the scars, the hopes, the history (in the Wikipedia entry, Parton is quoted as saying they didn’t understand what the hell “After The Gold Rush” meant, and supposedly they called Neil and he said he didn’t know either, but conceptually it’s perfectly, ruefully at home in these sessions, while still sounding a little drippy, as always--though more so here, when Parton changes the candidly confessional “I felt like getting high” to feeling like she could cry). The alternate “I’ve Had Enough” is one of the few easy choices for exclusion, since it draws the harmonists into tiny waves of insular, rainy day consolation around the old upright (no longer the cosmopolitan, note-bending electric on Trio II). This is good as far as it goes,(which is backwards, sonically: they’re not walking it like they talk it), but reminds me of the stylish young Canadienne in an 80s (maybe early 90s) documentary about the McGarrigles, who said that their songs reminded her of “what the nuns used to make us sing,” and why she moved to the big city.
(Perhaps to be included among this year’s Related Reissues, Kate and Anna McGarrigle mine their rich mix of signals in several directions on
Pronto Monto, from 1978: the sometimes exhilarating results are still mixed too, appropriately enough)(wonder what 70s Neil Young thought about them?)
Emmylou Harris’s choice of material is not so striking, but in this context, her solo voice can seem to draw in properties of the other two---who, when they come in, can seem like further definitions, a new mix, of her high and low ends---until the unified effect becomes a sonic spectrum (helps with the nuances and other details too).
As far as left-behinds now adding the aforementioned variety of etc., the hymn “Softly and Tenderly” is just like the title says without cloying or clotting. The Roebuck Staples-co-write “You Don’t Knock” truly and briskly believes in abstaining from timidity at Heaven’s door. “Do I Ever Cross Your Mind” is Parton leading a tailfeather tambourine handclapping parade in the face of and past another no-good ex, with another reminder of what’s being missed on the Hallelujah Trail (a good thing or three).

dow, Friday, 13 January 2017 01:50 (ten months ago) Permalink

But Randy Rogers is playing at a long-running event that’s been held since 1953 by the Texas State Society called Black Tie and Boots in Oxon Hill, Maryland that has become one of the most prestigious events leading up to the inauguration for the last 60 years, but has no direct affiliation with Mr. Trump’s official inauguration itself.

curmudgeon, Friday, 13 January 2017 14:53 (ten months ago) Permalink

I'm not that big a KK fan, though some of his songs are good vehicles for other singers, and some of his own tracks are okay--- though he's better with other voices, the Highwaymen etc., so some of these guests might help (maybe even Steve Earle, which tells you something about how I hear Kristofferson):


1997 Recording Featuring Stripped-Down Versions Kristofferson's Best Songs
Has Been Remastered And Expanded With Two Unreleased Outtakes

Available From Rhino On February 10

LOS ANGELES - In the summer of 1997, Kris Kristofferson spent a few days in Texas recording stripped-down versions of his best-known songs. Released by Atlantic Records in 1999, The Austin Sessions pairs the acclaimed outlaw country songwriter with a band of studio aces and guest harmony vocalists for intimate versions of classics like "Me and Bobby McGee," "Why Me?" and "Sunday Morning Coming Down."

Rhino Records celebrates these powerful recordings with an expanded version of the album that features remastered sound and includes two unreleased session outtakes. Fred Mollin, who produced the original album, tells the story behind the sessions in the collection's liner notes, which also feature several unpublished photos from the time. THE AUSTIN SESSIONS: EXPANDED EDITION will be available February 10 on CD ($13.98) and digitally ($9.99). A remastered vinyl version of The Austin Sessions will also be available on the same day ($21.98).

Kristofferson recorded The Austin Sessions at Arlyn Studios in Texas with a group of session veterans from Los Angeles and Nashville who were hand-picked by Mollin, who also plays acoustic guitar on the album. Kristofferson's longtime touring guitarist Stephen Bruton appears on several songs as well.

Mollin recalls: "I knew in my heart that I could pull off a great under-produced production and give Kris the album he always wanted to make: one that felt like it had the uniqueness and rootsy feeling that Dylan accomplished on his early electric albums."

Several guests join Kristofferson on the album, including Jackson Browne ("Me And Bobby McGee"), Steve Earle ("Sunday Morning Coming Down"), Vince Gill ("Help Me Make It Through The Night"), Catie Curtis ("Nobody Wins"), and Mark Knopfler ("Please Don't Tell Me How The Story Ends").

Left off the original album, "Best Of All Possible Worlds" and "Jody And The Kid" make their debut on the expanded version. Mollin says the songs show different sides of Kristofferson' songwriting. "One is lighthearted, dry, sarcastic and one of the greatest examples of Kris' humor and storytelling, while the other is just deeply emotional and shows the true aching heart that can be felt like an arrow, from Kris to the listener."

Continuing down the path of his fabled career, the five-time Grammy® winner gained another nomination for Best Americana Album for his LP The Cedar Creek Sessions in December 2016. At 80 years old, the country music legend will kick off a 2017 tour this January. More information on the tour can be found via

Track Listing:

1. "Me And Bobby McGee"
2. "Sunday Morning Coming Down"
3. "For The Good Times"
4. "The Silver Tongued Devil And I"
5. "Help Me Make It Through The Night"
6. "Loving Her Was Easier (Than Anything I'll Ever Do Again)"
7. "To Beat The Devil"
8. "Who's To Bless And Who's To Blame"
9. "Why Me?"
10. "Nobody Wins"
11. "The Pilgrim: Chapter 33"
12. "Please Don't Tell Me How The Story Ends"
13. "Best Of All Possible Worlds" *
14. "Jody And The Kid" *

* previously unreleased

dow, Sunday, 15 January 2017 01:03 (ten months ago) Permalink

Been listening to Amanda Shires' 2016 This Is My Land some more, and guess she's trying for a transparent effect, letting and trusting us to make what we will of her crisp, flexible, sometimes prowly, always at least somewhat evocative tunes and words--but she sure keeps a lid on things. 10 songs, 33 minutes could have a classic effect, but some of the narrative and clues stop too soon for caring, the slow tempos get to be too similar in overall effect, despite some hooks and astute turns of phrase, also the accompaniment is constrained; husband Isbell's guitar gets to release exactly two, perfectly placed, unmistakably Isbellian notes, one acoustic, one slide electric; too bad Dave Cobb, though here as always the sympatico producer, couldn't have seen his way to negotiate just a bit more instances of cuttin' loose, here and there, if not, perish the thought, for a whole track.
And her thin, clear, quiet voice (Isbell in there occasionally, but muffled) really is the lid, however transparent; it doesn't shine that much, and may be all she's got to give as a performer, aside from her under-utilized fiddle, which does add a few highlights or glints.
But she can write, and here's hoping somebody (Bonnie Raitt, Miranda Lambert, Jason Isbell) covers her.

dow, Wednesday, 18 January 2017 20:18 (ten months ago) Permalink

So on among my Scene ballot's added, made-up categories, I gave this first place in About Half Good (40-60%), because some of it really does work, as individual tracks, def. good for mixes and radio shows.

dow, Wednesday, 18 January 2017 20:26 (ten months ago) Permalink

So the band Alabama are still together, I see. The Prez-elect tweeted about them and Lee Greenwood

curmudgeon, Thursday, 19 January 2017 17:57 (ten months ago) Permalink

finding the Natalie Hemby album a bit more understated than I'd imagined, haven't found a way in yet really

lex pretend, Thursday, 26 January 2017 16:33 (nine months ago) Permalink

x-post from the poll's singles chart

8. Jon Pardi, “Head Over Boots” (Valory/Capitol)

I came to really like this track near the end of the year and it made my Pazz & Jop poll singles list. I was the only voter for it there though.

curmudgeon, Thursday, 26 January 2017 17:42 (nine months ago) Permalink

I meant to check that out, will do so sometime. Now approaching xpost Hemby with some trepidation. Here's my Scene ballot (also posted, with comments: though most comments are from RC 2016 and this thread)

(just in the order they come to mind)
1.Loretta Lynn: Full Circle
2.Lori McKenna: The Bird and the Rifle
3.Chely Wright: I Am the Rain
4.Robbie Fulks: Upland Stories
5.Tomi Lunsford: Come On Blue
6.Austin Lucas: Between the Moon & the Midwest
7.Western Centuries: Weight of the World
8.Willie Nelson: For the Good Times: A Tribute to Ray Price
9.Miranda Lambert: The Weight of These Wings
10.Maren Morris: Hero


1.Dolly Parton, Emmylou Harris, Linda Ronstadt: The Complete Trio Collection Deluxe Edition
2.Buck Owens: The Complete Capitol Singles: 1957-1966
3.Merle Haggard: Live In San Francisco 1965
4.Hart Valley Drifters: Folk Time

1.Maren Morris
2.Aubrie Sellers

Made-Up Categories:
Willie Nelson: Summertime: Willie Nelson Sings Gershwin, Kelsey Waldon: I've Got A Way, Brandy Clark: Big Day In A Small Town, Charlie Daniels: Night Hawk, Aaron Lewis: Sinner, Dwight Yoakam: Swimmin' Pools, Movie Stars…, Randy Rogers Band: Nothing Shines Like Neon, Carrie Rodriguez: Lola, Various Artists: Southern Family

Amanda Shires: My Piece of Land, Wynonna Judd & the Big Noise: Wynonna & the Big Noise, The Honeycutters: On The Ropes, Colvin & Earle: s/t. Aubrie Sellers: New City Blues, Dolly Parton: Pure and Simple, Hank Williams Jr.: It's About Time, Margo Price: Midwest Farmer's Daughter, John Prine: For Better Or Worse, Corb Lund: Things That Can't Be Undone

1.Lucinda Williams: Ghosts of Highway 20
2.Elizabeth Cook: Exodus of Venus
3.Freakwater: Scheherazade
4.Sturgill Simpson: A Sailor's Guide To Earth
5.Lydia Loveless: Real
6.Shovels & Rope: Little Seeds
7.Peter Stampfel and the Brooklyn & Lower Manhattan Fiddle/Mandolin Swarm: Holiday for Strings
8.Minute2Minute: Postcards From El Bossa

Aaron Lee Tasjan, Silver Tears

NRBQ: High Noon--A 50 Year Retrospective

dow, Thursday, 26 January 2017 18:08 (nine months ago) Permalink

From Himes data mining in the Nashville Scene poll: not a surprise, but interesting nonetheless

Some artists sold a lot of albums without impressing the critics. The discrepancy was especially noticeable for Joey + Rory’s Hymns (No. 2 Billboard Year-End Country Albums/No. 61 Best Albums Poll), Blake Shelton’s If I’m Honest (No. 3/No. 65 Scene) and Jason Aldean’s They Don’t Know (No. 12/No. 110). Remarkably, Florida Georgia Line’s Dig Your Roots, the No. 11 album for Billboard, failed to win a single vote from any of the 89 critics participating in the poll.

• On the other hand, some artists impressed the critics without selling many records. Seven of the Top 10 finishers in the poll’s Best Album category failed to show up in Billboard’s Top 50: Miranda Lambert’s The Weight of These Wings (No. 1), Margo Price’s Midwest Farmer’s Daughter (No. 2), Brandy Clark’s Big Day in a Small Town (No. 3), Lori McKenna’s The Bird and the Rifle (No. 6), Robbie Fulks’ Upland Stories (No. 7), Drive-By Truckers’ American Band (No. 8) and Lucinda Williams’ The Ghosts of Highway 20 (No. 115). To be fair, the Lambert album probably would have made the Billboard list if it hadn’t been released so late in the year.

curmudgeon, Thursday, 26 January 2017 19:55 (nine months ago) Permalink

finding the Natalie Hemby album a bit more understated than I'd imagined

great sell - listening now, sounds good! Production reminds me a bit of Musgraves' debut

niels, Friday, 27 January 2017 11:44 (nine months ago) Permalink

one month passes...

Kinda liked the 2014 Sunny Sweeney album (old-school themes with a bit of pop punch) and see her new one "Trophy" is coming out March 10th. She's on a US tour now too. I was at a different gig, and missed her DC show in a small barbeque place's basement.

curmudgeon, Monday, 6 March 2017 17:40 (eight months ago) Permalink

NPR and others like the new Sweeney album, I haven't heard it yet.

curmudgeon, Wednesday, 8 March 2017 19:18 (eight months ago) Permalink

I've been surprised by how well the new Little Big town album has been received. I generally like them and have gone to bat for them over the years, but the album is just ungodly dull and plodding. Nearly every criticism of monotonous Americana albums applies to it tenfold.

jon_oh, Wednesday, 8 March 2017 22:20 (eight months ago) Permalink

Sunny Sweeney's only made three albums, def. timeworthy quality over quantity, despite the unevenness of albs 1 and 3. Number 2, Concrete is the one to start with so far. Nash Scene ballot/blogged comments for 3, AKA aforementioned 2014 release Provoked (I was a little too hard on it overall, but basic complaints still apply):
Sunny Sweeney, Provoked:
Seems like 7, maybe 8 keepers, out of 13 (in 47 minutes, a reasonable running time for that many tracks): not too shabby a ratio, but dammit, Concrete set the bar high/spoiled me, and---in terms of country-pop elegance and emotional impact, nothing here grabs my attention and sails around the room with it like, say, "From A Table Away" did. Although "Uninvited" comes close: it's an almost understated little chiller, as the well-mannered witness arrives at a social occasion, " moved through the room and the crowd divided/Somebody should have told me I was/Uninvited"--but that's not the worst of it.
All the songs I like so far, incl "Bad Girl Phase" ( currently enjoying the Southern Rock tinge, and the jaded vocal: she's been here before, knows we have too), "Second Guessing," "Can't Let Go," (though it clones the original, which might make more sense if she were trying to turn Country Radio listeners onto Lucinda, but c'mon it's a Kickstarter; the NPR audience isn't exactly unfamiliar with LW),"My Bed" (one that drops the blurry double tracking which eventually undermines several other ballads, for a good duet ritual with Will Hoge), maybe "Sunday Dress" (which could be the morning after "Uninvited"'s nightmare: she's still awake--but oops the double-tracking slips in, adding a little too much entrophy), definitely "Used Cars" (yay, uptempo again, where even double-tracking--chorus only, I think---adds a nice abrasion): "Just when I thought/All of the good ones were gone/Found another woman's wreck and made him someone I could/Depend on"(not the best rhyme, but it sounds like a good make-do fixer-upper: patchy in a good way), and "Backhanded Compliment" (like "You must have such confidence, to wear that dress!"---but she also makes a Note To Self: do not say "It's my personality that makes me hot!"), all those seem like they could be fragments of scenes from the same marriage (also the good kinda patchy) Maybe the tedious ones are too, but they seem just plain tedious.
Oh yeah, and "the world goes to hell in a feel-good song" is not really much of a problem, as I feel sure the world would agree.

dow, Thursday, 9 March 2017 00:21 (eight months ago) Permalink

Can't find a Nashville thread but I'm here for a day and looking for something country-centric to do if anyone has any recommendations.

Heez, Saturday, 11 March 2017 14:23 (eight months ago) Permalink

You can drive up and see Johnny & June's grave site. It's in a fairly anonymous looking cemetary up in Madison, TN.

Ⓓⓡ. (Johnny Fever), Saturday, 11 March 2017 14:33 (eight months ago) Permalink

Cool. Thinking about checking the "bob Dylan, johnny cash and the Nashville cats" exhibition at the cmhf. Looks like it's got stuff on Cinderella studios and that era

Heez, Saturday, 11 March 2017 15:09 (eight months ago) Permalink

Yeah, several travelers have told me that was worth checking.

dow, Sunday, 12 March 2017 21:16 (eight months ago) Permalink

Yeah it was. Cool little listening stations and bios for each of the side players

Heez, Sunday, 12 March 2017 21:29 (eight months ago) Permalink

that Sunny Sweeney album's good, the title track (Lori McKenna cowrite) especially.

the Rain Man of nationalism. (Alfred, Lord Sotosyn), Tuesday, 14 March 2017 18:17 (eight months ago) Permalink

holy shit, the Sunny Sweeney album

lex pretend, Thursday, 16 March 2017 14:42 (eight months ago) Permalink

"Bottle By My Bed" floored me

lex pretend, Thursday, 16 March 2017 14:42 (eight months ago) Permalink

aw hell yeah i'm excited for a good new sunny sweeney record

the raindrops and drop tops of lived, earned experience (BradNelson), Thursday, 16 March 2017 15:01 (eight months ago) Permalink

Only made it half way through the new Sweeney til I had the thought that the whole taking pills/crazy ex-girlfriend cliches of recent female country are starting to wear thin.

Heez, Thursday, 16 March 2017 15:30 (eight months ago) Permalink

but "pills" isn't a twist I've heard before (I haven't parsed all the lyrics but it sounds like it might actually be about Ecstasy rather than pain pills?) and there isn't a crazy ex-girlfriend song on the album

lex pretend, Thursday, 16 March 2017 15:47 (eight months ago) Permalink

the sunny sweeney record is GREAT

the raindrops and drop tops of lived, earned experience (BradNelson), Friday, 24 March 2017 20:32 (seven months ago) Permalink

Sounded pretty good on 1 and a half listens, wasn't wowed by all, but by a lot of it.

curmudgeon, Monday, 27 March 2017 13:57 (seven months ago) Permalink

Sweeney's intonations on "Pills" are killer -- she doesn't sing like her contemporaries.

the Rain Man of nationalism. (Alfred, Lord Sotosyn), Monday, 27 March 2017 15:00 (seven months ago) Permalink

"I play jazz when I am confused
Country whenever I'm lost
Bird’s saxophone yeah, just won’t sound right
I feel like Hank Williams tonight"

This one sounds a bit more forced, but the chorus works

curmudgeon, Thursday, 30 March 2017 14:22 (seven months ago) Permalink

that's a cover. written by chris wall, recorded by jerry jeff walker. i love sweeney's version.

fact checking cuz, Thursday, 30 March 2017 19:38 (seven months ago) Permalink

(also, it rhymes! second line of that chorus is "country whenever i lose.")

fact checking cuz, Thursday, 30 March 2017 19:40 (seven months ago) Permalink

I sensed it was a cover, just not quite as wowed by her delivery as you. The Austin-based Sweeney co-wrote 8 of the tracks I see, and turned to Texas folks like Wall on that one, plus Texas songwriters/singers Brennen Leigh and her husband Noel McKay on "Pills"

curmudgeon, Thursday, 30 March 2017 21:05 (seven months ago) Permalink

Still don't get Chris Stapleton. He was so barband rock in his performance on the Academy of Country Music Awards tonight.

curmudgeon, Monday, 3 April 2017 03:48 (seven months ago) Permalink

Miranda Lambert got a number of awards (well at least 2-- best album, and best female vocalist)

curmudgeon, Monday, 3 April 2017 14:00 (seven months ago) Permalink

Forgot to dvr this and missed the opening hour--Wonder if its on youtube or elsewhere (sounds painful)-- Co-hosts Luke Bryan and Dierks Bentley teamed with Eagles guitarist Joe Walsh to pay tribute to the late Chuck Berry with "Johnny B. Goode."

25 performances in the show

curmudgeon, Monday, 3 April 2017 14:58 (seven months ago) Permalink

longtime LA Weekly writer Jonny Whiteside (a fan of honky-tonk country and punk-country) takes his shots at "Americana" acts he does not like including Lucinda Williams, Jason Isbell, Gillian Welch and others. Sometimes I agree with him, other times he invokes an "authenticity" type argument that doesn't work.

curmudgeon, Tuesday, 4 April 2017 19:52 (seven months ago) Permalink

Can't find my ancient Rolling Country 200? comments on Sweeney's debut, Heartbreaker's Hall of Fame, which came out on Big Machine, big at the time, but may have dropped the ball promotion-wise, since a certain big name, country-compatible crit had never heard of it---I got the promo and he didn't, which tends to bassackwardsness---or maybe, Big Machine being so cool, they deliberately dropped the ball soon after starting the usual rounds, maybe sharing Sweeney's opinion, that she didn't know what the hell she was doing in the studio back then. Au contraire---it's uneven, sure, like most of hers (maybe all; I still need to hear the new one), but all are worth checking out. The debut sounds like an alt-universe, low-budget CD Baby Nat Maines, one who never hit the big time, but hits the big notes to kill (bastard) time, still spinning her wheels in the backside of Texas, muddy rumbling echo and all. Consult your local thrift store:

dow, Monday, 10 April 2017 18:29 (seven months ago) Permalink

Re the Whitside link: haven't heard Outlaw and Grelle, true that Wayne Hancock can be tiresome with the retro, though much more in the studio than live, ditto Gillian Welch, occasionally ditto the others, but despite their unevenness, Lucinda Williams, Shovels & Rope, and Isbell are always worth a listen.
PS: Boland's 2015 album is not so bad, as mentioned on RC and my blogged Nashvile Scene ballot:Jason Boland & the Stragglers, Squelch: social commentary, which can seem self-righteous and lazy in its way, especially since he's always reliant on basic Waylon-to-Sturgill templates, but sometimes it really works, the more personal-is-political he gets (and not nec. "political" in the usual sense; like there's one about finally making it out of a small-minded smalltown, to New Orleans, which is "buzzin' like a sign," and it doesn't go at all like I thought it would).

dow, Monday, 10 April 2017 18:51 (seven months ago) Permalink

I like the Sunny Sweeney record! It is very good.

I am about to get on a plane to Nashville and I am extremely excited. Except the line-up at the Opry the night I was going to go is... Rascal Flatts and Keith Urban. Both have songs I like but not very many.

oh, boy, .GIF! That's where I'm a Viking! (edwardo), Tuesday, 11 April 2017 09:21 (seven months ago) Permalink

Have fun there anyway.

Lauren Alaina's #1 country hit "Road less Traveled" is not wowing me musically on first few listens (co-written with Meghan Trainor and Jesse Frasure) . Alaina was an American Idol runnerup in 2011.

curmudgeon, Tuesday, 11 April 2017 15:43 (seven months ago) Permalink

two weeks pass...

This Ann Powers blurb almost makes me not want to hear the Charlie Worsham album. But I guess I will listen and give it a shot. He's on tour now with Brandy Clark

Beginning Of Things is one of the most intelligent and skillfully crafted albums of the year so far. It's also pure fun; Worsham is as great with a joke as he is with a guitar or a banjo. Part of the new generation that's reviving the best elements of country music — its intense songcraft, great playing and generous heart — Worsham will be making major waves in 2017.

curmudgeon, Thursday, 27 April 2017 15:20 (six months ago) Permalink

First listen to Worsham's take on Nashville country didn't wow me.

curmudgeon, Tuesday, 2 May 2017 12:57 (six months ago) Permalink

Worsham's becoming quite the critic's fave. Here's a Jewly Hight feature on him for NPR. Maybe I will give him another listen...

curmudgeon, Wednesday, 3 May 2017 18:55 (six months ago) Permalink

Going on a trip from NYC to Vegas, couple of canyons, to LA and San Francisco! Am looking for country tips! Bars! Concert agenda's, concerts, festivals, record stores etc!
Any guidance would be deeply appreciated!

rizzx, Wednesday, 10 May 2017 11:08 (six months ago) Permalink

Keeps getting better whole-album-wise, that is; she's always made some good tracks, solo and with the Annies.

dow, Monday, 25 September 2017 19:34 (one month ago) Permalink

These guys are getting a lot of attention too.

curmudgeon, Thursday, 28 September 2017 20:38 (one month ago) Permalink

Apparently Midland are not "authentic" enough for some

curmudgeon, Friday, 29 September 2017 14:57 (one month ago) Permalink

well they are reaching especially hard for that 70s Nashville outlaw look and there is something slightly... desperate and pathetic about that? on the other hand they are v good looking and their music rocks, so

illegal economic migration (Tracer Hand), Friday, 29 September 2017 15:06 (one month ago) Permalink

I Love Music Question Title: is Midland the Strokes of country music?

finger hovers over Submit Post

illegal economic migration (Tracer Hand), Friday, 29 September 2017 15:08 (one month ago) Permalink

So that country music "salad" that the one industry exec was talking about is now--Gentle-bros, a band w/ a long-haired one-time model bringing 70s & current styles together, plus a few women....

curmudgeon, Friday, 29 September 2017 15:15 (one month ago) Permalink

Ha... x-post

curmudgeon, Friday, 29 September 2017 15:16 (one month ago) Permalink

'drinking problem' is nice enough.

Chocolate-covered gummy bears? Not ruling those lil' guys out. (ulysses), Friday, 29 September 2017 18:05 (one month ago) Permalink

One sign that things might be changing: Three mainstream country acts, including the popular Florida-Georgia Line, have quietly canceled their NRA Country partnerships in the wake of the Vegas shooting, and only one would confirm to Rolling Stone that they were still partnered with the organization.

curmudgeon, Friday, 6 October 2017 16:11 (one month ago) Permalink

xposts, Midland look like idiots

Erotic Wolf (crüt), Friday, 6 October 2017 16:15 (one month ago) Permalink

Not nec. "desperate", though: in my experience, it's just what happens if you let it grow, let it flow.

Looks like I might have to pick from my usual gratuitously hacked-in Countryoid/Americana/Related category, for a legit Top Ten on the next Nashville Scene ballot: all I got so far among even the probs is Willie Nelson's God's Problem Child (vibe established by title track [feat. Jamey Johnson and Tony Joe White], not unlike "The Thrill Is Gone", thus especially appropriate this year) Lynne & Moorer (commanding voices, just settling in for a moment, that genetic country harmony, the most consistent work Moorer has ever done), Mellencamp frequently feat. Carlene Carter (special guests Martina McBride and Kenny Aronoff! He's pulling prev. unreleased charging them up, new ones sound refreshed too, overall effect almost happy), maybe Stapleton's Songs From A Room Vol. 1, although it seems a little skimpy, and not just because 9 tracks (c'mon with Vol. 2 already).

Womack will have a new one out later this month, but still seems like I'll have to pull some in from Americana etc. Prob the prev. mentioned Langford, and Lucinda's This Sweet Old World, which is a re-recording of her early SOW and of prev. unreleased from same sessions.

Haven't done comparative listening yet---this one may be more mannered, with that sound like she's rolling pills around in her mouth---but so far it stand on its own: she gets just enough of the right-enough details into the blue-gray clouds, which also incl. her cogent current core band (plus, as with early sessions for the original album, Greg Leisz on steel guitar) ripe and tensile, so ready for anything that the overall effect is almost subliminally happy, as with the Mellen. Good bonus tracks too; "Wild and Blue" will never die!

dow, Friday, 6 October 2017 17:11 (one month ago) Permalink

But I still haven't heard Sweeney's latest, or the full-length Whitney Rose (or the Womack).

dow, Friday, 6 October 2017 17:18 (one month ago) Permalink

Oh yeah, Rimes! Need to listen more, but a trip right off.

dow, Friday, 6 October 2017 17:19 (one month ago) Permalink

And the Crowell's pretty intense, especially the song about Susanna Clark.

dow, Friday, 6 October 2017 17:24 (one month ago) Permalink

I need to listen to Sweeney too.

curmudgeon, Saturday, 7 October 2017 21:18 (one month ago) Permalink

Her previous albums have been imperfect, but effective overall, sometimes in unusual ways (Provoked incl. the one about moving through a party where everyone's staring at her, spooky). Trophystarts with "Pass The Pain", and gets some more mileage out of etc. by pulling rank on, then apologetically appealing to/explaining herself to a bartender, in a way a guy would be less likely to; we're not trained like that. But so far seems like this this set makes room for too many crisply boring duds, disappointingly written with the usually cogent Lori McKenna, whose terse, subtle vocal approach doesn't always work for the previously bolder Sweeney. But co-writing and vocal influence def effective in the eerie low-key layers of the title track, which seems ready for ID---Investigative Discovery, the semi-true crime channel.
Also, she lets her guard down on the venerable, Jerry Jeff-associated (Chris Wall-written) "I Feel Like Hank Williams Tonight": "I play jazz when I am confused, I play country, whenever I lose...When I'm high I play rock and roll, country when I lose control..." Cuts loose on the finale too, but on first listen the album seems about half good. (I'll listen more, but she usually puts 'em right over the plate.)

dow, Monday, 9 October 2017 16:50 (one month ago) Permalink

it's def better than half good, keep at it dow

ToddBonzalez (BradNelson), Monday, 9 October 2017 16:51 (one month ago) Permalink

I will. I want to believe!

dow, Monday, 9 October 2017 17:03 (one month ago) Permalink

"too many crisply boring duds" is an apt description of McKenna's last good one.

morning wood truancy (Alfred, Lord Sotosyn), Monday, 9 October 2017 17:06 (one month ago) Permalink

*uh last one

morning wood truancy (Alfred, Lord Sotosyn), Monday, 9 October 2017 17:06 (one month ago) Permalink

also check out the whitney rose, it's a lovely record

ToddBonzalez (BradNelson), Monday, 9 October 2017 19:54 (one month ago) Permalink

Wiil do. And the EP starts with the brilliant "Three Minute Love Affair". self-referential retro springs eternal, in this case.
in my own peculiar hermity way last night, shuffled just close enough to Fecebook to glimpse the news that a singer of my long acquaintance, whose voice, incl. as writer of songs and emails, has stayed with me despite the gaps in our correspondence, recently got an out-of-the-blue diagnosis of life-threatening etc--she's holding up, in her own non-chirpy, bright and bracing way. Borad 77 helped me get my thoughts and nerve together for an email. Now I keep hearing Willie: "Phases and stages, circles and cycles, scenes that we've all seen before. Let me show you some more."

dow, Wednesday, 11 October 2017 20:27 (one month ago) Permalink

Holy Moly---better listen some more before I say how good I think this is---but will say if you read any of Jewly Hight's intro first, don't be put off by mention of Alison Krauss---yes, Pearce is from back in the hills, yes, there is a dobro sometimes, but no hushed tremulous vocal aura, just straight-forward country pop, lean and limber, with sufficient realness for shading ("You be the light, I'll be the color"), and steel strings x "loosely-fitting programmed beats", as Hight says, but not too loose, some good grooves here. though the song is always the point.
Thought occurs in home stretch of my maiden voyage that some of the chorus melodies are too similarly, earnestly radio-bait generic, but then the closer, "Dare Ya", tightens the beat again, adds pressure to her dare, and before all that, she's got chorus lyrics such as "If you wanna burn you and me down. and make sure I don't come around, you're doin' it right, doin' it right (that's "Doin' It Right")< which I think is also the one with the verse that starts, "Yew treat love like a shitty motel."
Also, some choruses gain from context, like "If my name was whiskey, maybe then you'd miss me" is preceded by somewhat apprehensive lines about him followin' her around, the minute she gets off work and so on, but now she's spooked by his absence.

dow, Wednesday, 11 October 2017 23:17 (one month ago) Permalink

i'm extremely in love with the carly pearce record now, you're basically otm there dow

ToddBonzalez (BradNelson), Friday, 13 October 2017 16:41 (one month ago) Permalink

new Margo Price is at NPR, sounds v good to me so far a few songs in

a serious and fascinating fartist (Simon H.), Tuesday, 17 October 2017 13:11 (one month ago) Permalink

A few notes on new Womack, this week on NPR---maybe down tomorrow, since that's release date, so go listen now:
Title track, like at least most of the rest, is about struggling with illusions, diehard habits, imprints, bullshitting yourself, "Old songs make it sound so cool...'til it happens to you", and new rounds of nostalgia---something 'bout the days of "half-price weed" on the jukebox packed with country rock---just feed the illusion of progressive regress, of very special problems, when really it's the same old shit---and only a Hank song, beyond solace,chilly as a moon, a heart and a mirror, will cut it. Then again, the undertow of the guitar intro and outro is not Hankian in a stylistic sense, and it's followed immediately by
"He Called Me Baby", a Harlan Howard song that could be an Allen Toussaint song--he's gone, apparently, but memory's still bangin' her all night long, and vice versa. sounds like.
(She keeps switching musical approaches, and several others I assumed were classic country ballads of the soul-searching but ruefully succinct and non-weepy [for instance late 60s-early 70s Willie] school, turned out to be yet more originals from Womack and her versatile team.)
In "Hollywood", everything is fiiine, except maybe approaching the lush life twilight of the valley of the uncanny---is he gaslighting her, or is she already paranoid? Both?
Think about everything you did and was done to you. Keep it all in perspective, good and bad and other, no compartmentalizing, and sometimes it will merge like it should, "Shine On Rainy Day."
But also---though you can seperate the pictures into Before and After (the big move your family had to make, for instance, you still don't know just how or why or meybe when, really, "Mama Lost Her Smile." )Cos life ain't pictures, for one thing...)
Could do without a couple of others, so far, but the whole thing is 53 minutes and change, and unlikely to end up skimpy, even if I end up skipping a few more. That voice, duh.

dow, Friday, 27 October 2017 01:46 (three weeks ago) Permalink

i will try the new womack for sure.

i like the new Cam single "Diane" a lot! a nice take on "jolene from jolene's perspective"

and i kinda think the new yelawolf should and will be treated more like country than rap.

Chocolate-covered gummy bears? Not ruling those lil' guys out. (ulysses), Friday, 27 October 2017 19:47 (three weeks ago) Permalink

Man, the new Womack, despite its length, is another killer.

morning wood truancy (Alfred, Lord Sotosyn), Saturday, 28 October 2017 16:00 (three weeks ago) Permalink

Don't want to say too much about Nicole Atkins' Goodnight Rhonda Lee yet, but,
following the opening Laura Nyro-in-Memphis-upside-the-head "A Little Crazy", which is maybe a little too persistent with the swooping, hijacked-countrypolitan strings of the chorus, behold "Darkness Falls So Quiet," which is somewhat misleadingly titled, being very persistently catchy and not that quiet, and she says when things get too spooky, she can rely on her friends and her records, and it seems like her friends might be her records and vice-versa, and if so, that's okay.
For she has not only absorbed 60s Nyro, Dusty In Memphis, Ode To Billie Joe, the production moves of Lee Hazlewood and his prodigious acolyte Suzi Jane Hokum (especially on her own records), Atkins has also seen how other popologists have fallen short, and how so many are just nimbic names now, afterglow halos matter how good they were at certain things---who actually listens that much nowadays to Dwight Twilley, or even Harry Nilsson? It's sad. But the title track is vibrant and stoic: "When they stop listening, that's just the way it goes, don't let it crush you, say goodnight Rhonda Lee."
This track begins or makes more noticeable a recurring Heartbreaker of the Year vibe, in the sense that Whitney Rose and her producer/sometime duet partner Raul Malo drew from the Spanish tinge of late 50s-to mid-60s pop-rock hits (and their influence on some late 60s pop-country), with a Twin Peaks Senior Prom echo chamber.
So: unabashedly plush but well-tymed girlie swirls x restless drums, bass, rhythm guitar, tolerating bits of steel, keys, orchestra (the electric guitar is the orchestra on the last track--waking "from a nightmare to a dream"--- but not too much of one).
Whole thing's here, sounding better than Spotify to me:

dow, Tuesday, 31 October 2017 05:32 (two weeks ago) Permalink

Suzi Jane *Hokom*, that is.

dow, Tuesday, 31 October 2017 05:37 (two weeks ago) Permalink

Atkins has also seen how other popologists have fallen short: her influences are right there on the table, right away---but then she takes off with 'em, no tyme for getting hypnotized by her collection--she's been through that; "The grooves of my brain are wearing out"---she's got another song to sing, a track to make, that rhythm section discipline in the midnight mind.

dow, Tuesday, 31 October 2017 06:17 (two weeks ago) Permalink

Caramanica in NY Times on what he sees as Ballerini's pros and cons:

she is an elegant songwriter; many of the best songs here are written by Ms. Ballerini with Shane McAnally and Hillary Lindsey, masters of emotional detail

...But if Ms. Ballerini has a crutch, it’s the specter of Ms. Swift, who has demonstrated more than anyone how to dismantle Nashville’s patriarchy in recent years, and whose playbook she is sometimes peeking at. Throughout this album, there are melodies, chord changes, lyrical images and structural tricks that feel indebted to Ms. Swift’s first three albums. Even the way Ms. Ballerini lingers over certain vowels suggests the shadow of Ms. Swift. In order to fully come into her own, though, Ms. Ballerini needs to shake free of that as effectively as she brushes off country music’s simpleton men.®ion=rank&module=package&version=highlights&contentPlacement=2&pgtype=sectionfront

curmudgeon, Thursday, 2 November 2017 20:17 (two weeks ago) Permalink

the ballerini record is v good; i don't mind that it's supposedly in the shadow of t swift bc t swift has abandoned her original position

ToddBonzalez (BradNelson), Friday, 3 November 2017 18:14 (two weeks ago) Permalink

The new Womack is great

Heez, Saturday, 4 November 2017 00:25 (two weeks ago) Permalink

Heard some nice tracks from Lee Ann Womack album.

Also listened to that Nicole Atkins one-- definitely hear the 60s Nyro, Dusty In Memphis influences

curmudgeon, Monday, 6 November 2017 18:05 (one week ago) Permalink

Now I'm listening to Margo Price's All American Made---no hyphen in there; it's "We're all American made", compartments and all, as she looks for something in herself, something she's stashed between the hangover, the thought-loops, yadda-yadda---she's gotten past the Loretta Lynn imitations on the debut, which were seeming too slick even before the actual LL showed up with a good new album---key line (tho' farmed out to duet podner Willie) here might be "How trails have I been down/For no reason", trying to escape from him/herself---now they're "winning by learning to lose", copping to limitations and other self-knowledge, also and trusting the realness of questions over answers.
So she finds a Lynn-worthy stance after all, shifting gears between the more typical "Pay Gap"-extended- working woman (incl. wife-parent-other) POV and that of a rising female star/upgraded pro, making her(and her band's, and others') money on the road after the fall of the record biz/same as it ever was for most musos, no matter how risen---no Behind The Music melodrama; she may be going "Nowhere Fast", but she'll take it, apprehensions and all. Plenty shadows here (not quite the usually bright bandcamp sound, tho' appropriately so, and never murky), but her matter-of-fact can be droll enough, even and especially with "Bein' born is a curse/Dyin' young is worse." Margo Price & The Price Tags; I'll go see 'em after all.

dow, Monday, 6 November 2017 18:13 (one week ago) Permalink

"How *many* trails", that is!

dow, Monday, 6 November 2017 18:14 (one week ago) Permalink

I just got to the Nicole Atkins, dow. Lee Hazelwood influence is powerful.

morning wood truancy (Alfred, Lord Sotosyn), Tuesday, 7 November 2017 17:44 (one week ago) Permalink

CMAs last night

Keith Urban won the evening's first award for best single for his song, "Blue Ain't Your Color." Then, Taylor Swift, who wasn't at the show, won the award for song of the year for Little Big Town's hit "Better Man."

Later, Chris Stapleton took home the award for Album of the Year with his "From a Room: Volume 1."

Miranda Lambert, who was nominated for more awards than any other artist won the award for female vocalist of the year.

curmudgeon, Thursday, 9 November 2017 15:21 (one week ago) Permalink

Outside the CMAs, Sturgill Simpson who had earlier in the year blasted the CMAs, and was apparently not invited--

Sturgill Simpson, the popular country singer who is largely ignored by mainstream country industry, showed up outside Nashville’s Bridgestone Arena — where the awards were taking place — to play guitar; raise money for the American Civil Liberties Union; chat and take pictures with strangers; and make jokes about how he wasn’t allowed in the ceremony.

Meanwhile, on Wednesday night, Simpson fielded all kinds of questions, including who he wanted to win a CMA. He said it would be great if his close pal Isbell won (nominated for album of the year), and that if he had to choose, he was also rooting for Chris Stapleton, Miranda Lambert and Keith Urban.

curmudgeon, Thursday, 9 November 2017 18:56 (one week ago) Permalink

You cats might want to get in the line early, go look into a singer/songwriter from Kentucky named Tyler Childers. He's been around for a few years but has gotten pretty popular around here and is probably next at the plate to go after Sturgill Simpson for the golden songwriter ring around here.

Childer's has one of those voices that cuts. I think he's pretty damn good.

earlnash, Friday, 10 November 2017 03:59 (one week ago) Permalink

This guy Colter Wall is pretty cool too.

earlnash, Friday, 10 November 2017 04:03 (one week ago) Permalink

also check out the whitney rose, it's a lovely record
--Brad Nelson

ooohhh yeah

dow, Tuesday, 14 November 2017 05:21 (five days ago) Permalink

Rough Trade Record store already has their top 2017 albums list out, and Colter Wall is is near the top

curmudgeon, Tuesday, 14 November 2017 21:38 (five days ago) Permalink

Speaking of Tyler Childers, he's a good guest star on Colter Wall's version of "Fraulein"; would like to hear them doing more covers. Wall's solemn Saskatchewan aural presence is clear and deep and seasoned and always distinctive, as his lyrics tend to be undistinguished, although I haven't yet distinguished all of 'em, but he's usually headed from Marlboro visions of boxcars and bar rooms to back issues of Mojo and Uncut and No Depression via "Woody Guthrie Street," where tunes x voice meld me into the vinyl shadows well enough: can wander 'round them words, no harm, come on back, and if I were still a drinkin' man I'd order another round. Mind you, he does have some tales to tell, especially on the strong-enough finale, "Bald Butte": hot lead, chill reverie, such as Woody Guthrie might in fact approve. So I'll listen closer to the others, keep on "zingin' zongs", CW.

dow, Thursday, 16 November 2017 18:24 (three days ago) Permalink

"vinyl shadows" even via plain ol' free Spotify, so yeah got the "aural presence" strong enough.

dow, Thursday, 16 November 2017 18:27 (three days ago) Permalink

lmao i just got informed of the existence of this hank jr. cosplay lookin ass motherfucker

Universal LULU Nation (upper mississippi sh@kedown), Friday, 17 November 2017 20:11 (two days ago) Permalink

i've heard a few jason isbell albums and i wouldn't exactly classify it as country or countryoid (kind of alt country i guess) but he is a very talented songwriter. he's more of a singer-songwriter but with more interesting chord progressions

his 2015 song 24 frames is very good and his new album is pretty good too

i n f i n i t y (∞), Friday, 17 November 2017 20:15 (two days ago) Permalink

it = them

i n f i n i t y (∞), Friday, 17 November 2017 20:15 (two days ago) Permalink

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