‘Drunken’ in the mystical sense. . . Back in the day, Emmy Lou Harris was it. I’m talking 1973, and seeing her save a performance by a sadly bombed Gram Parsons. Although by then—at 19—I could sing the praises of Dolly and Loretta and, yup, Linda Ronstadt, seeing Emmy Lou sing like an angel in that very dark context was my first encounter with the living deep soul of pure country.
Ahh, but my cosmic cowboy phase soon moderated. Ha, blame it on Blue Note records! The upshot was that outside of a handful of leading lights,( like Rodney Crowell, Rosanne Cash, Mary Chapin Carpenter, Dwight Yoakim,)ccountry and country rock gems had to wind and roll their way onto my radar screen. I didn’t go searching for nuggets and still don’t. So, Wilco sparkled, so did Steve Earle, Will Kimbrough, and but a few others. Americana? Whatever.
The world wide web, of course, significantly improved the ol’ radar system. Nowadays, it’s a snap to dig out a glittering lead out of the various expert discussions happening on mp3 blogs and in forums. It’s funny to not keep up and yet find an embarrassment of riches.
Miranda Lambert tripped my trigger as soon as I checked out a hot tip about her second record, Kerosene. I liked her verve, and wasn’t hip enough to be cynical about the slick Nashville country-rock-pop settings. Her next record, Ex-Girlfriend, rocked harder and in those edgier settings, Lambert loosed a record full of oft pissed off, personal gestures about the man woman thing.
With Revolution, her record from earlier this year, Lambert has crafted a real diamond in the vein of the best countrified singer-songwriters, such as Rosanne Cash. Even though the arrangements are still a bit too shiny, Lambert has waxed a killer set of very personal, witty songs about growing up ‘country’. In a way, she’s a country Sheryl Crow, and that’s a-okay in my book.