Tony Joe White / Dave Alvin: Subsonic Vocals

One of my Christmas gifts was an iTunes gift card, and I always use such windfalls as an excuse to look for music that's a little outside the mainstream. Coincidentally, a song on SiriusXM's Outlaw Country station caught my attention, and so I went searching for it. 

Although my car radio's readout often truncates artist names and song titles (an ongoing source of annoyance, by the way; the display itself appears to have twice as much space as is actually used), I was able to discern that the musician was Tony Joe White &...someone...and the song title was Closing In On Th (thanks a lot, illogical 16 character limit). But the iTune Store's search led me to a 2004 album by TJW entitled Heroines, and his duet with Lucinda Williams called Closing In On The Fire

The album contains four additional duets, matching White's deep gravelly muttering with the lovely voices of country stars Shelby Lynne, Jessi Colter, and TJ's daughter, Michelle White. These are fascinating combinations. If all you know of Tony Joe White is Polk Salad Annie, Heroines will likely be a perception-altering album. The dark, languid blues are still present, but several on this collection have a Latin flavor.

Here's a live version of Can't Go Back Home, the duet with the Grammy Award-winning Shelby Lynne.



Speaking of distinct and deep voices, are you familiar with the music of Dave Alvin? He describes himself as a folk singer, but if so, it's a version of folk that I've never before experienced...lose the mental picture of Peter, Paul & Mary, or Woody Guthrie. His latest album, Eleven Eleven, was released last June. Watch the following video of Johnny Ace Is Dead, and check out the guitar solo beginning at around the 2:30 mark and tell me if that sounds like "folk" to you. [By the way, as one of the hallmarks of folk songs is the telling of stories, true or not, Alvin's Johnny Ace definitely qualifies, as it recounts a true story. Johnny Ace was a very talented but equally stupid R&B singer from the '50s.]



Here's another performance that's a better showcase for Alvin's voice, a live version of Harlan County Line. I can't help wondering how a duet between Tony Joe White and Dave Alvin would sound. If nothing else, it would provide a good test of the capabilities of your audio system's subwoofer.


3 Comments

I have never heard any of these people but I like Dave Alvin
and his music.
Thanks for sharing.

I went down today and ordered the "Eleven Eleven" cd. I should
have it by Jcn. 6, 2012.I'm looking forward to hearing the entire
songs.
Thanks again

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This page contains a single entry by Eric published on December 28, 2011 9:10 PM.

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