Some quick comments regarding what I've had "On The Platter" this past month, before I switch it up a bit:
Booker T., Potato Hole (A) -- Booker T. is always fun and worth listening to, but with Neil Young and the Drive-By Truckers lending a musical hand, the fun becomes cubed. Small confession: I like the DBTs -- they've got attitude to spare, and an interesting approach to their subject matter -- but I rarely reach for their studio records. The disc that gets the most play in my car is Alabama Ass Whuppin', a (now) hard-to-find live set recorded in some hole-in-the-wall (A). Why? Because they sound like they're having fun, while on their studio discs things just get too damn serious and depressing. I'm fine with depressing, but I'd rather have fun. Potato Hole is incredible fun.
Slaid Cleaves, Everything You Love Will Be Taken Away (A, e) -- Speaking of fun, it would be a mistake to bypass a Slaid Cleaves album just because the title is depressing. Cleaves doesn't shy away from incredibly sad subject matter, but neither does he wallow in it. His subjects might get beaten up by life, but they let shine some genuine character. Cleaves songs can be grimly funny, angry, cussedly stubborn ... they are all, in their sour-breathed way, determinedly life-affirming. This disc, as with Broke Down, is going to be played for a long, long time.
Steve Earle, Townes (A) -- I acknowledge that Townes Van Zandt was an incredible songwriter and an unforgettable performer. But I like Earle's stuff better. I'm not entirely sure why, except that Earle's craft and sensibility have improved since he cleaned up, while TVZ often slid toward an amber-hued sentimentality. Earle is doing this (frequently with his son, Justin Townes Earle) because he knew and loved the man, and that certainly makes the project a deep pleasure to listen to. But I'm looking forward to his next album of original material.
Sarah Borges & The Broken Singles, The Stars Are Out (A, e) -- getting back to the fun: I'd like to compare Sarah's style to Joan Jett or Lucinda Williams (when she feels like cutting loose), but Borges and the Broken Singles have their own thing happening. If you're like me, you want to hear what this sounds like (you won't be disappointed).