Music

The Kickin' Grass Band: Walk With Me

Chris Conaton

Entertaining and wide-ranging, at least across its eight original songs.


The Kickin' Grass Band

Walk With Me

Label: Superfan
US Release Date: 2012-07-24
UK Release Date: 2012-07-24
Label website
Amazon
iTunes

Despite a band name that sounds like a crappy local country cover outfit, The Kickin' Grass Band's fourth album Walk With Me is an assured and confident mixture of bluegrass and Americana originals and, yes, a handful of covers. Guitarist Lynda Dawson writes the majority of the originals here, and her she has an ear for a catchy melody as well as interesting turns of phrase. The rollicking "Gum Stump Squirrel" is full of Dawson's musings and contains the out-of-nowhere couplet "How do you think our comrades up in the space station / Feel about our shuttle program coming to an end?" Elsewhere Dawson tackles more traditional Americana subjects such as the death of a loved one ("No One Can Live Forever") and spirituality ("Walk With Me").

While Dawson's voice and songs are the backbone of the band, nearly everyone gets the chance to shine somewhere on the album. Mandolinist Jamie Dawson turns in a strong, weary-sounding performance as a gas station employee on "The Filling Station". The band sounds more like a classic country group when bassist Patrick Walsh and fiddler Pattie Hopkins sing the lead on songs like "Ghosts in My Head" and "That's What I Like About the South". Even banjo player Hank Smith gets the spotlight on "31", an instrumental track excerpted from a longer banjo concerto.

The Kickin' Grass Band seems to loosen up on the album's second half, which contains five different cover songs from artists ranging from Bill Monroe to Patty Griffin. Although they seem to be having a lot of fun on these songs, they aren't nearly as distinctive as the group's originals. Walk With Me, with four vocalists and two in-house songwriters, already covers a lot of ground in its seven originals, and adding five additional songwriters into the mix shifts the album's focus significantly. What could've been a sterling, wide-ranging effort from the band becomes more like a strong, interesting compilation than a proper album.

7

Cover down, pray through: Bob Dylan's underrated, misunderstood "gospel years" are meticulously examined in this welcome new installment of his Bootleg series.

"How long can I listen to the lies of prejudice?
How long can I stay drunk on fear out in the wilderness?"
-- Bob Dylan, "When He Returns," 1979

Bob Dylan's career has been full of unpredictable left turns that have left fans confused, enthralled, enraged – sometimes all at once. At the 1965 Newport Folk Festival – accompanied by a pickup band featuring Mike Bloomfield and Al Kooper – he performed his first electric set, upsetting his folk base. His 1970 album Self Portrait is full of jazzy crooning and head-scratching covers. In 1978, his self-directed, four-hour film Renaldo and Clara was released, combining concert footage with surreal, often tedious dramatic scenes. Dylan seemed to thrive on testing the patience of his fans.

Keep reading... Show less
9
TV

Inane Political Discourse, or, Alan Partridge's Parody Politics

Publicity photo of Steve Coogan courtesy of Sky Consumer Comms

That the political class now finds itself relegated to accidental Alan Partridge territory along the with rest of the twits and twats that comprise English popular culture is meaningful, to say the least.

"I evolve, I don't…revolve."
-- Alan Partridge

Alan Partridge began as a gleeful media parody in the early '90s but thanks to Brexit he has evolved into a political one. In print and online, the hopelessly awkward radio DJ from Norwich, England, is used as an emblem for incompetent leadership and code word for inane political discourse.

Keep reading... Show less

The show is called Crazy Ex-Girlfriend largely because it spends time dismantling the structure that finds it easier to write women off as "crazy" than to offer them help or understanding.

In the latest episode of Crazy Ex-Girlfriend, the CW networks' highly acclaimed musical drama, the shows protagonist, Rebecca Bunch (Rachel Bloom), is at an all time low. Within the course of five episodes she has been left at the altar, cruelly lashed out at her friends, abandoned a promising new relationship, walked out of her job, had her murky mental health history exposed, slept with her ex boyfriend's ill father, and been forced to retreat to her notoriously prickly mother's (Tovah Feldshuh) uncaring guardianship. It's to the show's credit that none of this feels remotely ridiculous or emotionally manipulative.

Keep reading... Show less
9

To be a migrant worker in America is to relearn the basic skills of living. Imagine doing that in your 60s and 70s, when you thought you'd be retired.


Nomadland: Surviving America in the Twenty-First Century

Publisher: W. W. Norton
Author: Jessica Bruder
Publication date: 2017-09
Amazon

There's been much hand-wringing over the state of the American economy in recent years. After the 2008 financial crisis upended middle-class families, we now live with regular media reports of recovery and growth -- as well as rising inequality and decreased social mobility. We ponder what kind of future we're creating for our children, while generally failing to consider who has already fallen between the gaps.

Keep reading... Show less
7

Gallagher's work often suffers unfairly beside famous husband's Raymond Carver. The Man from Kinvara should permanently remedy this.

Many years ago—it had to be 1989—my sister and I attended a poetry reading given by Tess Gallagher at California State University, Northridge's Little Playhouse. We were students, new to California and poetry. My sister had a paperback copy of Raymond Carver's Cathedral, which we'd both read with youthful admiration. We knew vaguely that he'd died, but didn't really understand the full force of his fame or talent until we unwittingly went to see his widow read.

Keep reading... Show less
8
Pop Ten
Mixed Media
PM Picks

© 1999-2017 Popmatters.com. All rights reserved.
Popmatters is wholly independently owned and operated.

rating-image