Music

Susie Glaze and the HiLonesome Band: Not That Kind of Girl

Photo by Andy Sheng

The fourth album from the neo-traditionalists finds them continuing to mine and hone their Celtic and bluegrass influences to appealing and dynamic effect.


Susie Glaze and the HiLonesome Band

Not That Kind of Girl

Label: HiLonesome Music
US Release Date: 2015-06-12
UK Release Date: 2015-06-12
Amazon
iTunes

The death of Jean Ritchie at age 92 this past June signified the sad loss of one of the most vital and beloved of American folk artists. Ritchie, whose family were visited by Cecil Sharp in his song-collecting travels across the States in 1917, and whose 1962 album Jean Ritchie Singing Traditional Songs of Her Kentucky Mountain Family was the first folk LP to be issued by Elektra Records, epitomizes Appalachian authenticity for many.

Few contemporary groups have been more vocal about Ritchie’s importance and influence than Susie Glaze and the HiLonesome Band. Tennessee native Glaze has featured on several tribute projects dedicated to Ritchie; in addition, not only did the group’s last album, 2013’s splendid White Swan, sign off with a cover of Ritchie’s “The Soldier”, but the record also came complete with a complimentary quote from “The Mother of Folk” herself: “With people like this to trust, my music will go on living, and soaring. And so will I.”

Ritchie’s spirit is indeed kept soaring on Glaze and co.’s new album, their fourth studio release. Not That Kind of Girl (and it seems doubtful that a Lena Dunham homage is intended in this title) sees the band continuing to develop and hone the synthesis of bluegrass, Celtic and other folk traditions in a way that would doubtless continue to win their mentor’s approbation. What sets this quintet apart from more staunch and staid traditionalists, however, is their choice of material, which mixes original songs penned primarily by the group’s lead guitarist Rob Carlson with some often surprising contemporary covers. In fact, Not That Kind of Girl features only one traditional track: a spare and haunting take on “Dens of Yarrow”, built around Mark Indicator’s fiddle, Skip Edwards’ accordion and Glaze’s shimmering, Judy Collins-channelling vocal.

The consistency of the group’s interplay is such that the album flows seamlessly, with much of the new material sounding at once time-honed and fresh. The instrumental opener “Independence” is as clear and bracing as a stream. The title track is a charming affirmation of faithfulness on which brisk picking of fiddle, bass and guitar is perfectly complemented by Glaze’s perky vocal. “Heartland”, from Belfast singer-songwriter Denise Hagan, is stunningly beautiful, with mournful fiddle and Glaze’s moving vocal digging deeply into the song's sentiments of homesickness and longing.

Bouzouki and mandolin player Steve Rankin gleefully takes the lead on a taut cover of David Olney’s unrepentant-criminal narrative, “Millionaire”, and also contributes a hilarious spoken word part to “Don’t Resist Me”, a wry stalker’s anthem (written by Carlson) that finds Glaze’s singing at its wittiest. And Chris Hillman joins the party on “Prisoner in Disguise”, contributing mandolin to a heartfelt and wistful rendering of the JD Souther song made famous by Linda Ronstadt.

Two of the stand-out tracks on White Swan, the murder ballad “Evangeline” and the sublime family reminiscence “Harlan County Boys”, came from the pen of Kerrville New Folk award-winning songwriter Ernest Troost, and Glaze and co return to Troost’s writing for one track here. In this case, it’s a lithe and lovely reading of “The Last to Leave” (drawn from Troost’s 2014 release O Love) that turns the track into a gorgeous parlour waltz. Taking its title from a Harriet Beecher Stowe quotation (“Never give up, for that is just the place and time that the tide will turn”), the closing track, “Never Give Up”, is defiant, dynamic bluegrass infused with a hint of gospel (and a nod to Pete Seeger) in the harmonies, epitomizing the generous spirit of this timeless and hugely appealing album.

8

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