PopMatters is moving to WordPress. We will publish a few essays daily while we develop the new site. We hope the beta will be up sometime late next week.
Music

Dave Alvin and Jimmie Dale Gilmore Offer a Tour of the Country with 'Downey to Lubbock'

Photo: Daniel Jackson / Courtesy of Shore Fire Media

The invigorating blend of traditional blues, country, folk, and more on Downey to Lubbock shows Dave Alvin and Jimmie Dale Gilmore finding common ground.

Downey to Lubbock
Dave Alvin and Jimmie Dale Gilmore

Yep Roc

1 June 2018

Downey to Lubbock stems from Dave Alvin (the Blasters, X) and Jimmie Dale Gilmore (the Flatlanders) discovering some musical and biographical points of connection while touring together last year. Of particular note, both artists trace some of their roots to time they spent at Los Angeles's club the Ash Grove, and the joy of seeing and meeting artists like Brownie McGhee and Lightning Hopkins there. The two decided to get together for a loose set of blues, country, and folk, and while Downey to Lubbock sounds like the casual work of two confident artists, it never feels like a tossed-off side project.

The album mostly features covers – a tribute in selection and spirit to some of the musicians who inspire the pair – but it opens with the original title track. The two trade vocals, Alvin enjoying his "loud Stratocaster that can blow any roadhouse down" while "hippie country singer" Gilmore reveals that "West Texas wind blows through my veins". Two verses in and the singers have captured their different backgrounds while simultaneously hitting the pull that brings them together despite the strange turns that have led to this point. Alvin does turn his Strat loose for a bit, shaking that roadhouse the song most certainly lives in.

The other new number, Alvin's "Billy the Kid and Geronimo" takes a folkier approach to tell the tale of the titular figures meeting for a moment to sympathize over the violent lives they've lived and the cultural positions they've come to. Gilmore's high country voice takes the part of Geronimo while Alvin more or less sticks to William Bonney and broader narration, sending one man "prison-bound the other to his own grave". The music effectively provides a bridge between the two voices, Gilmore's tenor leading further into country while Alvin's baritone adds a different color.

The two aren't a perfect match vocally (Gilmore fits better with his son Colin's harmonies on "Deportee – Plane Wreck at Los Gatos", on which Alvin doesn't sing), but the album doesn't rely on that sort of blend. Instead, it thrives on reinvigorating tradition, whether old blues or early rock 'n' roll (Lloyd Price's and then everyone's "Lawdy Miss Clawdy" or 1960s folk (a surprisingly strong cover of the Youngbloods' "Get Together"). The love these two have for their roots (and roots music, broadly considered) comes through with each performance. It doesn't take anything away from this record to call it a fun disc.

That sort of exuberance makes picking highlights – aside from the opener – as time-consuming as pinning down each genre represented. Gilmore's voice suits the blues numbers selected here, particularly "Buddy Browns' Blues". Tributes to contemporaries Steve Young and Chris Gaffney are more than effective. Alvin's singing and steel-bodied guitar playing bring new life to 100-year-old jug band number "Stealin, Stealin'". The pair, and the talented full band behind them accomplish what they set out to do, honoring a range of music and experiences while comfortable jumping into old favorites. Despite the thousand miles between Downey, CA, and Lubbock, TX, the two don't break new ground, but they certainly offer a fun tour of the country.

7

Please Donate to Help Save PopMatters

PopMatters have been informed by our current technology and hosting provider that we have less than a month, until November 6, to move PopMatters off their service or we will be shut down. We are moving to WordPress and a new host, but we really need your help to save the site.


Music

Books

Film

Recent
Film

The 13 Greatest Horror Directors of All Time

In honor of Halloween, here are 13 fascinating fright mavens who've made scary movies that much more meaningful.

Music

British Jazz and Soul Artists Interpret the Classics on '​Blue Note Re:imagined'

Blue Note Re:imagined provides an entrance for new audiences to hear what's going on in British jazz today as well as to go back to the past and enjoy old glories.

Film

Bill Murray and Rashida Jones Add Another Shot to 'On the Rocks'

Sofia Coppola's domestic malaise comedy On the Rocks doesn't drown in its sorrows -- it simply pours another round, to which we raise our glass.

Music

​Patrick Cowley Remade Funk and Disco on 'Some Funkettes'

Patrick Cowley's Some Funkettes sports instrumental renditions from between 1975-1977 of songs previously made popular by Donna Summer, Herbie Hancock, the Temptations, and others.

Music

The Top 10 Definitive Breakup Albums

When you feel bombarded with overpriced consumerism disguised as love, here are ten albums that look at love's hangover.

Music

Dustin Laurenzi's Natural Language Digs Deep Into the Jazz Quartet Format with 'A Time and a Place'

Restless tenor saxophonist Dustin Laurenzi runs his four-piece combo through some thrilling jazz excursions on a fascinating new album, A Time and a Place.

Television

How 'Watchmen' and 'The Boys' Deconstruct American Fascism

Superhero media has a history of critiquing the dark side of power, hero worship, and vigilantism, but none have done so as radically as Watchmen and The Boys.

Music

Floodlights' 'From a View' Is Classicist Antipodal Indie Guitar Pop

Aussie indie rockers, Floodlights' debut From a View is a very cleanly, crisply-produced and mixed collection of shambolic, do-it-yourself indie guitar music.

Music

CF Watkins Embraces a Cool, Sophisticated Twang on 'Babygirl'

CF Watkins has pulled off the unique trick of creating an album that is imbued with the warmth of the American South as well as the urban sophistication of New York.

Music

Helena Deland Suggests Imagination Is More Rewarding Than Reality on 'Something New'

Canadian singer-songwriter Helena Deland's first full-length release Someone New reveals her considerable creative talents.

Music

While the Sun Shines: An Interview with Composer Joe Wong

Joe Wong, the composer behind Netflix's Russian Doll and Master of None, articulates personal grief and grappling with artistic fulfillment into a sweeping debut album.

Music

Peter Frampton Asks "Do You Feel Like I Do?" in Rock-Solid Book on Storied Career

British rocker Peter Frampton grew up fast before reaching meteoric heights with Frampton Comes Alive! Now the 70-year-old Grammy-winning artist facing a degenerative muscle condition looks back on his life in his new memoir and this revealing interview.

Books

Bishakh Som's 'Spellbound' Is an Innovative Take on the Graphic Memoir

Bishakh's Som's graphic memoir, Spellbound, serves as a reminder that trans memoirs need not hinge on transition narratives, or at least not on the ones we are used to seeing.

Music

Gamblers' Michael McManus Discusses Religion, Addiction, and the Importance of Writing Open-Ended Songs

Seductively approachable, Gamblers' sunny sound masks the tragedy and despair that populate the band's debut album.

Books

Peter Guralnick's 'Looking to Get Lost' Is an Ode to the Pleasures of Writing About Music

Peter Guralnick's homage to writing about music, 'Looking to Get Lost', shows how good music writing gets the music into the readers' head.

Film

In Praise of the Artifice in George Cukor's 'Sylvia Scarlett'

George Cukor's gender-bending Sylvia Scarlett proposes a heroine who learns nothing from her cross-gendered ordeal.

Music

The Cure: Ranking the Albums From 13 to 1

Just about every Cure album is worth picking up, and even those ranked lowest boast worthwhile moments. Here are their albums, spanning 29 years, presented from worst to best.

Television

The 20 Best Episodes of 'Star Trek: The Original Series'

This is a timeless list of 20 thrilling Star Trek episodes that delight, excite, and entertain, all the while exploring the deepest aspects of the human condition and questioning our place in the universe.


Reviews
Collapse Expand Reviews



Features
Collapse Expand Features

PM Picks
Collapse Expand Pm Picks

© 1999-2020 PopMatters.com. All rights reserved.
PopMatters is wholly independent, women-owned and operated.