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ERIC BRACE* PETER COOPER * THOMM JUTZ —PROFILES IN COURAGE, FRAILTY, & DISCOMFORT (Red Beet Records)

http://www.redbeetrecords.com

 

East-Nashville singer-songwriters Eric Brace, Peter Cooper and Thomm Jutz haven’t just got together to make this record, but they are friends and perform together whenever the opportunity presents itself. Lovingly, they shape the lyrics and with a simple authentic feel plus a built-in awareness of what is worth talking about. Our heritage, and memories of people who are no longer with us worth sharing, and in some cases regularly champion. All is done in an unassuming fashion, without a hint or need to name drop of do things because it’s in vogue or for monetary reward. But it is nice to be able to afford dressing on their sandwich every once in a while.

 

All songs are written by the trio (Cooper and Jutz are assisted by a friend or two in Kim Richey, Fred Knobloch and Robert Hicks) as the boys speak of the making of whiskey, Jerry Lee Lewis, lost towns (flooded to make a Nashville lake), John Hartford and the likes of Willie Nelson, Paul Buskirk and others as the songs, and music provided by their respective acoustic guitars take the listener from one comfortable seat to another. I say seat, because, opposed to chair it is a far more appropriated term since a seat can be anywhere. By a peaceful lake, football stadium, park bench, train or bus station or barstool, or one improvised. Because like their songs and beautiful understated playing it is universal, and of the real world.

 

Among the stories there is non stronger than “Parkersburg Blues (For Paul Buskirk)” or my favourite “Hartford’s Bend” (a jewel of a song written by Jutz and the likewise amazing, John Hadley). The former is about a mandolinist who from 1940s onwards performed with much eloquence, and played on a bunch of Willie Nelson albums in the 1980s-1990s, a man who’s hatred of his home state of West Virginia was carried and, it is even proclaimed on his grave!  He could not wait to remove himself from the hills of the state and become an adopted Texan. As for “Hartford's Bend” they tip their hat to the late John Hartford. “Angel’s Share” is about the whiskey absorbed, and goes through the wood of barrels to disappear in the air; hence it is called the angel’s share. A co-write from Jutz and Richey it is a fine piece, but in the popularity stakes it falls short of the beautiful “Little Old Town”; for although it speaks of death and the lost river port of Jefferson, Tennessee and of how there was once a town now it is a pretty lake. Written, according to the splendid liner notes by the someone in the trio by Cooper and Jutz under the powerful influence of Ron Rash’s One Foot In Eden, and good friend, Country Music Hall Of Famer Ton T. Hall’s entire catalogue (fittingly I am currently listening to some of the old master’s recordings for RCA, “Soldier Of Fortune”, “Son Of Clayton Delaney Died” and “The Great East Broadway Championship Of 1978” etc), point being the vocals on the track are as good, if not better than anything else on the record.

 

Close to it you have “Hendersonville” and as Jerry Lee gets a mention “Uneasy Does It” and earthy, and direct “B&O Man” (more excellent lead vocals it is a co-write from Brace and Cooper) and of a folksy mountain feel the mournful tale of “My Sally” (one of four penned by Brace). Its beauty underlined by some eloquent picking. On blending strains of folk with country storytelling the listener gets to enjoy a wonderful, beautifully produced recording from a trio who are all true craftsmen, and masters of keeping it simple. As ably demonstrated on Brace's song about astronaut Neil Armstrong “Tranquility Base” and a love song he wrote after visiting Johnny Cash’s gravesite at Hendersonville Memory Gardens before a permanent headstone was put in place,and for a few days just-turned dirt. Brace also wrote the first song on the album “If I Had A Nickel”, and with all three artists allowed space to sing a lead section and the playing so melodious I find it hard to imagine a better opener. If you like this then you will likewise be interested in other albums from Cooper and Brace on Red Beet; solo and duet for the former, while the latter also recorded with his band Last Train Home to go with the duo albums with Cooper.     

 

                                                           Maurice Hope         

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November 2017

1
JW Roy & The Royal Family
80 pts.
A Room Full Of Strangers
Royal Family Records
EM,BH,RST,LK
2
Chris Hillman
79 pts.
Bidin' My Time
Rounder
BP,FS,HD
3
Turnpike Troubadours
46 pts.
Long Away From Your Heart
Bossier City Records
HM,TK
4
Jolie Holland & Samantha Parton
36 pts.
Wildflower Blues
Cinquefoil Records
TJ
5
Eilen Jewell
34 pts.
Down Hearted Blues
Signature Sounds
 
6
Lucinda Williams
31 pts.
This Sweet Old World
Highway 20/Thirty Tigers
BR,MW
7
JD McPherson
29 pts.
Undivided Heart & Soul
New West
JS
8
Mark Martyre
26 pts.
Rivers
Independent
FC
 
Tom Russell
26 pts.
Folk Hotel
Frontera Records-Proper Records
SP
10
Anna Tivel
25 pts.
Small Believer
Fluff And Gravy Records
MG
 
Margo Price
25 pts.
All American Made
Third Man Records
JB
12
Fred Wickham
22 pts.
Mariosa Delta
Thirty Days Records
RK
 
Joe Henry
22 pts.
Thrum
Ear Music
HVB,PJ
 
Whitney Rose
22 pts.
Rule 62
Six Shooter/Thirty Tigers
 
15
Dick LeMasters
18 pts.
Incompatible Things
Longneck Road Music
HDB,JJ
 
Jim White
18 pts.
Waffles, Triangles & Jesus
Loose Music
LM,SZ
 
Peter Gallway
18 pts.
Feels Like Religion
Gallway Bay Music
CVL,DHO
18
Thomm Jutz
17 pts.
Crazy If You Let It
Mountain Fever Records
 
19
Kris Delmhorst
16 pts.
The Wild
Blue Blade Records
 
20
Daniel Crabtree
15 pts.
In The Shadow Of His Wings
Independent
 
 
Jeremy Pinnell
15 pts.
Ties Of Blood And Affection
Sofaburn Records
 
 
Julien Baker
15 pts.
Turn Out The Lights
Matador
EZ
23
Amber Cross
14 pts.
Savage on the Downhill
Independent
 
 
Chris Blevins
14 pts.
Better than Alone
Horton Records
 
 
David Rawlings
14 pts.
Poor David's Almanack
Acony Records
 
 
Grainne Duffy
14 pts.
Where I Belong
Independent
GC,RW
 
Jeff Crosby
14 pts.
Postcards From Magdalena
At The Helm Records

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