After hearing this CD, I've decided it's the folk element in country that most attracts me to what little country music I enjoy, because, though Winding Highways is touted as strongly folk infused, it's one of the best country discs I've yet heard. That must be what attracted Sam Bush, Kinky Friedman, John Prine, Jerry Jeff Walker, Al Perkins, Robin & Linda Williams, and Richard Turley to session for Clark, and, man…Richard Turley…there's a cat I haven't heard from since I saw him open for the Moody Blues (with Poco and the Steve Miller Band sandwiched in between -- yeah, it was a strange bill) down in Long Beach one hell of a long time ago (70s).
Mickey Clark is a country musician at heart, that's very clear here, but possesses such a refined folk sense welded effortlessly to the rootsier element with a facility highly impressive, resulting in a CD chockfull of great melodies, twangy refrains, and prairie longing. I really do shy away from Yoakum, Gilley, Earle, and all the overlauded others, but Clark exerts a hypnotic charm impossible to resist. There's a bit of John Denver in him (Night Rider's Lament) as well as a Willie Nelson-ish heels-kickin' attitude shown in Don't Piss on my Boots and Tell Me Its' Rainin' , featuring Prine, Friedman, and Walker on accompanying vocals.
There's a melodiousness to this disc that's absent in most country music, which tends to be slavishly formulaic in pursuit of a tradition that is itself too often faithful to bad antecedents. Clark breaks free of all that and reinforces what the genre should be, gently guiding it back to a sonority opening itself to larger potentialities and, hopefully, wider audiences. Winding Highways is just pure-out enjoyable and a fine wallow in country-cum-folk that re-redeems all the best aspects of both. I hope to hell this serves as a template for what appears to be an ongoing tide re-investing the much-loved body of work with a clearer new vision.
Edited by: David N. Pyles
Copyright 2009, Peterborough Folk Music Society.
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