Who knew that to hear a truly great, honest to God country music recording I'd have to wait for it to arrive from—now get ready for this—New Zealand! No, not Nashville, Austin, some Kentucky back porch or even a retro-offering from Brooklyn. No, New Zealand.
Now I'm not trying to be my characteristically cynical, wise-ass, anti-country-music-conveyor-belt self here. What I'm trying to say is Tyre Tracks & Broken Hearts can/should teach many of our cannibalizing country stars how to be, well country: more concerned with the music and the stories than pimping for Versace and having a roadie spit shine the Stetson while their lawyer tries to get L.L. Cool J to record a hip/hop hoedown.
But I've belabored the point too long already. Following her multi-award winning 2010 ear-opener What Am I Gonna Do?, Dean turns her back and goes more rustic on this must have/must hear release. "No one keeps a circus girl distracted too long" she sings on the title opener, even as a dazzling dance of Albert Lee's guitar and Jane Clark's explosively emotive fiddle tries their damnedest to keep her distracted, but Twister, a deep rooted murder ballad ("Why'd you do it John / Take her life like that / She was all I had / I want my mother back") just blows you away.
Imagine a country music disc devoid of the vulgar pop flash of America but instead with the ageless, resonant playing of Amos Garrett; Gurf Murlix (Lucinda, Zevon); producer and stringman John Egenes (Eliza Gilkyson, Nancy Griffith, Guy Clark, Townes, etc.) Imagine a singer songwriter so detailed, so devoted to her craft and vision she's worked with and/or toured with Willie Nelson, Jimmy Webb, and other iconic notables.
Then there are the songs which you needn't imagine. Real lyrics. Real themes. Real people. Darkly transcendent. Pretty Buttons ("Oh Roberta / Don't you look back as you go / One little hesitation / Will lay you down low") Don't Go Fallin', Shelter, Long Time Gone, Long, Long Time…listen to Dean's voice—aching, haunted, clear and determined.
It's been an excruciatingly lean year for music thus far in 2013, which mean no contenders for those inevitably tiresome end-of-the-year best of lists. But that's until now. Until Tyre Tracks & Broken Hearts.
Edited by: David N. Pyles
Copyright 2013, Peterborough Folk Music Society.
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