There’s something great about country’s working music for working’ people kinda schtick. It, inevitably, offsets pretention of any kind and it reminds us of the blues/folk/hillbilly roots of the music we love. At its best it’s Hank Williams but at its worst it forgets the nuanced sophistication of Willie Nelson, Glen Campbell, Charlie Rich or the new country types like KD Lang and Lyle Lovett.
Of the many sins bro country has visited, the perception that country is about hats/beer/trucks/Friday nights/anybloodynightwithwhiskey is the most egregious disservice to a truly great genre. Songs that stopped me in my tracks are and have always been about stories, melodies and twists (musical and lyrical) which are able to halt you doing what you’re doing and start all over again. Don Schlitz‘s ‘On The Other Hand’ sung so brilliantly by Randy Travis is a great example. There’s regret, honesty, reflection, some resilient humour and heartbreaking melody. Think too of Chet Atkins, The Nashville Sound, Patsy Cline, Crystal Gayle and Rita Coolidge where country is as far from hillbilly as you get..yet still in touch with its roots.
So on this week’s Another Country we shall celebrate some great songwriting that we always need to find time to welcome. The new album by my dear friend David Scott under his long term monicker, The Pearlfishers, is as good an example of where you might want to start. In the good company of Jenny Lewis, Andrew Combs and Sam Outlaw it proves we have nothing to fear when music gets classy.
It was because of Sam that I first encountered this week’s special guest, Roseanne Reid. In the Admiral Bar in Glasgow Roseanne gave me a copy of her first self released EP and I’ve been hooked ever since. She supported me on a few solo adventures last year and on each successive time I was taken with how much people connected to the truth in her own songs. I’m not the only one. Roseanne was first discovered by Steve Earle at his Camp Copperhead writing retreat. Last year she hooked up with Teddy Thompson in New York and recorded her debut album. We’ve been playing tracks from that and this week we finally get Roseanne in to tell us the whole story and share some live acoustic songs. It’s one of those special nights live from Studio One in Pacific Quay and we’re already excited.
Finally, in the week we were meant to be leaving Europe behind (sigh) I will remind you why we are really called Another Country by playing you music we love which comes from our near neighbours. Listen out for Daniel Nogren, Racoon Racoon and Ultan Conlon as well as a gorgeous interpretation of the Great Irish Songbook from Dervish and Nashville’s very own Vince Gill.
We are on air this Tuesday evening from five past nine on BBC Radio Scotland. Join me live if you can or hear it all again anytime on BBC Sounds.