Some collections just start cool, inviting with tailored grace. This effort was recorded on 2-inch tape, 16-track, all-analog reverbs with some of the most talented, proficient & engaging artists in Americana. It’s like they’re in your living room. Singer-songwriter Bruce Robison produced this 38-minute 10-cut LP (at the Bunker in Texas). It slipped by me.
Released around Jan. 12, The Next Waltz – Volume 3 – Various Artists (Next Waltz Records) — I couldn’t let this getaway. I enjoyed it too much. I don’t want my review to sound like a press release, but this music is well-thought-out, arranged, & performed. The artists who contributed — well-disciplined in their performances.
Jack Ingram opens with a cool tune in a Guy Clark/Steve Earle tradition – “Times Like These,” is filled with vocal sincerity, fine lyrics & easy on the ear instrumentation. No showboating – it’s songwriting artistry. Nothing hokey here, nothing deep, just enduring Americana
Musicians — Bruce, Robert Ellis & Kevin Russell (Shinyribs) all guitars – no other musicians are listed. Perhaps the balance is played by members of each lead vocalists’ band.
Cut 2 is David Ramirez (with Loudon Wainwright’s “One Man Guy”) sung with warmth & genuinely emotive). Followed by pedal steel & fiddle — gentle throughout Flatland Cavalry’s “War with My Mind.” The lyrics are key, nothing cliched, everything written with care with the music played with delicate intensity.
Dan Dyer performs Bob Wills’ “Maiden’s Prayer,” with old-fashioned excellence that sounds almost as if it were recorded decades ago. A little hokey but fun is the Hawaiian old fashioned country pedal steel & fiddles played with expertise. These songs relied on finesse as well as proficiency. Bruce Robison & Kelly Willis continue the aching vintage country style on “Tennessee Blues.”
Billy Swan’s hit of “I Can Help,” is revived in a finger-snapping style by Charley Crockett. The tune hasn’t lost any of its country-pop magic. Shinyribs, however, is a bit more daring with “Bitch Better Have My Money/Long Train Running.” There’s a 60s female Raelettes-type backup vocal & energetic novelty-oriented turns on this tune better suited to saloons than radio.
The Panhandlers “The Flatland Life,” which is performed well but is probably the weakest cut on the LP plods along & never gets going despite fine playing.
Cody Canada has one of the best cuts on the LP – “Wonder If the World Can Wait That Long.” This is the song (written by Arlen Wright) I keep coming back to. Wonderful guitar playing & mood. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=CywU_UPRseQ
The closer is Robert Ellis (“I Must Be in a Good Place Now”) – a little more lounge-jazz in style but effective. Ellis isn’t Tony Bennett or Billie Holiday, but his touch is rich & sophisticated. Great song.
My final assessment? When does Volume 4 come out?
The CD is available at https://www.thenextwaltz.com/