CD: Hills And Valleys by The Flatlanders This collaboration among notes Texas singer-songwriters and longtime friends Joe Ely, Jimmie Dale Gilmore and Butch Hancock had a brief and obscure incarnation in 1972 that grew to legendary proportions. Three decades later they reconvened to become one of the more notable acts of off-brand country music within this decade. On their third studio album, the three artists with esteemed careers in their own right have become a genuine band of collaborators, and the results are less a case of one plus one plus one equals three and more an equation of multiplication into something greater than the sum of its parts. This is country-folk music of the most charming sort singing and playing songs written from a place of adult Zen, and offers delightful and nutritious listening that gets better every time you spin it.
TV: Law & Order The most potent franchise in television has been going in all but opposite directions in the latest seasons of two of its series. The original Law & Orderthe longest-running primetime drama on TVhas found new energy even after all these years, in large part thanks to the new detective team ably played Jeremy Sisto and Anthony Anderson. Now that Sam Waterston has been elevated to District Attorney, Linus Roache does a good job of being the legal rebel. On the other hand, Law & Order: Special Victims Unit has not just jumped the shark but is getting chomped by its jaws. Many of the plots have verged into the absurd, and the actors often chew the scenery as if they are starving. In light of all this, it will be interesting to see what comes of Law & Order: Criminal Intent in its next season.
CD: Sweetheart Like You by Guy Davis Few contemporary blues artists manage the trick of being true to the roots of the form with a genuine authenticity and also making the music feel fresh and contemporary. But Daviswhose parents are noted actors Ruby Dee and the late Ossie Davisdoes so handily while also singing and playing guitar with an organic proficiency that despite his New York City area roots feels as Southern as kudzu. His reworking of the Bob Dylan penned title tune is splendid, and the album brings new energy to classics by Willie Dixon (Hoochie Coochie Man), Big Joe Williams (Baby Please Dont Come) and Ledbelly while at the same time Davis comes up with his own to match them. This is modern blues at its very best.
From The Progressive Populist, March 15, 2009
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