There used to be two schools of musical appreciation. For one,
country music would elicit a joyful feeling somewhat akin to that
cheerful, backwoods sense of community found in a "town
without a frown"; for the other, country music would elicit
a less joyful feeling more akin to a spurred cowboy boot to the
rear end. In recent years, the dichotomy has blurred, with the
successful country-pop crossovers of Garth Brooks and Shania
Twain washing away the stigma of Billy Ray Cyrusís
emetic-like Achy, Breaky Heart.
Here, there is less commercial slick, but plenty of fine
musicianship and surprising diversity. From Emmylou Harrisís
Ordinary Heart, which resides in country heartland where the
appeal is simplicity delivered with character, to the spicy
Mexican rhythms of Flaco Jimenezís Baila Este Ritmo, there
is a sweep of emotional texture not always associated with the
genre. The most widely accessible moment is Alison Kraussís
sweetly plaintive Stay (which would be a sure fire diamond-seller
for folk-popstress Jewel); and even the few down-home ditties
that might threaten to send the most bush-bred-to-the-bootstraps
cowboy into a coma and his horse into hibernation are redeemed
with unpretentious humour: "donít you think itís
time for me to end this songÖ me neither."
Those who still consider country music to be the aural
equivalent of a saddle sore wonít find this sonic country
beast a comfortable ride, but it should find appeal beyond the
old boundaries of Tennessee, Texas, Tamworth and Truck Radios.
Highly recommend to genuine and nascent country music
enthusiasts, those "coming out" of the country closet
and escaped convicts posing as Emmylou Harris fans.