Longtime readers of Frontier Partisans know that Tom Russell is a giant in my pantheon of storytellers. His music has been the soundtrack for many an adventure down dusty desert roads and mountain trails, and he’s a key influence on my own songwriting and music. I learned to fingerpick because he said I should — and just as he promised, it opened new textures in both my playing and writing.
We’ve squared off and butted heads a couple of times because we’re both on’ry —which only makes me love the bastard more. (We both share a particular fondness for the word “bastard” — one of the most pliable and delightful words in the lexicon. When Ceili was in middle school, her English teacher tasked students to ask their parents what their favorite word was. Well… they asked. )
Back to the show, as TR himself would say…
Tom’s got a new collection coming out in May. It’s a new collection of old songs, with the title cribbed from “Blue Wing”: Old Songs Yet To Sing.
From Frontera Records:
Twenty newly recorded Tom Russell classics with Andrew Hardin on lead guitar and harmony vocal… Tom and Andrew went into Congress House Studio in Austin – Tom wanted to re-visit the old “classics” — get them on Frontera — and summon up the original sound. Tom also thinks he can sing them better now. John Yuelkenbeck did a great job on graphics and mastering.
Tracks: Alkali, Cropduster, St. Olav’s Gate, Gallo del Cielo, Manzanar, The Sky Above the Mud Below, Walkin’ on the Moon, The Rose of the San Joaquin, Haley’s Comet, Canadian Whiskey, Throwing Horseshoes on the Moon, Blue Wing, California Snow, Navajo Rug, Tonight We Ride, Beyond the Blues, Angel of Lyon, Veteran’s Day, U.S. Steel, and a special version of the song Tom wrote with Bobby Neuwirth, Bob Dylan’s cohort — The Biggest Bordertown in the World.
One might ordinarily be a little concerned when an artist starts re-recording and repackaging their “old songs,” but that’s not the case here. For one thing, Tom Russell continues to produce new songs at an enviable clip and show no signs of slowing down.
And in a world that fetishizes the shiny and new, folk music still allows for the patina of worn-in leather, for the wooden gunstock with scratches and dings that each carry a story — for folklore for cryin’ out loud. Hell yes, I want to hear an acoustic take on the old songs, especially with maestro Andrew Hardin throwing down the guitar licks.
Most importantly, the songs are too important to fade into a back catalogue. Having them in one place for those newly discovering — or rediscovering — Tom Russell’s music can only be a good thing. It’s one you can keep in your saddle bags like a well-thumbed copy of your favorite book. Because the old, true old songs actually never do get old.
Order yours up at the Frontera Records trading post. Right here.