MP3 Luke Powers - Texasee
An Americana journey in electric and acoustic music through a metaphysical land of sin and redemption: Texasee.
16 MP3 Songs in this album (51:20) !
Related styles: ROCK: Americana, COUNTRY: Alt-Country
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Welcome to Texasee . . . located somewhere between Austin TX and Nashville TN.
Luke Powers and Tommy Spurlock''s latest collaboration is Texasee, to be released in September of 2008. Luke and Tommy have previously worked Kakistocracy (2006) and Luke''s debut album Picture Book (2007). Picture Book is the portrait of the artist as a young songwriter. Texasee is an Americana homage to a mythical land of music and imagination stretching (in the words of the title song) "from the mist of the Smoky Mountains to the dust of the hill country."
Luke is a Nashville-based college professor who writes songs. He has degrees from UNC-Chapel Hill (where he was a Morehead Scholar) and Vanderbilt University. Tommy is a professional musician who has worked with Rodney Crowell, Roseanne Cash, The Band and Highway 101. He has produced artists such as Rick Danko, David Olney and Chip Taylor.
Texasee is a mostly acoustic Americana album with a little sling-blade thrown in.
"I tired of all these warbly, navel-gazing ''Americana'' songs," Luke says. "I wanted to take a more Sam Peckinpah approach."
"Billy the Kid Rides Again" resurrects the fabled outlaw who shoots a highway patrolman for stopping him for riding his horse without a license plate.
"The Tower" focuses on Charles Whitman''s 1966 shooting spree at UT-Austin, which took the lives of almost fifty people.
In addition to the Coen Brothers'' mayhem in songs like "I''m Too Young to Die" and "The Bounty Hunter," Texasee does reflect the gentleness and beauty of its half real/half mythic land. Songs such as "Tops of the Trees" and "Tomorrow" offer a glimpse of redemption from a world that while mythical is possibly real.
Somewhere between Hank Williams and Wallace Stevens . . .
Being an English professor, Luke can''t resist a concept. “Texasee” is a borderland of beauty and violence, sin and redemption, materialism and imagination.
Luke told Tommy that he originally wanted to call the album Thirteen Ways of Listening to Hank Williams. Tommy told him he was crazy. Actually he was more explicit than that.
Bradley Hartman (engineer for Emmylou Harris, Willie Nelson) mixed the project.
Bradley, who was born in Houston, spent time in Austin and currently lives in Nashville, was more amenable. He said he''d live in Texasee if he could get a gig there. (BTW, Bradley engineered Willie''s Stardust—is there a better sounding record?).
Also bringing a unique sonic warp to the album were Sam Powers, Luke''s brother, and John Davis, who had formerly teamed in the powerpop band Superdrag. Sam and John played sang, played basses and guitars and anything else they could get their hands on.
Suzi Ragsdale provides truly transcendental vocals.
Kenny Vaughan, Americana instrumentalist of the year for 2007, added his signature guitar touch.
SONG BY SONG RUNDOWN
1. "Texasee": Texans and Tennesseans have always been first cousins in the American genealogy. Both distrust authority and reality (strictly defined). Both have strong folk music histories that are quick to sop up any and every influence—hill music, old-time, native american, hispanic, blues, rockabilly, bluegrass, country, alt-country, western swing. Texasee is a musical utopia where what''s best in song and spirit comes together in a three-minute moment. When you really listen to music, when in the words of Staples Singers, it “takes you there,” that place must be somewhere—so for shorthand I just call it Texasee.
2. "Billy the Kid Rides Again": I wanted to write a song about a bad man that was still beautiful. My Billy is reanimated on a modern superhighway where he gets stopped for riding a horse without a license plate. He plugs the deputy and heads south. No disrespect meant for our good highway patrolmen and women. No disrespect either for the senorita whose companionship Billy purchases. Tommy Spurlock is responsible for most of the guitars, including haunting steels. He referred to the song as “big fat senorita.”
3. "Bob Bradlee, TV Cowboy": Some things shouldn''t happen. Our beloved cowboy entertainer is murdered by his partner/wife and cuckholding sidekick. But the real tragedy is his horse, doped up for broadcasts, who ends up addicted to quaaludes. That wah-wah instrument is a bandoneon, a Tex-Mex mini-accordian.
4. "Here Today": The only where, the only when. About as simple as three chords, really. With tips of the sombrero to Buddy Holly, John Lennon, Neil “Bernard Shakey” Young, and, most of all, Miss Cleo. Thanks to my brother Sam Powers for the harmonies and guitar solo. Tommy Spurlock midwived the Garth-Hudson-inspired insanity of the clavichord synth.
5. "Selmer Tennessee": Everyone saw the story on the news. The preacher''s wife killed the preacher. The small town shocked with the blood on its hands. Shocked more by the hooker wig and clogs. The custody battle for the little girls—it wouldn''t end. But nobody has asked the fundamental question: what it an accident or predestination? So I tried. John Davis (of Superdrag fame) manages to play a pretty mean lead guitar and sing those angelic “hallelujahs.”
6. "Indian Eyes": Five generations of Texasseans in a two-and-a-half minute song. All passing down those coal dark “Indian eyes” that know a lot more than a couple hundred years of so-called “history.” My daughter objects to the little girl in the last stanza being born in ''99 (Phoebe was born in ''98). I told her ''98 didn''t rhyme, but she didn''t buy it. That''s Tommy Spurlock on the fuzz-tone Fender steel guitar (played in the style of his friend and mentor Sneaky Pete Kleinow of The Flying Burrito Brothers).
7. "Aron Presley": Everybody knows that Elvis had a twin brother who died in childbirth. The brother was named “Aron”. They say that the living twin carries the dead twin within him. I wrote my song from the perspective of the dead twin. John Davis and Suzi Ragsdale co-star in the role of the dead twin harmony vocals.
8. "Tops of the Trees": About as high as any of us need to get in this life. Tommy on steel.
9. "Million Ways to Die": Originally called “The Bounty Hunter.” A crazed character out of a Peckinpah movie who will go to his reward justified. Kenny Vaughn supplied the spidery guitars that remind me of the early Elvis Costello.
10. "In the Real World": Crazy Horse (the Sioux warrior, not Neil Young''s backup band) had a dream of the ultimate reality without the benefit of having ever read Plato. Jamie Oldaker conjures up a mesmerizing beat, and Suzi Ragsdale does more than just harmonize—it''s like some waking dream.
11. "W Road Ghost": The W Road trails up the back of Signal Mountain, Tennessee, where I grew up. The switch-back near the top gives the road its name. In the old days, before asphalt and guard rails, back-of-the-mountain shiners used it as their personal “delivery route.” One Signal Mountain moonshiner was so famous that he made runs all the way up the Washington, D.C., to President Harding (who may, or may not, have been poisoned by the stuff).
12. "Paul is Dead": This is, of course, pure parody, pure fantasy, fueled by that exhaustless Muse known familiarly as “The Internet.” Articles, photos, websites, podcasts—the conspiracy supposes that the real Paul McCartney “blew his mind out in car” sometime in 1966 and was replaced by the so-called “Faul” McCartney, who is taller than John, has a different eye-color and even head shape. It gets fuzzy whether “Faul” was simply a human impostor (from Canada) or something far more sinister like a reptilian-human alien hybrid (along the lines of the Bush or British Royal families).
13. "The Tower": Charles Whitman climbed the tower at the University Texas at Austin the same year that Paul was supposedly dying. The ex-Marine took out almost fifty victims in less than ninety minutes with a rifle at ranges up to 100 yards. You can do the math. He left a note asking that his brain be autopsied for abnormalities. None were found. I take pride in my creepy sounding harmonica bits.
14. "My Hero": This is sorta like Ray Davies meets Willie Nelson. The song goes like this: a guy goes into a bar. Gets insulted by another guy. They take it outside. The first guy shoots the second guy in the face. Only problem: the second guy isn''t armed. Uh oh. I guess that the problem with having heroes—whether they''re cowboys or not.
15. "Too Young to Die": You say, Luke, Texasee seems like a pretty violent place. I paraphrase Wallace Stevens, the violence inside is what shields us from the violence outside. It all has something to do with the magic of the imagination to transform reality in the Real. Anyway, the song''s a mini-film-noir story that supposed to leave you wondering, was it an accident or predestination? Kenny Vaughn picks out of pretty nice guitar lick. We left in his guitar crunch at the end. I guess our hero doesn''t make it?
16. "Lower Broad": Is the final stretch of Nashville''s Broadway before bellies down to its end at the Cumberland River. The city fathers and mothers have cleaned it up now, but you still have a few of the old-time honky-tonks that remember when hookers could walk the street with impunity. But I do not come to cast stones. This is a redemption song—which brings us back to where we started: Texasee. The voice is Suzi''s.