Sunday, September 17, 2017

New Music 2017 - Part 30 - India Ramey - Snake Handler

It's been a good weekend for happening upon really fine artists and music of which I was until now quite unaware.
We swap the glitter of California of my previous post for the dismal depiction of a childhood lived far away across the continental US. This next artist grew up in a town with the idyllic name of Rome, Georgia. As it happens neither her early life nor the town itself matched up to the name and this is in large measure a chronicle of that. It is also a fine addition to the canon of what for want of a better (maybe even bitter) moniker is often called alt-country.  I'm more inclined to 'outlaw country' but it is certainly something I would include within Americana.  That however is a discussion for another time.

Snake Handler - India Ramey (Little River Records, 4 August 2017).

This is the track-list:

India Ramey - Snake Handler:
  • Snake Handler
  • Devil's Blood
  • The Baby
  • The Trees
  • Drowned Town
  • Devil's Den
  • Stone's Throw
  • Rome to Paris
  • The Charlatan
  • Saying Goodbye
There is a group of artists that is developing a whole thing around this kind of songwriting and production. The album is produced by Mark Petaccia, who was the sound engineer on Jason Isbell's 2013 album 'Southeastern', and the restrained production ethic that allows artist and music to sound very near to live (because it often is) comes through.
One of the highlights for me so far is the song 'Devil's Den'. As well as being lyrically razor-sharp it allowes me to draw parallels. One is with the artist Angaleena Presley (who I have mentioned before and also seen live) and specifically her song 'Dry County Blues' from 2014 LP 'American Middle Class'. The songs sound quite different but the two-faced detail is much the same - poverty, corruption and addiction all disguised behind a respectable facade as presented to the casual observer.
Another point of reference here, particularly when it comes to songs digging into their writer's past experiences, is obviously Margo Price. Her 2016 début 'Midwestern Farmer's Daughter' was released by Green Man Records but only after a couple of years without being able to find any label wishing to do so on her terms not theirs. This album changed the game, not least here in the UK where she toured it extensively and I saw her live at End Of The Road 2016. She releases her second LP 'All American Made', also through Green Man Records, on 20 October 2017.
Another artist in this category is Kashena Sampson and I mentioned her début album 'Wild Heart' a few weeks ago.
The most important thing here is that there is plenty of room for all these artist to co-exist. This is not a major label hunt for "the one", its rather more a community.

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