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May 21, 2024

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Tom Russell
Modern Art (High Tone Records)

By: Mark A. Lawrence the IV

With a voice that mixes the deep tones of Johnny Cash and the light grade sand paper of Willie Nelson, Tom Russell starts this album of American reflections with a beautiful storytelling solute to Mickey Mantal in "The Kid From Spavinaw." Modern Art is an album that isn't worried about complexity of producing the different parts of a song. Instead it's about simple musical structure and lyrics that tell compelling stories. A beautiful collection that leaves your head reeling with images, it's one of those CDs you listen to watching clouds, letting the songs play out in the skies where they have the room to reach their greatest potential. The sweet harmonics of Nanci Griffith joins Russell on both "Bus Station" and "The Ballad of Sally Rose" providing a wonderful compliment to his voice. The track "Muhammad Ali" has a Caribbean touch that gives it a feel like a Jimmy Buffet standard. One of the most interesting song on this album is "Crucifix in A Death Hand (Bukowski)/ Carmelita" which mixes the words of Bukowski and a little of Russell's own lyrics for an out put that in my opinion effectively catches the presence of the great 'Bar Fly Poet' if removed from the din of a crowed bar. Over all this is a wonderful collection of songs brought to life with a masterful voice of a true storyteller. Rating: A+
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