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KEVIN BROWN, The Country Primaries-- Kevin Brown’s online bio says he hails from rural eastern Washington ‘where the arid Columbia Basin Plateau meets the Ponderosa Pine forest of the Selkirk Mountains. The key, though, is the bio’s comment about how Brown’s music addresses ‘the interwoven fabric of nature and humanity.’ In exploring matters relating to faith, family, self-worth, romance and similar weighty issues, Brown’s characters are often either at odds with, buttressed by but never separated from the natural world. On The County Primaries, the scenes Brown paints in his lyrics are defined by lightning strikes, gusts of wind, wooded areas, rainbows, fallow fields, Indian Summer, all God’s creatures, the moon and big blue skies, mountains and canyons and water—always water, the most fundamental of life’s building blocks.
HAL CANNON, Hal Cannon-- Hal Cannon’s love of the land is specifically centered on the western region of the country. Based in Salt Lake City, Cannon is the founding director of the Western Folklife Center and its beloved Cowboy Poetry Gathering festival and has gone the extra mile in promoting western music as a member of the Deseret String Band. Drawing on his extensive catalogue of original songs, Cannon introduces himself on Hal Cannon as a singing storyteller whose evocative tales range from the Civil War era to a vividly imagined present day and are presented in graceful, subdued arrangements that rise to exalted planes on the strength of Cannon’s conviction and his partners’ spiritually transcendent musical accompaniment.
NELL ROBINSON, On The Brooklyn Road-- Those who missed native Alabamian-current Bay Area resident Nell Robinson’s 2010 album debut, Loango (titled after home town), will want to go back and catch up after diving into the family lore, personal history and flat good roots music informing On the Brooklyn Road, named not after a borough of New York City but for the road leading to the Robinson family home in Alabama, not far from where Hank Williams grew up. This time out Ms. Robinson, who is turning 50 but has only been performing music in public for the past five years, sprinkles five new original songs among some traditional fare from days of yore, tackles a couple of legendary songs with pleasing results and adds a couple of the most charming bonus tracks you’re likely to hear on any CD in any year.