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Pocketmags Digital Magazines
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Pocketmags Digital Magazines

TOM RUSSELL

OCTOBER IN THE RAILROAD EARTH

PROPER

★★★★

A clutch of great new songs from the American troubadour

On October In The Railroad Earth, singer-songwriter Tom Russell returns with 11 new songs blending folk, country and cowboy influences with diverse cultural references bound together by his own wryly astute life observations. There are guest appearances by Eliza Gilkyson, Bill Kirchen and Grammy-winning conjunto Los Texmaniacs, and the album includes nods to the beat poetry of Jack Kerouac and the traditional sounds of Johnny Cash, Bakersfield and the Mexican border. The opening title track recalls a poem written in the early 50s by Kerouac while working as a railroad brakeman in San Francisco. Russell is in top Cash mode here, as delicious steel guitar licks alternate with Kirchen’s driving Telecaster passages. Elsewhere, the subdued T-Bone Steak And Spanish Wine follows the singer on a trip down memory lane to a bar venue he hasn’t played for 40 years: “Ain’t it funny how the time slips away…” Lilting accordion and bajo sexto courtesy of Los Texmaniacs decorate Isadore Gonzalez, which tells the true story of a Mexican cowboy who died while appearing in Buffalo Bill’s Wild West Show when it toured the UK in the 1880s. Country icons Buck Owens and Merle Haggard figure in the mid-paced, steel-laden Highway 46, echoing both Dylan and the Bakersfield sound while referencing the road where James Dean met his end. Eliza Gilkyson contributes wistful backing vocals here, as well as on the delicate Back Streets Of Love.

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