Jump to Content

Welcome! You’re browsing the No Depression Archives

No Depression has been the foremost journalistic authority on roots music for well over a decade, publishing 75 issues from 1995 to 2008. No Depression ceased publishing magazines in 2008 and took to the web. We have made the contents of those issues accessible online via this extensive archive and also feature a robust community website with blogs, photos, videos, music, news, discussion and more.

Close This

Waxed - Record Review from Issue #12 Nov-Dec 1997

Tom Russell

Song Of The West: The Cowboy Collection (HMG / HighTone)

Geography and imagination are funny things. Ramblin’ Jack Elliott lives in California, but he grew up in Brooklyn. Tom Russell grew up California, but he lives in Brooklyn (or he did for many years before a recent relocation to West Texas). And both fancy themselves cowboys. On the liner notes inside Russell’s new disc, subtitled The Cowboy Collection, Elliott writes: “[Russell] evokes a mood of being there, whether it be a cockfight, a Navajo Rug love song, or a night when two bandits walk into the wrong bar…It’s the West of our forefathers, the West of our dreams.”

At heart, Russell is a storyteller. And the 15 tales that make up Song Of The West are cinematic in scope — kind of John Ford meets Marty Robbins. He finds some choice tunes to cover, among them Frasier and De Bolt’s “Dance Hall Girls”, Big Sur novelist Lillian Bos-Ros’ “South Coast”, Steve Young’s adaptation of Steven Vincent Benet’s poem “The Ballad Of William Sycamore”, and Mary McCaslin’s “Prairie In The Sky”.

Russell also reprises several of his own best compositions, which gain new power in this context. “Gallo Del Cielo” (recorded recently by Joe Ely) is the saga of a poor Mexican cockfighter who steals a prize rooster and crosses the border to seek his fortune in the U.S. Needless to say, it has a sad ending. Bittersweet best describes “Navajo Rug” (recorded many years ago by Jerry Jeff Walker), Russell’s perennial lost love lament about a Colorado waitress named Katie. And “Claude Dallas” (written with Ian Tyson) recounts the true life and tragic death of a renegade loner.

All in all, as Elliott explains, this an album to be savored on a rainy road trip, or holed up in a mountain cabin with a bottle of mescal, or some other wild place where outlaws and rounders can cut loose in the sagebrush of the mind.

Enjoy the ND archives? Consider making a donation with PayPal or send a check to:
No Depression, 460 Bush St., San Francisco, CA 94108

Discuss

Did you enjoy this article? Start a discussion about it, or find out what others are saying in the No Depression Community forum.

Join the Discussion »

Find out what's going on in roots music. Share concert photos and videos, learn about new artists, blog about the music you love.

Join the No Depression Community »

Originally Featured in Issue #12 Nov-Dec 1997

Buy our history before it’s gone!

Each issue is artfully designed and packed full of great photos that you don‘t get online. Visit the No Depression store to own a piece of history.

Visit the No Depression Store »


From the Blogs

  • Rod Kennedy (1930-2014) and the Kerrville Folk Festival - Interview & Remembrance
    Rod Kennedy’s legacy is incalculable for those who truly love music, he departed this earthly plane on Monday 14th April 2014. R.I.P. The following “warts and all” late May 1986 interview with Mr. Kennedy, the founder of the Kerrville Folk Festival, was the lead feature in the debut issue of the Kerrville Kronikle fanzine sometime around 1988. No serendipity […]
  • Lydia Loveless - Somewhere Else (Album Review)
    I’ve heard a lot of really unique descriptions of Lydia Loveless's new album, "Somewhere Else".  It’s always X + Y that supposedly equals a new sound.  None of them seem to capture the essence of the record for me.  On Loveless’s Facebook page, her sound is described as “Loretta Lynn and Patti Smith slamming shots at a Midwestern dive bar whil […]
  • Q and A with Miss Tess and the Talkbacks
    Miss Tess and the Talkbacks are an edgy band.  Edgy in a good way.  From song to song you never know what kind of potion the band will cook up for the listener.  They are masters at so many different styles and when all is said and done, they’re just plain awesome.  Grooving modern vintage music is what they sometimes call their genre and that’s perfect.  It […]
  • Bridie Jackson and the Arbour - New Skin (Album Review)
    Who knew that Choral flavoured Folk music could be this cool? When I first encountered Bridie Jackson and the Arbour three years ago they were like a breath of fresh air blowing across a very stale and dusty Folk music scene; and nothing has changed in the intervening years; apart from them getting better. For once it is genuinely difficult to point you to i […]
  • Blair Dunlop - House of Jacks (Album Review)
    Young folksinger finds a voice to match his impressive words Even at the tender age of 22, Blair Dunlop already has all the hallmarks of a seasoned pro: fronting the reformed and regenerated Albion Band, touring solo virtually non-stop, winning plaudits and awards for his debut album in 2012; all of which all brings us to what they call ‘the difficult second […]
  • Katie Herzig - Walk Through Walls (Album Review)
    Once upon a time, Katie Herzig wore her heart on her sleeve and wielded an acoustic guitar, both apropos of being a singer/songwriter. These days, though, she keeps company with synthesizers and drum loops. Yeah, the heart is still right there on the sleeve, but now you can groove to its beat. Herzig's new collection, Walk Through Walls, is a song cycle […]

Shop Amazon by clicking through this logo to support NoDepression.com. We get a percentage of every purchase you make!


Subscribe To the No Depression Newsletter

Subscribe to the No Depression Newsletter