Kathy Mattea has always teetered on the Nashville edge with her music. On Roses, her 13th studio album, she pushes the envelope, bringing to the forefront the blending of the Scottish/Irish music found in small doses on her last few albums. "That's All the Lumber You Sent," the first track, screams Celtic, as does the instrumental "Isle of Inishmore." But whatever the musical style, brooding and contemplative lyrics accompany all of the tracks. Mattea's warm alto voice comes across opulently in "The Slender Threads That Bind Us Here" and the Kim Richey remake "I'm Alright." This album isn't the country music of the former Grammy-winner and CMA vocalist of the year, but it wins high marks for creative expression and originality.
The roots of American music, including the blues, R&B, and Cajun music, gave Willy DeVille's (born William Borsey) late-'70s punk band, Mink DeVille, its unique flavor. A quarter of a century later, DeVille continued to blend musical traditions and postmodern intensity. A self-taught guitarist, DeVille found his early inspiration in the blues of John Hammond Jr., Muddy Waters, and John Lee Hooker.
What goes around comes around in the blues world. Although T-Model Ford is from Mississippi, not all of his influences are Mississippi Delta influences – his dusky, moody electric blues also owe something to Chicago (Muddy Waters, Howlin' Wolf), Detroit (John Lee Hooker), and Texas (Lightnin' Hopkins). Of course, Waters, Hooker, and Wolf were all born in Mississippi; they were Southern bluesmen who moved north, plugged in, and became identified with electric post-World War II Northern blues. But Hooker wasn't born in Detroit any more than Waters and Wolf were born in Chicago. So again, what goes around comes around in the blues world. Whether you describe Ford's approach as Northern or Southern – and truth be told, it's a combination of the two – Bad Man is a compelling slice of tough, gritty, genuinely lowdown blues.
14 classics by one of the great balladeers of the '60s: Roses Are Red (My Love); Mr. Lonely; Sealed with a Kiss; Blue on Blue , and Blue Velvet , plus Georgy Girl; Born Free , and more!
Lengthier variations on this album were released overseas a couple of months before the American version; the Swedish edition, Love Peas: Ballad Hits, contained 19 tracks to this one's 15. But Roxette is a much bigger act in Sweden, and in Europe generally, than in America, where most of those who remember the duo will wonder how they could fill an album of only their ballad hits…