TALES FROM EAST KENTUCKY
Mighty Cord Records MCR1004
Cracking open a new album from stellar songwriter and singer Larry Cordle is like a combination of Forrest Gump’s box of chocolates and Christmas morning. You don’t know exactly what you’re going to get—with the intriguing variety of topics, stories, and characters portrayed in each song—but you know they’re all going to be good! Eleven originals include five co-writes with longtime collaborator Larry Shell, plus collaborations with Trey Hensley, Donna Ulisse, Connie Leigh, Jenee Fleenor, Brandon Rickman, Jim Rushing, and Donnie Clark.
Cord’s heartbreakingly authentic vocals and authoritative guitar are backed by his Lonesome Standard Time bandmembers Mike Anglin, Chris Davis, Kim Gardner, and Jody King, along with seven more impressive guests. Some of the best harmony vocals this side of heaven are contributed by Don Rigsby, Jerry Salley, Val Storey, Fleenor, Ulisse, Angie Prim, Rickman, Josh Swift, and Davis.
The first song, “Yardbird,” profiles a chicken’s life all the way to Sunday dinner and a cast-iron skillet. The album ends with longtime stage favorite, “Bandit” (a raccoon, who runs all night, sleeps all day, and never spends a dollar).The story of an aunt from the Stanley side of Donna Ulisse’s family is told in “Mountain Laurel.” SiriusXM bluegrass channel “Bluegrass Junction” was the inspiration for the song by the same name written by Cordle, Shell, and Hensley, but it’s also about any place where local pickers gather to jam and share songs from their bluegrass heroes. The cleverly titled “Lawrence County Seat,” written with Connie Leigh, is a retirement story told from the perspective of an old church pew who has seen ’em come and go here, the hypocrites and saints.
Larry admits the song “Old Man” could be about him, as could “Scared The Hell Out Of Me,” mostly a conversion story involving a murder of passion, an old-time preacher, and the grace of God. Killing turns up again in the gospel soul-infused “We Blame The Devil,” a light-hearted idea that turned serious before Cord, Fleenor, and Rickman finished writing about personal responsibility. “Large Detroit American Automobile” and “Back When” are classic Cordle and Shell mixing equal parts humor and heartfelt nostalgia. “Anything Worth Doing Is Worth Doing Right,” written with Rushing, introduces a character who the listener may recognize as a personal mentor.
Like any good box of chocolates, it’s difficult to pick a favorite Larry Cordle song in this mix. Best advice? Listen to them all and pick one out for yourself! (www.larrycordle.com)NC
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