Van Zandt, Townes: Our Mother The Mountain (Vinyl LP)
Van Zandt, Townes: Our Mother The Mountain (Vinyl LP)

Van Zandt, Townes: Our Mother The Mountain (Vinyl LP)

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John Townes Van Zandt, better known as Townes Van Zandt, was an American singer-songwriter. He wrote numerous songs that are widely considered masterpieces of American folk music.

Tomato Records tapped Jack Clement to produce this set, but the results of his work are mixed. The best tracks here are the ones in which Clement showed a bit of restraint, while others feature strings, flutes, harpsichords, and other touches that might have been trippy ideas at the time, but sounded embarrassingly dated even a few years later. "Be Here to Love Me" is a Tex-Mex flavored country tune, and the title song to the 2004 biopic about Van Zandt. It's a good, not great love song, with Van Zandt's vocals mixed way out front. An overloud tambourine and the jazzy flute that meanders through the arrangement add nothing to the tune's charm. The harpsichord on "She Came and Touched Me" is mixed down far enough to be ignored, and while Van Zandt's vocals are strong, the Dylan-esque lyric is crammed with too much surrealistic imagery. The song lacks the restraint of his more mature work. "Second Lover's Song," is a great tune addressing the uselessness of jealousy and the saving grace of fidelity with a strong lyric and heartfelt vocal, but that pesky flute returns with a string section in tow, clashing with the tunes simple sentiment. "St. John the Gambler" is the kind of hopeless, poetic love ballad Van Zandt does so well, with an aching melody that would have sounded better without the sappy strings.

The best tracks are bunched up at the end of the album and only add minimal touches to Van Zandt's moaning delivery and sparse picking. "Tecumseh Valley," is the sad tale of a gal rambling around looking for love who finally turns to prostitution to make ends meet. "Snake Mountain Blues" is a traditional meditation on the duplicity of women and the dangers of the wild side of life driven by some tasty acoustic guitar work full of bent blue notes and flurries of arpeggios. "My Proud Mountains" is marked by Van Zandt's moaning delivery and sparse picking accompanied only by an understated second guitarist providing bluesy fills. "Why She's Acting This Way" has sustained organ chords adding to the song's cheerless atmosphere, the sad tale of a couple at the end of a troubled relationship. There's precious little communication going on, a subject Van Zandt is adept at describing with keen insight and compassion. It closes the album on a high, if depressing, note.

  1. Be Here To Love Me
  2. Kathleen
  3. She Came And She Touched Me
  4. Like A Summer Thursday
  5. Our Mother The Mountain
  6. Second Lover's Song
  7. St. John The Gambler
  8. Tecumseh Valley
  9. Snake Mountain Blues
  10. My Proud Mountains
  11. Why She's Acting This Way

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