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We're Usually a Lot Better Than This (Live)

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Album Review

The second effort by Tim O'Brien and Darrell Scott is a live duo recording compiled from two Grey Eagle dates in Asheville, North Carolina in 2005 and 2006. The material includes fine originals including Scott's "Long Time Gone" (a hit for the Dixie Chicks) and "With a Memory Like Mine," O'Brien's "Climbing Up a Mountain," and the pair's "When There's No One Around" in medley with "Will the Circle Be Unbroken." But there are also excellent covers. There's a wonderful a cappella reading of Hank Williams' "House of Gold," a rowdy version of Townes Van Zandt's "White Freightliner Blues," and an elegiac take on Gordon Lightfoot's "Early Morning Rain," as well as renditions of Keith Whitley's classic "You Don't Have to Move That Mountain" and Lefty Frizzell's iconic "Mom and Dad's Waltz." Beyond the material, what's memorable is the sheer high-wire informality of the setting. While both men are fine singers and Scott is one of the hottest guitar pickers on the planet, what's readily apparent is the pair's willingness to fly by the seat of their pants, inventing harmonies and unique phrasings and instrumental passages; their shared sense of spontaneity reveals genuine surprise between the players, and results in communicating a shared joy with the audience.

Customer Reviews

Two of the finest musicians you could get a chance to hear

Tim and Darrell have done it again, this time in a great collection of live performances. A must-own for anyone who enjoyed their previous album together.

Hard to believe they could possibly be better than this!

For an album recorded at two benefit concerts for their kids' school, this is amazing -- soulful, tight, poetic, lyrical, hard-charging and just plain fun to listen to. Two extremely talented musicians who obviously enjoy each other's presence. The quality of the sound is outstanding -- at the end, you just want to applaud along with the crowd, hoping for an encore.

Kinda Typical NPR Fare...

yea I really wanted to like this album but I’m glad they usually are better than this.

Main gripe; too many covers! DS is one of the finest song writers on wheel sand TO’B no slouch either yet we get served a bunch of cover. Don’t get me wrong, the playing’ and singing’ are great if you like their style but too many of the same flavor covers dilutes the effect. Yea I know the description indicates the songs but I didn’t overly research and bough for just two songs I really liked and ended up being the only two I really liked.

Recording is not the best either. if the performances were better I’d say nothing but as it is….

On a humorous note… what’s up with the cover picture? TO’B looks like DS’s ventriloquist dummy! The scrawny Rob Lowe….

Don’t take my review too much to heart, if your idea of a thrilling evening is Prairie Home Companion you’ll have better odds of digging it.


Born: March 16, 1954 in Wheeling, WV

Genre: Singer/Songwriter

Years Active: '70s, '80s, '90s, '00s

Tim O'Brien is one of the spearheads of contemporary bluegrass. As co- founder and lead vocalist of Hot Rize and Red Knuckles & the Trailblazers, O'Brien served as a bridge between the traditional sounds of the hill country and the modern styles of bluegrass in the 1980s. Since the band's breakup, O'Brien has continued to expand the music's borders as a soloist, a duo partner with his sister Mollie, and with his band, the O'Boys. O'Brien's songs have additionally been recorded by Kathy Mattea, the...
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