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The Long Way Around

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Album Review

Tom Russell has been releasing terrific records without pause since the mid-'70s, and this acoustic, mostly live retrospective package may be the best of the bunch. In fact, after listening to its 17 tracks — which include duets with Nanci Griffith, Jimmie Dale Gilmore, and others — the only remaining question about Russell is: Why isn't this guy very, very famous? Sure, you can hear lots of influences here — everyone from Merle Haggard and Buck Owens to Ian Tyson (a sometime collaborator) and Bob Dylan. But the end product is an artist with an instantly recognizable, personal sound. It's a little bit country, a little bit folk, a little bit rock, with lots of great picking, lilting melodies, and consistently first-rate lyrics that sound like the result of experience and conviction, not the desire to impress or score hits — but he sure does impress. There isn't a clunker in the bunch, but if forced to pick highlights, one might list "Beyond the Blues," a duet with Gilmore; "U.S. Steel," with guitar and vocal reminiscent of early Johnny Cash; "Walkin' on the Moon," which Russell wrote and performs with Katy Moffat; and "Gallo del Cielo," an exuberant south-of the-border excursion.

Biography

Born: March 5, 1950 in Los Angeles, CA

Genre: Country

Years Active: '70s, '80s, '90s, '00s, '10s

Americana singer/songwriter Tom Russell was born in Los Angeles in 1950. Raised on the cowboy music of the American West, he grew up to be a talented songwriter, and began issuing albums under his own name in the early '70s. Russell's material, however, was also recorded by such luminaries as Johnny Cash, Guy Clark, and Dave Alvin, to name only a few. While much of Russell's work mined the country tradition, he was also known to flavor his work with Tex-Mex, folk, and the cowboy music of his youth....
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