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Vocal Jazz - Released January 1, 2013 | Blue Note Records

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Folk - Released January 1, 1972 | Capitol Records

In 1972 Van Zandt cut two perfect albums, one of them being High, Low and In Between. Tomato Records' owner Kevin Eggers, who was responsible for many of Van Zandt's best records, produced this album with minimal backing that keeps the spotlight on Van Zandt's vocals and his songwriting. The record includes "To Live Is to Fly," the song Van Zandt considered his best, "No Deal," an absurd hard luck blues, a couple of gospel songs, "Mr. Gold and Mr. Mud," one of his most baffling poetic tunes, and the title track, an aching tale of heartache and confusion. The spare arrangements are as much folk as country, the two genres Van Zandt was most comfortable with. "Two Hands," a rollicking spiritual with bright female backing vocals and tinkling gospel piano opens things up. It's the most straightforward gospel tune Van Zandt ever wrote, full of exuberant joy. "You Are Not Needed Now" radically changes the pace, with its bleak, hopeless message accented by weeping pedal steel and Van Zandt's plaintive vocal. The title track is another forlorn ballad, cut with standup bass and piano providing a sorrowful counterpoint to a vocal that details lost connections, hard work and alienation. It's almost a prayer for salvation, although the lyrics don't shy away from the difficulties of finding comfort in a cold world. "To Live Is to Fly" is another Van Zandt classic, full of the ambivalence that makes his love songs so affecting. Piano and standup bass give the song a gospel feel, while the lyrics address the fleeting nature of love and the loneliness of life on the road. There are two talking blues on the album, "No Deal," which is full of absurd scenarios and Van Zandt's fatalistic humor, and "Mr. Gold and Mr. Mud" a surrealistic tale of a card game between two gamblers with nothing to lose or win, using the language of gambling and poker to describe the struggles of life. Van Zandt crams an amazing amount of brilliant imagery into the songs brief two-minute duration, a performance that's both impressive and impenetrable. "Highway Kind" is a minor-key blues, a brief aching tune in which Van Zandt addresses the perfect lover he's never met while taking full responsibility for his failings and foibles. He sounds so isolated and disconnected from the world that it's hard to listen to. "When He Offers His Hand" is a simple song of faith, without Van Zandt's usual ambivalence or humor, while "Blue Ridge Mountains" is a rewrite of a traditional bluegrass tune that balances spirituality and carnality into its bubbly arrangement. Musically low key, but emotionally potent, High, Low and In Between shows Van Zandt digging deep into his troubled psyche and turning his heartache into soul-stirring art. © j. poet /TiVo
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Country - Released September 14, 2009 | Domino Recording Co

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Country - Released September 14, 2009 | Domino Recording Co

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Country - Released September 14, 2009 | Domino Recording Co

Distinctions The Qobuz Ideal Discography
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Country - Released January 1, 1978 | RCA - Legacy

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Issued in 1978, No Place to Fall is, regrettably, the second and last album for RCA. Like its predecessor, Renegade Picker, Young's ever-evolving music is centered in the heart of outlaw country this time out, though there are, as usual, interesting twists and turns. The band is stellar, with Buddy Emmons and Buddy Spicher, Tracy Nelson, Jerry Shook, Dale Sellers, and a bunch of guitar pickers, as well as drummer Kenny Malone, among others. The material is noteworthy on many levels, not the least of which is Young's decision to record, for the third time, "Montgomery in the Rain" and "Seven Bridges Road." Once more, he reinvents both songs, fills them out, adds different textures and stresses, and as a result, in the grain of his voice the meanings widen and deepen. The title track was written by the late Townes Van Zandt, and Young's read is damn near definitive, with layers of guitars haunting the middle of the tune and his own voice carrying the lonely edge of Van Zandt's lyric into oblivion. In addition, Young delves deep into Okie blues with a barbed-wire-and-whiskey cover of J.J. Cale's "Same Old Blues," with stunning slide guitar work. But it is in the cover of Mentor Williams' composition "Drift Away" -- the multi-million-seller recorded by Dobie Gray -- that Young offers his greatest surprise. This is a soul song, performed by a soul singer originally, and here Young, while keeping the song's intent essentially the same, transforms it into a country prayer. The same can be said for his loose cover of Dylan's "Don't Think Twice It's Alright"; Young reworks the melody slightly while emphasizing different parts of the lyric as the band fills in the cracks to bring an entirely new light to the song. No Place to Fall failed ultimately to sell, but it did a great deal to bolster his confidence as both a bandleader and as a producer. Young is a survivor, albeit on the fringes; he is one of the few whose records are so consistent as to be essential listening for anyone interested in late 20th century country music and rock & roll. © Thom Jurek /TiVo
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Country - Released June 22, 2012 | My Proud Mountain

You have to wonder how the immortal spirit of legendary troubled troubadour Townes Van Zandt feels about his oeuvre's increasing popularity among metalheads, as exemplified by 2012's Songs of Townes Van Zandt, featuring a three-headed monster of underground metal heavies in Scott Kelly (of Neurosis), Steve Von Till (ditto), and Scott "Wino" Weinrich (of Saint Vitus, Spirit Caravan, etc.). Chances are Townes, wherever he is, feels merely bemused, having bigger discorporal fish to fry right about now. But there's no doubt it's always taken a special kind of manic depressive to appreciate the darker nuances of Van Zandt's country-folk masterpieces, so perhaps the connection isn't as tenuous as one might initially think. In any case, with three separate interpreters on hand here covering three songs each, perhaps its better to analyze them individually as people, beginning with Von Till, who tackles his subjects with a deeply morose almost somnambulant solemnity. His resounding baritone lends some life to the spare acoustic guitars used on "If I Needed You" and "Black Crow Blues," but it takes some clever electronics to elevate "The Snake Song" to a truly interesting new place. Von Till's Neurosis bandmate, Scott Kelly, takes a little more creative liberty with his choices, freeing "St. John the Gambler" of its accompanying orchestrations and its titular chorus (!) and infecting "Lungs" with muscular electric guitar drones, before intriguingly channeling Roger Waters for his brute acoustic run through "Tecumseh Valley." But perhaps the biggest surprise is reserved for Wino -- not because he veers from the predominant folk guitar approach on display, but because his rugged contralto sounds so naked and pure (though as assertive as ever, unlike his more timid colleagues) as he embodies the bright-eyed, impetuous subject of "Rake," accepts the inconclusive resignation of "A Song For," and then scrapes his way through the incomparably bleak "Nothin'" -- a song that could teach the most misanthropic black metal terrorist something about abject nihilism. In sum: all three of these artists struggle with the pressure of doing Townes' imposing canon justice (and who wouldn't?), but while they may come across a tad too cautiously to impress experienced Van Zandt scholars, they are bound to lure even more hard rock and metal fans to discover the great man's singularly beautiful and haunting body of work -- mission accomplished. © Eduardo Rivadavia /TiVo
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Rock - Released March 22, 2019 | Appaloosa Records

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Pop - Released April 17, 2020 | Muve

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Country - Released April 17, 2020 | Yep Roc Records - Signature Sounds

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Folk - Released March 7, 2016 | Jealous Butcher Records

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Alternative & Indie - Released August 28, 2020 | TVZ Records - Fat Possum Records

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Country - Released October 9, 2020 | Chicken Ranch Records

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Folk - Released February 21, 2020 | Tracy Grammer Music

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Country - Released April 20, 2013 | My Proud Mountain

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Rock - Released September 11, 2001 | Fat Possum

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Alternative & Indie - Released May 3, 2019 | Partisan Records

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Pop - Released September 13, 2010 | WM Sweden

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Folk - Released November 8, 2018 | Session Americana

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Pop - Released September 25, 2020 | Two Up Two Down Records

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