CD Review: Whiskeytown

Strangers Almanac (Deluxe Edition)
By David Chiu

Before he became a major and respected artist in his own right, Ryan Adams was the driving force behind North Carolina’s Whiskeytown, one of the best alt-country bands of the ‘90s that also included Wilco, Son Volt and the Jayhawks. Whiskeytown’s music certainly was not like anything thatt was coming out of Nashville then or even now. While it embraced country influences but at the same time drew inspiration from rock, like the Rolling Stones, for example. Strangers Almanac, from 1997 and now reissued as a Deluxe Edition set, is a fine example of this where you have spirited rockers like the urgent Turn Around, “Excuse Me While I Break My Own Heart” and the poppy “16 Days,” and then a slow country-soul ballad in the melancholy Everything I Do. Strangers—they match with Ryan’s fatalistic lyrics (“Waiting to Derail” for examples). Almanac is a tender and lovely record that should have garnered more attention for the band, which split up a few years later. This reissue contains a wealth of additional tracks including live cuts from a 1997 radio performance and covers of Gram Parsons’ “Luxury Liner,” Johnny Cash’s “I Still Miss Someone,” and Fleetwood Mac’s “Dreams.”

Watch Whiskeytown perform “Excuse Me While I Break My Own Heart”:


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