This page is part of an opinionated overview of "alt.country" music, with record reviews by me, Joe Sixpack... Naturally, it's a work in progress, and quite incomplete, so your comments and suggestions are welcome.
This page covers the letter "N"
A very nice, very pretty record, with an enchantingly twee mix of melodic country-folk and soft indiepop... Fans of Hem, Jolie Holland or the Be Good Tanyas should love this album as well... I have no idea what any of the songs are about, but I sure like listening to them. If you're looking, perhaps, for a rootsy album that you can put on when folks who "don't like country" are around, this is a mighty fine option. Recommended!
Pleasant contemporary country boogie from New York City. Fellow travellers of Wayne Hancock or Dave and Deke will recognize the terrain, though in this case the journey is more on a garden path than a backwoods gravel road. Strikes me as amiable, but overly restrained -- these guys sound so concerned about not goofing up that they never quite cut loose and have fun. The repertoire is fine, and the picking is good, but the tone of performances could be a little looser and more forceful.
Paula Nelson "Coming Home" (Luck Records, 1998)
I hate to say it, but this set by Austin local Paula Nelson, daughter of Willie Nelson, is pretty underwhelming. Maybe most of my reaction is due to my disinterest in bluesy, white-girl soul, but the meandering musicianship and rambling songwriting also take their toll. All songs were written by Nelson herself, but the only one that stood out as having a memorable chorus is "No Uncertain Terms"; otherwise there just wasn't much for me to focus on. Willie plays acoustic on a few tunes, but his contributions don't really stand out, either. If you like bluesy gals like Sue Foley, Angela Strehli and Rory Block -- or even Tanya Tucker -- then this might be of interest... But I really wouldn't go out of my way to track it down. (Sorry!)
Paula Nelson "Fireflies"
I bet the fellas at the West Tennessee Detention Center had fun when Tracy came to entertain the troops... This is a nice, solid house-rockin' set, with lots of the same old favorites ("Down So Low," etc.) and a few nice new surprises (a rough live version of "Got A New Truck..."). This was a little too modern-blues for me, but it's still a nice set from one of the grand dames of rowdy roadhouse blues. (PS - yes, someday, I'll get off my duff and write up a proper profile of Ms. Nelson, whose work in the early 1970s helped lay the groundwork for modern blues-roots gal singing... I promise!)
Willie Nelson - see artist discography
Michael Nesmith & The First National Band "Complete" (Pacific Arts, 1993)
This fab 2-CD set draws on Nesmith's first three solo albums -- Magnetic South (1970), Loose Salute (1970), and Nevada Fighter (1971) -- psychedelic citybilly music that many hail as pivotal landmarks in the nascent country-rock scene of the post-Woodstock era. At the time, Nesmith was in seclusion, seeking to dodge the unwanted attention of life as a former star of the "Monkees" TV show, and all the silliness and baggage that came with it. These records certainly have the air of, well, a particular, peculiar time and headspace, reflecting the eclectic, inventive spirit of the times, building on the spacy foundations set down by the Byrds, et al., while also expressing a unique hippie-weirdo perspective that was all Nesmith's own. On first listen, much of this collection seems to melt into an undifferentiated oddball hybrid of Nashville stylizations, Tin Pan Alley affectations and restrained, tweaky rock flourishes... Revisiting this album will pay off richly: Nesmith was tapped into a free-form Americana similar to that of Van Dyke Parks, and covers quite a range of styles. Several songs stand out, and the album continually sheds intriguing glimpses at Nesmith's new, kooky, interior landscape. What mainstream countrypolitan producer Felton Jarvis made of it all, Lord only knows... Also on board for all three albums was pianist Glen D. Hardin, a few years later one of the main anchors of country diva Emmylou Harris' legendary Hot Band. Now, how's that for some serious alt-country history?
Michael Nesmith & The First National Band "Magnetic South" (RCA, 1970)
Michael Nesmith & The First National Band "Loose Salute" (RCA, 1970)
Michael Nesmith & The First National Band "Nevada Fighter" (RCA, 1971)
As described above... fun stuff!
Gary P. Nunn "Home With The Armadillo: Live At Austin City Limits" (Campfire, 1984)
Gary P. Nunn "Borderstates" (Campfire, 1987)
Gary P. Nunn "For Old Time's Sake" (Campfire, 1989)
Gary P. Nunn "Live At Poor David's Pub" (Poor David's Recordings, 1992)
Gary P. Nunn "Totally Guacamole" (Campfire, 1993)
Gary P. Nunn "Road Trip" (Campfire, 1994)
Gary P. Nunn "Under My Hat" (Campfire, 1996)
Gary P. Nunn "That's What I Like About Texas: Greatest Hits" (Campfire, 1998)
Gary P. Nunn "Nobody But Me" (Campfire, 1999)
Gary P. Nunn "It's A Texas Thing" (Campfire, 2000)
Gary P. Nunn "Greatest Hits, v.2" (Campfire, 2001)
Gary P. Nunn "Something For The Trail" (Smith Music Group, 2004)
Alt.Country Albums - Letter "O"
Hick Music Index