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The Flatlanders/Hills And Valleys.
2009 release, first recording in five years.
1 Homeland Refugee - 3:58
2 Borderless Love - 3:16
3 After the Storm - 3:52
4 Wishing for a Rainbow - 4:21
5 No Way I'll Never Need You - 3:17
6 Just About Time - 3:49
7 Love's Own Chains - 3:44
8 Cry for Freedom - 4:16
9 The Way We Are - 3:12
10 Thank God for the Road - 5:00
11 Free the Wind - 3:08
12 Sowing on the Mountain - 5:06
13 There's Never Been - 4:30
On Hills and Valleys the Flatlanders live up to their legendary status with a collection of 13 strong songs that are as good as anything they've ever done collectively or individually. All three principals have written more than their share of desperate songs about desperate situations, but they still manage to wring a few solid changes on the subject. The first six tunes on the album were co-written by the trio and several sound like classics. "Homeland Refugee" echoes and updates Woody Guthrie's "Dustbowl Refugee" with a story of Oakies leaving California to return to Oklahoma and acknowledges the common bond between rednecks, Mexicans, and middle class Americans when times get rough. Joe Ely sings lead with a weary soulfulness. "Borderless Love" conflates economic hardship and lost love and moves along to a galloping Tex-Mex beat accented by Joel Guzman's crying accordion. Jimmie Dale Gilmore's weathered voice takes the lead on "After the Storm," an implicit lament for New Orleans that mourns for "the help that never came." The trio trades lead vocals on "Just About Time," a honky tonk rocker that sounds like a '60s protest song and advises people to get off their butts and do something about the mess we've made of the world. The love songs here tend to be just as downbeat. Ely's "Love's Own Chains" is a desolate country rocker with a nasty twang-drenched lead guitar by Rob Gjersoe, "The Way We Are," by Gilmore's son Colin, is a straight up country tune that celebrates the joy of new love with the knowledge that nothing lasts forever, as does Ely's "There's Never Been" a wrenching song that melds smoldering love with the icy ache of regret. Including Woody Guthrie's apocalyptic spiritual "Sowing on the Mountain" late in the album ties up these tunes of hardships and lost opportunities into a package that will probably sound just as timely in another 30 years, given America's long history of boom and bust and the tendency of lovers to live in their dreams when reality gets too hard to face. ~ j. poet, All Music Guide
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