Charlie Louvin; 'Steps to Heaven', 'Sings Murder Ballads and Disaster Songs'
CHARLIE LOUVIN STEPS TO HEAVEN, SINGS MURDER BALLADS AND DISASTER SONGS
ESSENTIAL "How Beautiful Heaven Must Be," "The Little Grave in Georgia"
These two new releases from Charlie Louvin harken back to some of the most celebrated records he made as part of country music's most famous brother act. "Sings Murder Ballads and Disaster Songs" essays car wrecks, train wrecks, shipwrecks, and heart wrecks, some from the Louvin Brothers days, others newly discovered by Louvin, all delivered with spare, understated accompaniment - mainly acoustic guitar flecked with touches of steel guitar and fiddle. As fine as that collection is, the real gem here is his hard gospel set, "Steps to Heaven," also on the Tompkins Square label. Louvin delivers standards like "Where We'll Never Grow Old" and "When the Roll Is Called Up Yonder," along with reprises of a couple from the Louvins' repertoire, backed by the gospel keys of Derrick Lee and simply breathtaking choral and dueting counterpart by the McCrary Sisters. In once again traversing the lowest of lows and the highest of highs, Louvin is on ground he's trod many times before. But his craggy voice, now cracked and torn with age yet still animated and passionate, seems peculiarly suited to these tragic songs of life and portrayals of hoped-for relief from that estate. (Out now)