Rolling Stone: Wise Worn Hearts Beat Inside The Roots

Editor's note: The following review was taken from a Dec. 23 list of "The Best Under-the-Radar Albums of 2011" by Senior Editor David Fricke. Click here to read the rest of that article.

The Gourds – Old Mad Joy (Vanguard)

Founded in 1994, this Austin, Texas institution issued nearly a dozen records on its way to this earthy, lyrically incisive pleasure produced with an invigorating touch by Larry Campbell, the ex-Bob Dylan guitarist who now plays with Levon Helm. The Gourds have always had a good long streak of Helm's old outfit, the Band, in their progressive-country dynamics and barroom-sawdust party. But the best thing about Campbell's empathy was the way he brought light and focus to the central continuing dialogue of the Gourds' primary singer-writers, guitarist Kevin Russell and Jimmy Smith – the wise worn hearts that constantly beat inside the roots.

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