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Various Artists The Essential Guide to American Roots Review

Compilation. Released 2006.  

BBC Review

If Garth Brooks makes his music for George W Bush, then Garth Cartwright MCs for the...

Chris Moss 2006

An American Roots compilation is a tricky thing, even when the compiler has at his disposal the space of three CDs in which to divulge his tastes. But Garth Cartwright has done a great job with this Union Square collection, balancing the ultra-obvious likes of the Carter Family and John Lee Hooker with alt-country, grunge numbers from seminal band The Meat Puppets and mordant Mississippi maestro Junior Kimbrough.

Importantly, there’s native music too, R. Carlos Nakai and The Canyon Symphony reminding us that the best American country sound always has one toe in a creek where flows the spirit - and the blood - of the Sioux, the Apache and the Cheyenne.

We also get Lucinda Williams, Alejandro Escovedo, Jimmy Reed, Dolly Parton and Ry Cooder. This is a great car-stereo sequence and will turn even the grisliest, rain-soaked drive down the M6 into an open road disappearing over the desert horizon. Such great music would, in an intelligent universe, draw C&W fans away from the trashcan of bastardised balladeers and back onto the wild, open plains of America the Beautiful. If Garth Brooks makes his music for George W Bush, then Garth Cartwright MCs for the good outlaws that might just save the nation.

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