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Playing Now/Coming Soon

Tim Easton, Jimmy Webb & Greg Trooper hit town with new discs

By Jim Caligiuri, 4:20PM, Wed. Sep. 11, 2013

Playing Now/Coming Soon

He’s been making albums since 1998, slotted as singer-songwriter with a taste for country rock. Nevertheless, few would’ve expected the stylistic left turn that Tim Easton takes on his latest, Not Cool. Hear it live Thursday when he opens for Billy Joe Shaver at Antone’s.

It’s a mix of rockabilly and pub rock (think early Nick Lowe or middle period Elvis Costello) that’s remarkably fresh, perhaps because so few are working the latter genre presently. If you enjoyed JD McPherson’s unapologetically retro debut last year, this one’s for you. At just over 30 minutes it’s too short, but Not Cool is anyway.

Check out his homemade video:

Also Thursday, across town, but stylistically a million miles away, Jimmy Webb appears at the One World Theater, 8pm. Literally the Chairman of the Songwriters Hall of Fame, Webb issued his latest this week, Still Within the Sound of My Voice. Like his last effort, 2010’s Just Across the River, it’s an all-star set that finds Webb sharing the bill with Lyle Lovett, Joe Cocker, Amy Grant, Art Garfunkel, and a bunch more.

Long criticized for shaky vocals, Webb’s gained some confidence in that department this time out. With backing by a veritable who’s who of Nashville studio pros – Jerry Douglas, Stuart Duncan, Bryan Sutton, Paul Franklin – he offers an adult version of Americana that’s poignant and modern. Highlights include a re-imagining of “MacArthur Park,” with Beach Boy Brian Wilson adding stunning atmospherics, and Kris Kristofferson’s wobbly spoken word appearance on “Honey Come Back.”

My only complaint with Strange Brew, the hottest listening room in Austin: I live north and it’s pretty far south. Saturday I’ll make the trip to see my old NYC buddy Greg Trooper. His 12th album, Incident on Willow Street, is another sturdy set of widescreen observations on the human condition, although it isn’t due for another couple weeks.

Trooper, who’s been lucky enough to have his songs covered by kindred spirits including Steve Earle and Billy Bragg, continues demonstrating the rare ability to mix Dylanesque folk, country soul, and a hint of Celtic color into something both appealing and hard hitting. It’s well worth the drive.

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