Boomkat Product Review:
Country legend and righteous old feller Charlie Louvin celebrated his 80th birthday this year, and what better way of going about that celebration than recruiting a number of notable luminaries and alt. country heroes whose music owes much to the Louvin Brothers' sound. The album is littered with big name artists like Elvis Costello, Wilco's Jeff Tweedy and Will Oldham to name but three key players. As far as the context of this record goes, the obvious comparison to make would be to Johnny Cash's late, Rick Rubin-recorded work: as with those sessions this set is as much about demonstrating a connection with the current music scene as it is about looking back on old favourites. In fact, Johnny Cash is one of many Nashville notables to have covered songs by Charlie and his late brother Ira, which should give some sort of indication of the breadth and extent of this guy's influence on country music. Significantly, Louvin's vocal is far from over the hill, and on the murder ballad 'Knoxville Girl' he quite predictably fends off young pretender Will Oldham in the world-weary authenticity stakes. 'Great Atomic Power', the duet with Tweedy (whose old band Uncle Tupelo certainly bore the influence of Louvin's authoritative old-school country) also features a spirited kids' choir who take on the ironic singalong chorus with just as much gusto as the Wilco songwriter, but once again it's the weathered but dignified voice of Louvin that proves to be the dominant force here. By the time you get to 'Ira', Charlie's tribute to his late brother, you're in full-on, heartbreaking country territory, but the album ends on an upbeat note, with a final bluegrass hoedown in the shape of 'My Long Journey Home'.