North and South square off again as an album of songs from the Civil War era sung by country and Americana artists leads the week's offering of new music.
Hollywood music supervisor Randall Poster put together Divided & United, a two-disc set in tribute of the 150th anniversary of the Civil War. Three generations of singers help draw a clear line from the America of the 1860s to today.
Legacy artists on the project include Cowboy Jack Clement, Steve Earle, Vince Gill, Loretta Lynn, Del McCoury, Dolly Parton, Ralph Stanley and Lee Ann Womack, while today's artists are represented by the likes of the Carolina Chocolate Drops, Jamey Johnson, Ashley Monroe, Old Crow Medicine Show, Shoves & Rope, Chris Thile and others.
"These songs are rendered in such a direct way that you think, 'I understand what it felt like to be alive 150 years ago,'" says Poster. "You feel it. It's so vivid. When I put these collections together, I assemble them like I do a movie soundtrack and feel like I'm telling a story. On this record, you get a sense of 'Oh, my goodness, here's the story of the Civil War.'"
The project showcases the variety of material from the time period, including Union songs, Rebel songs, spirituals, abolition songs, minstrel songs and traditional tunes that preceded the conflict.
Meanwhile, Buck 'Em! The Music of Buck Owens (1955-1967) anthologizes the Bakersfield-sound pioneer's most prolific period of work. Featuring more than 50 tracks, fans can relive Owens' rise from honky-tonk obscurity to his triumphant Carnegie Hall concert and beyond.
Independent releases include Paul Burch's mixed bag of honky-tonk, string band blues and rock on Fevers, while veteran folkie Howe Gelb delivers his dusty, intellectual project, The Coincidentalist.
Country-punk starlet Lydia Loveless unveils a five-song EP, Boy Crazy, and Connecticut natives Poor Old Shine make their rootsy self-titled debut.
With Now Now Now, country rockers Haymaker send their third project to market, and the Chris Weaver Band release their second album of Southern rock mixed with country, American Dreamers. Finally, NewTown of Lexington, Ky., celebrate the past and present of bluegrass on Time Machine.