Speed, Sound, Lonely KV (ep)
Nashville, Tennessee. Music City. The musical fabric of this legendary community has been sewn together by some of the most colourful personalities you could ever imagine. Some of these people would’ve seemed so over the top that if they were in a Hollywood movie, you would be inclined to think that the writer was given a little too much rope. We have all at least heard of the big names in country music but there were so many behind the scenes players that helped to sprinkle a ton of magic onto some of the most legendary songs. Take, for example, “Cowboy” Jack Clement. Cowboy Jack was a steel guitar player that became part of one of the more groundbreaking parts of music history when he was hired as a producer and engineer for Sam Phillips at Sun Studios. Clement ended up working with such artists as Jerry Lee Lewis. Roy Orbison, Carl Perkins and Johnny Cash, among others, and through his amazing work started a legacy that has been admired by artists of every generation since. One of those artist is Kurt Vile. Vile was hipped onto “Cowboy” Jack through his work with Vile’s hero, the late, great John Prine. After “Cowboy” Jack passed away in 2014, Vile, through friend and collaborator Matt Sweeney, got the opportunity to come to Nashville to do some recording at Butcher Shoppe Studios which was a recording studio started in part by Prine. Over the next handful of years Vile, Sweeney and an absolute murderer’s row of studio players, keyboardist Bobby Wood (Dusty In Memphis, Elvis’s “Suspicious Minds”) bassist Dave Roe (Johnny Cash, Jerry Reed), Kenny Malone (George Jones) and Pat Mclaughlin (John Prine) laid down the five wonderful songs that make up Vile’s new EP Speed, Sound, Lonely KV (ep). The EP acts as a love letter to Vile’s lifelong affair with the music of John Prine and all the history that has come out of Music City since the days of “Cowboy” Jack.
Kicking off with a cover of Prine’s “Speed of the Sound of Loneliness”, the record hits you with an such undeniable warmth, it practically glows. This is the sound of a group of people at the very top of their game. Perfectly languid when needed and a little more dangerous when necessary. Vile also invites us to celebrate Cowboy Jack with a cover of his song “Gone Girl”. Vile sounds completely comfortable in this country setting. His voice has that casual drawl that can convey the right amount of twinkling sadness that these songs so very need. Besides a couple of lovely lackadaisical Vile originals “Dandelions” and “Pearls”, which feel more like classic Vile tracks only imbued with that special Nashville touch courtesy of this incredible backing band. We are also treated to one of John Prine’s final recordings. Vile and Prine duet on a cover of his own “How Lucky”. Hearing Prine in this capacity, after this year and his passing is bittersweet. He sounds incredible here but there’s this wondering that hits you of what more could’ve come.
The only real complaint about this collection is that it may be too short. It’s a real tease and a lovingly crafted tribute to Prine, “Cowboy” Jack Clement and all the great music to have come out of this magical city. Since this recording the building that housed the Butcher Shoppe was sold and Prine has unfortunately passed but the energy, the excitement and wonder of the music that was so lovingly crafted there, in that city, will never disappear. For some of us, as well, Vile’s Speed, Sound, Lonely KV (ep) may be the gateway drug we didn’t know we needed.
order Speed, Sound, Lonely KV (ep) by Kurt Vile here