Lubbock, Texas native Kimmie Rhodes is one of the founding members of the Texas indie-country scene... A longtime friend of Willie Nelson, Rhodes is also a successful songwriter with several songs recorded by artists such as Emmylou Harris, Waylon Jennings, Wynonna Judd and Trisha Yearwood. Here's a quick look at her own work as a performer...
Kimmie Rhodes "Jackalopes, Moons And Angels: A Collection: 1985-1990" (Jackalope, 1996)
A nice overview that gathers some of the best songs from the early years of this Austin indie darling. Plenty of spunk country numbers, including many striking originals, and just a smidge of misguided bar-band blues. Another one of those artists that makes you think -- almost -- that Texas might not be such a bad place after all. This gathers material from her first three albums, Kimmie Rhodes And The Jackalope Brothers, Man In The Moon and Angels Get The Blues, each long out of print when this collection came out.
Kimmie Rhodes "Ten Summers" (Sunbird, 2005)
Kimmie Rhodes "...And The Jackalope Brothers" (1981)
Kimmie Rhodes "Man In The Moon" (1985)
Kimmie Rhodes "Angels Get The Blues" (1989)
Kimmie Rhodes "West Texas Heaven" (Jackalope, 1996)
Another nice record by this Austin original... Her voice might not be for everyone, sort of reminiscent of Jessi Colter, but a little thinner and more wavery... Which is obviously fine with lots of alt-twang fans, including Colter's hubbie, the late Waylon Jennings, who sang a couple of fine duets on this album. A few of these songs strike me as mildly over-crafted, but since Rhodes shares that same upwards quaver that Iris DeMent has at the emotional edge of her range -- one of the most endearing touches in alt.country today -- any false steps are forgiven. Rhodes continues to stand out as a distinctive and unpretentious performer, and as one of the best young songwriters around -- her heart songs will slay you, and more idiosyncratic tunes like "Maybe We'll Just Disappear" are also quite nice. Recommended. Oh... right -- I almost forgot! Willie Nelson guests on this album as well!
Kimmie Rhodes "Rich From The Journey" (Jackalope, 2000)
An all-gospel/spiritual album... Although the wide-eyed, dewily optimistic, religious slant may make some folks uncomfortable, it has to be said this record has some of Rhodes' finest singing, with a light, Emmylou Harris-like lilt on many of the tunes... Indeed, twangfans who've enjoyed some of Emmylou's later work, albums such as Wrecking Ball, et. al., might really like this as well. Many of the songs have a similar glossiness and expansive feel; personally I'm not into that aspect of this album, but there are a couple of simpler songs that I did like, notably "Big Ol' Train" and "God's Acre," which features guest appearances by Gillian Welch and David Rawlings. The songs are all Rhodes originals, notable for their non-Jesus-specific, nondenominational approach -- it's a celebration of life, and of life's unseen beauties. Might not be for everybody, but if you're on its wavelength, this is a very rewarding record.
Kimmie Rhodes "Love Me Like A Song" (Jackalope, 2002)
Generally speaking, this album drifts into gentler, more Lilith Fair-ish, folkie, singer-songwriter terrain, although is also touches on familiar roots and blues styles. The title track, a delicate, pretty duet with Willie Nelson, is the highlight here for me. A bit too Rickie Lee Jones-ish and Kate Bush-y for me, but folks looking for something in a softer, more confessional vein will probably enjoy this quite a bit.
Kimmie Rhodes & Willie Nelson "Picture In A Frame" (Sunbird, 2003)
"Simpatico" is the one word that I think best describes Willie Nelson and Kimmie Rhodes, two Texas crooners whose voices and musical inclinations meld with startling beauty. Either singer can crest to the top or fall back into humble harmonies in this set of ten fine duets. The songs are mostly Kimmie Rhodes originals, though Willie contributes two ("Valentine" and "It Will Always Be") with the remainder of the set coming from sources as disparate as Tom Waits (the wrote title track), Rodney Crowell and Rhodes' partner, Joe Gracey. For folks who like understated, well-crafted American music with deep, deep roots and perfect emotional pitch, this record is the real deal. Highly recommended!
Kimmie Rhodes "Lost & Found" (Sunbird, 2004)
For an odds'n'ends album, this disc sure has a cohesive feel to it, gathering together some of Rhodes' sweeter, more searching, melodic ballads... Emmylou Harris and Nanci Griffith come to mind, but Rhodes also clearly makes her mark as an artist of equal caliber... This is just another notch in her belt, establishing her as one of the alt-country scene's little-known best treasures. Recommended!
Kimmie Rhodes "Windblown" (Sunbird, 2005)
Kimmie Rhodes "Small Town Girl" (Sunbird, 2007)
Kimmie Rhodes "Walls Fall Down" (Sunbird, 2008)
Kimmie Rhodes "Miracles On Christmas Day" (Sunbird, 2010)
Kimmie Rhodes "Dreams Of Flying" (Sunbird, 2011)
(Produced by Gabriel Rhodes)
A powerful set, packed with introspection and redemption, existential yearning, sorrow, acceptance and grace. This album is a lullaby for life, a steady stream of sweet, melancholy reflections on the world's beauty and limitations, its disappointments and joys, with songs that ask questions like, where does God go to cry? Most of the songs are straightforwardly philosophical and spiritual, with a sprinkling of love songs that bookend the more mystical explorations. Before closing the album with a gentle acceptance of death ("Start Saying Goodbye"), she sings of love ("Luh Luh Love") arriving at the classic love-transcends-all formula of mystics and poets throughout the ages... The album seems intensely personal, with all but two songs written by Rhodes; on the soul-drenched, "Tupelo Honey"-esque "Like Love To Me," she evokes Van Morrison, while on the album's lone cover song, she embraces another cosmic quester, Donovan, in an achingly fragile version of "Catch The Wind" (with spare, sorrowful harmonies from Joe Ely). I'm not sure about the story behind this album, but it will stand as one of the great folkie explorations of the human condition, with all its sadness and dreams. A nice record for grownups, particularly those of us ready to look a little further down the road and assess ourselves and our many aspirations. Check it out.
Hick Music Index