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Charlie Louvin

Charlie Louvin – 2007 (Tompkins Square)

Reviewed by Dan MacIntosh

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CDs by Charlie Louvin

Charlie Louvin, the lone remaining Louvin Brother, gets the star treatment on his latest solo CD. Producer Mark Nevers, who also helped produce Bobby Bare's recent "comeback" CD, invited guests like Elvis Costello and Jeff (Wilco) Tweedy to the table. Many country folks, such as Tom T. Hall and Tift Merritt also join the party. But so do rockers from Clem Snide and Lambchop.

Louvin's voice is rough around the edges, but this disc's strong material easily covers for time's harsh toll on Louvin's larynx. There's "The Christian Life," which The Byrds covered during their country-rock period, and "When I Stop Dreaming," one of the saddest love songs ever. A remake of "Great Atomic Power," with its moments of guitar feedback, brings to mind The Flying Burrito Brothers - especially Sneaky Pete Kleinow's unique stringed experimentations. Louvin also covers The Carter Family's "The Kneeling Drunkard's Plea" and Jimmie Rodgers' "Waiting For A Train."

Of this disc's stars, George Jones shines brightest. Maybe it is Louvin's vocal weaknesses, but Jones sounds particularly strong on "Must You Throw Dirt In My Face" and "Waiting For A Train." And to his credit, Nevers never allows these high profile participants to overshadow Louvin. Instead, he's showered with brotherly love throughout.