Townes Van Zandt
The string section gave Our Mother The Mountain an unsettling edge, but it was inevitable that someone worked out that Van Zandt was most effective in a stripped down setting, and Townes Van Zandt is pared down to relatively simple arrangements; there’s a full band on ‘Fare Thee Well Miss Carousel’ and touches of orchestration, but most of the songs are at least underpinned by Van Zandt’s guitar. Almost half of these songs are recycled from the debut, but they’re in far stronger versions here. Of the older songs, ‘Waitin’ Around To Die’ is even more compelling in this stark version, while ‘I’ll Be Here In The Morning’ is as sweet as ever. Of the new songs, the closing ‘None But The Rain’ is prettily elegiac and mournful, even by Van Zandt’s standards (“Who’ll be your lover after I’m gone/Will it be the moon that hears your sighin’/Will it be the willow that hears your lonesome song”). ‘Lungs’ features one of Van Zandt’s most memorable acoustic riffs, while ‘Don’t Take It Too Bad’ lilts along gently. It’s not as coherent a classic as Our Mother The Mountain, but song for song it’s very nearly as good, and Townes Van Zandt is one of Van Zandt’s strongest studio records.