Various Artists

Best of the South: Musical Stories by Sugar Hill

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Working in conjunction with Algonquin Books, Sugar Hill has released Best of the South, a musical companion to the anthology Best of the South, Vol. 2. The CD collection, like the new volume, emphasizes Southern songwriters' predilection for spinning stories. Grey DeLisle paints a portrait of loneliness and freedom in "Joanna," the story of a drunkard's daughter who leaves home and never looks back. Allison Moorer's "One on the House" tells the tale of a prodigal daughter who's blown her fortune and now, swallowing her pride, asks a bartender for one free drink. Terry Allen's "The Great Joe Bob (A Regional Tragedy)" recalls how one football player, the brightest halfback in his high school, went bad, first getting thrown out of college and finally being thrown into jail for armed robbery. And Tim O'Brien's "Family History" tells of the dangers of looking into the past, while nonetheless admitting the need to do so. There are also solid selections from Guy Clark, Scott Miller, Sonny Landreth, Dolly Parton, and the Duhks. The compilation offers a nice cross section of contemporary roots artists, from traditional to neo-traditional to folk-rock. For those who enjoy good Southern stories and/or good music, Best of the South is a well-conceived and generous collection.

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