Tom Russell

Beyond St. Olav's Gate (1979-1992)

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An excellent "best-of" collection culled from several Russell albums released between 1979 and 1992, the music on this disc is such a sublime, if unassuming, slice of pure "alternative" country, it suddenly makes the very existence of a band like Whiskeytown seem redundant. With his quietly honest vocal delivery and carefully honed arrangements, Russell might not appeal to fans of the chillingly raw, whiskey-soaked, directness of a Townes Van Zandt or Hank Williams, Sr., but he more than makes up for any lack of intensity with the sheer beauty of his lyrics. With a novelist's eye for detail and a penchant for using such atypical country settings such as Puerto Rico and Norway, Russell has never been afraid to follow his own road; Beyond St. Olav's Gate is a fine introduction to the path's most enjoyable twists and tuns.

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