Yvette Landry 'Me & T-Coe’s Country' - Soko

For her latest album Yvette Landry has distilled her music down to the purest elements of traditional country; voice, guitar and pedal steel. Added to that is the fact that the acclaimed songwriter has chosen to mostly cover some of her favourite songs. It is a testament to her seeking for truth of the music that she manages to make these often iconic songs feel very much her own. You can’t dismiss the version that have already become ingrained in your memory banks, rather the simplicity of the setting give them a new perspective.

Landry’s unique voice is full of passion, pain and perception. It soars above the simplicity of the arrangements. Kudos too to Richard Comeaux’s steel playing which is a major part of the musical impact, along with Landry’s voice. Comeaux has been a part of Landry’s musical band for some time and clearly understand her vision. The duo setting allows him full reign to display his many skills over the entire album rather than coming to the fore with a brief solo or atmospheric playing that a full band setting often dictates.

The songs include Tennessee Waltz, I Fall to Pieces, Together Again and Misery Loves Company. The latter a dissertation of the memory of love lost that comes from the pen of Jerry Reed and clocks in at over six minuets. Voice and steel guitar jointly explore the anguish in way that underlines the real nature of raw regret. There are three songs associated with Hank Williams Senior (Cold, Cold Heart, Hey Good Looking and Bucket’s Got A Hole in It), another artist who understood how to turn human nature into a heart-wrenching vocal. There are songs from Foghorn Stringband’s Caleb Klauder (Can I Go Home with you?) as well as two from Landry (Together, Forever and Memories Of Clelia) along with the classic covers. These both sound and feel at home with the other songs.    

The way they perform the songs soon makes you forget that there are only two players featured on the album. On the bonus closing track (I’m leaving it Up to You) Landry is joined by a full band on a more bluesy take and the male vocal is front and centre providing alternate verses with Landry. The nature of the album gets inside these songs and deconstructs them back to the foundations of the emotions that the songs were built upon. No mean feat when you’re up against the originals recording - and countless other versions in some cases. There have been quite a number of albums in recent times where singers have gone back to the songs that first drew them to real country music. The success of these has been varied, but this album deserves to be heard. It is not a stopgap, but rather an affirmation of why this person is as good as she is. And she is. 

Yvette Landry 'No Man's Land' Self-release

This Louisiana native is adept at delivering straight up country and honky tonk. Landry has an enticing, believable and seductive voice that echoes the great country ladies of the past while still retaining her own identity. She is also a great writer in the spirit of pure country; while some may need three chords and the truth, she prefers three chords and a bottle, but there is also truth there. Witness this in the cutting couplet from the song Three Chords and a Bottle "I heard you tell the story that your good in bed, come on honey, let me tell you that's all in your head". There are many fine lines in her songs that will get the message across that this is a real woman looking at the real world.

Throughout the playing is top notch and Landry's co-production with Joel Savoy makes the music sound fresh and alive. This is about keeping a tradition alive and not changing it almost beyond recognition. Special mention must go to Richard Comeaux's fluid steel guitar playing. Other notables here include Cindy Cashdollar, Bill Kirchen, and Dirk Powell and the ensemble playing is always there to serve the song,  all of which are memorable and stand repeat listens. There is one outside song and that is Matt Kline's Lord, I Get High which is a slow paced lament on late night drinking and extolling the spirit. Heartbreak, loss and separation are all topics here, as they should on any real country album. This House is Not a Home, Little Gold Band, My Next Mr.Ex are all songs that deal with the diverse nature of the human condition, especially one that has the bar as the centre of attraction and solicitation. Landry's songs would doubtless find approval form the likes of Loretta Lynn as much as they do from anyone who listens to No Man's Land.

This is yet another album that shows that when it comes to honest-to-god country music it is the ladies who are largely leading the way. Yvette Landry is right up there at the forefront and this album has a lot of different ways of reminding me why I love this music. It may be a case of no man's land but this music is for everyone who likes it old school and real; a subject that Landry raises in What in the Hell They did Back Then, a song that asks how the great stars of the past did it without aid of reality shows and such to get their music across. They did it by making great music like this.

Stephen Rapid