Alan Rhody Boxcars of Memories

Alan Rhody would be a throwback to the days of the old school troubadour, if he hadn't already been doing it for 30-plus years. Simple but effective, Rhody's unfettered approach to telling a story has gradually impacted a mind-boggling array of artists that have covered his songs or sought to be involved in his exacting process: John Prine, Kevin Welch, John Hartford and Tom Russell among them. As tall a Texan troubadour as Guy Clark or Joe Ely, the Kentucky-born Rhody employs deceptively simple techniques — acoustic guitar and rack harmonica — to keep the songwriting front and centre, his able voice ringing with just enough emotion to make an essential connection. Co-writes with Tom Russell (the exceptional "Ten Cent Lemonade") and Tim Krekel ("Backstroke Up Mainstreet") prove memorable, as covers by Dylan, Kristofferson and Paul Siebel illustrate his personal control over anybody's material. Siebel's "Louise" enjoys an element of swing in Rhody's care, underlining his subtle skill with what might appear at first a simple song, but it's the strongest selection on this, his eighth release. Old-fashioned in his approach, Rhody proves his worth as a powerful roots performer with every thoughtful strum of his guitar. (Independent)