Johnny Bush Kashmere Gardens Mud: A Tribute to Houston's Country Soul

Compared to the successes of Ray Price, Merle Haggard and Mickey Gilley, country and western singer Johnny Bush is a mere footnote in the development of Texas honky-tonk. Even his biggest hit, "Whiskey River,” is better known as a Willie Nelson cover. But when a rare vocal affliction sidelined his rise to stardom, Bush soldiered on to write and record music. As a complement to his new autobiography, this album finds him teaming up with old friends to pay homage to the sound that made him famous. The title track is a gentle acoustic ditty that leads into the bouncy honky-tonker "I’ll Sail My Ship Alone.” "Free Soul” is a bluesy tune with horns and a walking bass line, and "Born to Lose” augments said formula with strings. The Tex-Mex-accented "Tequila and Teardrops” adds horns, accordion and a verse en español. The Townes Van Zandt-penned "Pancho and Lefty” features Bush swapping vocals with compadre Willie Nelson, who also sits in a spell on the acoustic "Send Me the Pillow That You Dream On.” "They Took the Stars Out of Heaven” features guest vocals by the late Floyd Tillman and "Bloody Mary Morning” is a steel guitar and banjo pickin’ extravaganza akin to Ricky Skaggs. Starring Bush’s brother, the Rev. Gene Shinn, "I Want a Drink of That Water” is a tender gospel ballad. More solid than his recent material with the Bandoleros, the Country Caruso’s warble-y tenor (now with subtle Johnny Cash-esque undertones) reaches new heights on Kashmere Gardens Mud, honouring Houston’s rich country tradition. (Icehouse)