Country outlaws, past and present, join forces and come up with a truly modern country album
Lest one forget, Jessi Colter was one of the original “country outlaws” in that she was one of the quartet (the others being her husband Waylon Jennings along with Willie Nelson and Tompall Glaser) who released ‘Wanted! The Outlaws’ way back in 1976. That album was a bit of a game changer, its success (the first country album to be platinum-certified, reaching sales of one million) paving the way for country music to escape the tendrils of mass-produced Nashville hits.
A successful artist in her own right prior to and subsequent to the Outlaws’ album, Colter’s career then ebbed and flowed in the ‘80s and ‘90s but in recent years she’s collaborated with producers such as Don Was and Lenny Kaye and on ‘Edge Of Forever’ she has teamed up with the latest Nashville outlaw, Margo Price. The pair are a fine match with Price producing an album showcasing not only Colter’s country roots but also her affinity with gospel and soul and giving it a radio-friendly glossy sheen.
While much of the album features songs from Colter’s back catalogue, co-writes with Jennings in the main, it sounds bang up to date, the opening ‘Standing On The Edge Of Forever’ a case in point with its swirling organ, slick guitar and propulsive beat straddling ‘60s a go go and modern southern grooves. ‘I Wanna Be With You’ continues in a similar vein with Price’s backing vocals echoing prime chart hits of the past while a cover of James Cleveland’s ‘Can’t Nobody Do Me Like Jesus’ snakes and slithers with a southern gospel rapture. ‘With Or Without You’ is a glorious dive into a New Orleans funky groove and Colter revisits her country outlaw roots on one of the album’s standout songs, ‘Maybe You Should’, a classic break up song delivered with relish by the outstanding band she has gathered around her. There’s more heartache on the classic country sound of ‘Hard On Easy Street’, delivered in a true tear jerking countrypolitan style while ‘Lost Love Song’ allows the band to show off their chops quite spectacularly. The album closes fine fashion with yet another winner which finds Colter duetting with Jenni Eddy Jennings on Secret Place, a country number with gospel undertones which is quite sublime.
All in all this is a splendid listen, with Colter and Price (along with Colter’s son, Shooter Jennings, who mixed the album) delivering a prime slice of modern country music.