Music/Popular Culture

Saturday Video Roundup: Natalie Maines, out on her own

Natalie Maines has a new solo CD set to drop Tuesday. It’s entitled Mother, and it’s simply wonderful. If you’d like a preview you can stream it at NPR.

I think we can now safely call Maines a former C&W artist. Mother, which is largely a collaboration with Ben Harper and his band, lies solidly to the Americana side of the spectrum, and the overall sound has more in common with ’70s California Country Rock than it does anything that has happened in Nashville of late (although the ’70s Cali comparison isn’t really fair, either – Mother is substantively and tonally far more nuanced and reflective than anything The Eagles ever dreamed of doing). There’s plenty of stylistic range, too. In addition to songs that would be at home on the last couple of Dixie Chicks discs (read, post-we’re ashamed of George Bush era), there’s one balls-to-wall rock moment that’s straight off a Bell-Rays CD as well as a fantastic cover of Pink Floyd’s “Mother” (hence the CD title – see a recent live performance below).

I’m absolutely ecstatic about this record for a couple of reasons. First, I love great music. Duh. Second, there can’t be many artists in the world whom I respect more than Maines. The progressive stances she has taken, all completely at odds with the mouth-breathing politics that surround corporate C&W establishment and fan culture, and her willingness to accept the financial price attached to her integrity mark her as one of the more important social figures of our time. Maines is a throwback to the awareness and activism that marked the 1960s, and we could sure as hell use more Dylan, Lennon, Baez and Mitchell analogues here in our modern shut-up-and-sing security state era.

No, she’s not going to starve, regardless, but it’s refreshing to see someone who realizes that there are other logics in life besides ca$h. How many of our big stars today would stand up and do the right thing if they knew it was going to cost them most of their audience and endanger their careers?

Something to think about. Meanwhile, there doesn’t seem to be an official video out yet, but there are a couple things on YouTube that give you a hint about Mother. Up first, a live performance with Harper and his band of the title track. Roger Waters ought to be proud.

And here’s a life performance of “Take It On Faith.”

Happy Saturday. Be careful out there.

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