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Modern Art

Modern Art

by Tom Russell Tom Russell
Modern Art

Modern Art

by Tom Russell Tom Russell


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Hard to believe that Tom Russell could ever top his 1999 masterpiece of family archaeology, The Man from God Knows Where, but with Modern Art he may well have done just that. This austere beauty takes a hard but always empathetic look at the inner souls of some real-life dreamers whose triumphant facades often mask inner turmoil. The tone is set by the spare, haunting soundscape accompanying the deathbed laments of Mickey Mantle in "The Kid from Spavinaw," turning the Mick's jocular quip, "If I'd known I was gonna live this long, I'd have taken better care of myself," in on its subject as he assesses the physical toll the hard living took on him and his athletic gifts. Conversely, the Calypso beat energizing "Muhammad Ali" sets up the proper party atmosphere for a celebration of the Champ's courage, in and out of the ring. Lyrics delivered in desperate, urgent tones are mirrored by some tough, driving blues-rock defined by a wailing harmonica, and what better way to summon the mind-set of someone who would need the services of the infamous Houston defense attorney "Racehorse Haynes"? A tender acoustic folk ballad, with Eliza Gilkyson supplying ghostly harmonies, tells the tragic tale of the sailor "Isaac Lewis." Nanci Griffith contributes to three songs, most dramatically Dave Alvin's Spanish-tinged mid-tempo shuffle, "Bus Station," a tale of lovers coming apart. Elsewhere, Russell sets a Charles Bukowski poem to music on "Crucifix in a Death Hand" and imagines the tortured final hours of Stephen Foster's life in a poignant acoustic treatment of Carl Brouse's "American Hotel," all the while fashioning one of the most vivid moments in recent folk music history.

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Product Details

Release Date: 04/22/2003
Label: Hightone Records
UPC: 0012928815420
catalogNumber: 8154
Rank: 131961


  1. The Kid From Spavinaw
  2. The Ballad of Sally Rose
  3. The Boy Who Cried Wolf
  4. Muhammad Ali
  5. American Hotel
  6. Racehorse Haynes
  7. The Dutchman
  8. Modern Art
  9. Isaac Lewis
  10. Bus Station
  11. Crucifix in a Death Hand/Carmelita
  12. Tijuana Bible
  13. Gulf Coast Highway

Album Credits

Performance Credits

Tom Russell   Primary Artist,Acoustic Guitar,Electric Guitar,Hammond Organ,Vocals,Echo Harp,Guitar (Resonator)
Eliza Gilkyson   Vocal Harmony
Mark Hallman   Organ,Bass,Harmonica,Accordion,Background Vocals,Human Whistle,talking drum,Tambo Drums
Andrew Hardin   Acoustic Guitar,Percussion,Electric Guitar,Ukulele,Background Vocals,tiple,Guitar (Resonator)
Gurf Morlix   Pedal Steel Guitar
Glenn Fukunaga   Electric Bass,Acoustic Bass
Steve Samuel   Percussion,Drums
Elana Fremerman   Fiddle,Violin

Technical Credits

Emmylou Harris   Composer
Tom Russell   Composer,Producer,Art Direction
Dave Alvin   Composer
Charles Bukowski   Composer
Mark Hallman   Producer,Engineer
Andrew Hardin   Composer,Producer
James Hooker   Composer
Paul Kennerley   Composer
Jimmy Wright   Cover Art
Warren Zevon   Composer
Dick Reeves   Art Direction
Carl Brouse   Composer
Danny Flowers   Composer
Mickey Mantle   Quotes Researched & Compiled
John "Sly" Wilson   Quotes Researched & Compiled
Mixmaster Michael Smith   Composer

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