Slaid Cleaves: This Mornin' I Was Born Again
Like Paul and Brendan, Payton is one of us; in fact, he may be the youngest contributor to Star Maker Machine, having just completed college this past year. But you'd never know he was born years after the release of some of his favorite music if he didn't tell you right up front in the sidebar of This Mornin' I Am Born Again. The writing over at This Mornin' is wise, masterful and crisp with observation; Payton knows how to listen to music, and he has a rare ability to tell us concisely what works and what doesn't.
But This Mornin' is one of my favorite reads for more than just the writing. Payton demonstrates a mature breadth of knowledge and interest which tends towards the alt-country intersection of country, rock, and folk; it's an especially rich place to write from and about these days, and Payton is one of the best in the mix right now.
And what taste! Payton a big fan of both relative newcomer Mike McClure and increasingly old-hand Ryan Adams, having expended several long "artist spotlight" posts celebrating the various evolutionary stages of each artist exhaustively; in addition to a wonderful recent trend towards cross-comparison of covers and originals, recently mentioned and featured artists range from John Prine, Hank Williams and Jonathan Edwards to more modern alt-slash-retro-countryfolk such as Old Crow Medicine Show, the Fleet Foxes and the Everybodyfields.
The mix of new alt- and indiefolk and older work (some of it from long before Payton was born) is an unusual combination for a blogger, but by celebrating them all in turn without apology, Peyton makes it all seem a natural part of the same music collection; in doing so, he not only validates my own tastes exquisitely, he manages to ground those newer artists effectively in genre and style and history, thus helping promote their work as an important part of the evolution of modern music.
Payton is, in fact, one of those rare bloggers that pushes me to stay at the top of my game, lest I lose out to the exuberance of youth. If we weren't friends of the blogger sort, I'd have to hate him for making what we do look so easy, and for making me feel so old. Thanks, Payton, for keeping me in the game, for so often sending me back to my own stacks, and for constantly validating my own taste.
This Mornin' I Am Born Again is named after one of my favorite Slaid Cleaves songs, which was built from a set of lyrics originally written by Woody Guthrie; the namesake song is especially apt, in that it speaks to the perfect lineage of old and new which Payton manages so effortlessly and well. The screenshot above is from Payton's own namesake post, an early feature on the song itself which also includes a wonderful version of the song by Ray Wylie Hubbard.
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