Nowadays it is hard to get too excited about most new live releases from bands, most of them seem to come across as just a greatest hit album especially in the Texas/Red Dirt scene. In many ways live albums are more difficult to cut. You have to have the right sound to get just the right amount of crowd interaction but not sound like a YouTube video, you have to have some engaging stories and songs, and you have to be able to transport the listener into the live show experience. There was a different vibe however around the release of Cody Canada’s acoustic live Some Old, Some New, Maybe a Cover or Two. For those that follow Cody it was no surprise that this wasn’t going to be your run-of-the-mill acoustic live album. Cody recorded the album in Port Aransas, TX at Third Coast Music during a break in gigs from his band The Departed.
The album is raw and acoustic and includes stories on some of Canada’s biggest hits. Of note is his story of meeting Jason Boland on “17”. He evens busts out a line from The Drifters “This Magic Moment” to describe the experience. On 51 Pieces he gives quite possibly the best story on the album. In it he details that fateful Ohio night where a night of rocking out at The House of Blues led to bowling and a drug bust on the side of the road. Cody even inserts a Snoop Dog reference for some humor. On “Ruby Ridge” he lets on that he had hoped to collaborate on the song with Robert Earl Keen. Canada also shows his softer side by singing along with his sons Willie (250,000 Things) and Dierks (Bluebonnets) on the songs that he wrote for them. He also finishes the album fittingly with a George Strait cover (just like Galleywinter’s 20 Questions feature). In covering “Unwound” he brings in the crowd for a raucous crescendo to the album.
In an album full of stellar tunes here are some of the tracks that stood out to me. “Pay” seemed to get a new life for me on this album. From the introduction of the song to the last note you can feel the emotion seeping your speakers. On “Ruby Ridge” Cody shows that you don’t have to be amped up with a full band to rock out, all you need is some energy and a guitar. “Damned Old Happy Time” is my favorite cut on the album. It is a highly reflective song about Cody’s dog that passed away; the quiet respect of the crowd gives it a certain reverence expected in a funeral.
Whether you are an old Ragweed fan or just discovered The Departed recently I highly recommended picking up a copy of Some Old, Some New, Maybe a Cover or Two. With Seth James leaving The Departed this will probably have to hold us over as the band regroups and finds their direction.