No Depression: What It Sounds Like (Vol. 1)
It’s hard to believe that No Depression—the alternative-country magazine that Grant Alden and Peter Blackstock launched in 1995—hadn’t gotten around to committing its aesthetic vision to CD until now. This 13-track compilation begins, fittingly, with Johnny Cash, the alt-country movement’s patron saint, backed by Seattle rock musicians on “The Time of the Preacher.” From there, it stakes out territory through Texas, California and other locales that offer an alternative to Nashville hegemony. There’s pure country (Doug Sahm’s “Cowboy Peyton Place”); Burritos-influenced country (Ryan Adams); darker songs influenced by old folk (Alejandro Escovedo); and Mark Olsen, Victoria Williams et al. jamming on a Mickey Newbury tune. The Carter Family’s “No Depression in Heaven” is an appropriate coda.