Artist: The Cox Family
Album: Gone Like The Cotton
Label: New Rounder
Release Date: 10/23/2015
A picture’s worth a thousand words. If that old adage is anywhere near on the money, these 270 words can’t possibly do justice to the twelve scenes painted on Gone Like the Cotton. But I’ll try. First, the backstory. Led by patriarch Willard Cox and featuring the soulful, angelic voices of his daughters Evelyn and Suzanne and his son Sidney; the long-established Cox Family band from Louisiana had their second major label album almost finished in 1997. Produced by longtime champion—then, and now—Alison Krauss, new business heads suddenly decided against releasing it, for any number of ill-advised reasons. Listen now, and their decision was obviously a sin. The beautiful-to-the-extreme country-gospel-traditionalism that envelops the listener throughout is 100% accessible.
I can’t imagine anyone not being taken by Evelyn’s achingly supreme, tender reading of David Gates’ “Lost without Your Love,” the cushion of strings provided by Krauss right in line with the luxuriousness of the voice, harmonies and the song. “Good News” slides on a funky Louisiana groove, with Sonny Landreth on guitar and Sam Bush on mandolin conspiring with the band to make it so. Suzanne soars in the lead, her sisters there by her side at perfect junctures. All three then take turns on the galloping, pedal steel-fired country of “I’m Not So Far Away.” Great dichotomy occurs when Willard sings the Louvin Brothers’ classic “Cash on the Barrel Head,” complete with barrelhouse piano and the Lonesome Pine Fiddlers’ “Honky Tonk Blues,” featuring dual fiddle-sawing by Krauss and Andrea Zonn. Sincerity and irresistible melody abounds. This fantastic album’s for anyone, but if a Krauss fan bypasses it, that’s a big mistake.