Album Review: Zoe Muth & The Lost High Rollers — Old Gold

Juli Thanki | July 25th, 2012

zoemutholdgold2011’s Starlight Hotel established Zoe Muth as one of the best under-the-radar country artists out there, with a plaintive voice that wrapped around well-written songs like “Let’s Just Be Friends for Tonight” and “If I Can’t Trust You with a Quarter (How Can I Trust You with My Heart).” With her new EP Old Gold (out July 24), the Seattle singer-songwriter puts down her pen and covers a handful of songs from artists who’ve influenced her over the years, including John Prine and Anna McGarrigle.

Though cover records are hit and miss, this one’s the former by far. The biggest surprise on the album is the cover of Dock Boggs’ oldtimey banjo-driven “Country Blues,” which, in the hands of Muth – who, in the liner notes, names the song as “one of the first and most influential to my early education in rural American music” — and her band the Lost High Rollers, becomes a midtempo, jukebox-friendly country tune. “I’ve Been Deceived,” written by Bill Cantrell and Quinton Claunch, stays rather close to Rockabilly Hall of Famer Charlie Feathers’ version, with the addition of solid mandolin picking from Lost High Roller Ethan Lawton.

An understated version of “Get It While You Can,” the Jerry Ragovoy/Mort Shuman song, lacks the soul of Howard Tate and Janis Joplin’s stellar recordings, but serves as a fine closer. The album’s one original track, “Walking the Line,” sounds as though it could have been pulled from one of Bonnie Owens’ late ‘60s LPs, with lyrics like “I wore my heart right on my sleeve/I wanted you for my lovin’ man/That’s how it was going to be/I was hopin’ I wouldn’t have to play the fool, but now I see/I’m walking the line while you walk all over me” delivered with heart-wrenching sincerity.

Simultaneously warm and world weary, Old Gold is the feel-bad album of the summer. But with Muth, feeling bad sounds so damn good.

3.5 Stars

Preview or purchase Old Gold

  1. Ben Foster
    July 25, 2012 at 1:58 pm

    I really enjoyed Muth’s Starlight Hotel, so I will most definitely have to check this set out.

  2. Rick
    July 25, 2012 at 6:25 pm

    Zoe is one of the most mellow people I have ever met and is relaxed in the same way as Don Williams as a performer. I do like her recorded music but prefer her in a live setting. Angela Easterling is another Americana gal who also shines brighter live. I would love to see an Americana Gal Power tour featuring Zoe, Angela, and Sara Petite! Crikey that would be a good show mate.

  3. Leeann Ward
    July 25, 2012 at 8:21 pm

    Yeah, Zoe is even better live. We thoroughly enjoyed her show that we had a chance to attend a year or so ago. I have this album, but haven’t listened to it yet. I’m looking forward to it though.

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