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One cannot deny the significant role Gram Parsons played in the creation and validation of country-rock, contributions that laid the groundwork for the genesis of today's Americana music. The quest for music from the legendary Parsons is an obsession shared by many of his cultish followers, and while just about every note he ever recorded is currently available in some format, there are still some undiscovered gems just waiting to be shared. Following Parsons' death in 1973, longtime friend John Nuese received many of Parsons' personal effects, including a notebook of lyrics and words. Kept private for more than 20 years, Nuese finally decided to recruit some of his favorite songwriters and finish Parsons' work.

The result is found on The Last Whippoorwill, where six songs using Parsons' previously unrecorded lyrics are lovingly constructed by some of the best in the business. Great effort was made to write music that was consistent with the range of styles Parsons preferred, and for the most part the experiment is a success. In "L.A. Customs Blues" Carl Jackson, Marty Stuart, Ricky Skaggs, and Barry Tashain deliver a rollicking tune that would have fit right in on any of Parsons' solo records. "Blurry Slurry Night" and "No One Knows I'm Lonesome" are both hard country tearjerkers smothered in Flying Burrito sauce. Gram would be proud.

If there is any complaint about the album, it would be the decision to include covers of Gram's favorite covers. Do we really need another version of "Cash on the Barrelhead" or "Dead Flowers?" It might have been a bit wiser to redo some of Parsons' more obscure originals, those rare jewels that somehow got overlooked in the recent rash of Parsons tribute projects. Would it have worked? Well, the stunning (but also overdone) version of "Hickory Wind," which serves as the opening and closing of this release, suggests that in the hands of the great artists who contributed to this project, those Parsons tunes might have another life in them.

Gram Parsons Notebook: The Last Whippoorwill is available online at

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