Rounder Records celebrated the release of a new album from the late Keith Whitley during a reception at BMI Nashville (9/20). Sad Songs and Waltzes is a collection of previously released and never-before-released tracks recorded for Rounder between 1981 and 1983. Drenched in the echoes of classic hardcore honky-tonk influences (Frizzell, Jones, Haggard), the music on Sad Songs and Waltzes predated and doubtlessly influenced the acclaimed "New Traditionalist" movement that reinvigorated country music in the late 1980s. The performances here are arguably the most resonant and emotional of Whitley's entire career: classic country imbued with his own unique sense of twang and timing. Available on CD for the first time, they have been remixed and overdubbed for reissue by original producer J. D. Crowe.
Dirk Johnson, Steve Chandler, Gene Johnson, Jeff White, Dale Ann Bradley, J. D. Crowe, Steve Gulley and Doug Jernigan
In addition to all of 1982's Somewhere Between album -- the record that introduced Whitley -- Sad Songs and Waltzes boasts five previously unreleased cuts, including the four demos that landed Whitley his record deal with RCA. Longtime Whitley admirer Alison Krauss contributes harmonies to the new project, as does noted writer/performer Carl Jackson, Diamond Rio's Gene Johnson, Dale Ann Bradley, Jeff White and Steve Gulley of bluegrass band Mountain Heart. Among the songwriters included are Lefty Frizzell, Whitey Shafer, Billy Joe Shaver, Mark Wright, Lewis Anderson, Glenn Martin, Merle Haggard, Kix Brooks, Willie Nelson and Tom T. Hall.
David Skepner and BMI's Patsy Bradley
Carson Chamberlain, Rounder Records' Ken Irwin and Brad Paul
J. D. Crowe, BMI's Roger Sovine, Tom T. Hall and Rounder's Ken Irwin
photos by Beth Gwinn