Music

Why Kimmie Rhodes isn’t an international country icon on a par with Willie Nelson is beyond me. Certainly she has Nelson’s approval – cut the beautiful Just One Love with him – but why isn’t this Austin chanteuse with the exquisite voice a household name like Willie? Not being in her sixties with a catalogue stretching from here to El Paso may be part of the reason, and the necessity of this release is probably another. Compiling tunes from three out-of-print albums, Jackalopes, Moons & Angels features three tracks off of Rhodes’ 1983 debut, four from its follow-up Man in the Moon in 1985, and five from 1989’s Angels Get the Blues. Judging by the quality of songs, graced by the presence of such players as Johnny Gimble on fiddle, Jimmy Day on steel guitar, and Joe Ely on vox – as well as a plethora of others like Butch Hancock, Marcia Ball, Erik Hokkanen, Spencer Starnes, and on and on – only the unavailability of these tunes could keep them from Austinites and country music fans everywhere. “Sweetheart You’re a Lot Like Texas” sounds like a Lyle Lovett song waiting to be adored, while the uptown continental elegance of “Man on the Moon” screams Broadway just as “Daddy’s Song” whispers a lullaby, and “Angels Get the Blues” could and should be cut by every female country singer from here to Loretta Lynn. On “It’ll Do,” Rhodes sings, “Ol Butch picks and sings on Saturday night, he throws away better songs than most folks could ever write,” and somehow one gets the feeling Butch Hancock isn’t the only great songwriter in Austin the rest of the world really doesn’t have a clue exists.
****4 stars – Raoul Hernandez, Austin Chronicle

Unlike many of her Texas singer-songwriter peers, Kimmie Rhodes has her swooning, tender voice to rely on as much as her lycical talent. That’s why even if some of the songs on the new compilation album “Jackalopes, Moons & Angels” don’t stack up to her acclaimed 1996 disc “West Texas Heaven” that lovely voice is still there. Don’t be mistaken, though; some of the songs on the new anthology, taken from Rhodes’s three self-released albums, are as good as Rhodes gets, displaying a West Texas country girl charm along with her smart, storytelling abilities. “Daddy’s Song” is Iris DeMent before DeMent was known. Conversely, the deeper, bluer “Angels Get the Blues” beautifully shows the ever-important Townes Van Zandt influence. The real treat here for Rhodes’ fans, though, is hearing the original versions of songs covered by more famous folks, such as the stirring “I Just Drove By” which Wynonna Judd covered, and especially “Just One Love”, recorded by one of Rhodes’ biggest fans, Willie Nelson. On this compilation, “Just One Love” features a duet with Joe Ely recorded at Sun Studios in Memphis, and it reflects every ounce of magic that that suggests. Other musical guests include Butch Hancock, Marcia Ball and Johnny Gimble. Much of the response to “West Texas Heaven” two years ago was that Rhodes had finally hit her mark. As “Jackalopes, Moons & Angels” shows, she had been hitting it for quite some time, and it’s indeed time more people noticed.
***3 stars Chris Riemenschneider, Austin American-Statesman

“Jackalopes, Moons & Angels” will be irresistible to anybody with an affection for music from the Lone Star State. Showing a genuine progression in terms of songcraft and confidence, fans of Nanci Griffith, Katy Moffatt, Tish Hinojosa, Roseanne Cash, Emmylou Harris and the like should check out this excellent chronologically-ordered selection. Songs like “Angels Get the Blues” and “I Just Drove By” are genuine classics, fully the equal of anything from the pens of her more highly regarded female peers…
****4 Stars Graham Donlon, New Plymouth Times Nelson, New Zealand

Having been stunned by the beauty of her “debut” CD West Texas Heaven a couple of years ago, I was eager to hear Kimmie Rhodes’ latest release. I was not disappointed. The material may be years old but it is not dated in any way. Hearing (these) tracks for the first time helps me understand why West Texas Heaven was so good. Rhodes has one of the truly great country/roots voices around …I could listen to it for hours, and do, when I need a buck-me-up.
**** 4 stars Dave Cannan, Otago Daily Times, Otago New Zealand

Kimmie Rhodes – vocals & guitar
Johnny Gimble – fiddle & mandolin
Ron Howard – keyboards
Steve Meador – drums
Spencer Starnes – bass
John Reed – guitar
Joe Gracey – acoustic guitar
Bobby Earl Smith – vocals
Jimmy Day – steel guitar
Marcia Ball – piano
Wes McGhee – vocals & guitar
David Zettner – bass
Butch Hancock – harmonica
Eric Hokkanen – guitar
Freddy Krc – drums
Joe Ely – vocals
Jessie Guitar Taylor – guitar
Dale Dennis – bass
Jack Clement – dobro and rhythm guitar
Tomas Ramirez – sax
Danny Levin – piano
Joey Miskelin – keyboards
Mary Ann Price – Backing vocals
Chris O’Connell – backing vocals

Produced by Joe Gracey & Kimmie Rhodes & Bobby Earl Smith
Recorded by Larry Greenhill, Bobby Arnold, David Ferguson, Joe Gracey
Recorded at – Lone Star Recording, Austin, TX
Pedernales Recording Studio, Briarcliff, TX
Sun Studios, Memphis, TN