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Johnny Bush

Kashmere Gardens Mud: A Tribute to Houston's Country Soul – 2007 (Icehouse)

Reviewed by Brett Leigh Dicks

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CDs by Johnny Bush

"Nothing good ever grew in Kashmere Gardens," poignantly pours Johnny Bush about the disheveled Houston neighborhood from his youth. "Only bitter weeds and flowers of despair," he reluctantly affirms in the autobiographical yearning of "Kashmere Gardens Mud." Ably assisted by former Houston Chronicle music writer Rick Mitchell, last year Johnny Bush authored and an autobiography. And they also collected songs typifying the Houston country tradition that gave rise to Bush and his music. The CD offers an equally intriguing glimpse into his musical roots.

Opening with the title track, the recording wastes no time in packing an emotional punch. The song is a stirring insight into the weighted aura of Bush's youth. But the tone is soon lightened as both "I'll Sail My Ship" and "Free Soul" up the temper and tone and delivers us into the midst of a traditional Texan frolic.

The levity continues with the border straddling "Tequila and Teardrops," before Bush turns in a crooning rendition of Townes Van Zandt's "Pancho and Lefty." Van Zandt isn't the only Houston colleague whose work surfaces on the recording with Willie Nelson's "Family Bible" and "Bloody Mary Morning" also being offer musical consideration. And Nelson himself chimes in to lend his old band-mate a hand on both the Van Zandt classic and also Hank Locklin's "Send Me the Pillow That You Dream On." All of which leads us to dispute Bush's opening declaration. This recording affirms that plenty good has actually grown from Kashmere Gardens.