The cover art on her latest release features a couple of portraits of Texas Plains songstress Kimmie Rhodes that are strongly impressionistic, in a sense that Van Gogh would have appreciated. And musically, Rhodes seems to have stepped outside her familiar milieu of well-crafted songs laden with Panhandle imagery for an impressionistic adventure that, while still rich in texture and content, is unlike anything she's done previously. Rhodes' voice is as plaintive and intriguing as ever, the songs (all Rhodes originals or co-written) intelligent and thoughtful, but it would be stretching it more than a bit to call it country music.
A few years back, Emmylou Harris and Willie Nelson generated some buzz by releasing albums produced by the enigmatic Daniel Lanois. The production here by Gabe Rhodes (Kimmie's son), strongly percussive and distinctively syncopated, is reminiscent of Lanois, and as if to emphasize the resemblance, both Nelson and Harris make guest appearances. For those who like surprises of the eclectic sort, this could be a welcome treasure. If you're looking for alt.-country pithiness, it may be something of a letdown. (Box 90183, Austin, TX 78709, 512-264-0209)