Sunken Treasure: ‘T-Bone Burnett’ by T-Bone Burnett
Awesome music from the archives
Prior to 1986, T-Bone Burnett’s path through the world of music had been circuitous and unconventional. His initiation in the studio had been to record Paralyzed with the Legendary Stardust Cowboy. Very few of the greats have kicked off their careers with an unhinged psychobilly anthem, but Burnett did.
The next big step was taken in the company of Bob Dylan. In 1975, he took a job as guitarist on the Rolling Thunder Revue. By the time he stepped off the road in 1976, he was ready to start making and producing his own records.
His studio craft was honed over the course of three albums with The Alpha Band and three more as a solo artist.
In 1984 and 1985, he went back on the road with Elvis Costello. The sparks that flew on tour caught fire once they hit the studio. Burnett was at the controls for Costello’s masterful King of America album. With its classy production he set himself lofty new standards.
His fourth eponymous studio record picked up where he had left off with Costello. It’s a country album in essence, heavily imbued with acoustic warmth and sonic tenderness. The unadorned simplicity of the production matches the melancholic modulation of the songs. It has a consistency of tone and temperature that’s the mark of great albums.
There is something so believable about what it is conveying. The sincerity in his voice rings clear and true. Themes of love and loss are recurring. It’s sadly beautiful but never overbearing.
The seeds for the O Brother, Where Art Thou? were sown here. His rich vein of form continued unabated from that point onwards with bountiful harvests year after year. The orchard’s finest keeps on blooming.