KORT: Invariable Heartache

KORT: Invariable Heartache

In 1964, Slim Williamson bought tiny Nashville-based indie label Chart Records for $350, and for the next 14 years, Chart released records by novelty acts like Jim Nesbitt and Junior Samples and young talent like Lynn Anderson and Billy “Crash” Craddock, in addition to hundreds of here-and-gone singles and albums by country and rock artists that Williamson and his son Cliff (often wrongly) had pegged for success. For the LP Invariable Heartache, Lambchop frontman Kurt Wagner joins alt-country singer Cortney Tidwell—daughter of Chet Williamson and troubled Chart star Connie Eaton—to take a trip through the Chart catalogue, from the whooping honky-tonk duet “Pickin’ Wild Mountain Berries” to the erudite, forlorn ballad “Incredibly Lonely,” which provides the album with its title. Backed by a handful of erstwhile Lambchoppers, the duo known as KORT treats forgotten C&W singles with the loving care usually reserved for standards, giving two-steppers and tearjerkers alike a stately, classic feel. But because the ever-adventurous Wagner is involved, KORT takes a few chances too: blending avant-garde orchestrations with trippy pop on its version of Three Heads’ “Penetration,” and turning Tom Tall’s “Eyes Look Away” into a reverberating spellbinder anchored by a melancholy fiddle. Invariable Heartache sounds like an artifact itself: one of those periodic dispatches from the past that reminds us how the also-rans of the music industry are often better and weirder than we remember.

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