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James Talley


Talley is a terrific singer-songwriter whose main claim to fame was playing Jimmy Carter's inauguration, which at the time was a big coup for a freshly signed Nashville square peg who had more in common with the traditions of Phil Ochs than George Jones. Talley's music has a deep streak of working-man populism in the best Woody Guthrie tradition, but he never seems didactic, partly because he is a wonderful singer, but also because he has a deep grasp of the traditions of American popular music and freely mixes country, blues, folk and rock to arrives at a wholly individual and recognizable style. Although the records he made within the Nashville establishment did not make him a household name, his critical acclaim certainly reflects that he is an artist of importance. He continues to play and record work that holds up well. Talley is a classic example of an artist who was just a bit too far ahead of the curve; about ten years after Talley's debut album was released, Steve Earle shot to the top of the charts with a similar formula.

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