CAHALEN MORRISON AND COUNTRY HAMMER, ED AND THE RED REDS, LONE MADRONE
(Mississippi Studios, 3939 N Mississippi) If you're suffering from Pickathon withdrawal, Cahalen Morrison has just the fix you need. The Seattle country songwriter played that festival just a few short weekends ago, of course, but he's been saving the release of his new album for August 19, and tonight he jaunts back to Portland with his band Country Hammer for a record release show. The Flower of Muscle Shoals won't break any molds; it simply provides further evidence that the Pacific Northwest continues to be a weirdly suitable place for country and roots music to flourish. Its 12 tracks are all in the classic-country vein, designed for live performance in honky-tonks and dancehalls. Supposedly, Morrison's lyrics are influenced by writers such as Tomas Tranströmer and Gabriel García Márquez, but you won't catch any literary ambitions the first time through The Flower of Muscle Shoals. Instead, Morrison upholds the country songwriting tradition of simplicity and directness, telling these basic tales of love and loss with candor and ease. NED LANNAMANN