Terry Allen is the maverick renaissance man of the alt-country scene. Born in Texas and now based in New Mexico, he's a painter and sculptor involved in theatrical projects, and a singer-songwriter whose unique work has been covered by everyone from Little Feat to David Byrne. Amazingly, this is his first new studio album in 14 years, but it sounds as relaxed, intimate and gently startling as anything he has recorded.
There are lots of popular songs about heaven: the heavy metal Led Zeppelin ode to the stairway to; the New Wave Talking Heads one about a place where nothing ever happens; the track by Texican rock and rollers the Lonely Boys who wonder how far way it is; ad infinitum. There may be tens of thousands of heaven songs, and that’s not counting Gospel or Christian Rock or any other genre; I just mean plain old pop rock and country tunes that concern heaven. Terry Allen is the first person I know to ask this musical question, “Do They Dream of Hell in Heaven?” It’s an interesting religious question, and Allen is quite the philosopher on The Bottom of the World as he ponders the meaning of life, sex, and dreams to a sparse musical accompaniment.
His first album in 14 years, Bottom of the World picks up right where Terry Allen left off. He's been busy with multimedia installations, but each side of his Panhandle-fed artistry, be it visual, musical, or theatrical, feeds another. Bottom of the World opens with a reimagining of the enigmatic "Four Corners," keeping alive the tradition of including a song from his 1975 debut Juarez on each following album.