Independent Spotlight is a continuing series on Stewart’s blog. The series revolves around independent artists and bands sending their music to Brett to review. No band is promised a positive review, and all music is reviewed honestly in an effort to better independent music.
In this evening’s edition of the Independent Spotlight, we’re going to shine our gaze on Curtis Lee Putman, a long-time indie music veteran with an extensive resume in the industry. Now residing in Montgomery, Alabama, the songman is fairly multifaceted. He’s a songwriter, performer, and owner of a label, CLP Music Productions. He’s currently raising awareness of his music to move forward with producing his debut studio album. Let’s dig into the tracks he’s put out thus far.
I must be blunt: I adore Putman’s Americana style. As readers of the Spotlight are very well aware, I have serious issues with contemporary Americana and country. It’s become pop music with a twang, entirely separate of its roots in the worst way possible. Putman’s music is a breath of fresh air within that space. His music is reminiscent of the strongest country performers of the twentieth century. He throws some other influences in there, too, making his act particularly delightful.
Take ‘Tall in the Saddle,’ one of his original tunes. It’s built around very bluesy musings. On top of them, Putman piles on heavy doses of Americana, country, and deep, baritone vocals. The man’s got one hell of a set a vocal chords. The lyrics are great, too, and they're based on an incredulous (but true) story about Putman fighting wrongful criminal charges.
Putman must get it regularly, but I’d remiss if I didn’t equate tracks like ‘One More Dance’ to Johnny Cash. He’s not just vocally similar, but thematically he aligns with the Man in Black.
To put Cash aside, though, let’s move a few decades back: Hank Williams. The record that hooked Putman on his life’s ambition was ‘Lost Highway.’ He was five years old. That Williams influence is abundantly apparent all these years later. One of Putman’s more popular tracks, ‘It’s Over,’ is splendidly infused with Williams’ style. It’s good, traditional country that dabbles in contemporary stylings to remain surprisingly relevant in a modern scene. That’s very admirable.
I’ll make a bold statement, though. Even those well-performed tracks pale in comparison to ‘Curtis Lee’s Blues.’ When this man goes toward delta blues, he’s unstoppable. The track is so genuine, so raw, and so passionate. It’s truly exceptional. There aren’t enough artists taking a shot at those delta stylings nowadays. Goodness, the track is straight out of the Robert Johnson songbook. (It sounds like it, at least.)
Curtis Lee Putman is a very promising artist and it’s about time he got his due. I can’t wait to hear what kind of record he puts out. I do hope that he compliments tracks like ‘It’s Over’ with tracks like ‘Curtis Lee’s Blues.’ They can live in harmony nicely, and flesh him out as a very substantial performer.