His first masterpiece
Townes Van Zandt’s second album is often regarded as his first masterpiece, though upon release in 1969 it hardly sold. The opener “Be Here To Love Me” (also the name of a 2004 documentary about Van Zandt) is a bittersweet love song that melds Tex-Mex tinged country-folk with a groovy flute and jangly tambourine — both of which sound endearingly indicative of the time. Tastefully arranged strings lead off “Kathleen,” recalling Gene Clark’s 1967 debut Echoes and giving this melancholy musing an eerie vibe as Van Zandt croons of joining a deceased lover. “She Came and She Touched Me” features a subtle harpsichord and Van Zandt trying his hand at psychedelically surreal lyrics that obviously owe a lot to Dylan’s early sideways wordsmithed songs. The title track is a slow waltz with haunting imagery about being hopelessly in love with one of his demons, but the album’s gem could be “Tecumseh Valley,” a gripping narrative about the desperation and tragedy of a coal miner’s daughter.