Although Jimmie Dale Gilmore has never been what one would call prolific -- his recording career is characterized by lengthy gaps in between albums, seemingly for no reason other than he doesn't particularly feel like recording -- his albums are among the finest in country music.
1996's aptly-titled Braver Newer World finds the Lubbock native moving away from the staunch musical traditionalism that characterized his earlier releases, into a brilliant fusion of pure country, mystical explorations, and sonic experimentation that foreshadows the psychedelic tilt of nominally alt-country albums like Wilco's Summer Teeth or the Jayhawks' Smile.
Produced by T-Bone Burnett and featuring the gifted multi-instrumentalist Jon Brion on guitars and keyboards, Braver Newer World places Gilmore's characteristically spiritual lyrics in vivid musical settings that complement but never obscure his singular worldview and magnificent high lonesome voice.
The glorious title track, one of the most achingly beautiful songs of its time, is only the first of many highlights; the resigned "Headed for a Fall" and the uplifting "Come Fly Away" are nearly as brilliant, and a quirky but successful reimagination of Blind Lemon Jefferson's blues standard "Black Snake Moan" is one of the most musically daring tracks of Gilmore's career.
Pure country traditionalists may blanch, but Gilmore's never been one to do the expected at any point in his career, and Braver Newer World is arguably his finest work.