Cancer survivor George Usher releases a great album with Lisa Burns
Colin Taber

Sometimes it pays to know the story behind a band or album. That is definitely the case with the new album from George Usher and Lisa Burns. Usher has been battling cancer and was unable to pick up an instrument for two years because of his chemo treatments. That didn't stop him from composing the songs on this album, which Burns set to music. It would be impressive enough that he survived cancer and then composed an album. It's even more impressive when you hear the scope of the album.

The album begins with "Wake Me When Tomorrow's Here", a mellow sort of alt-country song. This is not only a great way to kick off the album, but also to get a feel for the great harmonies that Usher and Burns create.

"Depression Glass" is a good showcase for Burns - particularly her vocals. At times in this song, her vocals sound a bit like Emmylou Harris. That's not to say that she sounds just like Emmylou Harris; frankly, nobody does. However, there are moments during the song when you hear some definite similarities between the two. That's not the only comparison to draw to Emmylou Harris. "More than That I Cannot Say" is pretty similar in structure to some of the songs on Red Dirt Girl.

While every song is a little bit different in style, but the one that sticks out the most from the rest is "My Precious Wisdom". While it's probably a little too mellow to be a honky-tonk song, the piano in this song is pretty close to the honky-tonk sound. The walking bass line in this song is a pretty good treat too. "Dark Blue Room" is another one that is a bit different than the rest. This definitely leans toward the Bakersfield sound. It's hard not to think about Gram Parsons when you hear this one.

The Last Day of Winter is a wonderfully crafted album. The songs range from alt-country to simple folk songs. The songs are pensive and evocative with pretty melodies and amazing harmonies. If you're looking for the perfect setting to listen to this album, a rainy day would definitely be a pretty good one. A lazy Sunday with several cups of coffee would also be a pretty good setting for listening to this album, so you'll take the time to notice all the beauty it has to offer. The Last Day of Winter is available now from Near and Dear Music.