“When I listen to a Susan Gibson song, I know she is sharing a piece if her heart and soul with me. Susan writes about true stories in her life. She writes with courage puts forth her message with powerful and heartfelt guitar and vocals. It only takes a few lines of her recorded songs for me to recognize that “Susan Sound”
Her new record has that for sure. Enjoy…..”
-Lloyd Maines- Music producer and musician.
Wimberley, TX. Take it from Susan Gibson: “Nothing lifts a heavy heart like some elbow grease and a funny bone.” That’s the conclusion that the award-winning singer-songwriter reaches on the title track to her long-awaited new album, The Hard Stuff (due out Oct. 4 on Gibson’s own For the Records), and it may be the best bit of practical advice that she’s put to music since, well … “Check the oil.”
That “oil” line, a father’s reminder to a young daughter heading out on her own in pursuit of “Wide Open Spaces,” has been sung along to by millions of fans around the world ever since the Dixie Chicks recorded Gibson’s song as the title track to their major-label debut back in 1998. It became one of the biggest songs in modern country music history, but Gibson wasn’t aiming for a “hit” when she wrote it some 28 years ago. She was fresh out of college and had yet to officially embark on her professional music career, let alone to have figured out the basics of what she calls the “craft part” of songwriting. All she had to work with at the time, sitting at her parents’ kitchen table in Amarillo, Texas, and wanting to tell “an honest story with some universal truths,” was “sincerity and instinct.”
Three decades, thousands of miles and countless songs and performances (both as a member of the ’90s Americana group the Groobees and as a successful solo act) down the road, Gibson is now recognized by fans, critics, and peers alike as a master troubadour who very much has the “craft part” of her art down cold. But check under the hood of The Hard Stuff, and it’s clear her songwriting engine still runs on pure emotional honesty. The only difference, really, is the mileage: Instead of reflecting the carefree exuberance of youth, these are the songs of a life-wizened, full-grown woman whose indomitable spirit springs not from untested naivety, but from hardened and tempered choice.
The Hard Stuff is Gibson’s seventh release as a solo artist and her first full-length album since 2011’s Tight Rope. Much like the stop-gap EP that preceded it, 2016’s Remember Who You Are, it’s a record deeply rooted in grief, as Gibson wrote many of the songs while in the midst of coming to terms with the death of first one parent and then the other in the span of four years, a time during which she admits her career became far less of a priority to her than her family. But it was that very period of slowing down for emotional recalibration that ultimately pulled her out of the dark and back into the light, resulting in the most life-affirming and musically adventurous recording of her career.
Producer Andres Moran (of the Belle Sounds) had a lot to do with helping Gibson expand her horizons at Austin’s Congress House Studio. “I’m a fan of the Belle Sounds, but Andres was a bit of an unknown to me to going into this, and I didn’t really know what he was going to do,” Gibson admits. “But I liked what I did know about him. The thing is, I’ve actually never used the same producer twice, which I think sometimes makes it hard for me to measure my growth or compare one album to the rest and go, ‘Was that forward or backwards?’ But for this one, I knew that I definitely wanted to stretch a bit more than usual. I’ve been very inspired lately by my friend Jana Pochop, who’s a brave writer and just the most unassuming pop star you could ever meet, but also a really good study in how to trust a collaborator enough to let them do their thing, instead of just what you might want them to do. She’s been getting some really good stuff that way, just by not putting limitations on herself in the studio or being tied to her acoustic guitar.”
Moran took Gibson’s “no limits” directive and ran with it. Although still unmistakably a Susan Gibson album, with her warm, friendly rasp of a voice front and center in the mix and an abundance of buoyant melodies brightening even the darkest corners (with a special assist from her beloved banjo on the bittersweet closer, “8×10”), the arrangements throughout The Hard Stuff are full of surprises. Rife with bursts of pop elan, splashes of funk (horns!), and even flirty hints of jazz, it’s a bright, technicolor palette delightfully unfettered by the constraints of her usually solo acoustic live shows. But far from seeming even remotely out of her element, Gibson embraces it all with arms and heart wide open, delivering her most spirited performances on record to date , and 10 of the best songs of her career, each one illuminated by her refreshingly clear-eyed perspectives on life, love, work, and yes, true to album’s title, even death.
Which brings us back to that line about nothing lifting a heavy heart like “some elbow grease and a funny bone”: the key point being, it takes both. And of course, a little time helps, too.
“I feel like Remember Who You Are came out of a lot of really raw and immediate, direct grief,” she says, recalling the EP she made not long after her mother’s death and her focus at the time on “the ache of loss and the balm of letting go.” A lot of that ache lingers still on The Hard Stuff, compounded of course by the loss of a second parent, but the sense of healing is palpable. But the difference with this batch of songs is, they’re not scabs anymore they’re starting to become scars: scars that you can talk about and tell stories about, and even find humor in. I don’t think it’s a particularly ‘humorous’ record, but I do feel like the common thread in a lot of the songs is me trying to not take myself so seriously.”
To wit, in the title track, inspired by conversations with her concerned older sister (and an old John Wayne quote from the movie The Sands of Iwo Jima), Gibson reminds herself that, “if you’re gonna be stupid, you better be tough,” while in “The Big Game,” she baits a light-hearted account of frustrated desire with the winking tease, “Why you gotta make it so hard / for me to be easy?”
A little bit of that kind of playfulness goes a long way; but its the elbow grease and hard-earned experience that ultimately does the heaviest lifting. In the opening “Imaginary Lines,” co-written with her aforementioned friend Jana Pochop, Gibson shifts seamlessly from a country mouse in the big city anecdote (and an account of a too-close-for-comfort encounter with a contract-waving industry business suit) to an exhilarating chorus reaffirming her commitment to the independent music back roads less traveled but traveled hard and with a joyous sense of purpose. The extended metaphors in “Diagnostic Heart” and “Hurricane” hit like brutally honest, tough-love therapy sessions, and the achingly beautiful “Wildflowers in the Weeds” ,ostensibly written for her friend and fellow independent Texas songwriter, Terri Hendrix, but by Gibson’s candid admission just as much about herself is a portrait of courage and resilience painted in rich hues of empathy and bittersweet truth. And even when Gibson gets around to directly singing about how much she misses her mother (in “8×10”), or about the heartbreak of watching her elderly father struggle just to keep up in the world as a widower in the final years of his own life, her sadness is counterbalanced with equal measures of deeply felt gratitude for the memories she shared with them and the wisdom she learned from them. As she sings in “Antiques,” “Getting older ain’t for the weak / it only happens to the strongest ones.”
That’s the kind of “hard stuff” that The Hard Stuff is really about. Not the kind that breaks, but the kind that endures.
1. Imaginary Lines (4:12)
2. Antiques (4:07)
3. The Hard Stuff (3:48)
4. Lookin’ For A Fight (3:19)
5. The Big Game (3:41)
6. Diagnostic Heart (4:06)
7. 2 Fake IDs (4:21)
8. Hurricane (3:52)
9. Wildflowers In The Weeds (3:35)
10. 8 X 10 (4:05)
All FCC Clean
Focus Tracks : 1, 3, 8, 9
All Songs by Susan Gibson except:
“Imaginary Lines” – Susan Gibson, Jana Pochop, Michael Scwartz
“Helene Cronin can flat out spin a lyric. Her ability to crawl within a subject and pull a story or emotion out the other end is what makes her a brilliant songwriter. Those writing chops delivered with those earthy vocals have made her one of the best artists I’ve heard in a long time.”
– Terri Hendrix, Songwriter
“I like songs that tell the truth. Helene Cronin’s songs do just that. Helene delivers her songs with sheer soul. She invites you into her world and it’s a great listen.”
– Lloyd Maines, Producer and Musician
“Helene is a master of words who writes and sings straight from the heart. Each song is a handcrafted mini-movie.”
– Zane Williams, Artist
Helene Cronin spent over 15 years performing and songwriting — often for other people — before she awakened to the idea that she needed to follow her muse and start making records that more accurately represent the songs coming from her own heart. Following 2 recent EPs, Old Ghosts & Lost Causes is her first full length offering, although Cronin is a seasoned player. Produced by Matt King and featuring Kenny Vaughan, Byron House and others, the album serves up Cronin’s phenomenal songwriting in a sonic landscape that runs the gamut of the label Americana with hard driving guitar and thoughtful, top shelf musicianship.
The crux of it all is the lyrical mastery and vocal delivery that made Cronin a New Folk winner at the prestigious Kerrville Folk Festival in 2018. Starting off the album is the first single, “Careless With a Heart”, a reflective song that considers how we treat the fragile but resilient human heart. Following that is the blues-infused “Mean Bone”, a co-write with her novelist daughter, Alex, which examines the idea: what if someone did in fact have a “mean bone in his body” contrary to the popular use of that expression? From that song about the darker side of humanity, Cronin flows into what she calls a centerpiece of the album, the uplifting “Humankind” which celebrates people’s inherent desire to care for others. Later in “Riding The Gray Line”, she turns her attention to a host of characters riding a Greyhound bus and weaves their stories over an acoustic-based bed. To close out the record Helene returns fully to her folk roots with “Ghost”, a six minute ballad, recounting from his perspective the story of a dead husband, performed completely solo long after the band had finished their work in the studio.
Overall, Old Ghosts & Lost Causes is the perfect vehicle for the precision of Helene Cronin”s songs. It showcases her versatility as a writer and performer while maintaining a cohesive overall feeling. In a world obsessed with singles and rushing to the next thing, Old Ghosts will grab ahold of you and demand that you sit and give it the attention a proper album deserves.
Helene Cronin: vocals, background vocals, guitar Bobby Terry: acoustic and steel guitar, mandolin Byron House: bass Chad Cromwell: drums Kenny Vaughan: electric guitar Heidi Newfield: harmonica, background vocals Matt King: background vocals
Produced by Matt King Engineered & mixed by Mitch Dane
Where do beach balls turn when they’re feeling deflated? Alcohol? Sex? Adventure?
Cinematic rock group, The Grahams (Alyssa & Doug), tackle this question and more with their brand new video for “Just What You Deserve,” the first single off their upcoming record KIDS LIKE US (set for release in early 2020 via3 Sirens Music Group/RED MUSIC/The Orchard). The video follows the rocky relationship of two beach balls, focusing on one’s journey out of their toxic partnership, as well as the self-discovery that strengthens a beach ball from the inside out. While admittedly beach ball-centric, the video’s sentiment, alongside the track’s balmy, graceful, and anthemic brand of dream pop, demonstrates a universal human story of love, loss, grief, and ultimately hope.
“Did you ever deny a love so fiercely that it’s a definitive affirmation?” asks one half of the duo, Alyssa Graham. “This is a song that reveals its own deception. We worked with our longtime co-writer Bryan McCann (BMC) and pieced together this dark love story that all of us know all too well. Deception of self and denial of passion.
What does a songwriter who has mined darkness do when he finds a measure of contentment?
This was the challenge that faced Fayetteville, AR songwriter Justin Peter Kinkel-Schusterwhen writing his new album Take Heart, Take Care. A songwriter who had success with Water Liars (including over 14 million Spotify streams) and Marie/Lepanto (his collaboration with Will Johnson of Centro-Matic) and has earned acclaim from NPR, Billboard, NY Times, and Paste Magazine now took time to reassess his writing process.
Characters are drawn to and away from other people. They seek both risk and comfort. In the album opener “Plenty Wonder,” he sings of balannce, allowing himself “Plenty wonder in this world still to be found.” Several songs look back at a younger self with curiosity. “Friend of Mine” belies the camaraderie of youth; “Cut Your Teeth” is about seeing abrasiveness around us but then finding and cherishing “a deep and gentle welcome place inside” and remembering the journey that brought you there and the maintenance needed to keep perspective. It also powerfully alternates from fingerpicked acoustic guitar to hails of overdrive.
“Name What You Are” may be the most autobiographical song here (a medium in which Pete does not usually traffic). “It’s being quietly amazed at the places and conditions you put yourself in and why and what that meant at the time and what that means now having more or less dedicated your life to it. The atmosphere of ‘what the hell’s going’ on but it not mattering as much as that you’re simply doing it. For lifers in terms of making music, I would hope it might pretty true.” Yet the fingerpicked guitar and melody is more about the reflection back than the manic activity remembered. When asked about the song, Pete quotes Harry Crews, “Survival is triumph enough.”
Several songs, such as “Take Heart, Take Care,” are in the second person as if speaking directly to those out there who can identify with his earlier, darker experiences. He sings, “Time, time is the mender, whose strange mechanics, yet untold, bid us rise entwined together.”
Pulitzer Prize-winning poet and novelist Forrest Gander notes how this technique makes the listener lean in, saying, “You’ll notice a little delay in the timing as the tunes of JPKS’ “Take Heart, Take Care” back-eddy while he leans into and opens up the song’s long vowels. It’s almost as though the singer were pausing for a friend—that’s us—to catch up, to keep him company just before he turns to dive into the reprise. In fact, friendship is a recurring theme in this album. The second song is ‘Friend of Mine’ but other lyrics remind us ‘to keep it close’ so that what counts doesn’t go ‘asunder.’ Pete’s voice has an easy, unfeigned sweetness tinged with melancholy, and its warmth blows convincingly behind the alternately precise and fuzzy guitar notation that gives the album its definitive sound.”
The intimacy that Gander and Baker observe comes of both form and function for Pete: a desire to keep things simple aesthetically but also the limitations of time and money. His bandmate in Marie/Lepanto, Will Johnson, taught him by example how to build a record by yourself; Pete followed this method, playing all of the instruments except keyboards. “Will is a hero of mine and I’d grown to admire his way of working. We made the Marie/Lepanto record in 3 1⁄2 – 4 days and looking back, I was taken aback that we were able to do that. I take a lot of cues from Will,” he reflects. It freed him. The effect is cinematic yet direct, wind across the plains at times, humidity you can feel at others, and the occasional glimpse of a promised coastline, all of it from a view always in motion.
The sounds also provide a backdrop of a complicated world for Pete to approach his type of makeshift, hard-won providence. The underlying message is of hope, to others as well as himself. He states, “Here I’ve fumbled my way, as always, and of necessity, into a collection of songs that hold a light to the joys and comforts of life not given up on, those that appear over time as we are looking elsewhere, to surprise and delight us when we need them most. Sure, it’s me, so there are glimpses of and nods to the dark, but the dark is not winning anymore. I simply mean to acknowledge its presence. To me, that’s the most fundamental job of songs, of stories, of all art—to be allies, friends, companions, when we need them most and it’s my hope that these songs can do that work in a world that seems to need it.”
So what does a songwriter do when he finds contentment? He tries to pass on what he knows in hopes of helping the next person.
“This is as eclectic as any album can get but somehow it all hangs together because it’s so well thought out, arranged, and brilliantly executed. It’s not just a harmonious blending of voices; it’s that and the blending of so many styles that hit on a wide range of emotions too. Other bigger name duos will undoubtedly earn coveted awards, but the Truehearts are likely more deserving. This album is several cuts above the rest.” – Jim Hynes, Glide Magazine
“Americana that blows open the ears and doors so firmly you really won’t know what to do with it.” – Chris Spector, Midwest Record
‘Songs For Spike is an excellent slice of Americana from start to finish from The Truehearts. It’s full of clever, compelling stories, set over a quite varied menu of musical styles!” – Don Crow, Nashvlle Blues and Roots Alliance
“The Truehearts’ new album, Songs for Spike, is all heart the kind of album that tells honest tales of love and life with poetic clarity, heightened by the harmonies of co-leaders Debra Buonaccorsi and Steve McWilliams and their mesh of electric and acoustic guitars. The expertly played arrangements are a perfect fit for their lyrics, both settling into and slightly pushing the envelope of Americana and roots rock with flourishes of banjo and odd turns of six-string like the bubbling intro to Milky Way and the chiming expressionist colors that heighten the drama of the telling 2Late July. Songs for Spike is packed with simple truths which are the best kind and immensely easy to fall in love with.”
– Ted Drozdowski, Senior Editor, Premier Guitar magazine
“With a knack for melody and sharp storytelling, The Truehearts have made a terrific album of modern Americana. Steve and Debra blend everything from ’30s string bands, ’50s rock’n’roll, ’70s Petty, ’80s Ramones, and 21st century folk into a warm-yet-sharp blend of well-observed tunes, full of layered harmonies and apt arrangements. Keep your ears open for The Truehearts.”
– Eric Brace
“The Truehearts are aptly named. These are good people, making good music for right and good reasons.”
– Peter Cooper, Country Music Hall of Fame
“The Truehearts write music with true ear-worm quality.”
– Melissa Clarke, Americana Highways
Steve McWilliams and Debra Buonaccorsi are the TrueHearts. And they are. They’re an item. They hit East Nashville from the DC/Baltimore area a few years back as the Hummingbyrds and released a terrific album called Purgatory Emporium that fell into the melodic side of Americana sound. It was a solid collection of songs that they sold at gigs as they worked up a reputation in the crowded East Nashville music scene. All very nice. Lovely people too. Salt of the earth and reasonably normal.
And now comes THIS Songs for Spike is their new album, their first under the TrueHearts moniker, and it takes their whole career up to this point such as it has been – and stands it on its cotton pickin’ head. Under the aegis of the increasingly popular producer/guitarist Dave Coleman (with Pete Pulkrabek on drums and Brian Hinchliffe on bass and cameos from Richard Bailey of the Steeldrivers and Paul Niehaus of Calexico) they have put together the best new record I’ve heard since Nick Piunti’s ‘Temporary High a year ago. This is not just more agreeable pleasant Americana songs and sounds (though there are elements of that), this is a quantum leap. This is a rocking damn gorgeous eclectic but unified set of songs, about the never-ending fight to come out on top in life. A guitar group with terrific vocals, songs that are about things with profoundly well-constructed arrangements on a comfy bed of Dave Coleman’s construction of wonderful electric guitars with subtle twists and turns like Tom Petty ‘ rest his soul ‘ and damn near XTC territory to my ears. There is a song ( Hey Hey ) that embraces a reggae vibe in the verses and then steps up and punches you in the face with a fifth gear rocking chorus. They thought out all this stuff really well. No song is less than inspired and they never repeat themselves they embrace rock, they go to the country and get pensive, they shift the focus to a piano ballad or a close-up of an acoustic guitar, but they make joyous loud noises too, a lovely and appropriate amount of it. It’s bearing up to repeated listening as a gift that keeps on giving.
Enough of my yacking. Let’s go through some of the record. Things kick off with a ‘Wont it be Something’, a swinging guitar descending chord progression reminiscent of ’16 Tons’ or a trashier version of the Kinks ‘Sunny Afternoon.’ Complete with horns, it soars into an exuberant chorus: Won’t it be something, to make gold out of nothing. I still believe in nursery rhymes. Sunshine & Violets has traces of Aimee Mann with another chorus that lifts everything higher — PFC Frankie Walker is a return to more rural territory, a banjo-driven up-tempo minor-key folk tale and probably the album’s centerpiece. During World War II, Steve’s mother was 15 and PFC Frankie Spike Walker was 18, and they had to be known to court and spark. He shipped out, went ashore D-Day +1 and was killed 2 months later. It highlights some of the struggle with the cards you’re dealt that permeate the record, making ALL the record songs for Spike, hence the title. Manzelle Marie is a chugging bo diddley verse that roars into a chorus that grabs you like all the ones have so far. — Late July features a gorgeous guitar figure — 32nd Street is a free-swing rocker with shades of McMurtry — There’s much more. It’s all good too. Everything hits you musically, genuinely musically. In our world of everyone having a record out and anyone over 21 need not apply, Songs for Spike deserves to be heard, and considered one of the best albums to come out in 2019. I’m serious.
Scheduled for release on June 21, 2019, the Truehearts will be true to their hearts and continue to play both in Nashville and out in the real world. I don’t lend my name to just anything, so I close off this missive with what I truly know: they’ve made a solid damn record, and if you care at all about East Nashville music, or the whole Americana scene in general where they’re suddenly pushing the envelope, you must hear this album. – Tommy Womack, 2019
Won’t It Be Something
2. Sunshine and Violets
3. PFC Frankie Walker
4. Mamzelle Marie
5. Hey, Hey
6. Let It Sing
7. 32nd Street
8. Late July (explicit lyrics)
9. Milky Way
Focus Tracks : 1,3, 5, 6
FCC Warning : Track 8
Produced by Dave Coleman and The TrueHearts
Recorded and Mixed by Dave Coleman at Howard’s Apartment Studio in East Nashville, TN
Mastered by Alex McCollough at True East Mastering, Donelson, TN
The singles have picked up some really solid radio airplay at Radio 1 with a number of plays coming from Annie Mac, Clara Amfo, Greg James, Dev & Alice, Jack Saunders, and Nick Grimshaw. It has been a focus track on these shows as well, named “Hottest Record In The World” by Annie Mac, and picked as “Midnight Drop” by Jack Saunders. I think there’s a strong narrative to the record too, centred around the influence of 90s pop, falling apart to rebuild, and the binding power of the local pub.
It’s a record that comes into the world out of a period of huge upheaval for the band, one out of which they weren’t sure whether there would even be a band left at all. They were sat at a crossroads in their local pub – The Emerald, from which the album takes its name – wondering if it was all worth it. After the release of their second album “Mothers”, and having played Glastonbury and gone out on tour with the 1975, they very nearly fell apart at the seams, with personal demons unfortunately rearing their heads, leading to a couple of members departing. However with the local pub being so central to them as mates, and a band, it ended up being the scene at which they would decide to get themselves together, find new collaborators, and make music again.
The band are fiercely of the position that you should never allow yourself to sit still, creatively, and the evidence of that mindset is stamped all over the record. With new personnel came new and invigorating ideas that would see them again shape-shift their sound. Through their forays into psych-pop, acid-house and beyond, Swim Deep could never be accused of re-treading old ground, and they’ve never been scared to throw in a curveball either. Case in point is the album’s lead single “To Feel Good” which riffs on the 1991 Rozalla hit single “Everybody’s Free (To Feel Good)”, this time re-purposed with a full gospel choir. Coupled with its video – which tells the story of lead singer Austin’s real-life experiences of signing on – it’s actually rather affecting:
SWIM DEEP herald their return, sharing new single To Feel Good and announcing details of their new album Emerald Classics. It will be releasedon their newly formed label imprint Pop Committee through Cooking Vinyl on October 4th, 2019 across all formats.
Newly reconfigured as a five-piece they now number original frontman Austin alongside bassist Cav and James on keyboards with ex-Childhood drummer Tomas Tomaski whilst Cav’s catwalk partner-in-crime Robbie Wood takes over guitar duties.
Following the release of 2015’s album Mothers and a US tour with 1975, the band embarked on a self-induced hiatus to take stock – four years and two albums had taken their dreams and good looks and offered them everything in return – An everything that never quite materialised. Personnel changes, friendships revived, relationships requited sees the original axis of Austin and Cav return together with a steely confidence and a collection of their most fully-fledged pop songs yet.
The first taste of this new relationship is the gospel infused and spoken word of album opener To Feel Good – Featuring Margate’s Social Singing choir, the track’s a big statement and an even bigger song that transcends thegroup’s intrinsic feel good factor and DIY ethos of the early days through to the synth-pop strains of Mothers. The Evoking a dose of self-loathing in the shape of a particularly dark but wonderfully shot video, To Feel Good opens another chapter in what thus far has been a life-affirming rollercoaster of reality, struggle and proof that you can keep going.
Recorded on the South East Kent coast over a three week period late last summer with Dave McCracken presiding over production duties – who has worked with everyone from Ian Brown to Beyoncé and proceeded to meld the pop sensibility of their debut and the burned out psychedelia of their second – as Austin recognises; “ He’s a very vital part of this record. Maybe the most vital.”
Emerald Classics – an album for dreamers and pub jukeboxes.
“Bobby’s brand of blues is for anything but sitting.”
– Blues Magazine
After decades of tearing up the chitlin’ circuit on a nightly basis with his sweaty, no-holds-barred funkfests, Bobby has thoroughly broken through to the mainstream. Bobby’s brand-new album, Sitting on Top of the Blues, on his own Deep Rush imprint (distributed by Thirty Tigers) promises to further spread the news that this revered legend, well past 80 years of age, even if his stratospheric energy level belies the calendar, is bigger and badder and bolder than ever.
Rush won his first Grammy in 2017 for the Scott Billington produced LP, Porcupine Meat, which won the Best Traditional Blues Album category. Porcupine Meat also won for Album of the Year in the 2017 Blues Music Awards and for Best Blues Album at the 2017 Best of the Beat Music Awards. More recently, Rush has been nominated for the 2019 Blues Music Awards for the B.B. King Entertainer award, to make 48 career BMA nominations with 12 wins, and garnered 37 Living Blues Magazine Awards.
Following the release of Sitting On Top Of The Blues, Bobby Rush will support the album with a run of tour dates into the end of the year.
Tracklist: 01. Hey Hey Bobby Rush 02. Good Stuff 03. Get Out Of Here (Dog Named Bo) 04. You Got The Goods On You 05. Sweet Lizzy 06. Bobby Rush Shuffle 07. Recipe For Love 08. Pooky Poo 09. Slow Motion 10. Shake Til’ You Get Enough 11. Bow Legged Woman
“Davis shows his impressive songwriting chops as he channels troubadours like Todd Snider, David Childers, and Steve Earle. ” – Glide Magazine
“Suthernahia is solid rootsy southern rock’n roll, the kind of album that you’ll want to listen to all the way through and then you’ll put it on repeat.”
-Melissa Clarke, Americana Highways
“A hard charging roots rocker with accent on the rock, Davis shows his sure fire pen on a dandy original set that fires up the blood taking looks as various topics that affect the contemporary psyche. Solid modern songwriting that stays on point throughout, here’s a smoking slice of life live from the heartland to you.”
– Chris Spector, Midwest Record
“a noteworthy, memorable release”
– Will Phoenix, HVY
“Ben Davis Jr’s Suthernahia will stay with you long after the record’s over.”
– HR Gertner, Americana Highways
Born of the hills, hollers, and river valleys of southern Ohio, veteran singer-songwriter Ben Davis Jr’s appropriately-named new album Suthernahia is a dazzling cornucopia of roots based musical styles and heartfelt emotions. Anchored by Davis impeccable song craft and compelling vocals, the collection speaks to the primacy of personal responsibility (“I Think You Should”), enduring relationships (“Just Let Me In”), and honest work (“Line Boat Blues”).
Produced by Eddie Ashworth at The Oxide Shed outside Athens, OH, Suthernahia boasts versatile and full bodied backing by The Revelry (Erik Miller on drums, Levi Westfall on bass, Ben Ervin on guitar, and Ashworth on mandolin and keyboards) and various guest artists, including legendary North Carolina singer-songwriter David Childers (one of Davis’ major musical influences) who contributes vocals and harmonica. Stylistically, one hears elements of alt-country, punk rock, psychedelia, folk, and even 60’s sunshine pop reverberating in the carefully crafted tracks. Suthernahia is an album that rewards repeated listens with layers of meaning and sound uncommon in today’s musical landscape.
1. I Think You Should (4:12) It starts like a runaway freight train of churning guitars and electric mandolin, with lyrics that call out to those who are going down in a suicide plane to right their course before it’s too late. Unexpectedly, it morphs into a spacey psychedelic jam complete with swirling theremin, mellotron, intertwining guitars, and phased background vocals. Then, at the last minute, the rock roars back for a final chorus to thrillingly close the song. 2. Can’t Get Enough (3:07) Davis celebrates his affinity for outlaw country and Bakersfield twang with this cautionary tale of obsessive love gone wrong, then somehow right. Incendiary guitar work and funky Wurlitzer lines complement Davis’ burly, effervescent vocals. 3. If You Ever Will (3:59) A sweet folky bluegrass tune with high lonesome harmonies, clucking mandolin, and bouncy train beat. Captures that bittersweet tang of yearning for someone and wondering if that feeling is shared. 4. Porchlight (3:44) Davis excels at capturing the sadness and sorrow of failed romance without becoming maudlin, and there is no better example of his skills than this song. By turns hushed, dramatic, and finally cathartic, the song’s lyrics perfectly capture the forlorn universality of unrequited love. 5. Just Let Me In (5:38) Using the sound of a gentle rain (captured during one of the album recording sessions) as a segue, this song’s lyrics are traditional in the best possible sense. The line I’ve got a love/like they had way back when resonate over a bed of tape-echoed guitar, stately Wurlitzer, and interlocked bass and drums to create an instant classic ballad. 6. Sunday Morning (2:48) Davis gets soulfully funky on this uptempo track that evokes the sounds of Motown and Stax records. Boasting a rip snorting baritone sax solo and galloping groove, the song celebrates absent friends and appropriate retribution. 7. Ramblin’ Bones (2:35) Another folk infused track, with an old-timey feel complemented by fiddle and dobro. 8. (I’m Doing) Fine Girl (3:03) Davis’ fearless songwriting range is on full display with this homage to the sunshine pop and soul of the 60’s. Combining a lighter than air verse melody with period instrumentation (Beatle-esque clavichord, bouncy finger plucked electric guitar, and once again theremin), this track provides a perfect balance to the more intense and introspective songs the album. 9. Line Boat Blues (featuring David Childers) (3:21) Davis has always lived on, or very near, the Ohio River, and his familiarity with its vagaries and the people who derive a living from it is evident on this track. Celebrating the folks who work long and hard to navigate the river’s line boats, the song features legendary North Carolina singer-songwriter David Childers on vocals and harmonica. 10. Carly (3:47) The album closes on a melancholy note with this ode to a lost love whose life ended too soon. The track features Davis on acoustic guitar and voice (in contrast to the rest of the album’s finely wrought arrangements) and is all the more devastating because of it.
All Tracks FCC Clean
Focus Tracks: 1, 5, 9, 10
All songs written by Ben Davis Jr
Produced, recorded, and mixed by Eddie Ashworth
at the Oxide Shed, Coolville Ridge, Athens, OH
Additional recording by Chris Garges
at Old House Studio, Charlotte, NC
Mastered by Jeff Lipton and Maria Rice
at Peerless Mastering, Boston, MA
When thinking of historic hometowns of the blues, cities like St. Louis, Memphis and Chicago quickly come to mind, but Oakland California, historically a focal point of the West Coast blues and jazz scenes, is often overlooked. The city has a significant art scene and claims the highest concentration of artists per capita in the United States. Drummer, songwriter, producer and certified blues man, Twist Turner, spent several years living and working in the Oakland area where he began this album project in 2013 to “produce a recording of the unknown and under-appreciated blues men and women of the Bay Area.”
When Twist returned to Chicago, after his 6-year stint in California, he found several artists in need of the same boost. Thus, he created the album “Battle Of The Blues: Chicago Vs Oakland,” a collection of 11 original tracks and two covers that features over 30 of the best musicians each city has to offer including Mz. SuMac, Aldwin London, Freddie Roulette, Country Pete McGill and Nat Bolden from the San Francisco Bay area and the late Emery Williams Jr., former Magic Sam bass man, James Newman, from Chicago and “Mr. Excitement” himself Del Brown. The all-star cast delivers old school and new school blues, with the common denominator being Twist himself, who wrote all the originals and plays drums on the entire project, as well as mixing and producing for his own label, Delta Roots Records. Quite a Herculean task.
The saucy chanteuse of the Sacramento–San Joaquin River Delta area, Mz. SuMac, opens the album delivering a rebuke of a deadbeat ‘Broke Ass Man.’ Aldwin London then leads on bass and vocals through a gentle reading of the Willie Nelson composition ‘Funny How Time Slips Away’ that features sultry saxophone from John “Boom” Brumbach. The instrumentals, ‘Take It Easy’ and ‘Red Tide,’ are fine vehicles to showcase the soaring playing of lap steel player, Freddie Roulette, and Nat Bolden’s ‘Good Morning Mr. Blues,’ is recast over the Stormy Monday changes and augmented with a full horn section. Mississippi born blues man, James Newman, delivers the lead vocals on the smooth R&B groove ‘Hit And Run Lover,’ and the working man’s tribute to the six string ‘Me And My Guitar.’ Turner captures the vocal talents of the late great Emery Williams Jr. on two outstanding tracks, the scorching R&B ‘Hurtin’ On You,’ and the gospel blues ‘Mama Don’t Weep,’ as a final gift from the powerful and passionate Chicago artist taken too soon.
The mind blowing tenor of “Mr. Excitement” Del Brown is presented for the first time as the lead on the stirring soul blues ‘Now That I’ve Gone,’ and introspective R&B ‘Time Slippin’ Away,’ something that has been long overdue for the veteran, who began his career in the record business in 1959. The smoky vocals of Gerald McClendon, who is known as the “Soul Keeper” in Chicago, are perfectly suited for the slow burning ‘Cold In The Streets.’ A fixture of the Bay Area scene until his untimely death in 2018, Country Pete McGill leads the charge on the classic bump and grind ‘Hoochie Coochie Mama,’ with Aldwin London on bass, Roulette on steel joining in on the blues party.
As a sign of respect, Twist Turner did not include his name in the list of artists on the cover art, preferring to keep the focus on the talents and inspired contributions by his fellow believers and friends from Chicago and Oakland in a timeless collection of blues treasures.
Thanks for agreeing to the Interogation Ms. Bello. Please take a seat—don’t worry, the surgical instruments are only used on Gothic Doom Metal Punks when we have to remove the tongue studs so we can understand their replies.
You have been asked here today to answer questions about your album “Can’t Go Home” and certain photos that have come into our possession. These questions must be asked and will require answers, do you understand?
(Ms. Bello nods in the affirmative)
Beginning with this photo of you at an “open mic”, could you please explain the secret signal you are giving while holding an old guitar?
Not sure, it’s capo 2 and looks like I’m playing a G chord. I think I’m playing Frank’s Taylor T5 in the photo — it does have the look of a vintage guitar. It sounds great, but it’s too heavy to use for a regular gig when I’m standing up. The photo was taken a few weeks ago at one of the open mics I run. The guitar is likely from a local music store where Frank buys a lot of his gear (and my Christmas presents). I sometimes grab one of his guitars just to play something different. My Taylor gs mini in koa wood is my favorite guitar, and although it’s the easiest one to play, and the lightest guitar I own, I don’t think it amplifies well. The sound distorts a bit when I’m plugged in. I was advised to change the acoustic pickup system on it.
So you are not giving signals to someone like the Masons, Illumunatti and Baseball Catchers do?
No, I am not that mysterious.
Tell us more about these open mic meetings please.
When I first developed an interest in playing out, Frank and I began by attending open mics together. Open mics provide an opportunity for newer players to obtain some stage time and build performance skills, and for more experienced players to try out new material. Open mics welcome players of all levels, and everyone is given the same courtesy and stage time when it’s their turn to perform. The open mics I run are held at Urban Coffee in Greenlawn, a town near where we live. Urban Coffee is a cool little place with a friendly vibe and patrons who love the music we make. The players who come to my open mics have all become friends, meeting up at mine and other open mics, forming bands with each other and gigging together. Frank and I belong to the Long Island-based Organization of Open Mic Performing Artists—known by it’s acronym OOMPA. OOMPA is a large, diverse group of Long Island musicians who host and attend open mics all over Long Island, and raise money for charitable causes at a variety of venues using an open mic fomat to attract participation in food drives, toy drives and coat drives—you get the picture! On Long Island where we live, on any give day, there is an open mic adventure to be had!
Right we will move on Ms. Bello.
Why a CD and not just a Deezer digital release? Sales wise has it been worth it?
I would probably go digital for future releases, but for this first one I felt it was cool to have a physical CD, even though it’s getting less practical as we get deeper into the 21st Century. Sales of physical CDs have been mostly at gigs, face-to-face with fans, so it’s been gratifying. For the most part though it seems people access their music digitally, either by streaming or downloading. Thankfully, I have covered the manufacturing costs with CD sales. 10 excellent songs on the album did you have a lot more that were cut and stored away for another release? It’s great to hear that you are enjoying all 10 songs. We used every song we worked on for the album, so no I don’t have any extra recordings stored away for another release. Originally, I thought I would record 4 or so songs for a small collection, but as I progressed through the recording process, and continued to write, I added some newer songs. At any given time, I always like my newest song best. Keep in mind that recording Can’t Go Home took over 14 months, because I was only working at it only a few hours each week, and kept adding to the collection. Before I knew it we were up to 10 songs! I think it’s worth noting that the first song I wrote (Track #1 Dignity) is on the album. Even though it’s my oldest song, it’s still one of my favorites.
Do you want to do shows in larger venues, not large but larger, you know with say 500 people paying to be entertained by your music?
Yes, I think that would be exciting. I am in the early stages of putting a band together which will likely open up more performance opportunities for us. The music on the CD was created with a few of us playing multiple instruments. In order to play the music live, we need multiple musicians playing one instrument at a time (i.e., we need a band!)
Appearing on the charts must have brought you a lot of attention as well as radio airtime. How did you feel about that? Being on the charts has been the thrill of a lifetime for me. In my work life, my role has always been of a team player, not someone who got the direct credit for an achievement. The credit always went to the boss, and I was fine with that, but being out front like this is very new to me and very nice.
I have recently come to appreciate internet radio, which can be more enjoyable to listen to than local broadcast radio. There are few, if any commercial interruptions, and there are stations that focus on particular types of music, so you can find stations that play the music you want to listen to. By the way, your station provides a great listening experience, blending classic and contemporary roots blues and rock from well-known and yet-to-be-discovered artists.
What are your favorite tracks from the album?
Crush (Track #10) is my favorite track– both to play live and to listen to on the recording. It’s fun to sing, easy to play, it’s up-tempo, and has a bit of a dance vibe. Audiences respond well to it, and that’s always gratifying.
What are your future goals in music?
At some point I would like to transition to writing and playing music full-time, although currently , I will be sticking with my day job. Music is a passion and a creative outlet, and that works for now. I wanted to let you know that I enjoyed reading your very complimentary review of my album, and of course thank you for being a fan.
Thank you Ms.Bello but we are not here to be praised, we are here to interrogate you.
Who are your songwriter influences?
Bruce Springsteen is one of my songwriting idols, probably the top of my list, so I’m a little torn about being on a chart or a radio playlist with him, which has happened several times that I’m aware of. I’d love to meet him one day. And of course there are a million questions I’d like to ask him, but I’d probably get tounge-tied and so I might just end up staring at him, and it would be awkward, so maybe it’s best if I don’t actually meet him. As far as other influences, there are many, but four others who stand out are Mary Chapin Carpenter, Brandi Carlile, Toby Tobias, and of course, Mike Nugent.
You’ve mentioned that you want to sell your music? How will you do that?
That is the big question, isn’t it? How does a yet-to-be-discovered artist like me get their songs heard by the stars who could be performing them? I’m on radio stations across the U.S. and worldwide, so maybe someone in the music business will hear my songs and be interested in licensing one of them. There are songwriters who love performing, and others who love the process of writing. Although I love playing out, I have a bit of geek in me, and love to get engrossed in the process of writing — what could be called the art of song. Getting the idea for the song, developing the language to tell the story, identifying the hook, editing, refining, tweaking, writing the melody. I love every part of that processs!
Can you please explain what you were doing when the photo on the cover of the cd was taken, it looks very suspicious almost like a “dead drop”
Can you hold on a minute while I google what a “dead drop” is? Um, no I was not doing anything sinister in the photo. I was simply checking out a door to an abandoned building where I used to live. You know, the title track “Can’t Go Home” – that’s what the photo represents. “You can’t go home ‘cause it ain’t home no more, and it don’t exist the way it did before”
Right Josie summing up, you have a few minutes to say anything in your defense.
I would love to have famous vocalists/musicians record my songs. I always thought most of my CD would be perfect in the hands/voices of Little Big Town. In my opinion, Marrin Morris, Carrie Underwood and Miranda Lambert would all do my song Dignity justice! (when I tuned into your station late last night I heard Dignity for a little bit, and I was thrilled, but then I lost the connection, due to my own lack of computer skills because I touched something on the keyboard that I shouldn’t have)
I had intended to use my CD as a demo to pitch to artists, but I have never figured out how to do that, or made the right connections to do that, or maybe there is no platform for that, so I get out there and play the songs myself. I wanted to develop a band so that I could re-create some of what the CD sounds like. Obviously I can’t play accordion, keys, organ, rhythm guitar and sing lead and background all at one time, and I love the way all those sound together. If you recall the instrumental solo on Good People Bad Love, it’s accordion and keys, which I think sounds so cool and is one of my favorite pieces of music on the CD– I just can’t do it alone!
My band is just 4 of us right now. Me and Frank, Vicky, our drummer whom we play with on “Duo” gigs and my guitar teacher, Mike Nugent (also my producer and musical collaborator). Mike is a life-long professional musician who recorded and produced the CD at his home studio, in the neighborhood where I live. Mike plays the electric guitars, bass and banjo on the CD, and collaborated with me on working through all the vocal and instrumental arrangements. My husband Frank plays electric guitar on 2 of the album’s tracks: #4 Kit House and #10 Crush. The CD was mixed with Kevin Kelly, (another lifelong musician & sound engineer) who owns a studio in my neighborhood. A few years back, in 2015, when I decided to start taking guitar lessons, I walked in to a local music store and they assigned me to Mike. That was a lucky day for sure. I had already started fiddling around with one of my husband’s guitars, and knew how to play three chords from looking them up on the internet. Once I started strumming the guitar, I started singing and making up songs. By the time I met Mike, I had already written Dignity.
I was always fascinated with the guitar. When I was little, somewhere around 5 or 6 years old, I asked my mom if I could take guitar lessons, and she said, no, if you want to play music, you have to take accordion lessons. I was like, ok, what have I got to lose. Music is music, right? Well maybe. My parents rented a student accordion, and set me up with lessons and a big book of Italian songs, which I had to work my way through with the accordion teacher. My grandmother was one of 10 children, and her siblings visited our house routinely, and they always asked me to play accordion. By the time I was around 10 years old I could play most of the book, not necessarily well, but well enough that they all sang along and seemed to enjoy themselves.
Any thoughts I may have had about playing music in adulthood were buried by the acquisition of adult responsibilities and the necessity to develop a productive (i.e. paying) work life. I credit my husband Frank for bringing music back into my life. We met in 2005 and married in 2007. Frank was always playing guitar, amusing himself in the back room, and I really enjoyed his playing and singing. He encouraged me to play with him by purchasing a keyboard for me, and we started doing open mics together. Open mics have introduced us to an entire community of wonderful local musicians– some professional, and some hobbyists — and all of them now dear friends whom we couldn’t imagine our lives without.
Thank you Josie, that wasn’t to painful was it.
We all wish you the very best in the future and we will be watching you!
Katie Knipp is equipped with powerful vocals and plays a variety of instruments from boogie woogie piano to slide guitar, to honest harmonica laden stories in between. She has opened for Robert Cray, Joan Osborne, Jimmie Vaughan, Jon Cleary, The Doobie Brothers, Tim Reynolds, The James Hunter Six, and more. #10 on Blues Albums Billboard and 2019 SAMMIE award winner for best blues artist.
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Mary Gauthier - Rifles & Rosary Beads
Sep 08, 2019
Co-written with U.S. veterans and their families, the eleven deeply personal songs on this album reveal the untold stories, and powerful struggles that these veterans and their spouses deal with abroad and after returning home.
_"You’ll be hard-pressed to hear a more powerfully moving work than Rifles & Rosary Beads this year — or any other.”
Last year we saw the release of Jim Allchin’s Decisions album which garnered good critical review for it’s great songs and musicianship. Allchin returned to the studio this past Spring to once again collaborate with Tom Hambridge and his team. Hambridge has produced Grammy winners before and to make things even sweeter he and Allchin invited Mike Zito, Bobby Rush and The Memphis Horns to join them on this production.
The output of all that is 14 new songs, 3 penned by Allchin alone and the other 11 were collaborations between Allchin, Hambridge and a couple of other folks here and there. In addition to Allchin on vocals and guitar are Bob Britt, Kenny Greenberg and Rob McNelley on rhythm guitar, Hambridge on drums, Kevin McKendree on keys, Glenn Worf on bass, Mycle Wastman on backing vocals and the aforementioned guest musicians.
Peter Rowan has paid his dues, spending more than 50 years in and around bluegrass, sharing the stage with everyone from Bill Monroe and Jerry Garcia. Now, he’s paying tribute.
His new CD on Rebel Records is called Carter Stanley’s Eyes. But the title cut isn’t the only nod to the man many consider the best lead singer in bluegrass. Cut after cut, including two written by Carter, two written by his brother Ralph, and one by Monroe, the songs conjure up memories of the artist who left us far too soon, in 1966.
But the title cut, one of three songs on the CD written by Rowan, seals the deal. The Light in Carter Stanley’s Eyes recounts the day in 1965 when Monroe and Rowan — a member of the Blue Grass Boys who wasn’t yet old enough to vote — visited Carter near the end of his tragically shortened life.
The song includes a spoken part, in which Rowan recalls Monroe telling Stanley that he had been one of his favorite Blue Grass Boys, and his favorite lead singer. It also recounts Stanley asking Rowan if he was “going to stick with it,” which Rowan answered affirmatively. Given that more than half a century has passed between the question and this new project, Rowan clearly kept his end of the bargain.
The song, with it’s built-in oral history of an important moment in bluegrass history, will help make Carter Stanley relevant to new generations of pickers. And it should add momentum to the push to add Carter and Ralph to the Country Music Hall of Fame, an oversight that frankly should have been corrected long ago.
Buddy Guy stands as one of the last true traditional blues legends of his time; an era that predated the rock ‘n’ roll explosion of the mid-1960s. Few remain, and even fewer are still releasing albums that remind us as to why they have enjoyed such a lengthy and illustrious career. The Blues Is Alive And Well is very much one of those albums. As a follow-up to his 2015 release, Born To Play Guitar, and his eighteenth solo studio album, The Blues Is Alive And Well features collaborations with Jeff Beck, Keith Richards, and Mick Jagger, and is certainly one of the best blues records to be released this year.
Becky’s body of work is already vast and impressive, as a songwriter and as artist, and she has the awards and accolades to back it up. But, as Crepe Paper Heart demonstrates, she’s not about to rest on her laurels.
From the opening notes of Another Love Gone Wrong to the closing of Phoenix Arise, the 12 songs will take you on an emotional roller coaster of thrills, tears, longing and loss. The stories are compelling, as her songs tend to be. And the performances are top drawer. Again, that’s no surprise if you’ve followed her on stage and on record. With the collective strength of her band and an all-star lineup of guests, anything less would be shocking.
Heartbreak is never any fun, but it sure seems to be good fuel for the creative process. Nicki Bluhm first found an audience for her rich, smoky voice while making music with her husband Tim Bluhm, who produced her early albums and co-founded their band, the Gramblers. But in November 2015, the Bluhms revealed they were getting a divorce, and their creative partnership ended along with their marriage. Splitting up was clearly not a pleasant experience for Nicki, and she lays out all her hurt and disappointment on her 2018 album, To Rise You Gotta Fall. This is a breakup album if there ever were such a thing, but Bluhm doesn't sound like the experience has weakened her. There are bittersweet moments in "Staring at the Sun" and "Last to Know" where Bluhm reveals her emotional wounds, but more often she sounds clear-eyed in her postmortem of her relationship ("Something Really Mean") or defiant as she moves past the wreckage ("Can't Fool the Fool" and "Things I've Done"). Musically, To Rise You Gotta Fall is steeped in vintage R&B and soul with a dash of country for seasoning, and the bluesy angles of the music are a perfect match for Bluhm's ruminations on a love that used to be. The album was cut in Memphis at the legendary Sam Phillips Recording Studio, and producer Matt Ross-Spang has put together a band that can evoke the sounds of R&B past without sounding dated or falsely nostalgic. And To Rise You Gotta Fall features some of Bluhm's finest vocal work, filled with passion and nuance at the same time, and for all the powerful emotions in play here, she doesn't overplay, and the focus and restraint only make this music more intense. Hopefully Nicki Bluhm won't have to get dumped again for her to make an album this good, but at least she found a way to put her broken heart to good use, and To Rise You Gotta Fall ranks with her best music to date.
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Kinky Friedman - Circus of Life
Sep 08, 2019
Before he was a novelist, and before he ran for governor of the state of Texas, Kinky Friedman was known as a musician. Proof of that can be found in his first new album in close to four decades, Circus of Life, being released on his own Echo Hill label.
As the lead singer of Kinky Friedman and the Texas Jewboys he was responsible for such country classics as “Asshole from El Paso” and “They Don’t Make Jews Like Jesus Anymore”. The band also hold the distinction of being one of the few who were filmed for the famed TV show Austin City Limits but whose segment was never aired. (It is available on DVD if you look hard enough).
While Kinky has mellowed somewhat since those halcyon days, only “Little Jewford” Shelby (piano) still rides with him, and his songs aren’t as in your face as they used to be, none of that impacts on the quality of the material you’ll find on this album. For while the twelve songs on the disc only add up to just over 35 minutes of music, their substance can’t be measured by how much time they take up.
A new album from John Prine is always reason to celebrate, but an album in which he wrote or co-wrote all the songs is an even bigger reason to rejoice. The Tree of Forgiveness is the first album since 2005’s Fair & Square where Prine has written the songs. He has issued albums since then, but like Bob Dylan, they have been albums of cover versions, but this album is Prine and, I would argue, Prine at his best.
Prine co-writes with old friends and longtime collaborators on this album. He even wrote a song with Phil Spector — he started writing the song, “God Only Knows”, decades ago. Pat McLaughlin, Roger Cook, and Keith Sykes have worked with Prine in the past. He has made some new friends too in Dan Auerbach, who co-wrote the brilliant “Caravan of Fools”, and Brandi Carlile, who duets with Prine on the beautiful “I Have Met My Love Today”.
When Nashville-based singer/songwriter/producer Tom Hambridge decided to pay tribute to the city of New Orleans with this CD, he had no trouble recruiting several of the biggest names in Big Easy music – including Ivan Neville, Sonny Landreth and the late Allen Toussaint — to help him. But that should come as no surprise to anyone who’s aware of the rich legacy he’s already created in the worlds of blues, country and rock.
A native of Buffalo, N.Y., who graduated from Berklee College Of Music and spent three years on the road as the percussionist for guitar legend Roy Buchanan, Hambridge has earned Grammys as a producer of Buddy Guy’s Living Proof and Born To Play Guitar albums as well as more nominations for his collaboration with a who’s who of entertainers, including Eric Clapton, B.B. King, Van Morrison, Johnny Winter, Gregg Allman, Kid Rock, George Thorogood, Susan Tedeschi and many others.
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Mark Knopfler - Down the Road Wherever
Sep 08, 2019
Mark Knopfler’s ninth solo studio album ‘Down The Road Wherever’ features unhurriedly elegant new songs inspired by a wide range of subjects, including his early days in Deptford with Dire Straits, a stray football fan lost in a strange town, and the compulsion of a musician hitching home through the snow. Mark has a poet’s eye for telling details that infuse his songs with his unique psychogeography – ‘where the Delta meets the Tyne’ as he describes it – and his warm Geordie vocal tone and his deft, richly melodic guitar playing are as breathtaking and thrilling as ever.
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JP Harris - Sometimes Dogs Bark at Nothing
Sep 08, 2019
JP Harris doesn’t fancy himself a musician as much as a carpenter who writes country songs. With his forthcoming album, Sometimes Dogs Bark at Nothing (out October 5 on Free Dirt Records), Harris is back after a four-year hiatus to remind us what it's like to actually live the stories we hear so often in country music. Born in Montgomery, Alabama, Harris left home at 14 and traveled the country hopping freight trains, working the odd job, and living without electricity or running water for over a decade. For this record, his third full-length, he tapped a handful of his favorite players and called on the production prowess of Morgan Jahnig (Old Crow Medicine Show) to capture the stories of his stranger-than-fiction life. Dripping with pedal steel and telecaster twang, the record has the rugged edges of outlaw, the danceability of honky tonk, and classic country's beloved emotional candor. After more than a decade in the trenches, Harris is more in love with country music than ever. If he hasn't already, his latest effort will make you a believer.
Steve Forbert’s new album ‘Magic Tree,’ recorded in Meridian (his birthplace in Mississippi), Nashville, New York, New Jersey and Virginia, is a collection of his own songs and the music loses nothing in its quality of production despite the country wide recording venues. Throughout the album his folk roots shine clear, as does his song writing ability honed over his forty years in the music industry.
It might be naive to think you can detect authentic music without being familiar with the particular genre. Paul Thorn’s Don’t Let the Devil Ride, is an incredible gospel and gospel-influenced album that sounds like the real deal: From its production, which sounds like it was recorded inside an old hot wooden church stuffed full of sinning parishioners, to the songs, which make the listener feel like they’ve stumbled into perhaps the South’s most exciting church service. It’s all the more amazing given that Thorn isn’t a gospel artist.
The album kills because it’s intense without being noodle-y. Every song sounds like great musicians trying–somewhat unsuccessfully–to hide just how talented they are. As is often the case with gospel, much of this comes from the organ, which propels many of the songs here. The album kicks off with “Come On Let’s Go,” which is propelled by that organ, as mentioned earlier. An infectious hand-clap keeps the beat, with horns popping in and out of gospel-tinged background vocals. The song builds to a manic climax before collapsing into a swirl of organ. Truthfully, if Thorn had ended the album on that first song, everyone would have felt like they got their money’s worth.
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Sugarcane Jane - Southern State of Mind
Sep 08, 2019
Sugarcane Jane, the Alabama Gulf Coast-based husband and wife duo of Anthony Crawford and Savana Lee have recorded Southern State Of Mind with producer Buzz Cason. The recording starts off with a rousing "Cabin On The Hill", already a favorite with Sugarcane Jane fans. It is followed by "Campfire", the first single. The thought-provoking, fresh and exciting "Man Of Fewest Words" precedes the title track, "Southern State Of Mind", the tale of the joys of Southern living. "Destiny", a raw rocker, is foreshadowed by the inspirational "Rainbow". "Red Flags Warning", a true gem from the pen of Anthony Crawford is cut #7. Savana Lee is featured beautifully on "The One Before Me". "How Do You Know" and "We Can Dream" wrap up this eclectic collection of songs from the duo.
Brooklyn based but with a somewhat nomadic background, Ana Egge is one of those songwriters who seem to hover around the edge of the mainstream. She gets great reviews but she’s certainly not a household name even in the most dedicated of Americana infested households. Her album with The Stray Birds, ‘Bright Shadow’, did cause a bit of a buzz, perhaps down to that trio’s reputation but we can safely say here that ‘White Tiger’ is a much more multi faceted affair than the folky infused ‘Bright Shadow’, bursting as it is with imaginative arrangements adorned with horns and synths.
Tas Cru’s bio begins like this, “Raucous, rowdy, gentle, sweet, eccentric, quirky, and outright irreverent are all words that fittingly describe Tas Cru’s songs and testify to his reputation as a one of the most unique of bluesmen plying his trade today. ”
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Dave Alvin & Jimmie Dale Gilmore - Downey To Lubbock
Sep 08, 2019
DOWNEY TO LUBBOCK was born by immaculate inspiration from live shows Grammy winner Dave Alvin and Grammy nominee Jimmie Dale Gilmore performed together in 2017. Just the two of them were swapping songs and cutting up, each with a guitar and a heart full of soul, musicians who’ve been on the road their entire adult lives. The result is an album of blues, rock and folk inspired tunes that both of their fans will enjoy.
The album contains 12 songs - 10 covers and two originals - and is destined to be a classic Americana album from two Americana legends.
Joyann Parker brings a full range of talent to her performances as an accomplished singer, pianist, songwriter must-hear lead guitarist, currently endorsed by Heritage Guitars in Kalamazoo, MI. She has performed for thousands at major venues and festivals across the country.
For one so young (he was born in 1988), Travis Bowlin has already achieved a hell of a lot. Not only can he play the guitar, he can make them too! At first he made cigar box guitars for his own use but people seeing him use them, created a demand that he now meets through his separate business, Bowlin Box Instruments. Travis was born near Cincinnati and raised in a household full of many genres of music…so he soaked up blues, rock ‘n’ roll, gospel and country. He got his first guitar aged 15 and very soon started to perform around his home and surrounding states. To take his devotion a step further, he moved to Nashville and released his first album in 2014, called See You Again. His influences have a wide range as he cites Led Zeppelin, BB King, Robert Johnson, Prince, Steppenwolf, 3 Dog Night and Albert King amongst others.
He has now released his follow up album called, rather neatly, Secundus, as it means second but can also, apparently, be used to mean ‘lucky’. It contains 12 all original tracks and shows a development from that first outing with its more developed, blues-oriented feeling and manages to cover virtually every emotion a human being can experience. There are many more flavours to be discerned and I can hear jazz and soul in the mix and I even picked up a hint of progginess in a Yes kind of way.
In the past several years, Sideline has jumped from being a literal side project for some bluegrass A-listers to a fully-fledged band working its way to the top of the bluegrass world. With a few of those original “sidemen” on board, as well as the addition of several younger faces, Sideline has continued to up their game with the release of their new Mountain Home album, Front and Center.
Opening track Thunder Dan has captivated radio audiences with its catchy chorus and bluesy, mash-style grass. Penned by Josh Manning, it’s a take on the familiar “mountain man” story, featuring a title character with an itchy trigger finger and strong vocals from Troy Boone. The song hit number one last month and was back at the top spot on the Bluegrass Today chart this past week. Lysander Hayes is another rough character, keeping his mama up worrying and praying while he picks and drinks and runs around. Skip Cherryholmes pulls out the clawhammer banjo for this song, which along with Nathan Aldridge’s fiddle, makes for a nice old-time-with-drive vibe.
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