“I had a dream that we were doing hard drugs in a street alley” is a hell of a line to kick off a song, and seems emblematic of your typical rock and roll band. But SUSTO are far from the typical. The Charleston five-piece covers vast sonic ground on their new album & I’m Fine Today, swaying between country-tinged rock (“Cosmic Cowboy”), contemplative pop ballads (“Mountain Top”), and any number of other genres that exist somewhere within the expansive fabric of Southern music. But lead single “Hard Drugs” is perhaps most typical of their nakedly honest, narrative approach to songwriting, covering themes of heartbreak and loneliness with an added dose of creative flair.
“& I’m Fine Today is our most earnest effort to create unique emotional soundscapes…
…while speaking candidly and openly about the realities of existence,” the band tells Consequence of Sound. “We are a group of people, touring musicians, who feel privileged to do what we do and we have given all of our energy to create an album that captures both the pain and beauty of being human.”
It can seem like a pretty hopeless world out there sometimes, but this is the kind of music that just hits in the right way on those long, dark nights of the soul. Hell, it might even make you laugh when you’re done moppin’ up those tears.
…The single “Hard Drugs” is a Gram Parsons flavored number that is as painfully self-conscious as it is tongue-in-cheek wry. A song about the negative side of drugs hasn’t been done this well since “Sister Morphine.” “I’m just glad that I found you, sorry that I couldn’t keep you around” is a beautifully bittersweet line.
“Far Out Feeling” features soulful strings and backing vocals that harken to Philadelphia circa 1974, like an outtake from Young Americans. “Gay in the South” eschews subtlety for a hard-hitting take on a world that still can’t readily accept differences. “Tell the truth unless you think you should lie,” is a rather straightforward, non-judgmental, albeit resigned piece of advice for those struggling with self-identity issues. Hard to believe in today’s atmosphere that my fellow Yanks could’ve been so naïve as to think that the battle for civil rights was over, but we’re nothing if not a nation content with simple answers to complex problems.
“Mystery Man” has a feel like the Golden Age of laid-back SoCal music that would flourish into the adult contemporary genre. That’s not meant as an insult. Despite the stereotyped image of cheesy, overproduced, oft-misogynistic love songs by acts like The Eagles or post-Peter-Green era Fleetwood Mac, there were also a lot of really good songs made under that nauseating umbrella term.
On the uptempo “Waves,” Osbornes sings about “smoking weed with God,” a line that points at both the spiritual and hippie vibe that runs throughout this navel-gazing effort. & I’m Fine Today is not only a wink-wink cynical line but also a spot-on summary of the mood of this album.
Freedom & Dreams, a collaboration between Anders Osborne and North Mississippi Allstars, finds New Orleans’ preeminent guitarist and his colleagues from the Magnolia State effortlessly working their way through a series of blues and folk tunes with a sublime confidence that can only come from years of casual jamming. Make no mistake, these guys are more than just partners; they are friends. The album opens with “Away, Way Too Long,” a swampy, laid-back blues number that sets the tone for what’s to come. Like much of Freedom & Dreams, the opening track develops slowly, building up like a cloud of thick South Louisiana fog. Even the peaks are subtle here, with solos—on “Lonely Love,” “Shining (Spacedust)” and “Kings And Peasants”—that are at once soaring and restrained. Then there’s the record’s centerpiece “Brush Up Against You,” a more-or-less instrumental blues undertaking that teeters on the avant-garde. Finally, the whole thing wraps up with a tribute to Osborne’s New Orleans blues roots, a modern reimagining of James Wayne’s “Junco Partner.” It’s a solid effort all around that, more than anything, comes off as a testament to the power of the low-key, carefree jam session.
(And I thought the “train” theme was dead and gone… Jasmine)
Ever since he broke through to nationwide recognition with X‘s outstanding 1980 debut, Los Angeles, John Doe has been one of rock’s greatest triple threats. Doe is a brilliant singer with a gift for writing great melodies, and he’s an intelligent, evocative lyricist. Nearly all of Doe‘s albums find him displaying these talents in equal measure, but 2016’s The Westerner is an uncommonly strong set of songs that that ranks with his finest work. Doe has rarely meshed the depth of his material with the power of his performances as well as he does here. While it isn’t a thematically linked concept album, The Westerner‘s ten songs are all rooted in the American West, and there’s a strength and resonant consistency to their sound and feel. Doe was a poet before he became a lyricist, and there’s a poetic sensibility to the best tracks on The Westerner that sets them apart from much of his catalog. (“Sweet Reward,” “Sunlight,” and “The Other Shoe” are particularly effective in their impressionistic wordplay.) Doe co-produced The Westerner with Dave Way and Howe Gelb, and Gelb‘s influence is especially strongly felt on these sessions. The results don’t particularly resemble Gelb‘s work with Giant Sand, but the same dusty mood and sunburnt tone hovers over this music, and it suits the tunes perfectly. And Doe brings a welcome compassion and insight to these stories of people struggling to make sense of their lives under the unrelenting glare of the sun and sand. Doe has always been one of rock’s better storytellers, but The Westerner has a degree of heart, soul, and wisdom uncommon even for his work. Muscular but graceful, The Westerner is as effective as anything Doe has released in his solo career. It confirms that at the age of 63, he hasn’t run out of ideas and is not afraid to challenge himself.
Ted Z and the Wranglers deliver outlaw country-charged rock. Ted’s catchy story-songs are fully-realized tales of love, regret, getting older, and getting in trouble. The band stirs up its Americana influences, featuring quick picking and bluesy slide guitar over galloping train beats and swinging shuffles. In the span of a few years, Ted Z and the Wranglers have become one of Southern California’s most compelling and sought-after Americana/Country/Roots Music collectives.
The Wranglers are Dan Mages (bass), Mike Myers (drums, vocals), and Jackson Leverone (lead and slide guitar, vocals). The band has honed its sound on big stages and in biker bars alike, playing and performing in major festivals and venues throughout the country.Ted Z and The Wranglers are signed to Rip Cat Records. Their first label release, Ghost Train, was recorded at Yellow Dog Studios in Wimberley, TX and produced by Monty Byrom (Big House, Eddie Money).
“[I]t’s their brand of grassroots, southwestern country-folk that sets them apart… there’s an introspective feel to their music, a manner in which inspires thought and reflection. Not content to remain sonically low key, however, their music also spans grittier rock ‘n’ roll, making them a well-rounded group of musicians and artists.” Vickye Fisher – For The Country Record
“And though protest with a capital “P” was front and center during the seven-hour event… [for] protest rockers Ted Z and the Wranglers… it was [a] protest burning with love, and [they] demonstrated once and for all that we are all the same and different, and that is cause for celebration, not conflict.” Bruce Lyons – Hollywood Today
“If there’s such a thing as a high-functioning rock band, Ted Z and the Wranglers are it. Since getting serious as a band a couple of years ago, they’ve been on a creative tear…” Adam Levinus – OC Weekly
“Ted Z & The Wranglers got up and performed an amazing live set!” Jenavieve Belair – OrangeCounty.com
The trouble with blue-eyed soul singers, especially in the 21st century, is they usually seem convinced that in order to prove they’re worthy of singing R&B in the classic style, they have to try three times as hard as the folks who inspired them, and as a consequence they sound histrionic and over the top rather than honest and passionate. Thankfully, Anderson East (aka Mike Anderson) is smarter than that; on his 2015 album Delilah, the man clearly knows that dynamics are his friend, and in the manner of Joe South and Tony Joe White, he’s embraced the great Southern tradition of sounding committed and laid-back at the same time, an excellent fit for his rough but sweet vocal timbre. Delilah was produced by Dave Cobb, on a run after helping Sturgill Simpson and Jason Isbell make career-defining albums, and he’s done a splendid job with East on Delilah, setting him up with a studio band whose slightly swampy groove evokes the sound of the Muscle Shoals Rhythm Section or the Fame Recording Studios crew, steeped in the traditions of vintage soul but sounding tight and aware of the notions of the present day. As a songwriter, East reveals himself as a good but not great talent on Delilah; most of these tunes sound like the work of a guy who loves Southern soul of the ’60s and knows how to emulate the sound, but the finished product suggests the songs were sometimes built from a kit providing the requisite melodic tricks and lyrical tropes rather than drawing from his heart, soul, and inspiration (there’s a reason why his cover of George Jackson‘s “Find ‘Em, Fool ‘Em and Forget ‘Em” is a standout here). But if East tends to follow a template as a writer, the work is good despite the familiar building blocks, and when he sings, it’s easy to forgive his minor flaws as a tunesmith. East is clearly a talent to watch, and if you’re looking for retro-soul with a smoky Southern flair, Delilah is well worth your time and attention.
It’s autumn in North Carolina, and the southern sun is casting a golden filter onto the fiery-red dogwood leaves that scatter the roadside landscape. Phil is behind the wheel, one hand driving and the other gently holding mine as we turn onto an unmarked country byway. We’ve dropped our son off at school and are filled with a coveted sense of freedom for the day ahead. We start by setting our course to meander the open road.
This morning’s drive is not unlike ones we’ve taken in the past. For every project, album or other piece of music that Phil has created, we find a stretch of open highway, dial the volume knob to max, and drive the listening length of road. This particular trip holds more weight than those that have come before. Despite the autumnal perfection surrounding us, I can feel anticipation in my stomach and in Phil’s twitching fingers. Today he is sharing his newly completed solo record with me for the first time.
I’ve heard most of these songs before, or at least fragments of them. I had heard early versions when they came back from the mountains after being conceived. I hear them when Phil sings in the car between our otherwise monotonous errand runs, and I hear them as he sings our son to sleep at night. The majority of the creative process that went into this album, however, has happened within the walls of my husband’s prodigious mind and in a studio in the Blue Ridge Mountains. Today’s listen to the full production signifies that he’s finally achieved the sync of what he’s been hearing in his head for the past few years and what listeners will come to know as his solo debut. He is thus filled with a duality of pride and requisite anxiety.
* * *
When we moved to North Carolina from Wisconsin in 2005, a specific era of our adult lives melted in the rearview as we crossed over the Mason Dixon. I remember clearly that the majority of arguments Phil had laid out for me when pitching this cross-country move were focused on the artists and music that came from this swath of land. He had just picked up the banjo for the first time and was diving deep into the used gospel bin at the record store. Appalachia, The Delta, and the Bayou were all calling to him.
As we settled into the state, Phil slowly began to unravel and wrestle with the region’s own complex dualities. He, along with an incredible collection of creatives in the area, have been finding their sounds and voices within a regional paradigm that shifts and shuffles, ever so slowly, with the passing of each sweltering summer. Now, over a decade into our stay, Phil has become a staple in the area’s studios. He has produced, composed, written for, and recorded on dozens of regional and national releases. He is enthusiastic, steady and humble in his work. He is a partner and an ally for other musicians, drawing people together through subtle alchemy. Phil Cook has become a conduit of American music.
“[Phil Cook] has influenced a lot of musicians that have played with him, and he’s influenced a lot of musicians that are pretty successful. He’s a populist, like Woody Guthrie. He’s never moved into the limelight, but all of these other amazing people learn from him. It helps them become successful.”— Amy Ray
It is only recently that Phil Cook’s story has turned from one of a departure, to that of an arrival. Southland Mission is a soundtrack of shared experiences and Phil’s purity in leadership is self-evident from the moment the needle hits the record. The songs have no prerequisite, no pretension. Instead, as a collection, they call on listeners to witness and immerse themselves in their own journey. Placing focus on the way the tracks make them feel in lieu of searching for superfluous descriptors and categories. With this album, Phil is offering up his claim that the industry labels and genre constraints are rendering themselves irrelevant. Each track is a palpable glance back at the heritage of a our shared musical culture, subtly encouraging what will be a vital shift in keeping true artistry alive. Things tend to come into focus after a long journey, and this record is no exception.
I have cursed this record throughout it’s making, raising hell about it’s interruptions and inconveniences, but above all else, I’ve missed my husband. I’ve spent many nights rolling over in bed only to find his side cold and empty with the faint sound of strumming coming from some corner of the house. On walks, as he holds my hand, I can feel his fingers fretting along to the song he’s humming. Being present means something different when you have music coursing through your veins, this is something I’m learning and growing to love. Because despite my intermittent feelings of bitterness or abandonment, I know that what is coming is worth it and quite frankly, there’s no stopping it. The gravitational pull that brought us here has resulted in a collection of life and career-affirming moments that, when looking back, makes the decision to move here seem laughably inevitable. He was always preparing the path, whether he knew it or not.
So, throw open your folded arms and embrace the anthemic reveal of “Great Tide”, a sound big enough to fill a stadium. Absorb the percussive heartbeat under Phil and Frazey’s poignantly resonant verses on ”Anybody Else”. Hop in the truck and blare “1922” out of some blown-out speakers, then find a quiet place to plug in your headphones to hear every peak and valley of the guitar solo on “Ain’t It Sweet”. The lyrics tell stories of loss, layered with sentiments of self-doubt and intermittent promises of change. The compositions are Phil’s testament to truth in music, integrity in creativity and reverence for those who paved the way for these sounds to fall on our ears. Southland Mission is certain to compel you to stomp your feet, pump your fist, and sway and spin with reckless abandon. Phil’s mission is far from complete, but for the first time in his life, it seems to be clear where he’s headed. Undoubtedly, with this record as our induction, we are all in for an epic ride.
* * *
Back in the car, Phil’s smile strains with anticipation. His eyes are tired and his hair has grown unruly. He’s poured himself out into this music, and while his reserves may be empty, his heart is brimming.
“You ready?” he asks, trigger finger on the play button.
I smile and nod. After all, it’s what we came here for.
I would highly recommend ‘Living Free’ to anyone, regardless of the ‘box’ they put themselves into genre-wise, since we get a bit of everything on the album. Regardless of whether you enjoy the heavier rock sounds, the more ‘country’ style of songwriting, as seen on ‘Drinks With Ghosts’, or the acoustic beauty found on album-closer ‘Storm Clouds’, I can almost guarantee there will be something you enjoy on this record, and more than likely there will be multiple tracks which take your fancy! Give The Plott Hounds a listen, they are super talented.
Formed in April of 2014 with an angst to revive the sound of such luminaries as Lynyrd Skynyrd and The Allman Brothers Band, along with a tip of the hat towards twangy country, The Plott Hounds were born out of a common yearning for Southern warmth and rootsy rock n’ roll. We’re firm believers that good music and good times go hand in hand, that musical catharsis pairs well with Kentucky whiskey, and that we’ll give you a show you’ve never experienced before. Here’s a little bit about ourselves.
NOAH ALEXANDER – LEAD VOCALS, RHYTHM GUITAR Born in the outskirts of Atlanta, Georgia with a passion for music from day one. Previously a violinist, one day picked up a guitar and never looked back. Raw vocals, filled with gravely undertones and writing songs about his life lessons learned down a windy, sometimes dark, sometimes sunny road. His passion for music, and the songs he writes, sings and plays bellow out through the microphone. His dream is to restore the sounds of old, back when songs were about stories…when they made you feel something. Noah is endorsed by Breedlove Guitars
JEFF POWELL – LEAD GUITAR Born and raised in Iowa, his thick buttered bacon tone and bawling leads are inspired by SRV and 60 hour work weeks. He has dabbled in music from cloth-eared AC/DC to string spanking blues from The Black Keys and strives to bring a fresh flavor to southern rock.
SHEA MARANA – BASS GUITAR Currently residing in Coon Rapids, MN, Shea has been a “low ender” for numerous years. He has a flavor for music which runs the gamut from Led Zeppelin to Johnny Cash, he looks to bring this diversity to the music he plays. When he’s not performing with the band, he is either helping his wife raise their two daughters or he’s out on his next hunting or fishing trip. ROSS SCHULZ – DRUMS Ross was introduced to basic groove and has been playing drums since he was 5 years old, and then got into a formal playing situation behind the drum kit at church when he was 12. Growing up Ross was exposed to a wide variety of great music as his dad is an avid collector of vinyl albums. Recently Ross Played and recorded with “The Josh Hoaby Band” from 2008-2010 and has maintained a busy house schedule in the modern worship circuit. He continues to work on his craft at the Risen Drum Studio in Northeast Minneapolis, working with re-known drummer – Steve Goold (Sara Bareilles, Owl City, Go Fish)
COLIN WYMORE – SLIDE GUITAR Colin was inspired to pick up the guitar as a teenager after hearing the likes of Led Zeppelin, Cream, and Jimi Hendrix. He quickly dove into all styles of guitar including traditional blues, country twang, and specifically the electric slide of guitar legend Duane Allman. As co-lead guitar, Colin’s searing slide work brings a fiery presence to the Plott Hounds’ brand of Americana Rock and Roll. Colin is currently involved in a number of music projects in the Minneapolis area both as a guitarist and recording engineer.
ZACH SERSHON – KEYS, ORGAN, VOCALS Zach Sershon is a seasoned keyboardist who has been playing professionally since 2006. Classically trained for over a decade and experienced in improvisation and composition, Zach brings a unique playing style that fuses classical harmony and technique with country, rock, jazz and blues. Zach has played in several bands including; Devon Worley Band, Chris Brooks and The Silver City Boys, Jugg and Iron Horse Group and he has opened for numerous national and acts including Joe Nichols, The Kentucky Headhunters, Thompson Square, Little Texas, Dale Watson, Turnpike Troubadors, Whitey Morgan and the 78’s and more. Outside of live performance, Zach plays organ for the Minnesota Timberwolves and teaches piano full-time. He also loves the outdoors, traveling and good coffee and beer.
GRACE BRAY – VOCALS Grace is a Twin Cities based vocalist originally hailing from the southern suburb of Rosemount, MN. Grace’s influences scale from classic Sunday school hymns all the way across the board to the Heavy Metal sounds of Pantera and Metallica. Her diverse spectrum of musical interest has allowed her to perform with a variety of Twin Cities groups over the past few years with experience in genres ranging from smooth jazz to R&B and Pop Rock. However, her heart lies with the nitty gritty sounds of the south. In her spare time Grace enjoys writing, playing, watching and attending hockey games, any and everything pertaining to the MN Wild, and ingesting excessive amount of Starbucks coffee.
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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