When Donovan Woods first began visiting Nashville from Toronto to write with some of the city’s pro songwriters, he was attempting to write songs for the radio – he liked what country artists were doing, but no one seemed interested in his compositions. Instead, he found that when he wrote the kind of songs he wanted to record himself, people began paying attention. That happened with “Portland, Maine,” a wrenching breakup song that Tim McGraw cut for his Sundown Heaven Town album.
“It was the first time I’d written something here where I thought, ‘I don’t care what happens to this – I am over the moon about this song and I’ll record it,'” he says, over a late breakfast during a recent visit to Nashville.
Other artists came calling – Charles Kelley recorded Woods’ “Leaving Nashville,” Billy Currington got “Sweet Love” and Charlie Worsham took on “The Beginning of Things.” So far none of them have been released to country radio, but they’re the kind of album cuts that leave a lasting impression with their mix of insightful storytelling and highly emotional undercurrents. Woods has specialized in that approach when making his own albums, which have earned him a spot in Nashville’s writers rooms, on Spotify playlists and at the Juno Awards, though his Nashville work hasn’t yielded any country radio smashes just yet.
“I think if I lived here I’d be doing a lot better,” he says. “But if I was doing better – if I had a Number One hit or something, I don’t know that you’d be able to get me in a sprinter van to drive across Canada. I don’t know if I’d do it if I had all of that money suddenly. I love music, but the drive to Victoria from Winnipeg – holy shit, you feel like you’re gonna die every kilometer.”
Woods addresses those long drives and the death-defying aspects of being a touring musician in “Truck Full of Money,” a standout track from his new album Both Ways, out Friday. A sweeping, orchestral rocker that feels massive compared to some of the hushed folk-rock that put Woods on the map, it makes a compelling case that he – like the album title suggests – can be both a top-notch songwriter and performer, even if those long stretches away from home are often a dance with mortality.
“Sometimes you’re in a hotel room and you did a show,” he says. “[You] couldn’t eat before the show because you’re too anxious and you just don’t want to be full onstage. By the time you’re done loading out, it’s like midnight so you eat a bunch of pizza at midnight and you go to a shitty hotel and lay there and you think, ‘Oh yeah, I could easily die in here.’
Both Ways captures Woods’ growing artistic ambition with bigger production and an expanded palette of sounds, suggesting those songs can exist comfortably alongside his more delicate acoustic numbers. With the latter, he finds crushing heartbreak in the mundane, as the couple in “Good Lover” solemnly moves out of the house they shared, or in “Burn That Bridge” – the video for which depicted two men falling in and out of love – where two friends forsake the world for each other before imploding. In another case, Woods sadly recalls a grade-school friend who developed a reputation for being tough and later died under mysterious circumstances in “Our Friend Bobby.”
“The more interesting thing to me was this growing up beside a person whose penchant for violence you benefited from when you were a kid, and then when you became older, [it was] ‘I don’t want anything to do with that,'” he says. “And he sort of languished. And those guys I grew up with who were so tough and popular in high school and elementary school, they’re kind of untethered now.”
Woods’ experimentation with a variety of new sounds leads him down some interesting roads, whether it’s the droning, swelling strings that underpin “Good Lover” or the melancholy synthesizer droplets on the workingman’s anthem “Easy Street.” As with the War on Drugs or Future Islands’ revival of hazy Eighties sounds, Woods’ deft touch and expert songwriting takes something that once sounded ultra-modern (then, later, cheesy) and turns it into aching melancholy.
“To me it’s indicative of ‘Born in the U.S.A.’ – that era of Springsteen, and now to me it sounds like blue-collar,” he says.
Both Ways concludes with “Next Year,” a meditation on mortality and the tendency to put off the important things until it’s too late. Woods recalls trying to channel the feeling of disappointing his son, who’d been carefully logging a list of things for them to do over the weekend when he had time.
“When Saturday came my son was like, we have to do that puzzle – he had checked off all the things I had put aside,” says Woods. “It was impossible to do all those things. I watched him realize I was full of shit and I felt so bad.”
It’s not hard to close one’s eyes and imagine a mainstream country performer claiming the song for his or her album. But Woods knows better than to try to aim for that outcome anymore – plus, it hardly matters when he does such a masterful job on his own, saving a little knife twist for the end that comes from a long tradition of tear-jerking country ballads.
“Third-verse death is the stock and trade of country music,” he says. “If you can find a way to kill somebody in the third verse, you better fuckin’ kill ’em. You might as well.”
Growing up with a single mother in San Benito, Texas, the hometown of Tejano star Freddy Fender was not easy for blues singer Charley Crockett. Hitchhiking across the country exposed Crockett to the street life at a young age, following in the footsteps of his relative, American folk hero Davy Crockett, who lived a wild life on the American frontier. After train hopping across the country, Crockett set off to travel the world and lived on the streets of Paris for nearly a year before searching for home in Spain, Morocco, and Northern Africa.Charley returned home to Texas and released his debut solo album titled A Stolen Jewel in 2015, receiving critical acclaim and landing him a Dallas Observer Award that year for “Best Blues Act”. He released his sophomore record In The Night in 2016 and played over 125 shows that year. Crockett’s song “I Am Not Afraid” received international recognition from top tastemakers after being picked by NPR Music as one of the “Top 10 Songs Public Radio Can’t Stop Playing” and featured on World Cafe. Now in 2018, Crockett releases Lonesome As A Shadow, an album recorded in Memphis at the legendary Sam Phillip’s Recording Service with producer/engineer Matt Ross-Spang. Backed by the Blue Drifters, this album was recorded live to tape during a long year of touring. It’s a musical gumbo that showcases the various depths of Crockett’s sound.
Arkansas Dave’s debut album features a variety of influences including blues, rock and indie and features 13 tracks. The self-taught musician recorded the album in only eight days at Muscle Shoals’ infamous Fame Studios where legendary musicians such as Will McFarlane, Clayton Ivey and Bob Wray all recorded music.
Arkansas Dave may be releasing his debut record but he’s no stranger to the performing scene, having performed on several stages ranging from Austin to overseas in Hamburg, Germany. He’ll be hitting the road again in support of his newest effort, starting out in Little Rock, Ark. on Feb. 6. His late winter tour with several spring and early summer tour dates will conclude on June 22 in Switzerland. Top festivals he’s billed on include the Folk Alliance International conference in Kansas City, Miss.
It’s a romantic cliché to find an escape in music and the blues, but living that life is a different matter. Ask Arkansas Dave about growing up in a broken home, with fundamental Christianity on one side, and crippling drug-addiction on the other, and you can see in his eyes that this is no easy ride, and that at times music really was his only friend.
Chasing his dream of music, Dave played in bands, funding his music with a succession of jobs where he had to find his feet quickly – from busboy to assembly-worker in a trash-bag factory.
His wake up call came at the edge of a breakdown with a cataclysmic weekend epiphany. He headed home for a rare visit, and was persuaded to play a few songs to his family. The response he got from his grandfather sent his mind racing, only for him to find out the next week that his grandfather had died 24 hours later.
Determined to clean himself up, and sort his life, Arkansas Dave enrolled on an audio engineering course at Media Tech in Austin Texas, driving into town with a trailer loaded with all his possessions, ‘like something out of the Beverly Hillbillies’. And that’s where everything changed – the college was housed at that time in the famous Arlyn Studios, home to sessions from Willie Nelson, Neil Young and Ray Charles. Dave with his musical co-horts took the night shift at the studios – laying down tracks and learning the ropes.
A succession of bands followed, picking up a strong local following around Austin. The final part of his musical education saw Dave touring North America as a member of old bluesman Guitar Shorty’s band, where he learned ‘what it took to be a professional musician’
Fast forward to 2016 and Dave has written the album he’s always wanted to create – a wide ranging blues-rock based record that tells the story of his life, but resonates with all of us.
The project just needed one more ingredient, so enter the Swampers, the legendary Muscle Shoals Rhythm Section. In a blistering eight-day recording session at Fame Studios the band laid down the backing tracks, and Dave returned to Arlyn to complete the vocals.
So the next chapter of Dave’s life is about to be written as he pulls his band together and takes his album out on the road – this time on a road that he’s building….
“A compact collection of cool, airy but caring songs about relationships in different stages of development or deterioration.” – Associated Press
“…intoxicating in an un-bummed-out Beck’s Sea Change sort of way.” – Paste
Today, singer-songwriter Josh Rouse releases Love In The Modern Age via Yep Roc Records.
Similar to his work on his album 1972 where he captured the aesthetics of a specific moment in time, Josh’s new album Love in the Modern Age takes inspiration from the sound and production of early 1980’s releases by The Blue Nile, The Style Council and Prefab Sprout. Also serving as inspiration were Roxy Music’s Avalon, Leonard Cohen’s Various Positions and I’m Your Man. Non-ironic touches like sax, handclaps, reverbed guitar, backing vocals and keyboards give the moody but infectious songs a New Romantic flair.
Brooklyn Vegan premiered the album track “Salton Sea,” along with an early demo of the song. Forbes premiered “Businessman,” calling the album “a sterling collection that is joyous, upbeat and, most importantly, feels completely authentic. …There is no retro gimmick to Love in the Modern Age. This is a masterful storyteller celebrating the nostalgia of his youth with his own feel.”
Josh Rouse has solidified his status as one of his generation’s most acclaimed songwriters in both the US and Europe, where he’s lived on and off since 2004. Spending the better part of a year touring behind his critically acclaimed eleventh album, The Embers of Time, Rouse was ready for a change. “Coming off such a heavy record, I wanted to try something different,” he explains. “I wanted to explore new sounds and write with a fresh backdrop.” Trading in his trusty acoustic guitar for a synthesizer, Love in the Modern Age still bears Rouse’s distinct fingerprints even as it pushes his limits and forges a bold new chapter more than twenty years into his celebrated career.
Josh Rouse will kick off his tour in Europe in April, followed by North America in May. Click HERE for a full list of European/North American dates.
Opening Dates for Jack Johnson and Playing Summer Camp, Mountain Jam, and Pickathon Festivals this Summer
“The lovechild of Mitch Hedberg and John Prine…”
– The Stranger
Portland, OR-based singer-songwriter John Craigie shared “Scarlet,” the lead single from his new full length Scarecrow. The completely analog album, out 4/21, was recorded live to a 2 inch tape, mastered to tape, and cut straight to be pressed to vinyl.
“These are songs written for last year’s No Rain, No Rose, but were cut from the album because they’re slower and softer in feel than the rest of that album,” Craigie explains. “They are sort of homeless songs, which is one reason why I used the name Scarecrow. They are songs that are out alone in a field.”
The Vinyl District shared “Scarlet,” along with an essay from Craigie about his love for vinyl. “I have always loved records as a whole,” he writes. “Even when I was a kid it was very important for me to hear the whole record, in order, from start to finish. I liked going through the journey, some songs good, some songs bad. Seeing where the artist would place the ‘hits’ vs. where they would place the deep cuts. What songs they would open with, and which songs they would close with.”
Craigie’s music is connecting with both audiences and various famous folks. Fellow troubadour Todd Snider notably hand-delivered a gift on-stage, and action hero Chuck Norris remarkably sent Craigie fan mail. Most notably, Craigie caught the attention of Jack Johnson, when his 2016 live LP Capricorn in Retrograde… Just Kidding… Live in Portland landed in Johnson’s car stereo during a California coastal road trip. Immediately becoming a fan, Jack reached out and Craigie soon found himself opening for him. This spring Craigie will play three amphitheater shows with Johnson. Other upcoming tour stops for Craigie include headlining shows in New York, Philadelphia, and Boston, and festival performances at Summer Camp, Mountain Jam, and Pickathon.
Craigie truly has a unique live performance; between nearly each song of the set, there’s a “bit” he’s written that thematically leads into the next track. This moved Seattle weekly The Stranger to dub him “the lovechild of John Prine and Mitch Hedberg.”
Craigie recently released his second live album LIVE – Opening for Steinbeck, a perfect example of his craft. Featuring his wry observational humor interwoven in both story and song, The Bootcalls the album “a prime example of how Craigie mixes comedic tales and his musical storytelling in his live shows.” Stream Live – Opening For Steinbeck on Spotify and Apple Music, or purchase the CD here.
Most people who know Phil Madeira know him as one of the most seasoned players in Nashville. Since his arrival in 1983, Madeira has seen success in a plethora of different ways. He has quietly released five solo critically-acclaimed records and has shared the stage with Neil Young, Sheryl Crow, Leon Russell, and Jack White. If you can think of it, Phil Madeira has probably lived it; but that’s what most people don’t know about Phil Madeira – his own story – and he’s finally ready to tell it.Released on April 6, Providence is a rare look at the man behind the music, a chance for listeners to get to know Madeira’s own stories, after having spent decades helping other songwriters and musicians tell theirs. Click here to read Madeira’s interview with Rolling Stone Country + watch the video for “Gothenburg,” a song that celebrates his family’s immigrant experience.
Comprised of 10 songs, Providence gives listeners a closer look at Madeira’s life and the inner conflict of being raised in New England, yet feeling an undeniable attraction to the music of the South, “It’s an album full of love songs to where I’m from and where I’ve come to.” Songs like “Rich Man’s Town” reflect on his childhood in Barrington, a suburb of Providence, Rhode Island. Others, like “Dearest Companion” with the words “We’re Dixon and Mason, lost in translation. If love ain’t frustration, I don’t know what is,” make the connection between where he was raised and Nashville, his home of over 30 years.
Independently produced, the album is a complete change from anything he’s ever done, “I don’t know what happened, but I fell in love with piano again.” The record straddles his iconic Americana style and jazz, more specifically, a sixties jazz piano style. Made at Nashville’s Sound Emporium Studios, the live album features “three quarters” of The Red Dirt Boys, with Chris Donahue on bass, Brian Owens on drums, and Madeira providing lead vocals and piano. Will Kimbrough (also a Red Dirt Boy) lends guitar work on one songs, and jazz icon John Scofield adds guitar to another. Touches of brass and reeds round out the sound, but it all hinges on the trio of Madeira, Donohue, and Owens.
If Madeira has proven anything to the world, it’s his ability to bring people together in whatever capacity he’s working in. Though he didn’t intend on the “feel good” record having one overarching theme, he says the most important message is evident in the last track, “Gothenburg”, the Swedish city from which his maternal grandparents immigrated to America from. “It’s a reminder that most of us are immigrants. Most of us picked out a city and trusted that the community was going to embrace us, which is what Nashville has been to me.” Just like Nashville embraced Phil Madeira, Providence embraces the ultimate universal truth – we all have our differences but are, inherently, the same.<
As an instrumentalist, playing electric guitar, lap steel, accordion, dobro, or a Hammond B-3 with icons like Emmylou Harris, Buddy Miller, Sixpence Pence None the Richer, Mavis Staples, and Garth Brooks — to name a few. As a producer, producing tracks for Keb’ Mo’, Emmylou, The Civil Wars, Humming People, The Band Perry, and the 2012 release of Americana Paul McCartney covers, Let Us In: Americana. As a songwriter, with a cut list that includes Alison Krauss, Amy Grant, Toby Keith, and The Civil Wars’ 2014 Grammy-winning single, “From This Valley.”
About Phil Madeira:
The last of three children, Madeira was born in Rhode Island to a Baptist minister and a church pianist. He’s lived and breathed music since he can remember, but that didn’t always coincide with his religious family. By high school, he had joined the school band and eventually began to write songs and dabble in piano. From then on, Madeira continued on his own path. He left Rhode Island for Taylor University, a conservative, religious school in small town Indiana, to study art. He continued to write and play songs in his free time, but everything changed when he met popular Christian guitar player Phil Keaggy. “When I met Phil, he said, ‘I think you’re gonna be in my band someday,’ and sure enough, three years later, I was playing with this guy.” He joined Keaggy’s band in 1976, but after recording just one record, the band broke up. Five years later, he made the move to Nashville and was immediately embraced by the Christian world, but always knew that he belonged elsewhere. In the early nineties, Buddy Miller hired him for studio work, which eventually led to him joining Miller’s band and finding his place in Americana.
In 2008, Madeira joined Emmylou’s famed band “The Red Dirt Boys”, a group with alumnus like Ricky Skaggs, Sam Bush, Al Perkins, and Buddy Miller himself. During the first campaign for Barack Obama, he became disheartened with the political climate and approached Emmylou with an idea. “I went to Emmylou and said, “You know? I want to do kind of a Gospel record. I want to do a record that says God loves everybody.” Shortly after, the two began working on what would become Mercyland: Hymns for the Rest of Us. The critically-acclaimed album, released in 2012, featured an all-star track listing – beginning with The Civil Wars’ “From This Valley”. The album featured songs from the likes of Shawn Mullins, Buddy Miller, Carolina Chocolate Drops, Mat Kearney, Amy Stroup, John Scofield, Emmylou, and Madeira himself. The same year, the Americana Association asked Madeira to perform Mercyland at the legendary Downtown Presbyterian Church, as part of the AmericanaFest. A second volume was released in January 2016, that included Americana staples Will Kimborough, The Wood Brothers, John Paul White, and The McCrary Sisters; as well as newcomers like The Lone Bellow and Humming People, among others.
Given the label, you’re probably expecting a blues album. There are traces of that here, but Long Tall Deb and Colin John move in several directions, sometimes blending genres within the song. But even when it is not clear what kind of music you re listening to, it’s a compelling even intoxicating mix. This is not entirely new for this pair as it follows their 2015 EP Streets of Mumbai, which similarly used a bedrock of blues and soul accented by rock n roll, surf, spaghetti western, noir jazz, pop, Americana, and world. The couple seems intent on musically reflecting their travels throughout America, Europe, India, and Nepal.
These are all original songs save the cover of Townes Van Zandt’s Lungs. The wide range of instrumentation primarily come from Colin John, with Deb singing. John (who also sings) is credited with all acoustic guitars, baritone guitar, baby sitar, lap steel and occasional bass and piano. Numerous guests add vocals and instruments throughout with Michael Landolt (Coldplay, O.A. R.) producing. The title is symbolic of change and transformation. You ll hear the familiar strains of a lap steel to kick off the album, a crunchy blues shuffle in On the Way Down, pop in the radio-friendly title track and resounding electric guitars in the quietly rendered Lungs.
According to Deb and John, they re mostly creating a series of sounds you might associate with a car radio. In other words, songs full of choruses that you want to sing along with. This is especially the case in I ll Be the One and Trouble. Remember Why (It s Good He s Gone) is rife with spaghetti western motifs. Pull the Pin begins quietly with spooky chords before Deb becomes balladeer, perhaps the album s best example of her pure, soulful vocals. Horizontal Lightning is surf music in slow motion. Lights That Shine is a slow-building tune, with another of their patented sing-along choruses.
Credit Long Tall Deb and Colin John for forging their own unique sound. It s refreshing and captivating.
’Widdershins’ is an arcane word meaning counterclockwise or against the sun’s course. It’s considered unlucky. Grant-Lee Phillips revives it to question our path in turbulent times.
Although in his own career he has made unexpected lurches from country to 80s covers, this ninth album since he parked the Grant-Lee Buffalo band name sees a return to what he’s best at: emotional rock songs that marry grandeur and raw punch. Working again as a trio (with bassist Lex Price and drummer Jerry Roe) and recording mostly live over four days in Nashville, he’s activated his strongest instincts of urgency and intensity. Whether it’s sideways social comment blazing with guitars (Unruly Mobs), or poignant self-reflection with undulating melodies (King Of Catastrophe), this showcases his soulful, vulnerable voice, which never fails to catch every colour in a song. Locating the sweet spot where spontaneity and polish meet, Widdershins swings in all the right directions.
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.
React with Emoji
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.
React with Emoji
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.
React with Emoji
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.
React with Emoji
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.
React with Emoji
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. ”
React with Emoji
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.
React with Emoji
To find out more, including how to control cookies, see here: