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Album review: Dan Bern – Regent Street

 

If Dan Bern didn’t exist, Jack Kerouac would have met him on the road and invented the character. Huddled over cheap scotch in some post-colonial hotel, the upper floors held up by long white planks and pretty windows that screech in complaint when pulled up, they shelter from the dark night drizzle, talking in slow, low voices. Dan tells Jack of the time he pranked an article he wrote claiming that Bob Dylan’s mother really penned all his songs. Bob was pissed, Bob took his revenge “Dan Bern is a scurrilous little wretch with a hard-on for comedy”. “Hey”, Jack said… “I’ve been called worse, I’ve called people worse, at least Bob Dylan spoke to you, you’ve got that”
Bern is prolific, he’s prolific at writing, song writing and painting, this is his 26th album or EP release, did I mention he’s prolific? Where some would find chaos and disorder, others find adventure and imagination. ‘Regent Street’ is the latest addition to his collection, it’s an album that claps and beats its way into your head. I have no idea what his influences are, but I listen to ‘Theresa Brown’ and if Bern was British, we’d be talking about Ray Davies, and that’s a good thing on our scale of lyric writing.
Maybe you like an album to be variations on a theme. Maybe you don’t like to be surprised, maybe you listen to an artist’s songs because they give you what you want and expect. Dan Bern isn’t offering that; he’s giving you a challenge. He’s going to take you in different directions, it might sometimes seem to be a Cul De Sac, but somewhere he’ll meet you, as the track ‘Not perfect’ suggests, “It’s not perfect, nothing ever is”. What works so well with this album is that is full of randomness, just when you think you’ve got a handle on Dan Bern, he goes and takes you off on his journey of thoughts. Sometimes it’s like trying to nail jelly to a wall, but there you still are, with hammer in hand, willing to give it a go.
‘America without the people’ departs from the often-whimsical writings of Bern, offering a discordant, dystopian view of his home country. The lyrical quality of this song is outstanding, despairing at cruel isolationism and the surrender of unity. It might be a depressing vision, but it’s one that deserves a hearing.

We’re never far away from poking fun though, not so much tongue in cheek as tongue piercing through the cheek and coming out the other side. ‘Dear Tiger Woods’ ponders on Wood’s father’s assertion that Tiger could become a greater humanitarian than Gandhi. It’s nonsense of course and Bern treats it with the sarcasm it deserves, but we shouldn’t ignore the musicianship that accompanies the track. What makes this whole album work is that for all the seemingly offhand lyrics and musings on subjects nobody else would probably consider worth writing about, it’s still the quality of the music that underpins everything.
I can only describe this as eclectic, comedic, political, irreverent. If you put your albums in alphabetical order, you’re lucky, if you put them into genres, good luck with this one.
“Maybe I’m the circus, rolling into town, grab your ticket find a seat, the curtains coming down”. ‘One Song’ is the final track, maybe Dan Bern is the circus, if he rolls into town, make sure you buy a ticket, find a seat, and watch the show.

© Jon Hutchinson 2019

Libby Koch to Release New Album, Redemption 10 in October

 

Libby Koch : Redemption 10 : Live At Blue Rock
Release Date : October 18th
Americana, Country, Folk
www.LibbyKoch.com 
Facebook : Twitter : Instagram

Hear “Just The Way” on Americana Highways

 

“In an era of widespread vocal sweetness, Libby Koch has that rare blend of powerful real-life honesty in her vocals that lends instant depth and credibility to her songs.”
– Melissa Clarke, Americana Highways

“Her music makes you want to persevere on the off chance that the new morning might yield an unexpected creation. Such moments may be fleeting, but there are none as rewarding.”
– No Depression

“Koch plays country the way it is meant to be played, with emotion, musicianship, and earthy, clever songwriting.”
– That Music Mag

To celebrate the tenth anniversary of her first album, Redemption, Americana singer-songwriter Libby Koch is releasing a full band, track-for-track reimagining of the original solo acoustic recording. Redemption 10: Live at Blue Rock will be released by Berkalin Records on October 18, 2019.

The format of this record was an experiment for Koch. Recording her 2016 album Just Move On on Music Row in Nashville hooked Libby on the energy of making a record with a band playing the songs together, recording live in the studio. She wondered what it might be like to add a live studio audience to the equation – to let fans be part of the experience as well. Koch found the perfect location for this endeavor at Blue Rock Artist Ranch and Studio in Wimberley, Texas. Blue Rock is a state of the art studio and performance space in the Texas Hill Country that has the capability to film and broadcast live performances while providing an intimate experience for the audience and capturing pristine audio of the performance.

With the location set, Libby enlisted her friend Patterson Barrett (Buddy Miller, Jerry Jeff Walker, Nanci Griffith) to co-produce the project and assemble an all-star band of Austin musicians to record Redemption 10 in front of a live studio audience at Blue Rock. Tickets quickly sold out. Libby and the band played the album straight through once and then played a second take of a couple of songs, but in the end they decided that the flow and the feeling of the first takes were the ones that needed to be on the record. It was a magical evening.

While not a traditional live album, the atmosphere and the feedback from the crowd absolutely fed the band and shaped the experience that was caught on tape. Koch and her band sound relaxed and in an energized zone that only a live setting can provide, but at the same time they have the tight knit sound of an experienced studio band. In the end the experiment was a resounding success. The record shows a Libby Koch that her fans have loved for a decade now and presented these tracks in a fuller more realized way. If Redemption 10 is your introduction to Koch, you are in for major musical treat.

The band of Austin all-stars included lead guitarist Bill Browder (Denim, Steve Fromholz), drummer Eddie Cantu (Bruce Robison, Maren Morris), violinist Javier Chaparro (Austin Symphony, John Denver), and Glenn Schuetz (Jimmy LaFave). Libby played acoustic guitar, harmonica, and sang lead vocals, while Patterson Barrett rounded out the sound of the record by providing pedal steel, piano, organ, mandolin, and harmony vocals.

When asked about the inspiration behind the project Koch says:

“Ten years ago, when I recorded Redemption, I was a young attorney at a big law firm in Houston. At the time, I thought this was probably the only record I would ever make, and I certainly didn’t anticipate I would ever have a career in music. Once I self-released the album and started playing shows and selling copies of the CD in Houston, one thing led to another, and before I knew it, I was building a career in music! Ten years later, I’ve put out a few more records (Redemption 10 will be the sixth), and I’ve played hundreds of shows across the US and Europe. It’s been an incredible adventure, and I’m most thankful for all the great friendships I’ve made with musicians and music lovers across the globe. Revisiting my first album feels like a fun and fitting celebration of the music and memories I’ve made over the past decade.”

 

Songs:

1. Houston: I wrote this song the day after I graduated from law school in Nashville. The movers had come and gone, and the house was empty. I was leaving for my new job and new life in Houston the following morning, but before I left, this song had to be written. At the time, I thought I was saying goodbye to a guy, but upon reflection I now see that I was closing one chapter and starting another.

2. Just the Way: This song is about the somewhat cyclical nature of “dating” (I don’t think the kids call it that anymore). It was written in a time when I was perpetually single and not particularly good at keeping it casual! This has been one of the most fun songs from Redemption to revamp and play live, both for the band and the folks on the dance floor.

3. Can’t Complain: Writing this song was an attempt to gain a little perspective after a breakup and remind myself that, at the end of the day, I was going to be okay. In true Texas style, I was raised to dust myself off and get back on the horse after you fall out of the saddle, and this song is part of that tradition.

4. Stay With Me: I wrote this song in law school. When I played it for my roommate, she said “oh my god, that’s the saddest song I’ve ever heard.” Little did she know, I was just getting started!

5. Redemption: One of the most interesting elements of this project has been revisiting the songs to see if they’ve changed, I’ve changed, or both! This is one of the songs that has grown in meaning and depth for me, as it was written for someone who I now know never really loved me back. Now I sing it for someone who really deserves these words.

6. How Long: This record definitely intertwines spiritual themes into love songs…How Long is a great example of that. I based this song on the text of Psalm 40, with lines of each verse and the chorus tracking the Psalm: “I waited patiently for the Lord, and he turned to me and heard my cry. He brought me up out of a slimy pit, out of the miry clay, and set my feet upon a rock, and gave me a firm place to stand”

7. Down: This is probably the song that changed the most from the original version. I always heard this song in my head as a honky tonk number, but Patterson said “what if we make it a rocker?” Once the band kicked into gear on this groove it was clear that it was meant to be. We had THE most fun with this song!

8. Don’t Give Up On Me: This is a spiritual song that I wrote in high school. I got my start playing guitar in my church’s youth group and the Young Life band, so a lot of my early songs were written from a spiritual angle. At such a young age it was easier for me to write those spiritual songs than it was to write something personal about someone else…I was so afraid people would figure out the songs were about them!

9. Ready Now: This is another song I wrote when I was young that started out as a spiritual song, but ended up being a love song. It’s also one of the songs that has changed for me in the past decade since I recorded the original version. Now I see this song as a readiness to dive in headfirst to life and love to see what happens (spoiler: good things usually happen when you do that).

10. I Still Miss Someone: I decided to close the album with one of my favorite Johnny Cash songs, I Still Miss Someone. The original Redemption version was just me, my harmonica, and my guitar…a really intimate version of the song. This live version ended up being a little more lively and faster than we anticipated, but I think we were all having such a great time and in a nice groove that it turned out the way it did. I love both versions and am so happy with how this entire project turned out.

 

www.BrokenJukeboxMedia.com
BrokenJu[email protected] 

Chris Gardner’s “Hangin’ On The Line” Moves Into The Top Ten On Roots Americana Chart

Houston Tx (September 17 2019) – Chris Gardner’s “Hangin’ On The Line” album continues to rise on the charts.  Now in its 15th week the eleven song compilation finds the top ten by rising to number 9 on Roots Music Report’s Americana chart.  (see above)  When asked for a remark on how it feels Chris had this to say, “I wrote these songs and then began working with Andy Bradley at Wire Road Studios. Andy surrounded me with world class session musicians and as we progressed through the recordings we realized we might have something rather special.  Once it was mixed completed it was ready for Bill Wence to release it to the stations.  Talk about being excited and anxious all at one time.  Then it began to rise up the charts while John in Houston was continuing to let the stations and the publications know it was out there.  Now to think that “Hangin’ On The Line” is in the top ten with Rodney Crowell, Chris Stapleton, and the other greats in that category well that is just something else.”   “Hangin’ On The Line” Musicians include: On piano Paul English, bass Rankin Peters, Drums Tyson Sheth, Guitar Wayne Turner, Guitar David Gellego, On steel Brian Thomas, fiddle Hilary Sloan, background vocals Tommie Lee Bradley.
KPFT Show hosts invite
Chris to share his story
Chris visits with KPFT’s Tom Tranchilla and co-host Eric of The Songwriter’s Studio. The ever popular Tom Tranchilla show is the listener’s choice on late Sunday afternoons in southeast Texas. The mic was hot, the stories interesting, and the humor poured across the air waves.  “These are two great guys, great questions and we did indeed have fun.”
– Chris
Videographer Tan Truong (West Side Recording) Shoots
Complete Video Music Library of “Hangin’ On The Line” 
The audio recording sessions were over and Chris wanted to do something a little bit different with the release of his new upcoming album “Hangin’ On The Line”.  So he decided to call professional videographer Tan Truong and inquire about the possibility of shooting a complete album from beginning to end in front of a live studio audience.  Tan liked the idea, added some thought to the project, and a date was set to shoot it at Wire Road Studios in Houston.  There on a Sunday afternoon with Andy Bradley at the helm the musicians came in, tuned up, and then something really cool was about to take place.  It was decided that the video would be shot without stopping.  All eleven songs would be shot just in the order as they are on the album in front of the live audience.  The countdown began and these masters of recording sessions were absolutely flawless.  From the beginning to the end it came down just like the old days of analog sessions.  You go for it in one take.  Now Chris is releasing one track at a time and soon the complete audio collection of “Hangin’ On The Line” will be a music video collection as well.  Below is the second track from the album, just released this week.
From Hanks
Americana Radio

“Chris Gardner from Houston Texas
is a great Americana singer. So be looking for Chris’s new album on Hank’s Americana Radio” – Hank

Just click on the arrow below to see the live action that took place at Wire Road
Chris Joins Music Talk Show Host Allen Weissman in Chicago Illinois on
“In A Nutshell

Shot at Comcast Studios last month and due to be streamed to over a million viewers later this month the shoot was something else.  Show host Allen Weissman shares, “Chris is a true gentleman my wife and I enjoyed both the green room and on set  visits.”

JEREMY IVEY releases debut album The Dream And The Dreamer via ANTI- Records

Listen to the title track HERE

Photo credit: Cal & Aly

“Modern, indie, super-cool sounds abound in ‘The Dream & The Dreamer’, produced by Price.” – NPR Music

“Ivey cooks up a gentle country rhythm featuring fingerstyle acoustic guitar, woozy Dobro licks, and electric guitar accents, evoking Mutations-era Beck” – Rolling Stone

“Margo Price captures her husband’s vibe perfectly, keeping the sound open, airy and enticing. And who better to help steer Ivey’s first solo set than the person who knows him best?” – American Songwriter

“There is a substantial portion of [Nashville]’s underground that’s enamored more with Warren Zevon than, say, George Jones. I can see that in Ivey, but I see a whole lot more. His music is grounded in the best the ’70s had to offer, introspective country-rock with a dash of psychedelia that he first explored in the band Buffalo Clover.” – No Depression

Nashville-based storyteller Jeremy Ivey has released his debut album The Dream and the Dreamer today; Listen to the title track HERE. Ivey has operated in the background for years, initially performing in bands like Secret Handshake and country-soul group Buffalo Clover with his wife, celebrated country-rock luminary Margo Price. But now, at 40, Ivey is ready to take a much-deserved step into the spotlight. Ivey recently sat down with Rolling Stone to chat about his early 40’s ambitions, being adopted and recently listening to Springsteen’s Greetings From Asbury Park, N.J. for the first time. Read that interview HERE.

“I want to prove that you can be in your 40s and be at the peak of your creativity,” he says. “Not a has-been, but as an ‘is-being.’” Recorded in a “little bitty house studio” in Nashville and produced by Price, the nine-song album hosts a collection of homespun, deeply introspective tracks. Ivey, who writes prolifically and ideally wants to release an album a year, cites everyone from the Beatles to Neil Young, Leonard Cohen, and Bob Dylan as influences.

“I wrote The Dream and the Dreamer in my sleep,” comments Ivey. “[Margo and I] were in Mexico. We both passed out kind of early and I woke up in the night and I had this dream about these two characters. One of them was a glowing green ball and the other one was a figure. The dream is a green ball and a figure was the dreamer… And then it turned out that it was a story is about America, and that the dream was the American dream. The dreamer was the exodus from England to find a new place.”

Meanwhile, Ivey is invested in his own version of the American Dream—specifically, offering up a melting pot of genres, ideas, and stories. “The best thing I could say is that I’m trying to fill the holes that I can see in the scene,” he says. “Whether it be Americana or country or rock or whatever. There’s a certain type of song that isn’t being written.”

Order ‘The Dream and the Dreamer’ HERE

JEREMY IVEY: Website | Facebook | Instagram | Twitter

Fast fingered finger licking Mean Mary’s new album will be our Spotlight Album for October.

Yes it is the same Mary different hair colour but just as mean.

 

Cold is the newest and most intimate release to date from award-winning musician/writer, Mean Mary (Mary James). The moody, almost gothic, lyrics and dark melodies take the listener through the colder seasons of the year and of the heart. Produced by Mary James, the album features all original songs with some lyrics taken straight from her journal entries.

As usual on a Mean Mary project, Mary provides the bulk of vocals and instrumentation to the songs but her family is always there as the unsung heroes. Brother, Frank James, adds his unusual guitar style and harmonies to 4 of the tracks, and Mother (award-winning writer, Jean James) is the co-writer that blends her own brand of lyrics so seamlessly with her daughter’s.

 

 

Mean Mary Bio.

We’re pleased to introduce you to Buffalo NY-based Americana/Folk duo The Rightly So and their brand new album “Vandura”

 Not a pair to stay on the couch, The Rightly So have been touring relentlessly, living on the road, and in fact, that lifestyle and new perspective has become inspiration for this new release.

“We’ve spent the last year and a half living out of our homemade RV built inside an old Verizon work truck, traveling over 40,000 miles and playing shows in over 20 states. “Vandura” is the culmination of 18 months of adventures, a collection of stories we’ve watched unfold and all of the places we’ve been. Living on the road has given us an entirely new perspective that has permeated this album to its core. It’s a layered look into the many facets of what it’s like to travel the back roads of America in an old van for a living, and our love for this new lifestyle that we’ve embraced is a constant theme.”

Stream “Vandura” on Spotify

Bandcamp

Press Quotes
“The Rightly So have it going on! “Blackberry Brandy” and “Crash This Car” are worth the price of admission. And really, there isn’t a mediocre song on the album, which is full of good melodies and superb vocal harmonies.” -The Huffington Post

“There’s music and then there’s music; sounds that make your day better, soundtracks that turn to life changing records and the artists that make those soundtracks, are the epitome of vulnerable beauty. The Rightly So, are the definitive of that greatness; and their latest self-titled release proves it instantly.” -No Depression

“Whether it’s the absolutely remarkable vocal capabilities of Jess Chizuk and Greg Zeis of New York duo, The Rightly So, that reel you in or their award-winning songwriting excellence, there is a harmony between the two that is electric and deeply in tune.” -Tattoo.com

Accolades
– 100+ shows each year for the last 5 years
– 1.5 years of full time national touring
– Opening slots for Howie Day, Dylan Jakobsen, Davina and the Vagabonds, Sean Patrick McGraw, Phoebe Hunt & The Gatherers, Cory Branan, and the Vandoliers
– Features in The Huffington Post, No Depression Magazine, and NPR affiliates in Amarillo (TX) and Grand Junction (CO), and Knoxville’s WDVX Blue Plate Special.

Artist Links
Website
Facebook
Instagram
Twitter
Bandcamp
Soundcloud
Youtube Channel

Contact Details
Artist Contact: [email protected]
Press Contact: [email protected]

Release Info
Artist Name: The Rightly So
Location: Buffalo, NY
Release Name: Vandura
Release Date: Sep 06, 2019
Label: Independent
Producer: N/a
Track List:
1. Black and Blue
2. You Can Bet On Me
3. Honest Kind of Peace
4. Ball and Chain
5. All These Things
6. Dying Day
7. Devil’s Work
8. Nothing But The Weather
9. Good Luck and Godspeed
10. The Lucky Ones
11. Not Coming Home
Musicians:
Jess Chizuk: Vocals and Guitar
Greg Zeis: Vocals and Guitar
Styles: Americana, Modern Folk, Alt Country
Similar To: Brandi Carlile, The Lumineers, Jason Isbell

Artist Biography
Born in the heart of the Buffalo rust belt, The Rightly So brings a vibrant energy to Americana music. The young acoustic duo is comprised of esteemed guitarist and performer Gregory Zeis, and award-winning singer/songwriter Jess Chizuk. Likened to The Milk Carton Kids and The Secret Sisters, The Rightly So has developed a unique style of captivating acoustic music carried by perfectly blended harmonies by voices that have been described as “electric and deeply in tune.”

Combined, Jess and Greg have nearly 20 years of performing experience while still in their early 20’s themselves. The duo has played 100+ shows each year for the last 4 years and orchestrated three nationwide tours. They have performed with Howie Day, Phoebe Hunt & The Gatherers, Sean Patrick McGraw, Dylan Jakobsen, and Davina and the Vagabonds, and have been featured in The Huffington Post, No Depression Magazine, and NPR affiliates in Amarillo (TX) and Grand Junction (CO). The Rightly So’s music combines the nostalgia of classic, down-home Americana with the sounds of contemporary folk. Their self-titled album provides an honest look into what a live performance from this duo is like; two guitars, two voices and a batch of well-crafted songs, full of vibrant energy and chemistry without losing any musical integrity. Their tasteful guitar riffs, singable melodies and storytelling lyrics have won them a number of accolades and awards alike.

“We are willing to bet that these two are going to be standing tall along the likes of the Milk Carton Kids and Secret Sisters more than their efforts would ever be considered bunk,” writes Jonathan Fram of For Folk’s Sake. “The Rightly So sound like successes with their strummy and sweet instrumental delivery melded together by the utter beacon that is their tantalizing harmonies.”

Their self-titled debut album was released to much acclaim in July of 2017: the project combines new renditions of old songs from past projects as well as plenty of brand new collaboration pieces. With a new album set to release in the summer of 2019 and their full-time touring schedule showing no sign of slowing down, it’s evident that The Rightly So is at their best when they are together, and that things are only just getting started.

Susan Gibson To Release New Album, The Hard Stuff promoted by Broken Jukebox.

 

Folk : Americana : Country
Release Date: October 4th
Radio Add Date : September 23rd
www.SusanGibson.com 
Facebook : Twitter

Hear “The Hard Stuff” on Wide Open Country

“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

Texas Songwriter Helene Cronin to Release Full Length Album, start listening on TMEfm Radio.

Helene Cronin : Old Ghosts & Lost Causes 
Americana : Folk
Release Date : October 11th
www.HeleneCronin.com 
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“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

The Grahams Release Video for “Just What You Deserve”

Thanks to DOM VIGIL at The Prelude Press for publishing this article.

 

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 via 3 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.

Nashville’s The Truehearts Release Songs For Spike

The Truehearts : Songs For Spike
Americana : Folk : Country
Release Date: June 21st

www.TheTruehearts.com
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Buy / Stream The Record 

Watch the video for “PFC Frankie Walker” on Ditty TV

Listen To “Won’t It Be Something” on Americana Highways

“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

  1. 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
    10. Goodbye

    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

Photo Credit : Stacie Huckeba