A regular artist here at TME.fm Radio John Prine released a new album this year, here is the best review I could find. It’s followed up by an excellent biography and some tracks to listen to.
On his first album of new songs in over 13 years, John Prine baits you but good.
The opening tunes to “The Tree of Forgiveness” are presented with ragged simplicity and homey cheer. Then the veteran songsmith, from an emotive standpoint, tosses you off the cliff with works full of stark, devastating resolve. Then, just as you think his world (and, perhaps, yours) has fallen into ruin, he winds the record up with a reverie of mortality that makes the hereafter sound like a street parade.
To perhaps no one’s surprise, “The Tree of Forgiveness” enlists the help of Dave Cobb, who became the Americana producer of choice during Prine’s prolonged writing absence.
Wisely, Cobb keeps things simple, even when he invites a few friends and clients – Jason Isbell and Brandi Carlile, among them – to the sessions. Their contributions provide attractive color, but Prine’s best music has never involved fuss. He tells stories succinctly, keeping his songs focused on lyrics of Mark Twain-ish worldliness with melodies dressed by the lightest and most open of folk melodies.
So it’s business as usual to hear a back porch reverie like “Knockin’ On Your Screen Door” with its sleepy summertime candor and references to sweet potato wine and George Jones 8 track tapes masking a sheepish sense of loneliness at the record’s onset. Three songs later, though, the album heads into the abyss with “Summer’s End,” a tune whose delicacy doesn’t even pretend to hide its sense of loss. “You never know how far from home you’re feeling until you watch the shadows cross the ceiling.” The song’s resulting sadness takes hold so immediately that it’s easy to overlook how graceful and gorgeous the melodic structure is.
But there has also been a mischievous slant to some of Prine’s music that regularly runs hand in hand with homespun, but very pointed social commentary. Case in point is “Lonesome Friends of Science.” It’s partly a slow-poke country rebuke of fact-denying politicos, but it’s mostly another worldly washing of hands, much in the way the classic “Fish and Whistle” was four decades ago. “The lonesome friends of science say the world will end most any day. Well, if it does, then that’s okay, ‘cause I don’t live here anyway.”
The mood is gloriously reprised for the album closing “When I Get to Heaven,” a view of the afterlife both affirmative in its abounding sense of forgiveness but ripe with show biz panache. “As God is my witness, I’m getting back into show business, open up a nightclub called The Tree of Forgiveness and forgive everybody who ever done me any harm.” But Prine saves his prime agenda for the pearly gates to the end as a chorus of laughing children and kazoos ring out. “This old man is going to town.” Sounds like heaven to me.
Artist Biography by Jason Ankeny
One of the most celebrated singer/songwriters of his generation, John Prine is a master storyteller whose work is often witty and always heartfelt, frequently offering a sly but sincere reflection of his Midwestern roots. While Prine‘s songs are often rooted in folk and country flavors, he’s no stranger to rock & roll, R&B, and rockabilly, and he readily adapts his rough but expressive voice to his musical surroundings. And though Prine has never scored a major hit of his own, his songs have been recorded by a long list of well-respected artists, including Johnny Cash, Bonnie Raitt, Kris Kristofferson, George Strait, Bette Midler, Paul Westerberg, and Dwight Yoakam.
John Prine was born October 10, 1946, in Maywood, Illinois. Raised by parents firmly rooted in their rural Kentucky background, at age 14 Prine began learning to play the guitar from his older brother while taking inspiration from his grandfather, who had played with Merle Travis. After a two-year tenure in the U.S. Army, Prine became a fixture on the Chicago folk music scene in the late ’60s, befriending another young performer named Steve Goodman.
Prine‘s compositions caught the ear of Kris Kristofferson, who was instrumental in helping him win a recording contract. In 1971, he went to Memphis to record his eponymously titled debut album; though not a commercial success, songs like “Sam Stone,” the harsh tale of a drug-addled Vietnam veteran, won critical approval. Neither 1972’s Diamonds in the Rough nor 1973’s Sweet Revenge fared any better on the charts, but Prine‘s work won great renown among his fellow performers; the Everly Brothers covered his song “Paradise,” while both Bette Midler and Joan Baezoffered renditions of “Hello in There.”
For 1975’s Common Sense, Prine turned to producer Steve Cropper, the highly influential house guitarist for the Stax label; while the album’s sound shocked the folk community with its reliance on husky vocals and booming drums, it served notice that Prine was not an artist whose work could be pigeonholed, and was his only LP to reach the U.S. Top 100. Steve Goodman took over the reins for 1978’s folky Bruised Orange, but on 1979’s Pink Cadillac, Prine took another left turn and recorded an electric rockabilly workout produced at Sun Studios by the label’s legendary founder Sam Phillips, and his son Knox.
In 1998, while Prine was working on an album of male/female country duets, he was diagnosed with squamous cell carcinoma, with the cancer forming on the right side of his neck. Prine underwent surgery and radiation treatment for the cancer, and in 1999 was well enough to complete the album, which was released as In Spite of Ourselves and featured contributions from Emmylou Harris, Lucinda Williams, Trisha Yearwood, Patty Loveless, Connie Smith, and more. In 2000, Prine re-recorded 15 of his best-known songs (partly to give his voice a workout following his treatment, but primarily so Oh Boy would own recordings of his earlier hits) for an album called Souvenirs, originally issued in Germany but later released in the United States. In 2005, he released Fair & Square, a collection of new songs, followed by a concert tour. Two years later, alongside singer and guitarist Mac Wiseman, Prine issued Standard Songs for Average People, a collection of the two musicians’ interpretations of 14 folk and country classics. In Person & on Stage, a collection of performances from various concert tours, appeared in 2010.
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….
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.
Will Sexton has joined forces with wife, Amy Lavere, and her fellow Tennesseans, John Paul Keith, and Shawn Zorn to become part of a band called Motel Mirrors. The band hails from Memphis and has named their debut disc, “In the Meantime” bringing to mind a certain John Hiatt song (although come to find out Hiatt had nothing to do with it). The band puts together a unique combination of country folk, honky-tonk, rockabilly and vintage rock and roll.
The disc starts out with a honky-tonk telecaster lead and an Everly Brothers style harmony by John and Amy on “I Wouldn’t Dream of It”. Amy lays out a gentle country vocal over a slow country rock anthem of an independent woman with “Things I Learned”. “Blue on Blue” is a gentle guitar theme with a vague bittersweet lament for lyrics.
“Let Me Sweet to You” is a classic country plea for forgiveness from John’s smooth voice. The Telecaster is unleashed on Amy’s country tear jerker, “Dead of Winter Blues”. “Paper Doll” recalls some of Buddy Holly’s rhythm, lead, and vocal styles, gently rocking a country song. Sexton surrenders on the bluesy, “Do with me What You Want” swinging a rocking lead by the tail like a cat.
Will and Amy sound more like Johnny and June Carter Cash on “Loving in the Morning” so much that you can almost hear the train coming down the track as the sun rises. It’s back to the Everlys and a fine Telecaster solo for Mr. Keith’s “Remember When You Gave a Damn”. Amy’s gentle vocals on the title track backed by Will’s guitar and voice, air unspoken doubts that arise in a relationship during times apart.
Sexton croons a country dirge on “Funerals in New Orleans” about the death of a familiar bar patron. The Mirrors close out the disc with a raucous “The Man Who Comes Around” about growing up in a family watching a series of men come to visit Mom while Dad works.
“In the Meantime” is a fine studio representation of a set of songs that the Motel Mirrors really stretch out live. The songs are diverse in composition and presentation. Sexton, Lavere and Keith have a fine album here, that deserves some country and Americana airplay. It deserves a few rotations in your CD player as well.
There’s a duality to the music of Ben Hunter & Joe Seamons; the same duality that lies at the heart of the blues. It’s the dichotomy between the weight of history that hangs over black America and the lightness of these old folk songs, which are meant to uplift and charm, to trick away danger, to fool authority, to squeeze a person out of harm’s way, but also to assert a subtle sense of worth and dignity. These songs brought black Americans through the darkest years of our country’s history, and they have an unsettling amount of currency in today’s world, where saying that the blues is black music or even saying that the life of a black person matters are both controversial statements.
The music that renowned Seattle roots duo Ben Hunter & Joe Seamons are making on their new album, A Black & Tan Ball, is not just blues music. The better term is a new and important one: Black Americana. To make this music, they’ve recruited good friend and touring partner Phil Wiggins, an eclectic legend of American blues harmonica (who received an NEA National Heritage Fellowship this year). By pulling together the many threads of black American roots music, and demonstrating the underlying meanings behind the black experience in folk music, Ben Hunter & Joe Seamons are showing another side to Americana that can help expand the genre’s boundaries.
Speaking bluntly, Chip Taylor fires off “Fuck All the Perfect People”, the title track from his album release with The New Ukrainians. Character is the theme for the video with passersby joining in to deliver the world view of Chip Taylor and the New Ukrainans.
Cahoone readies for first full-band tour in 5 years!
We’re very excited to announce that Sera Cahoone is heading out on tour this September! This past year has seen her touring with the likes of Tift Merrit, Son Volt and Gregory Alan Isakov but now she’s ready to strike out on with her full band in tow to support From Where I Started.
We had some wonderful press for the album including the NPR First Listen Stephen Thompson wrote up here and CBC’s First Play here. This fantastic interview on Uproxx, a glowing No Depression review, this piece on LGTBQNation referencing the interview Cahoone had with Jewly Hight for NPR’s Songs We Love, Elle Magazine’s ’10 Best New Songs’ of March and a great American Songwriter piece. Beyond that Sera’s album received high praise from the Bluegrass Situation, Saving Country Music, Curve Magazine, KEXP, Paste, The Seattle Times, Seattle Magazine, Seattle Metropolitan, Seattle Weekly and a ton more.
The world of American roots music is no stranger to Seattle songwriter Sera Cahoone. Even though her last three albums were on Sub Pop Records and she spent years at the top of the indie charts, she’s always had a streak of Americana that ran through her music, a love of the humble folk song that bolstered her art. She’s returning now to these earliest influences with her new album, From Where I Started (to be released March 24, 2017). Growing up, Cahoone first found her voice in Colorado dive bars, backing up old blues musicians at age 12 on the drums. Her father, a Rocky Mountain dynamite salesman, took the family along to mining conferences and old honky-tonks in the state. The sounds she heard there—the twang of country crooners, cowboy boots on peanut shells—have stayed with her all the way to Seattle, where she lives now, and the seminal indie rock bands she’s been a part of in the city (Carissa’s Weird, Band of Horses).
To make From Where I Started, her first new album since 2012’s Dear Creek Canyon, Cahoone traveled south to Portland to work with producer John Askew (Neko Case, Laura Gibson, Alela Diane). Askew brought together key Portland musicians like Rob Berger (Iron and Wine, Lucinda Williams), Dave Depper (Death Cab For Cutie) and Annalisa Tornfelt (Black Prairie) with Cahoone’s Seattle bandmates – Jeff Fielder (Mark Lanegan, Amy Ray) and Jason Kardong (Son Volt, Jay Farrar). The band lays a deep bedrock beneath Cahoone’s songs, supporting her arcing vocals and innovative guitar and banjo playing. The album is driven by a strong rhythmic sensibility, owed to Cahoone’s background as a drummer for indie rock bands. “A lot of my songs start as a beat, I add guitar, then lyrics at the end,” she says. “When I write songs I usually sit at my drum kit playing both drums and guitar at the same time.”
From Where I Started plays on the rougher, darker edges of the traditional love song. Like any good country album, the songs here deal with love and loss, but Cahoone also knows how to surround loss with hope, to temper a sad song with a turn in the major key. The optimism of the love song “Up To Me,” buoyed by fingerpicked guitar and banjo, gives way to the weary resignation of “Taken Its Toll,” with its plaintive pedal steel and echoing vocal harmonies. “Ladybug,” is a poignant song that followed the tragic death of Cahoone’s cousin Tawnee.
From Where I Startedrepresents a refocusing for Sera Cahoone. It positions her as a songwriter beholden to the old country sounds she grew up with, a songwriter who’s always been able to deftly translate a personal perspective into a universal view. It’s an album about falling in and out of love, finding new hope, and learning that the best way to move forward is to remember whereyou began.
“Drawing upon traditional melodies that almost biologically are instantly singable, but combining them with emotions, sentiments and stories that are relatable even now. Stan Rogers was able to do it, Ron Hynes was able to do it, Kate McGarrigle was able to do it –
and Sarah Jane Scouten is able to do it.”
– Tom Power, CBC q and Deep Roots
“A sterling example of the top grade Americana coming out of Canada.” – Folk Radio UK“Sarah Jane Scouten showcases a major talent and a whole lot of versatility on her third full-length album.”
– No Depression
“When the Bloom Falls From the Rose showcases [Scouten’s] agile voice, ruminative songwriting, and love for classic country, indie pop, and everything in between.”
– American Songwriter
One of the great pleasures of running a radio station are the emails from the artists thanking me for playing their music. I always reply that the pleasure is mine and it is I who should be saying thank you for the lovely music. The mail from Sarah was an exception in that I had to admit that I had fallen in love with her, well not her but her music. Yes I think the album that good. I could write reams about it but most everything has been said in other reviews admirably well so other than repeat them I will keep it short and sweet,a wonderful choice of songs, variety is the spice of life. A voice that is sweet and sharp,music that is soft and shrill and lyrics to make you laugh and cry. Oh and a beautiful album cover. When the Bloom Falls From the Rose is and will be one of the top Americana albums of the anniversary year from Canada and the rest of North America too.
So what do we know about Sarah,
At age 5, Sarah was sitting on the dining room table, singing “Lace and Pretty Flowers,” by Canadian country-folk musician, Willie P. Bennett. Hank Williams and Stan Rogers were her greatest inspirations, both a staple at Sunday morning pancake breakfast and afterward, while singing bluegrass and gospel music with her father on Bowen Island, BC. Her talent for performing came naturally, and as chance would have it, so emerged a knack for songwriting. Bringing us up to date, Sarah Jane Scouten is an internationally touring songwriter, loved by audiences across the Northern Hemisphere.
With flavours of Lucinda Williams, Nanci Griffiths and Iris Dement and a wealth of early country music, the two-time Canadian Folk Music Award nominee and recent Western Canadian Music Award nominee’s songs are faithful to a long-standing folk music tradition. Often spilling over into modern themes that are outspoken and edgy, her songwriting tackles issues from poverty and midwifery to tongue-in-cheek heartache songs and unabashed Canadiana. A traditionalist at heart, Sarah Jane Scouten shows her signature flair for the roots of roots music. With respect for these roots, she writes from her own perspective, playing with style to create her own distinct voice. This songwriter is known for hitting hard and close to home, then laughing it off.
Sarah Jane was discovered by Vancouver label Light Organ Records when she was cold-called into the studio to make an EP with producer Andy Bishop as part of a series of releases, coined The Railtown Sessions. Her EP was volume one of the series, which recently garnered her a WCMA nomination for Roots Solo Artist of the Year, alongside Corb Lund. She has since teamed up with the label and will be releasing her third full-length album, When the Bloom Falls From the Rose, recorded in Toronto at Revolution Recording with veteran Canadian producer Andre Wahl (Hawksley Workman, Jill Barber), on June 16. The album includes ten original songs, ranging in style from classic honky tonk to indie-folk rock, and two virtually unknown traditional Western Canadian songs, discovered on crackly recordings in university archives and given new life through Scouten’s haunting arrangements. Developing a big, lush sound on the album, Scouten really comes into her own as a songwriter and performer, drawing from such modern approaches to country music as Sturgill Simpson and Emmylou Harris’ iconic album Wrecking Ball, produced by Daniel Lanois. If you think you have Sarah Jane Scouten figured out, you haven’t heard anything yet.