• NOW PLAYING

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

The Shires – Accidentally On Purpose now out.

The Shires have given fans quite the exciting lead up to their third studio album Accidentally On Purpose. Causing quite the concern when a so-called intern accidentally sent out an email to fans which was intended for Ben and Crissie for their approval on the album artwork, fans started tweeting the duo to warn them that the information had leaked. However, many realised that this email was in fact sent    Accidentally On Purpose    and we all felt rather silly. Little stunts like this have been smartly placed throughout the promotion of the album which has not only got people talking but everyone excited for new music.

The Shires debut single off AOP Guilty shows a really exciting fresh new sound to The Shires in a more upbeat US Country pop way and it is clear that their time in Nashville has had a heavy influence on their new sound. Echo also has the same qualities as Guilty and could easily be a single. The radio friendly tune is fun and easy to sing along to and will be one of those great live music, crowd sing-a-long moments.

Best know for their powerful and captivating ballads, AOP still captures the beauty and emotion of their signature sounding ballads in songs such as Speechless which also keeps the piano driven melody that they often use and beautifully so. Crissie has found a more believable emotion in her singing now which tells a story in itself. What is also noticeable is how more controlled Crissie   s vocals are     whilst she has always had an undeniably sensational voice, this album shows that she has taken a lot more care in her singing and it seems less forceful.

Experience is key and this is proven throughout AOP. Ben and Crissie   s vocals have really found each other now and are more than just two individuals singing together, The Shires have become a solid duo who have learned a lot along the way to their success and have clearly come to understand each other extremely well vocally as well as personally.

Other ballads are songs such as Strangers which is more of an emotional power ballad with a mid tempo beat and Loving You Too Long which again is piano driven like many of their ballads are. Loving You Too Long is very much in the direction of past songs such as Black and White.


The Hard Way which kick starts the album is rather exciting and really infectious and reminiscent to artists such as Gloriana and Lady Antebellum. A song that would work very well in the US and should be all over country radio     this is a much more fast paced upbeat song than we usually hear from The Shires and is a direction that I am really enjoying.

Title track Accidentally on Purpose, which is said to be influenced by Crissie nearly missing her flight home from Nashville accidentally on purpose to stay with someone she had met is a very pop infused track, the song also holds quite a mature sound with a strong countrified melody.

A more mid tempo/ballad style comes in the form of Sleepwalk which is gorgeous and strong country sounding song where the chorus in particular really shows off Crissie   s vocal ability. This track has quite a young feel to it and a movie soundtrack vibe.

Stay The Night is also a mid tempo tune with great vocal delivery from Ben. The chorus has a very anthemic feel to it and is likely going to be one of those songs that live, will likely be towards the end of the set, if not the very end of the set to get the crowd singing back in the chorus where it has a very collective way about it.

Ahead of The Storm has a more folk-country sound which is very captivating. The song has an orchestral feel and is quite atmospheric. Probably one of my favourite tracks.

Continuing with the folk theme, River of Love holds an element of folk-country but in a lot more upbeat pop way and again has a very US country way to it which seems to be working well for The Shires and I don   t think it will be long before they crack America.

World Without You touches on the youthful side of their sound again and screams US country radio.

There really is no bad song on the album, no cheesey tunes and proves how The Shires are here to stay and are growing from strength to strength. Ben has always been such a gifted songwriter and works incredibly hard to deliver the best possible results which really shows on this album. I am thoroughly Impressed with AOP and think it is their best work yet. A good use of typical country music instruments have been used on this album which gives the album a lot more oomph and places them in a more solid position within the country music genre.

The future is incredibly bright for The Shires and they will not only dominate the UK country scene but will overflow into the mainstream too, especially if they continue down this route.

AOP holds all the best qualities of The Shires best sounds blended with the strongest of US Country pop delivering an overall fantastic album that will appeal to a wide variety of music lovers.

savingcountrymusic.com posts geat review for Jason Aldean – Rearview Town

Couldn’t resist the temptation to copy/paste this cracker of a review.

So here we go again. Another new Jason Aldean album, and another machine gunning of blistering arena rock guitars, braggadocios rural boy aphorisms, self-aggrandizing affirmations of what a badass he is, with very little substance or sincerity delivered between the lines to find enriching. For 15 songs it is relentless, with one of the few saving graces being that no single track stretches over 3 1/2 minutes, and once you’ve heard one, you’ve pretty much heard them all so you can skip around. One after another, it’s low-pitched verses about how hard or badass it is being from the country, leading into doubled up choruses that rise as predictably as the sun into massive Richie Sambora-style cacophonous lyrical and sonic platitudes.

Among other fair criticisms, Jason Aldean has turned in a record that challenges the once thought unattainable achievement of matching Chris Young for the most formulaic and creatively-static “country” music release in history. The guitars are loud, and the drums are punishing, one song after another. At this point, a Jason Aldean record is little more than a collection of new material for him to parade out at live arena shows. Want to know why rock is dead? It’s not just because acts like Limp Bizkit and Nickelback killed it. It’s because Jason Aldean and other arena rockers posing as country acts infiltrated the space, corporatizing and homogenizing it for Music Row’s devices.

Jason Aldean fans don’t listen to records as cohesive works encapsulating the creative muse an artist is immersed in at a given point in his or her career. It’s basically a merch play to hopefully get autographed, and a way to catalog the current radio singles. One new wrinkle to the material on Rearview Town is that Jason Aldean now has taken electronic drum beats and other digitally-produced enhancements and interwoven them with the live instrumentation. The rock drums are still there, but to keep up with mainstream country trends, they add in computerized ticks for that additional over-the-top texturing and busy-ness. It’s all just a mash of sounds coming at you, including in some songs these strange feminine (or synthesized) sighs and calls like something you would hear in the soundtrack of a 90’s-era war strategy RPG or 1st-person shooter game. Jason Aldean is the Vin Diesel of music.

And to top it all off, Aldean also re-introduces the always-polarizing element of rapping in certain songs. The purveyor of the first mainstream country rap hit “Dirt Road Anthem” returns to this approach in what will likely be a radio single, “Gettin’ Warmed Up,” and in other places.

But let’s also give Jason Aldean some due credit. One of the reasons he’s so consistent throughout this record and throughout his career is because he knows what he does well, and sticks to his guns. And yes, he does do what he sets out to accomplish very well. You listen to a Jason Aldean record or see him in concert, the blood will get pumping. He’s singing to the “work hard, play hard” crowd who busts their ass at jobs they hate all week, and want artists like Jason Aldean to help them unwind and swell with pride, and he delivers.

The other consistency in Aldean’s career is his slightly deeper understanding of the rural dwelling condition compared to some of his other pop country contemporaries. Where others love to portray country towns as a Candyland of bonfires, beer, and babes hanging out by the lake all day, Aldean often speaks to the forgotten nature of America’s farm towns, and the hard-fought pride furrowing the brow of the blue collar worker. In the title track of Rearview Town written by Kelley Lovelace, Bobby Pinson, and Neil Thrasher, Aldean sings of a frustrated rural dweller, heartbroken and out of dreams, not just demoralized by the disappearance of his hometown, but further depressed that he’s helping the statistical slide by deciding to leave himself.

Shoving the incredible amount of filler on this record aside, “Rearview Town” is one of a few more interesting moments on this record. So is the first single “You Make It Easy.” It also bucks the trend of sameness with its 6/8 timing, even though the lyrics are pretty stock. “Better At Being Who I Am” written by Casey Beathard, Wendell Mobley, and Neil Thrasher also speaks to something deeper, and something relevant to this record, to Aldean’s life, and to the pressures he’s facing through busybody journalists to speak out about certain things since it was he who was on the stage when the Harvest 91 Festival massacre took place in Las Vegas.

Jason Aldean may be as shallow as a kiddie pool, but it’s hard to portray him as not authentic to himself. And though his consistency is definitely a curse on this record and the creative assessment of his career, it’s also the reason Aldean has found commercial success, and a connection with his fans. They don’t want him out there crying crocodile tears, they want him helping them forget the problems of today for an hour or two, and to help recharge the batteries for another hard fought week.

Another point of intrigue on the record is Aldean’s duet with Miranda Lambert, “Drowns The Whiskey.” Though it might be a slight step up for Jason Aldean, and maybe not the slide some Miranda fans were worried about when it was first announced, the song is still an electronic drums-driven mid-tempo formulaic effort easy to forget, despite the steel guitar. How many times has this song’s theme been done, both in the mainstream and in independent circles? At least Aldean is dueting with a woman in country as opposed to using the opportunity to highlight a pop star like many of his country radio buddies.

Where some recent radio singles from mainstream stars have been a pleasant surprise, including Jason Aldean’s okay “You Make It Easy,” and some recent mainstream albums are at least showing a step in the right direction, you get just about what you expect from Aldean on Rearview Town, with the dogged consistency possibly being the most remarkable wrinkle. Rearview Town would be disappointing if you expected more from him, but you don’t. Because if we’ve learned anything over the years that you can count on, it’s Jason Aldean to be Jason Aldean.

Stompin’ Tom Connors – Stompin’ Tom Connors [2017] [Anthology]

What better time than Canada Day’s 150th birthday weekend to celebrate the proudly patriotic music of Stompin’ Tom Connors?

The iconic Canadian country artist, who passed away in 2013 at the age of 77, has a just-released collection — Stompin’ Tom Connors 50th Anniversary — to mark the five decades since he was first introduced that way (for stomping his heel while he sang, later on a piece of plywood he carried with him) at a July 1, 1957, performance at the King George Tavern in Peterborough, Ont.

The 18-track disc features all of his best known songs, including Sudbury Saturday Night, The Hockey Song and Bud the Spud, a forward by Hockey Hall of Famer Ken Dryden, plus four reworked versions of his tunes by The Cuddy/Polley Family Band (Don Valley Jail), George Canyon (The Hockey Song), Corb Lund (The Consumer), and Connors’ most recent backing band, Whiskey Jack (Algoma Central #69).

“I never performed with him live (but) had numerous interactions with Tom,” said Blue Rodeo frontman Jim Cuddy in an interview with The Toronto Sun.

“I think the first time might have been the SOCAN awards (in the late ’80s). He was very gracious. What was remarkable about it was we came up to his table he had a case of beer under his table. So he did pull out a bottle and cracked it open. We were pretty fascinated. We were pretty young and still intimidated by the industry and he certainly was not.”

Canyon, a Nova Scotia native who now lives near Calgary, never got the opportunity to play with Connors — who died in March, 2013 — or see him live. But Canyon agrees he was a captivating outsider. He later got to casually know Connors, who returned his ’70s-era Junos in 1978 to protest the Canadian music awards being given to ex-pats and declined to be inducted into the Canadian Country Music Hall of Fame in 1993.

“Stompin’ Tom, he was revered, he was the icon,” said Canyon, who had a July 1 date headlining a music festival in Castlegar, B.C.

“And then playing his music, too, as a kid around the campfire. I’ve been playing The Hockey Song, for a long time. I’ve played literally almost every square inch of Canada and when we play a bit of The Hockey Song, which we do every show, the place goes nuts. And there hasn’t been one venue or one crowd that did not respond amicably and sing along. They might not even know who Stompin’ Tom was but, as an artist, to have that kind of effect on a nation, wow.”

In addition to the new collection, the new Stompin’ Tom Connors Centre in his hometown of Skinners Pond, P.E.I., had its grand opening on Canada Day, featuring a 120-seat performance space with the first annual Stompin’ Tom Fest, which runs July 1 to 2.

Cuddy said Connors was proof you could stay in Canada once “making it” after he and Blue Rodeo co-founder Greg Keelor returned to Toronto from The Big Apple in the early ’80s before forming their country-rock-pop group in 1984.

“It felt like a step backwards for us since we had been in New York,” said Cuddy. “But there were a couple of icons, they were Gordon Lightfoot and Stompin’ Tom, who were real mavericks, who lived in the city, stayed in Canada, regardless of their fame, especially with Gordon. So it was sort of inspiring to me that this was possible.”

via Blogger http://ift.tt/2sTCVq9

Jack Ingram – Midnight Motel

Jack Ingram left the country mainstream after 2009’s Big Dreams & High Hopes,
an album that failed to deliver on either despite two singles that
became hits. Despite “That’s a Man” and “Barefoot and Crazy” cresting
into the Country Top 20, the album sealed his fate in Nashville, so he
wound up wandering the Americana back roads before resurfacing in 2016
with Midnight Motel on Rounder. The very title of Midnight Motel suggests a bleary pit stop, a place where you stay when you’re waylaid from your planned path. That sensibility infuses Midnight Motel,
a record that lingers upon the unplanned moments, moving slowly through
a series of laments and fireside tales, including a spoken salute to
the late Merle Haggard. This isn’t a sentimental story: it’s about a promoter who tried to run a game on Hag and Ingram. Such sly humor is a good indication of the sensibility behind Midnight Motel,
a record whose heart lies in the tattered corners and slower numbers
but also surfaces on ragged singalongs and the easy-rolling numbers that
give the album a lift. Midnight Motel is an album that asserts Ingram‘s
strengths as a songwriter — nothing here has an eye on the charts but
they’re all accessible, waiting for the right bit of polish — but the
charm of the record is how he leaves loose ends hanging, suggesting that
his story began long before this album and will continue long
afterward.

via Blogger http://ift.tt/2rLY03G

Gillian Welch – Boots No. 1

“If any of y’all wanna give me shit about my twang, you can just do it,” Gillian Welch once told a chatty San Francisco crowd in 1994. It was two years before Welch would release her debut Revival,
but the California-bred daughter of two entertainers was already
anticipating the skepticism that would greet her when she rose to
prominence in the mid-to-late ’90s singing about destitute coal miners
and Depression-era whiskey runners with an unsettling familiarity for
someone born in New York City, raised in Los Angeles, and who found
their lifetime musical partner at a conservatory in Boston. 
In 1994, Welch’s repertoire consisted largely of a number
of songs that would never find their way onto a record, a handful of
traditional tunes, and some John Prine
covers. For an artist with an aesthetic as carefully and consistently
rendered as Gillian Welch, it’s strange to think of a time when she
wasn’t producing or reproducing that aesthetic, but was, rather,
searching for it herself.
That sense of fresh discovery and wide-eyed experimentation can be heard plainly on Boots No. 1,
Welch’s first archival release that serves as a 20th anniversary
expanded release for her debut LP.  The two-disc collection is comprised
of outtakes, demos, and alternate takes culled from the Revival
sessions, a time when Welch and guitarist Dave Rawlings were first
honing in on their precise sound, mood, and style. 
All of which goes to show that the authenticity scare that surrounded Welch upon her arrival feels, twenty years later,
almost unrecognizably dated. Perhaps it’s because Welch herself, who
would go on to play an integral role in Americana’s big-bang O Brother, Where Art Thou? soundtrack just a few years later, has since become the very aesthetic
and artistic paradigm for 21st-century roots singer-songwriters. Or,
perhaps, it’s because the anxieties about Welch’s authentic credentials
were so misguided in the first place.

via Blogger http://ift.tt/2rwmizp

Ags Connolly – Nothin’ Unexpected

Ags Conolly isn’t going to fool anybody. In a discipline of music
where authenticity is everything, especially in the traditional realm,
the English born, raised, and currently-residing songwriter already
starts with marks against his ability to articulate or even accurately
interpret an artform that is distinct to the American South and West,
and born from rural landscapes, wide open spaces, and a life experience
the British Isles just can’t re-create, however close certain English
locales may come in certain instances.

But the good news for Ags Connolly is he doesn’t try. He understands
this fundamental limitation more than anybody. And that is the key to
his music. Nothin’ Unexpected is traditional country, meaning
you’ll hear fiddle and steel guitar, and many other indicators that your
brain will immediately recognize as the familiar modes of country’s
original and authentic sound. But it’s all done in a voice and
perspective authentic to Ags himself instead of trying to stretch the
truth, or do his best impression. And through this, he’s able to be both
country, and authentic, despite his place of origin…

via Blogger http://ift.tt/2pTbbzg