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Edward David AndersonChasing Butterflies
Edward David Anderson is releasing his third solo album, having done five with Backyard Tire and three with Brother Jed. His solo efforts have been widely lauded, and this collection of tunes recorded in Muscle Shoals should bring plaudits too. It was through a tip from a friend that Anderson connected with Grammy Award winner Jimmy Nutt (The SteelDrivers) from the Shoals region. They quickly developed rapport and agreed to record at Jimmy's NuttHouse Recording Studio in Sheffield... »»»
Dailey & VincentThe Sounds Of Christmas
With "The Sounds of Christmas," Dailey & Vincent gift us with an honest-to-goodness country Christmas album. It's tough to find honest-to-goodness country music - let alone Christmas country - but this duo's bluegrass and gospel grounding give their album deep roots. Dolly Parton's big presence on "Road to Bethlehem" adds a sweet touch, even though the new song shares a melody with Bruce Springsteen's "One Step Up." It's one of a few new... »»»
Eric ChurchDesperate Man
While Eric Church has set the bar high with his previous studio albums, "Desperate Man" is right up there with his best and may just be his most accomplished effort to date. Church continues to write memorable songs in a wide variety of styles, and even when he's not singing over country musical elements, his lyrical voice is always undeniably a country one. He also knows how to have a little fun, especially with "Hanging Around," a soulful, funky tune mixing together... »»»
Town MountainNew Freedom Blues
Town Mountain is a bluegrass band at its core. But here, whilst true to the bluegrass form (drinking - "One Drop In The Bottle; wide open spaces - "North of Cheyenne"; more open spaces- "Lazy River," "Pamlico"), there's an edge to it all. "Life and Debt" is, not surprisingly, a pushback on the New American Normal, as is the title cut. Town Mountain's sixth studio album shows the group's writing strength and confidence in playing... »»»
To suggest The Earls of Leicester are bluegrass royalty is no false decree. Unlike other self - proclaimed members of the traditional hierarchy - kings, queens, dukes and such - this sextet comes by the honor naturally: it's their name! Four - time International Bluegrass Music Association Entertainers of the Year-the association's premier annual recognition-The Earls of Leicester have spent five years bringing their interpretation of peak Flatt & Scruggs-1954 through 1965-to... »»»
Amy RayHoller
Amy Ray's lovely, commanding, southern voice is just one strength in what might be her best solo album to date, "Holler." Her well-crafted songs range from haunting to uplifting to indigenously Southern in all its glory and duality. The instrumentation brings one big sound, with often as many a dozen to 15 musicians. Alison Brown on banjo is particularly striking. Her solo on "Dadgum Down," for example, is other-worldly. Brown is one of several high profile guests that... »»»
The Louvin Brothers recorded several outstanding albums ("Tragic Songs of Life," "Satan Is Real," "Country Love Ballads," "A Tribute to the Delmore Brothers"...) and even more timeless songs ("Cash on the Barrelhead," "When I Stop Dreaming," "The Knoxville Girl," "Don't Laugh"...). They were members of the Grand Ole Opry, recorded both gospel and secular material, sang in a manner that gave definition to... »»»
Carrie UnderwoodCry Pretty
Carrie Underwood's life was reading straight from the storybooks: one of the few American Idol Winners with ongoing success; a professional athlete for a husband; a beautiful baby boy. The string of great fortune turned sharply in 2017, when Underwood began the unfathomable experience of three consecutive lost pregnancies. This was atop a frightening fall at her home that ended with her face in nearly 50 stitches. Sharing these moments with her fans makes the beamingly-beautiful singer... »»»
Willie NelsonMy Way
Not one to rest on his laurels, Willie Nelson's second studio release of the calendar year finds the artist dipping back into the Great American Songbook. Previous collections, including 1978's stellar Stardust, 2009's "American Classic" and 2016's "Summertime: Willie Nelson Sings Gershwin," established Nelson as one of the finest modern interpreters of American standards. So, it is only fitting that he now pays tribute to the man widely recognized as the... »»»
Asleep at the WheelNew Routes
The heyday of Western Swing music has long since come and gone. Sure, there are those that still keep the tradition alive and well, and there are those that are working to renew trails. That is exactly what Asleep At The Wheel is doing, with "New Routes." One of the beauties of Western Swing music is its diversity. It draws from swing, country, jazz, folk and even blues styles of music. With so much variety to draw from, the enormously talented band created a beautifully rich and dynamic... »»»
Steve ForbertThe Magic Tree
Particularly if you've been listening to Steve Forbert's music for many years, you're bound to have some fun with his new memoir, "Big City Cat." The book, which lifts its title from that of a track on "Alive on Arrival," his 1978 debut LP, offers lots of commentary on the inspiration for Forbert's songs and the making of his albums. You'll also discover mentions of many of the artists he admires-some predictable (assorted folkies), some rather... »»»
Kathy Kallick BandHorrible World
Kathy Kallick voice is warm and inviting, even when singing songs with the coldest of themes: she knows her way around a murderin' outlaw song as well as anyone and yet embraces the complexities of relationships and daily life with ease. While she performs in a range of situations, never is she stronger than when fronting a vibrant, driving bluegrass band. "Horrible World" continues the Kathy Kallick Band's streak of excellence. As always, her songs are meaningful creations... »»»
Elise DavisCactus
Elise Davis tells stories and brings relatable, realistic lyrics rather overly relying on imagery, metaphors and symbolism. That was the general take on her widely acclaimed 2016 "The Token." Some of that assessment holds true again here on "Cactus," but let's step back just a bit because she's slyly clever too. Davis chose the album title from the plant that symbolizes independence. It doesn't need much water. It can be beautiful, but don't get too close... »»»
Armadillo RoadHonky Tonk Way
The second release from the Austin-based quintet Armadillo Road is a mix of traditional country and southern rock at times delivered with a hard alt.-country edge. Frontmen Tee-Jay Hill (bass) and Jeremy Edens (rhythm guitar) share songwriting and lead vocal duties, with Hill providing much of the classic country influence. The tale of lost love "There's No One" recalls Buck Owens with a touch of Robbie Fulks, while the swaggering "Never Been Loved" ("But if you... »»»
The Stray BirdsLet It Pass
This is the swan song for The Stray Birds unfortunately, but at least they are parting with another musical triumph. This record barely got made as founding members, fiddler/guitarist/banjoist/vocalist Maya de Vitry and fiddle/guitarist/mandolist/vocalist Oliver Craven fought through an ending romantic relationship while deciding to collaborate musically. That decision was enough to get "Let It Pass" done, but recently the band announced that they were calling it quits... »»»
Kathy MatteaPretty Bird
"Pretty Bird" is Kathy Mattea's first studio album in six years, following 2012's "Follow Me Home." The major reason for this gap was Mattea's realization that her voice was changing so much, she felt as if she was losing it altogether. Through vocal coaching and dedicated perseverance she has emerged, singing in a lower, albeit richer voice, for a strong album of interpretative covers. Keep in mind that Mattea has won two Grammys, four CMA Awards, has... »»»
Runaway JuneRunaway June
Finally, after two long years of hard work and positive buzz, Runaway June has dropped its debut self-titled EP. With hitmaker Dann Huff on board as producer and early tracks having received praise both in print and in concert. So, is it worth all the hype? In a word, yes. While Runaway June, comprised of Naomi Cooke (lead vocals, guitar), Hannah Mulholland (vocals; mandolin) and Jennifer Wayne (vocals; guitar), are fresh to the scene, they play together like a well-oiled machine... »»»
New ReveilleThe Keep
New Reveille, a talented quintet from North Carolina, can boast the finest harmonies that any kind of music can offer. On their debut, New Reveille mine the early American sounds and make them sound fresh. It's a unique sound that embraces bluegrass, Americana and classical from talented individual musicians. Yet, it's the three-part female harmonies that caress and soar to surprising heights, taking your breath away. Band members include Amy Kamm on lead vocals, Daniel Cook on banjo... »»»
This expansive tribute to Roger Miller features a multitude of fine performances, including plenty of country stars singing Miller songs. As good as these performances are, though, the true stars are Miller's songs. With a whopping 37 tracks, the listener is overwhelmed by Miller's obvious skills. Miller was so smart and witty. He's best known for his strangely funny song about homelessness, "King of The Road," but he also wrote some of country music's most heartbreaking love songs... »»»
Listening to a concert album can never completely replicate experiencing an artist in person, but Aaron Watson's "Live at The World's Biggest Rodeo Show" comes close. Watson performs these 14 songs with such enthusiasm, it's tough to avoid getting caught up in his jubilant celebration. He covers a lot of lyrical ground, expressing patriotism with both "Raise Your Bottle" and "They Don't Make 'Em Like They Used To," love of family with... »»»
Murder by DeathThe Other Shore
Murder By Death has always been the bastard cousin at the Americana family picnic. Since their founding 18 years ago, the band, led by the enigmatic and darkly humored Adam Turla, has exhibited a good many of the genre's most identifiable fingerprints: twangy country played with a vigorous rock passion or blazing rootsy rock accented with country colors, and heartfelt, confessional lyrics set to a sonic accompaniment that either slaps leather to a full gallop or curls up next to the fire for... »»»
RoanokeWhere I Roam
Perfection is, of course, impossible to achieve. Musicians, like the rest of us, are only human. Still, given the five songs offered as evidence on its current EP, "Where I Roam," the Nashville-based collective, Roanoke, has certainly come close. Granted, that's a mighty complement, but it's one this young band decidedly deserves. Comprised of Taylor Dupuis (lead vocals), Joey Beesley (vocals, guitar), Zach Nowak (mandolin, guitar, vocals), Kyle Breese (drums, harmonica),... »»»
Cole SwindellAll of It
Cole Swindell's" All Of It" is a little different from many of contemporary artists' current releases in that there is a whole lot of country - thematically anyway - in it. The 40-plus minutes are all about drinking, regret, appreciation of people who matter and breakups. It starts off with a bang with the up-tempo rocker "Love You Too Late." The best track is its most poignant song penned by Jessi Alexander and Chase McGill, "Dad's Old Number,"... »»»
Buck OwensCountry Singer's Prayer
When the hits stop coming, country labels move on; loyalty is fleeting, never mind 19 number 1 hits (14 consecutive), more than 40 Top 10 songs, and 15 years with a label. Buck Owens found that out in the mid-'70s as his contract with Capitol was coming to an end, and the label shelved his final album of new material. Unheard since that time except through the expansive Bear Family box-set "Tall Dark Stranger," these recordings hold interest for those who appreciate encountering... »»»
Folk Soul RevivalFolk Soul Revival
Folk Soul Revival has built a reputation for wild energetic live shows. This recording proves they can do well in the studio environment too. The band now makes their home in Bristol, Tenn., the birthplace of country. Make no mistake, FSR has already arrived, but they've had to deal with shifting personnel. Now, regrouped with two new members, they're just honing their craft of amped up Americana. Frontman and chief songwriter Daniel Davis seems so natural as the lead vocalist... »»»
When you hear some artists' early demos, a phrase that might come to mind is, 'Well, they had great potential.' You won't say that, though, when you hear Joe Ely's demos for his first album, and some songs that later appeared on his third album. No, with "The Lubbock Tapes: Full Circle," you hear an artist that arrived fully formed and in his prime. You can hear Ely's struggle to graduate from talented Texan, to Nashville (star hopeful) with the downhearted... »»»
Jason EadyI Travel On
Independent singer/songwriter Jason Eady has long been revered for his poetic lyrical style and his ability to observe and document life through his songs. While those elements are still abundant on "I Travel On," there is something new in the air - a musical spirit and vitality not present on previous Eady releases. This energy is attributed to a new recording approach that found Eady and his touring band, along with hotshot pickers Rob Ickes (Dobro) and Trey Hensley (acoustic lead... »»»
Morgan EvansMorgan Evans
There's been a window in Morgan Evans' life where he has had the unusual experience of living in the shadow of his own personal life. If Nashville had a Homecoming Court, Kelsea Ballerini would surely be in it. And Evans must have disappointed legions of men by marrying her in 2017. But while the groom had some buzz as a singer/songwriter in his own right, much of the familiarity with his work stayed on the shores of his native Australia. He finally took the plunge in 2017 to pursue... »»»
Shooter JenningsShooter
Shooter Jennings is the latest to link to Dave Cobb for production on the simply titled "Shooter." As one of today's leading outlaw country voices, Jennings is adept at marrying traditional country with fierce rock n' roll. When you're born into musical royalty, the bar is always set remarkably high, but Jennings has been a constant explorer, who has formed his own signature style. This time out, though, Jennings puts aside the eclecticism he is known for, deciding instead... »»»
Mountain HeartSoul Searching
The sound on "Soul Searching" bears little resemblance to Mountain Heart's early albums dating back nearly 20 years, which is understandable as the lineup has been completely overhauled since their debut. Frontman Josh Schilling has the longest tenure having joined the group for 2007's live set "Road That Never Ends." Bluegrass remains at the core of their sound infused with heavy doses of southern rock, blues and soul. Schilling's piano work supplies much of... »»»
Robbie Fulks and Linda Gail LewisWild! Wild! Wild!
Throughout her five-decade-plus career, Linda Gail Lewis, younger sister of Jerry Lee Lewis, has shone brightest when collaborating with other artists, whether it be her brother, Van Morrison or her daughters. That formula certainly holds true on her new collaboration with acclaimed songwriter and singer Robbie Fulks. In Fulks, Lewis finds a partner who excels at writing, curating and performing songs that bring out the best in her voice - rock, country and rockabilly tunes either from or... »»»
Hot Rize40th Anniversary Bash
Hot Rize celebrated its 40th year with this live set, recorded at the Boulder Theater, Boulder, Col. in January, 2018. Doubtless, Hot Rize would agree that it has been a long, rewarding trip, and listeners are able to share the journey with this collection. Not that there haven't been detours. Founding member Charles Sawtelle passed in 1999, long after the band disbanded in 1990. Tim' O'Brien released a series of awe-inspiring solo releases. Pete Wernick dove deeper into... »»»
High FidelityHills and Home
No matter the genre, it's a familiar experience through the ages to listen to an album that contains a couple of "hits" or "classics" and discover that there are usually a couple or three songs among the "filler" that are as good or better than the "showcased" tracks. Over the course of their four years - so far - as a working bluegrass band, that's more or less been the approach of the High Fidelity quintet (Jeremy Stephens, banjo and guitar;... »»»
Jim Lauderdale and Roland WhiteJim Lauderdale & Roland White
Today one of Americana's most revered and prolific songwriters and singers, Jim Lauderdale's path toward Nashville success was fairly tortuous. While pursuing publishing deals and songwriting gigs, Lauderdale recorded at least two unreleased albums with those finding release beset by label uncertainty; from 1991-2001, he rarely recorded for the same label twice. He is now regarded as a songwriter's songwriter and, along with Lucinda Williams, Alejandro Escovedo and Buddy Miller,... »»»
Chicago FarmerQuarter Past Tonight
Chicago Farmer (aka Cody Diekhoff) has the novelist's gift of building a suspenseful story to a surprising conclusion. He's clever, insightful, and witty with his between songs banter, making the stories often every bit as good and memorable as his songs. That's why his loyal fans have been demanding that he make live album for years. So, he doubled the ante and is releasing "Quarter Past Tonight," culled from two sold out solo shows at the Apollo Theater in Peoria, Ill. in December 2017... »»»
Jim LauderdaleTime Flies
Americana's most prolific artist has delivered another strong set of performances. Jim Lauderdale's signature singing manner, distinctively unhurried with elongated phrasing emphasized in nearly every song, may turn-off some - but if you haven't come under his spell by now, there isn't much chance of conversion as we head toward the 30th anniversary of "Planet Of Love." For the rest of us, "Time Flies" causes...well time to fly. "The road is a river,... »»»
Amanda ShiresTo the Sunset
You have to give Amanda Shires credit. Raising a child, playing with husband Jason Isbell's band the 400 Unit and still maintaining a solo career is no easy task. Simply keeping the family bond when both partners go their separate ways on tour is hard enough, but for Shires, who has successfully pried herself out from under the shadow of her famous husband, it was likely even harder still. Nevertheless, Shires has reaped her rewards on her own terms. Accorded kudos as Emerging Artist of... »»»
Cody JinksLifers
The cover art of Cody Jinks' latest album shows an elderly man who has been down many a road in his life. That or it's a rendering of Oak Ridge Boys' singer William Lee Golden! Regardless, Jinks doesn't come off as some retro-sounding country artist, but keeps enough sonic Opry-ish meat to make things shine. Jinks excels at letting the songs lead him along while avoiding tinkering things to death. "Must Be The Whiskey" strolls along without any... »»»
One of Native Howl's prior albums is titled "Thrash Grass," and that title alone will give you a clue about what you're in for with the spiritually-titled "Out of The Garden and Into the Darkness." This is a band skilled to transition from sounding like The Pogues of bluegrass with "Into the Darkness," to a progressive rock act for "Withikaw." Or, to put it more simply, this band's genre description has great potential to be poly-hyphenated... »»»
Kenny ChesneySongs for the Saints
Kenny Chesney's "Song for the Saints" is a step in the right direction for the popular country star. Inspired by the Hurricane Irma disaster, which hit Chesney personally as it destroyed a house he owned in the U.S. Virgin Islands, these songs are more serious and heartfelt than typical Chesney music. Best of all is "Love for Love City," a reggae duet with Ziggy Marley incorporating steel drums into an inviting island mix. It's followed by a cover of Lord... »»»
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