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The Farm HandsColors
Thankfully, The Farm Hands have made it out of the field and back into the recording studio. "Colors" is proud to be all about family, God and country, three legs of the milking stool that is bluegrass. Recently proclaimed by the state of Tennessee as musical ambassadors, The Farm Hands are "thankful to be able to take a little bit of Tennessee to places across the nation," and "Colors" is recorded proof. The production is clean and not over-done, and the pickin'... »»»
Little SilverSomewhere You Found My Name
 
Solace is a difficult thing to come by in this world, what with conflict, politicians and pontificators seizing the spotlight to the detriment of everything and everyone else. So credit Little Silver with taking on that need for serenity with a debut album that's as calming and beautiful as anything anyone could imagine. Soothing and sublime, calming and caressing, it's a gentle lullaby of a record that amounts to nothing less than a much needed restful respite from these troubled times... »»»
Charley PrideMusic in My Heart
Charley Pride shows with "Music In My Heart" that he is still in fine voice at the age of 79 with this collection of mostly obscure covers. The most recognizable are effective takes on Merle Haggard's "That's The Way It Was In '51" and the Tommy Collins penned "New Patches" most notably recorded by Mel Tillis and George Jones. Pride prominently represents the acclaimed though underappreciated Canadian group the Mercey Brothers... »»»
HammertowneHillbilly Heroes
In Hammertowne's own words "Hillbilly Heroes" is "BY FAR the best thing we've done to date," and few could argue with that assessment. Prior releases have been solid, even great, but "Hillbilly Heroes" stands above them all. Over half of the tunes included were written by members of the band including Scott Tackett (guitar), Brent Pack (banjo) and most notably guitarist Dave Carroll, who has long written for other artists such as Russell Moore & IIIrd Tyme... »»»
Slaid CleavesGhost on the Car Radio
Bruce Springsteen has never held an actual job, but 18 years of watching the blue collar struggles of his family and friends and an empathetic streak that originates at his very core gave him a lifetime of material and an emotionally satisfying way to translate it. Slaid Cleaves has tapped into a similar vein of inspiration over the course of his three decades in music, which has included busking in Ireland, winning the New Folk competition at the Kerrville Folk Festival and recording a dozen... »»»
Lonesome River BandMayhayley's House
For years, Lonesome River Band was proud to be "Carrying The Tradition" of bluegrass music. Then, with last year's release they began the process of "Bridging The Tradition" of bluegrass to something a little more progressive, a little more modern. Now, "Mayhayley's House" proves that LRB is continuing across that bridge. What is ironic, or funny, is that Mayhayley Lancaster, from whom the project takes its name, was known for resisting modernization and... »»»
The reasons musicians elect to record full-album tributes are as varied as the results. Steve Earle was buying time for writing his novel when he delivered the tepid "Townes." Bruce Springsteen re-discovered the intensity and relevance of folk music within "We Shall Overcome: The Seeger Sessions." More recently, Nick Lowe's catalog was re-imagined as guitar-based instrumentals for "What's So Funny About Peace, Love, and Los Straitjackets" for no seemingly... »»»
BanditosVisionland
Over the years, country music has proven to be a complementary peanut butter to the chocolate provided by other genres. Rockabilly, country rock, Americana, alt.-country, cowpunk, whatever it was the Grateful Dead did with it; it don't mean a thang if it ain't got that twang. Nashville-based Banditos has a firm grasp on its country roots, given the band's collective Alabama childhoods, but they've got deep and equal love for a variety of other potent musical styles as well and... »»»
Eli Young BandFingerprints
Eli Young Band confused, alienated and even lost some of its fans with the 2015 release of a fully slicked up pop EP; "Turn It On." "The fans wanted another record that was the sound and the kind of songs that were the old-school Eli Young Band" said lead singer Mike Eli. They have responded with "Fingerprints," their first full length album since 2014's "10,000 Towns." Though clearly not as blatantly pop as the downright danceable EP,... »»»
Andy Hall & Roosevelt CollierLet the Steel Play
Steel guitar can prompt many visceral responses. Gutty, aspirational, down and dirty. Few musicians grab the essence of the sound, so when two collaborate on a single release, it's cause for attention. Roosevelt Collier and Andy Hall have been playing their respective instruments, variations on the steel theme, for many years, but first played together seriously on a music cruise in 2012. Collier and Hall, a few years later, found time to put "Let The Steel Play" together in a... »»»
Sam Gleaves & Tyler HughesSam Gleaves & Tyler Hughes
Armed simply with their voices and the stringed instruments characteristic of traditional Appalachian music, Sam Gleaves and Tyler Hughes bring fresh attention to that nearly-forgotten American genre on the young duo's eponymous collaborative release. With only two original songs - one contribution from each artist - this 14-song collection, which was produced by revered folksinger, songwriter, multi-instrumentalist Marcy Marxer, serves as a tribute to songwriters of Appalachian heritage,... »»»
Steve EarleSo You Wanna Be An Outlaw
If Steve Earle had never done another album after "Guitar Town" and "Copperhead Road," he'd still have cemented his place in the musical firmament for skillfully creating a ragged and beautiful tapestry from the stray threads of rootsy rock and authentic country. And that may well be why his catalog over the past three decades has been so compelling and satisfying; he has consistently proven that he has nothing to prove. "So You Wannabe an Outlaw" is the latest... »»»
The Dustbowl RevivalThe Dustbowl Revival
It's an age-old question: how does an electrifying stage band translate their bumptious energy to the controlled artistry of a record release? The Dustbowl Revival faces that challenge, not because their recordings lack power and inventiveness, but because their live presence delivers aural swagger and multi-instrumental punch. "The Dustbowl Revival," the band's first full-length CD does the job. From the crashing drums, which introduce "Call My Name" and... »»»
Jason Isbell and the 400 UnitThe Nashville Sound
Jason Isbell's "The Nashville Sound" doesn't cause the immediate buzz of the singer/songwriter's previous efforts, so you may need to give it a little time to grow on you. But because Isbell simply doesn't make bad records, this one's just good in different ways, with a longer release cycle. The best one may well be the last track, "Something to Love." It's serves as a kind of folkish benediction where Isbell wishes whomever has ears to hear to... »»»
Chris JansonFix a Drink EP
The title track for Chris Janson's "Fix a Drink" mines much the same territory of his humorous 2015 single "Buy Me a Boat." It's a song about innocent escapism. Janson may not be the best man to resolve the world's many overwhelming problems, but he can make a killer alcoholic beverage. That's as far as he goes as a fixer. This five-song EP is a relatively light-hearted little project. "Everybody" speaks to the elevated expectations of most humans... »»»
Ray ScottGuitar for Sale
If you thought you accidentally misfiled an old Toby Keith CD in the case of Ray Scott's fifth album "Guitar For Sale," after pressing play, it's understandable. Scott has a distinctive baritone and the drinking songs are at the top of the order with the autobiographical lead single "Livin' This Way," a melancholy tale of an addict aware of his failings and trying to dry out. "It's dark as hell and everything a record label probably want me to stay... »»»
Lady AntebellumHeart Break
Lady Antebellum may cause you to throw out many of your country music principles. They don't sing and play traditional country music, for starters. They're not cool like more rocking Americana artists. In fact, they're huge mainstream country stars. So, why are some of us still suckers for their sound? And why does the new "Heart Break" sound so good on the ears? Well, it's simple, but complicated. Hillary Scott is simply a wonderfully sincere singer... »»»
The DeadmenThe Deadmen
Judging by the solemn faces and the weathered expressions of the foursome that grace the cover of their eponymous debut, The Deadmen don't exactly express the fresh and vibrant look of some fresh faced newcomers proudly sharing their collective debut. Then again, with a name like The Deadmen, a giddy perspective might not be in order. Truth be told, at least two of the four - Justin Jones and Josh Read - are veteran troubadours and their earlier experiences are firmly etched in this new communal combine... »»»
Greta GainesTumbleweed
A former law student and athlete, and currently an artist, activist and entrepreneur, Greta Gaines can offer her share of worldly wisdom. So it's no surprise to find that her purveying a knowing perspective and a somewhat dark demeanor befitting one who has witnessed the all sides of life's more telling encounters. Like her last album, "Lighthouse & The Impossible Love," Gaines continues to shift her stance from the warm Americana embrace of her earliest outings to a more... »»»
The Secret SistersYou Don't Own Me Anymore
Three albums into their career, the evolution of The Secret Sisters provide a thoroughly enjoyable experience for the listener. The beauty of their harmonies was evident from the first note, but their songwriting has progressed to the point that it deserves equal attention. "You Don't Own Me Anymore" is a high point for both their singing and writing abilities, mixing classic country music with modern Americana with a heavy dose of Faulkner-esque Southern Gothic atmosphere... »»»
Amanda Platt & HoneycuttersAmanda Platt & the Honeycutters
After four excellent albums in which the band's membership was given equal billing, Asheville, N.C.'s Honeycutters opt to give lead singer Amanda Anne Platt a justly deserved promotion and elevate her to the head of the pack. Platt insists the change on the marquee is well warranted, suggesting that friends and fans have encouraged her to seize the spotlight, a move she now feels comfortable enough to make. Presumably the rest of the outfit - Matt Smith (pedal steel and... »»»
A Thousand HorsesBridges
How did A Thousand Horses get so good so quickly? They're already using the executive washroom everyone thought belonged to Florida Georgia Line and are a band with a monster debut country single ("Smoke" from 2015) and a spate of award nominations. Michael Hobby's tough-as-leather voice (with soul cred) is a big part of it. But unlike a lot of other acts, the story doesn't end with a front man. This band rocks hard, a tight unit where every member is a potential... »»»
The New ZeitgeistMyths and Mortals
Jen Reilly and Eddy Bluma, the Chicago based duo that dubs themselves The New Zeitgeist, met as solo artists in 2009. Eight years later, they have created a particular branding that relies on heady perception, a knowing perspective and a haunting goth/folk/country sound. In a sense, "Myths and Mortals" portends to be something significant, whether it's through the pair's obvious reverence for traditional roots or a general sort of circumspect that suggests they're aiming... »»»
Bobby OsborneOriginal
One of the most celebrated of tenors, Bobby Osborne is a legend of bluegrass and country and has been a member of the Grand Ole Opry for more than half a century. Osborne started as a bluegrass professional in the music's earliest years. With his banjo-wielding brother, Sonny, he plied his trade as an impressive mandolinist and lead singer, achieving popular success on country charts with "Ruby," "Once More," "Making Plans" and, of course, "Rocky Top... »»»
Molly TuttleRise
EPs are a strange breed. Some are no more than demos for a larger work. Others are a hodgepodge of material recorded here and there and sold to help pay for gas money to the artists' next live gig. And some, like Molly Tuttle's "Rise", are exquisitely constructed messages in a bottle, to sum up the artists' current stage of development. Tuttle could have easily named this EP, "Let's Get on With It" or "Watch What I Do Now," but "Rise"... »»»
Rachel BaimanSham
Rachel Baiman emerges seemingly out of the blue on this, her first full-length solo endeavor. A former member of the duo that dubbed themselves 10 String Symphony, she makes a confident and credible attempt at putting her own singular brand on archival Americana, offering the impression that she's far more accomplished than her 27 years might otherwise indicate. Tuneful, melodic and carefully crafted, "Shame" sounds like the work of someone who has already taken years to reach this point... »»»
Justin Townes EarleKids in the Street
With "Kids In The Street," Justin Townes Earle moves comfortably between country, blues, folk and rock. The strongest country tunes are the traditional sounding weeper "What's She Crying For," featuring slick pedal steel guitar work from Paul Niehaus, and the catchy ballad "Faded Valentine," a sweetly melancholic tale of lost love that highlights producer Mike Mogis on mandolin. The nostalgic title track finds Earle reminiscing about his unspectacular childhood... »»»
Ralph Stanley II & the Clinch Mountain BoysRalph Stanley II & the Clinch Mountain Boys
Having served 20 years as a member of his father's band, upon Ralph Stanley' death Ralph Stanley II seems the natural choice to assume the mantle of the Clinch Mountain Boys. Maintaining the family legacy - one rooted in the earliest days of the music - is obviously important to Two, and his first album since appending "& the Clinch Mountain Boys" is a worthy testament to the Senior's bequest. Having recorded several strong songs (among them "Bluefield,"... »»»
Bobby BareThings Change
Hipsters may only consider checking out Bobby Bare's "Things Change" due to the participation of hot item Chris Stapleton, who sings on a remake of the old hit "Detroit City." Hopefully, though, they'll immediately recognize Bare's immense talent and stick around for the whole shooting match. Bare's no spring chicken anymore, but he sounds extremely good throughout this classic-sounding country effort. Bare's singing voice may not be a thing of country... »»»
Lesley KernochanA Calm Sun
Lesley Kernochan is a first rate singer/songwriter in a folkie sort of way on her fourth release and first in Americana. At first glance, she comes across as a cross between Carole King and Joni Mitchell, with a sound that's sure to resonate with soft rock aficionados of every persuasions The breezy, guileless "Tumbleweed" and the steel guitar sparkle of "Country in the City" are but two of the songs that stay true to that vintage variety, enveloping Kernochan's... »»»
Rascal FlattsBack to Us
As summer insistently steps forward and knocks at our doorstep with bright sunny rays and promises of sun-soaked hijinks, longtime pop country superstars Rascal Flatts aim to provide the perfect soundtrack with "Back To Us." Loaded with the band's signature tight harmonies and upbeat jams built around lyrics of love and loss, Rascal Flatts doesn't move far off the beaten path while carving out a high energy declaration of summer love. Fans looking for those beach cruising jams... »»»
Pokey LaFargeManic Revelations
A good many musical artists are looking for a hot new trend to champion, but Pokey LaFarge's only interest from the beginning of his career has been to bring a fresh perspective to folk, blues and soul with a swingy, jazzy, poppy undercurrent. Over the past decade and a half, LaFarge's sound and the band that helps him create it has evolved at a pace that reinforces the childhood nickname that he has adopted as his stage persona. That shouldn't be construed as a criticism; LaFarge... »»»
The Two TracksPostcard Town
Formed in 2014 in the far reaches of Sheridan, Wyo., a place well off the map as far as connectivity with the bigger marketplace is concerned, The Two Tracks make a sound that ought to be instantly engaging to anyone appreciative of a true down home delivery. Consequently, the band's sophomore offering, "Postcard Town," brings them as close to the mainstream as one might imagine. The decision to recruit veteran producer and instrumentalist Will Kimbrough to oversee the... »»»
Sara PetiteRoad Less Traveled
A last name like Petite suggests a double entendre, not to mention a punch line for all kinds of cheap jokes. So imagine the surprise that comes with the first discovery of Sara Petite's songs and singing. Big, bold and brassy, she comes across like an artist with a timeless resume, a whirlwind of musical expression who creates an ageless sound prepped by cool and confidence. Like Loretta Lynn, Wanda Jackson, Tammy Wynette, or Patsy Cline incarnate, she possesses the balls-out bravado that... »»»
The MastersonsTransient Lullaby
Being part of Steve Earle's backing band, The Dukes, would seem to some a baptism of fire. Yes, The Mastersons - specifically, the husband and wife team of Chris Masterson and Eleanor Whitmore - not only survived but thrived, spinning off a solo career that's resulted in three excellent albums. "Transient Lullaby" affirms the promise shown early on, making them an obvious heir apparent to Gram and Emmylou, Johnny and June, Porter and Dolly and every other cool country couple... »»»
Rick MonroeGypsy Soul EP
"Gypsy Soul" is a brief 22-minute showcase of his songwriting talent (he had a hand in all 6 tracks) and while country is the unmistakable baseline both lyrically and instrumentally, it deftly walks the line between grit and polish. The record can be divided into distinct halves. The first three tracks are on the radio ready contemporary side featuring the easy rolling single "This Side Of You" and the curveball, "Better;" a danceable number with a funk groove... »»»
Zac Brown BandWelcome Home
With "Welcome Home," the Zac Brown Band continues to do what it does best, which is making quality roots music. In fact, one of the album's songs is even titled "Roots." Brown may not be the most religious guy, but his latest songs focus on many truly spiritual cornerstones of life: family and friends. Both "Family Table" and "My Old Man" find Brown reflecting on his family life, with the latter also looking at 'the here and now' of being a father himself... »»»
John MorelandBig Bad Luv
John Moreland sings songs about love, mostly desperate love - like the variety sung of during The Band-esque "Love is Not an Answer" - on "Big Bad Luv." Via the latter, he confesses, "I don't need an answer/I need you." Yes, he wants love, but he needs connection. Moreland's sound is more roots rock than traditional country, but it's nevertheless an appealing sonic stew. His backing band sounds a little The Grateful Dead-y during the rolling... »»»
 
Few actions highlight the great strengths of an album better than a tribute, not to just an artist, but an artist and one of his/her singular albums. With "Brandi Carlile Celebrates 10 Years of The Story," a group of mostly Americana artists gathered together to perform this album ("The Story") in its entirety and original order, revealing the consistent greatness of the original work. The album is also a benefit for War Child UK. Dolly Parton takes on the title track and... »»»
David ChildersRun Skeleton Run
David Childers possesses a voice for the ages. It's ironic that he launched his career late in life, but given the fact that he cites some literary influences - Chaucer and Kerouac among them - he appears all the more seasoned even despite his relative obscurity. A son of the South, he resides in Mount Holly, N.C., a former high-school football hero with a humble demeanor befitting one with such humble origins. Yet it's not that he isn't accomplished; a poet and painter whose love... »»»
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