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Willie NelsonRide Me Back Home
Time may be an enemy to most, but Willie Nelson seems a bit impervious to its ravages - a fact made evident on "Ride Me Back Home," a relaxed affair that showcases Nelson's still-strong voice and his sharp-as-ever songwriting and interpreting abilities. "Ride Me Back Home" is his 13th album for Legacy Recordings since joining the label in 2012 and coincidentally, it is also the 13th collaboration between Nelson and noted producer Buddy Cannon. This partnership, which... »»»
Greg FeldenMade of Strings
The debut from L.A.-based American singer-songwriter-guitarist Greg Felden presents grand, lofty, and provocative ideals but is rooted in genuine heartfelt songs. On "Made of Strings," the transplanted Oregon native is accompanied by a first rate group of musicians including keyboardist Jerry Borger, guitarist Brian Whelan, pedal steel ace Rich Hinman and harmonica player Brian Wright. The music ranges from folk-oriented singer-songwriter fare to pulsating country-influenced rock, all... »»»
Jamestown RevivalSan Isabel
Jamestown Revival, the duo led by Zach Chance and Jonathan Clay, wanted to get back the group's early days of harmonizing together for "San Isabel." Their vocal blending is excellent throughout, but is at its most Everly Brotherly on "Harder Way" and "Round Prairie Road," two of the collection's quieter, acoustic songs. Whether the singing gives goosebumps (which each of these induce) or not, though, this is a moving, heartfelt set of songs... »»»
Luke CombsThe Prequel EP
The saying, 'Strike while the iron's hot,' applies to many situations, but especially to the music business. The scene moves so fast these days that this last year's star could be this year's 'Where are they now?' Luke Combs moved quickly up the country music popularity ladder, so he's smart to put out this five-song EP between full-lengths. First single, "Beer Never Broke My Heart," is a throwaway tune, built upon a solidly thumping, Waylon Jennings-like groove... »»»
Ian NoeBetween the Country
Ian Noe sings like a man wise beyond his years. Like Bob Dylan, back when he also started out as a young man, Noe has a vocal tone that rings true like the voice of experience. Beginning with "Irene (Ravin' Bomb)," about woman saddled with a substance abuse problem that's out of control, Noe paints pictures you might wish you've never seen. Although musically folk-leaning, Noe is also relatively matter of fact - a little like a news reporter. "Dead on the River,"... »»»
Thomas RhettCenter Point Road
Thomas Rhett represents a dilemma for traditional country music fans. Namely, that he doesn't create much country music that appeals to traditional tastes. Although "Center Point Road" doesn't entirely reverse that trend, even during its most overtly pop moments, this new collection of songs is still a pretty good one. The best song is also a love song - to a truck - titled "That Old Truck." It's the kind of song that only makes sense within country music circles... »»»
The sixth collaboration of the Atlanta-based duo ESOEBO - Eclectic Selections of Everything but Opera - is a diverse mix of country, blues, jazz and rock lives up to the acronymic moniker. Chuck McDowell is the driving force behind the music having written or co-written all 11 tracks with Gail Burnett contributing harmony vocals and cello. The moody ballad "Hurricane" uses the approach of a tropical cyclone as a metaphor for McDowell's real life battle with cancer ("I'm... »»»
Amanda Platt & HoneycuttersLive at the Grey Eagle
Let's just say Amanda Anne Platt and her five-piece band The Honeycutters had home court advantage playing in their hometown of Asheville, N.C. in what is as warm a live album as you'll hear. It's a family affair with brother Andrew on electric guitar and a guest appearance from dad, Mark, on harmonica. The 17 track, 70-minute release finds the band covering selections from their five previous releases as well as two new originals and a brilliant, never studio recorded cover... »»»
Marty BrownAmerican Highway
Buckle up for a rollicking, joyful, adventuresome ride as Marty Brown drives flat-out down the straightaways and hugs tight the curves of the "American Highway." It's great to have Brown, who's written hits for Trace Adkins ("It Ain't Me If It Ain't You") and Tracy Byrd ("I'm From the Country"), back behind the wheel after a nearly 23-year break. With a sure hand, he steers us through boogie-woogie, blues and flat out country... »»»
Rodney AtkinsCaught Up in the Country
Careers don't see as many twists and potholes as the one Rodney Atkins has going - it took him six years between his first charted single just to release an album. While that did modestly well, it was 2006's "If You're Going Through Hell" that really put a crater on the charts: two consecutive singles for a total of eight weeks at number one and a platinum record. The next two recordings came in quick succession with big lead singles, but slow album sales... »»»
Austin CunninghamCountry & Western Music
Austin Cunningham has been writing music on Music Row for nearly three decades, but the Texas songwriter performs and records his own material too. "Country and Western Music," produced by Jim Reilley and Cunningham, mixes classic country, rocking Americana and Texas-styled music. Cunningham plays a blazing electric guitar, resonator, banjo, harmonica and percussion and proves he can not only write the classic country song, tackle the usual subjects of drinking and partying, but he can... »»»
Lowland HumGlymphonic
Daniel and Lauren Goans, the duo known as Lowland Hum, have always remained true to all their name implies, indulging in lowcast songs etched in a shoegaze motif. In that regard, their "Glyphonic" is really no different than any of their previous entries, given that it unfolds as a series of soft serenades, each ushered in through a steady strum of acoustic guitars and hushed harmonies that echo through repeated refrains. It's precious, but pervasive, and on songs such as... »»»
Joy WilliamsFront Porch
Joy Williams' "Front Porch" album is a beautiful collection of acoustic, country-folk music. The title cut, for instance, includes sweet fiddling, while the rest of the album takes an appreciated low-key approach to its instrumentation. However, Williams singing is the most exemplary element of all. She sings like an empathetic, motherly country girl. The title track plays out like a letter to a Prodigal Son. Family is there waiting, always willing to forgive... »»»
The Felice BrothersUndress
The New York-based Felice Brothers deliver social and political commentary laced with dark humor in an appealing mix of rock, folk and country. Brothers Ian (guitar) and James Felice (keyboards, banjo, accordion) front the quartet along with drummer Will Lawrence and bassist Jesske Hume. The opening title track appears to take a poke at the Trump administration with the reference to "chain of collusion" in what is otherwise a series of seemingly unconnected observations ("Caesars... »»»
Randy Rogers BandHellbent
Randy Rogers makes a big, bold statement with his title track, but it's the smaller insightful moment expressed through "Wine In A Coffee Cup" that stands out most. Rogers sings it empathetically over a swaying groove, one highlighted by equally empathetic fiddle. And it's an unusual drinking song. It's not about someone going out to a club and noisily ordering round after round to conspicuously drink away a heartache. Instead, it's a woman applying an... »»»
Kind CountryHard Times
Kind Country is a Minneapolis-based jamgrass septet now with its third full-length album in "Hard Times." They recorded this entirely live in the studio with all members in the same room. They certainly have the requisite instrumentation with mandolin, guitar, fiddle, upright bass, banjo, pedal steel and drums. The lead vocalist is mandolinist Max Graham with fiddler Chris Forsberg and drummer Chris Wittrock adding harmony vocals. "Luigi" is an instrumental tune that gives... »»»
Adam CarrollI Walked in Them Shoes
This is esteemed Texas singer-songwriter Adam Carroll's ninth release and the first since 2016's all -star "Highway Prayer: A Tribute to Adam Carroll." Albums don't get much sparer or intimate with Carroll and producer Lloyd Maines both playing multiple instruments, playing every note without the benefit of a rhythm section or guests, all cut in one day. Along the way, he nods to the Flying Burrito Brothers, his wife, mentor Maines and the late Kent Finlay, proprietor of... »»»
Sara Evans and the Barker Family BandThe Barker Family band with Sara Evans
Over the past 20-plus years, Sara Evans has delighted country music fans with her powerful vocal prowess. Now the artist is ready to share the spotlight with her oldest children, Olivia and Avery Barker, as they endeavor to forge their own budding musical careers. And if the results heard on The Barker Family Band EP are any indication, the apples haven't fallen too far from the tree. Produced by Evans and Nashville stalwart Ben Fowler, the EP leans heavily on a selection of strong covers... »»»
Silver Lake 66Ragged Heart
Silver Lake 66 - the couple of Maria Francis and Jeff Overbo - make their sophomore effort so appealing because they stay close to traditional country idioms, recalling at times, some of those famous duets like Gram and Emmylou, George and Tammy, and, of more recent vintage, early Buddy and Julie Miller. The Portland, Ore.-based couple alternate the lead vocals and harmonize with each other throughout, backed by a four-piece band and a three-piece horn and string sections on some cuts... »»»
Brooks & DunnReboot
Brooks and Dunn return with the duo's first studio album in a dozen years. Sort of. That's because they revisit a dozen of their hits (leaving a bunch behind) with contemporary country singers. "Reboot" is a cross between a tribute album and a redo, and overwhelmingly, the idea works. The general idea is that the guest artist will trade lines with Brooks or Dunn. One could surmise that Brooks & Dunn did this kind of album to introduce these chestnuts in an attempt to expand their fan base... »»»
Reba McEntireStronger Than the Truth
The beauty of Reba McEntire's albums flows from her way with a phrase, knowing when to modulate to carry us deeper into sadness or joy and when to pull back when she wants us to listen quietly to the lessons of a tear falling. Her songs can also urge us to scamper across the dance floor to twin fiddles, celebrating the exhilarating freedom of the moment or the satisfaction of breakup from a messy relationship. This album follows the end of McEntire's marriage to her manager... »»»
Molly TuttleWhen You're Ready
One of the most celebrated acoustic guitarists working within the Americana field, Molly Tuttle is two-time International Bluegrass Music Association Guitarist of the Year, the first female to be so honored. "When You're Ready" is Tuttle's first full-fledged solo album, having previously recorded an EP ("Rise"), albums with both the Tuttles and The Goodbye Girls, and a long-ago recording with her father, Jack ("The Old Apple Tree")... »»»
While some wondered whether bro country's long and very successful run (a sub-genre that traditionalists have long resented) was about to end, a quick spin of the leadoff track on Locash's "Brothers" will tell you that the formula is still alive and well. The catchy and glossy "One Big Country Song" is an everyman's anthem that equates how our individual journeys in life relate to a country song. From there, the duo of Preston Burst and Chris Lucas stick with... »»»
Jake Owen contributes to the writing of his album "Greetings From...Jake" on just one song called "Damn." Therefore, the success this project rises or falls with his vocals and song choices. Fortunately, Own has chosen some memorable songs to sing, and his singing voice has never sounded better. He's never better than on the single and album opener, "Down to the Honkytonk." It's a 'friends in low places' drinking song, where Owen's voice gets... »»»
Steve EarleGUY
A decade after recording his tribute to Townes Van Zandt, Steve Earle has released an album of Guy Clark covers. It includes, perhaps, Clark's best-known songs, "L.A. Freeway" and "Desperados Waiting For A Train," as well as a slew of songs not known quite so well. Most significantly, it's an album that showcases the breadth of Clark's work. Clark was a songwriter's songwriter, something many of the best Americana songwriters - including Earle - know well... »»»
George StraitHonky Tonk Time Machine
At this stage of his nearly four-decades-long career, George Strait sure knows his sweet spot. Take a look at the cover of his 30th studio album, and it's understood that it's the honky tonks that are part and parcel of the tall Texan. Not to mention the title. And that means, Strait is going to be singing about drinking, loving and faith in styles ranging from honky tonk to straight ahead country to Tex-Mex stylings to ballads. You're also going to hear fiddle and pedal steel... »»»
Tim BluhmSorta Surviving
The front man for the Bay Area band Mother Hips, Tim Bluhm, steps aside to deliver an authentic country album recorded at Cash Cabin Studios in Hendersonville, Tenn. Yet, this is not an unexpected path for Bluhm, whose connections to classic country figures like Johnny Cash and, closer to home, Merle Haggard, are quite tangible. Bluhm's covers a tune from each along with 7 of 10 originals, proving that he too can adeptly write classic country songs. Bluhm discovered Haggard around the same... »»»
Chris Jones & the Night DriversThe Choosing Road
Chris Jones is one of today's top songwriters in bluegrass who keeps stretching the envelope, bringing elements of country, folk, gospel and blues to the idiom. He continues to evolve the genre, by focusing on the song without worrying which bucket it may neatly drop into. Jones has a commanding tenor voice that's perfect for his songs. As with any bluegrass offering, there are plenty of gorgeous harmonies from his band mates and co-writers, Jon Weisberger (bass, vocals), Mark... »»»
The Eli Young Band has reached a career milestone of sorts with the release of their "This is Eli Young Band: Greatest Hits" album. EYB has an impressive portfolio of music to date, with music spanning from the band's genesis with Mike Eli and James Young joining forces as Eli & Young while students at the University of North Texas. Rounding out the band with members Jon Jones and Chris Thompson, ELB was born and released its first album "Level" in 2005... »»»
Uncle Walt's BandUncle Walt's Band
The self-titled debut album from Uncle Walt's Band already had a retro feel when it was initially released in 1974 with its appealing mix of jazz, folk, blues and country. The Spartanburg, S.C. trio of Walter Hyatt (guitar, vocals), Champ Hood (guitar, fiddle, mandolin, vocals) and David Ball (bass, vocals) became mainstays of the Austin music scene of the '70s following this effort. This reissue includes 11 previously unreleased tracks that nicely complement the original 11 tunes... »»»
Son VoltUnion
Seminal alt-country band Son Volt's ninth studio album, "Union," has a heavy political bent as the name implies. Leader Jay Farrar had set out to make a totally political statement to confront our turbulent times, but felt the album needed some balance. As a result, 8 of the 13 are in the socio-political camp while the other five deal with the power of love, time and music. Strains of the past two Son Volt albums 2013's country-flavored "Honky Tonk" and 2017's... »»»
Steven Curtis ChapmanDeeper Roots: Where the Bluegrass Grows
Steven Curtis Chapman's "Deeper Roots: Where the Bluegrass Grows" is a unique collection of songs. It's part a tribute to Chapman's bluegrass roots, that's true, but it also includes a few re-imaginings of Chapman hits, as well as the singing of some old gospel songs. Chapman co-wrote the new song "Till the Blue" with Lori McKenna and Barry Dean. Chapman also receives vocal assistance on it from one of country music's most recognizable voices, Rascal... »»»
Carrie NewcomerThe Point of Arrival
Carrie Newcomer is a singular talent, a woman capable of melting hearts with nothing more than a turn of a phrase and the caressing voice that conveys it. Following a long tenure with Rounder Records, she's out on her own as an indie artist but remains no less alluring than before. "The Point of Arrival" suggests she's exactly where she wants to be, and her delicate delivery and unfettered emotion remain as assured as ever. While the majority of these songs are etched with... »»»
Todd SniderCash Cabin Sessions, Vol. 3
There's a lot to be said for the old adage that you're known by the company you keep. So to all who think of Todd Snider as a snarky burnout with one minor '90s hit, take note of the guy's friends: Jerry Jeff Walker, John Prine, Loretta Lynn, Jason Isbell and so on. When people of a certain stature vouch for somebody, it matters. And if you study Snider's catalog from his start in 1994, you hear patterns emerge - razor-sharp wit and an x-ray vision to see through American... »»»
Renee Wahl & the Sworn SecretsCut to the Bone
Nashville-based singer/songwriter Renee Wahl cites The Beatles as her musical inspiration but it is the sound of Rosanne Cash that permeates her second full-length release. There is a recurring theme of persevering through adversity as with "Me Before You" in which self absorption in the past ("Always thinking 'bout myself/No thought of anybody else") transitions to motherly devotion ("Never thought I'd see a time/Five tiny fingers holding on to one of mine")... »»»
Over the RhineLove and Revelation
Some might say all you need to know about Over The Rhine is its primary lead vocalist, Karin Bergquist. And that's true; her angelic singing - alone throughout "Love & Revelation" - makes the album well worth your ear time. Although he doesn't sing as much as his wife, Linford Detweiler's presence - particularly as a songwriter - is also beautifully conspicuous here. It's a strong album, from start to finish. The sonic tone is mostly quiet and acoustic... »»»
Ted Russell KampWalkin' Shoes
Ted Russell Kamp is an impressive multi-taker. Consider the fact that he has a dozen solo albums while also maintaining a dual career as bassist for Shooter Jennings' band, That said, he boasts a consistent sound regardless of whatever banner he happens to be operating under - a rich and rugged alt.-country delivery that he plies with dedicated determination. "Walkin' Shoes" expresses that attitude with his usual flair and finesse. The sass and spunk that ricochet through... »»»
Maren MorrisGIRL
Maren Morris, who had a huge pop hit with "The Middle," is never going to be anybody's ideal traditional country singer. Although, thankfully, there isn't anything that mind-numbingly beat-driven on her "GIRL" album, this is a full-length that will likely appeal as much to Morris' pop fans, as her country followers. The first great song, "A Song For Everything," addresses that mysterious intersection between one's favorite songs and significant life events... »»»
Shawn Lane and Richard BennettLand and Harbor
When two bluegrass masters come together in a duo setting, magic is likely to occur. Shawn Lane (Blue Highway) and Richard Bennett (Flashback, J. D. Crowe) have been writing together for a few years and released a five-song EP featuring three of their songs. Not as bluegrass in sound or vision as what most have come to expect from the pairing, "Land and Harbor" is an acoustic, Americana showcase of musical interplay and songwriting prowess. With two guitars and Gaven Largent (Dailey... »»»
Patty GriffinPatty Griffin
Patty Griffin opens her self-titled album singing, "Mama's worried all the time," over Spanish guitar-influenced flourishes, but it's Griffin - not any mama - that sounds constantly worried on it. There are songs like "River," with it's positive praise of a strong woman, but haunting songs, such as "The Wheel," about a black man killed at the hands of a cop, are more the rule than the exception. Griffin's voice has taken on nearly an elder's... »»»
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