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Twisted Pine takes root

Even "traditional" music evolves. It's trite, but true, to say that today's artists stand on the shoulders of their forebearers. The deep roots of American traditional music tend to be lost, particularly those that came before the advent of recorded sound late in the 19th century.

But the evolution continues apace, and one of the blessings of current music production is that artists try new things, bending genres and voicings to develop their own.

Here, now, is Twisted Pine, a four-piece band of young musicians that released "Right Now" on Signature Sounds Records. It's a bold and compelling reason to believe that traditional music will continue to grow and flourish.

Twisted Pine is Kathleen Parks on fiddle and lead vocals; Dan Bui  ...

Newfield breaks out of the genre box

With the soulfulness of Etta James, the flat-out honky-tonk of Tanya Tucker, the bluesy harp runs of Charlie McCoy and the soaring, gritty vocals of Janis Joplin, Heidi Newfield delivers electrifying songs.

We may not have heard too much from her since her solo debut album in 2008, "What Am I Waiting For," that produced her hit single "Johnny & June," but that doesn't mean she's been quiet or that she's stopped driving down various musical roads.

Newfield's been writing; she's been honing her already-smoking harmonica skills — and trading harp runs with the likes of Delbert McClinton — and preparing a new batch of music that showcases what she does best: tear your heart out with a country weeper, burn down the roadhouse with a raucous rocker, close up the honky-tonks with a rockabilly roller and turn the world upside down with a blues moaner. ...

Tillis unlocks "Looking for a Feeling"

"It had been a while since I'd given my fans any new solo music," Pam Tillis explains, when asked about the motivation behind recording her album "Looking for a Feeling." Until recently, Tillis mostly busied herself by recording and touring with fellow country star Lorrie Morgan. "I had a batch of songs that I felt good about," she continues, "and, you know, you just get that itch."

"Looking for a Feeling" is an album that most satisfyingly scratches that itch, so to speak, with its fine batch of songs. Tillis gets writing credit for helping to pen half of these songs, all of which are built upon sturdy, traditional country instrumentation.

One of the standout songs is "Dolly 1969." Written by Bob Regan, it's a rewardingly nostalgic ...

Hull takes "25 Trips"

Sierra Hull would be the first to tell you that releasing a new CD in the teeth of a global pandemic is a challenge. "It's very strange...just adjusting to being home and knowing what that feels like. It's the most I've been home since I was a kid. I left home when I was 17, you know, to go to Berklee College of Music, and I've done a lot of traveling ever since. So, it's the longest stretch sleeping in my own bed I think I've ever had."

Hull's new release, "25 Trips," presciently takes on the concept of time in its collection. Hull addresses the passage of time, living in the moment and looking back to other time threads. "25 Trips" refers to her age, and the number of trips around the sun she has travelled. ...

Lewis (and her daughters) make beautiful music (occasionally) and carry on the legacy

Linda Gail Lewis has several interesting bullet points on her lengthy resume. She released her first singles in 1963 at age 16, and her first solo album, "The Two Sides of Linda Gail Lewis," in 1969 when she was just 22; her follow up album wouldn't appear until 1990.

Since then, Lewis has recorded an additional 23 studio and live albums, including duet sets with Van Morrison and Robbie Fulks, and a pair of albums with her daughters, MaryJean Ferguson and Annie Dolan, as the Lewis 3. "The Complete Recordings," a compilation of the first Lewis 3 album, was just released digitally.

And she's recorded, toured and intermittently wrangled with her older brother, Jerry Lee Lewis, the legendary archetype in seminal '50s rock and '60s/'70s ...

Hancock shows he's still "Man of the Road"

Wayne Hancock exhibits his well-defined self-deprecation while describing the nature of his vinyl/digital only release, "Man of the Road."

"Yeah, greatest hits," he says with a raspy chortle, the sound that every smoke-filled, whiskey-soaked roadhouse he's ever loaded into would make if it could laugh.

Perhaps "retrospective" is a better label to paste on the album's shrinkwrap, given that Hancock has never actually notched something that would qualify as a certifiable hit, at least by the narrow yardstick the music industry uses to measure such releases. And that is, in fact, just fine with him. He'll be the first to tell you that he didn't get into the music racket to have a swimming pool shaped like a mudflap girl installed behind his 30-room Texas mansion. Wayne Hancock has only ever wanted to play good music to people who like it. ...

With "Headlights," Della Mae turns it up

Ten years on, Della Mae has covered a lot of ground in the world of bluegrass, and the band is meeting the challenges of building a sustaining, long-term career with its latest release "Headlights."

The new record displays features of new and old. Kimber Ludiker, fiddle player and founding member of the band, along with co-Dellas Celia Woodsmith (lead vocals) and Jenny Lynn Gardner (mandolin), explains, "It's been a long time coming. You kind of get in the zone of making the recording, and you're excited about it, but you wonder how you know how the world's going to receive it so ... people enjoy it so far which means a lot to us."

"Headlights" has a rich, strong perspective. Della Mae has always been a solid bluegrass band, but with experience and wisdom, a distinct female point of view is evident on "Headlight," even more so than in their earlier work. ...

The Mavericks "Play the Hits"

When recording its album "Play the Hits," The Mavericks approached this covers album in much the same way the band creates any of its other studio albums. "Above all, we're always trying to reach a certain musical bar that we are trying to get to, no matter what it is we do," notes guitarist Eddie Perez.

"We've been called a 'genre defying' band in the past," he continues, "but the truth is, we're just a bunch of guys that are following our creative heart. So, in the process of approaching this record, it was really one of those things that blossomed really quickly. It wasn't something we thought too much about, other than the fact that for a while we've been thinking, 'Yeah, it would be nice to do a record of cover tunes that mean something to us.'" ...

Larue moves "Onward"

The release of "Onward," his eighth studio album, finds veteran Texas Music/Red Dirt artist Stoney Larue at a crossroads. After almost two decades on the road, playing 200 shows a year across America and abroad, he has had success on the U.S. country album chart (landing in the Top 25 on three separate occasions), has developed a loyal following at his concerts and has gained respect of mainstream country artists like Miranda Lambert. Yet, mainstream country stardom has been hard fought.

"Onward" seems a conscious effort to show fans a broader slice of who he is and what he is about than some of earlier efforts. As he puts it, "I will never turn my back on the Texas scene, and I was there for the beginnings of Red Dirt, but the fact is, ...

Willis, Robison spin "Beautiful Lie"

Eleven years ago, Kelly stepped away from music. She had just finished touring on 2007's exquisite "Translated From Love" and felt the angst of being a travelling musician with family at home. At that point, Willis and her husband, musician/producer Bruce Robison, had welcomed four children into their family in the space of five years, and she felt it was time to prioritize her husband and kids and step away from her career.

Just after the release of Willis' fifth full length studio set, 2002's "Easy," she and Robison collaborated on their first album together, 2003's obviously themed "Happy Holidays." Five years after announcing her hiatus from music, Robison convinced Willis to make another album together, resulting in 2013's well-received "Cheater's Game," followed by some limited touring and then their third set as a duo, 2014's "Our Year Together." ...

©Country Standard Time • Jeffrey B. Remz, editor & publisher •
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