Tag Archives: Americana music

Rachel Baiman’s Thanksgiving EP

A lot of American holidays have their own music, and every musician’s fallback is the Christmas album. But I can’t think of any Thanksgiving records, although I’m sure there are some in the contemporary Christian catalog. But we won’t go … Continue reading

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Hazel Dickens & Alice Gerrard’s Sing Me Back Home: The DC Tapes, 1965-1969

The first time I listened to this CD with headphones, I nearly fell out of my chair when the second track, “Tell Me That You Love Me” began. I don’t believe I’d ever heard this old song before, although perhaps … Continue reading

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Courtney Hartman & Taylor Ashton’s Been On Your Side

Courtney Hartman and Taylor Ashton’s debut recording is an intimate affair, born of their close friendship and harmonious ideas about how they want to make music. Ashton, a Canadian, is a visual artist as well as a singer and songwriter … Continue reading

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Cliff Westfall’s Baby You Win

Been listening to the Cocaine & Rhinestones podcast and wonder where you can find some modern honky-tonk music like they used to make back in the mid-20th Century? Or maybe you just love the stuff and can’t seem to find … Continue reading

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Clay Parker and Jodi James’s The Lonesomest Sound That Can Sound

Clay Parker and Jodi James are a music-making couple from Baton Rouge, Louisiana. This album, which looks like it’s maybe their second or third, is a superb collection of country-leaning folk, which I guess these days is called Americana. The … Continue reading

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John Prine’s The Tree of Forgiveness

John Prine is the folk singer America deserves. And needs. Since his debut self-titled album in 1971 he has been ministering to our malaise with his unique blend of humor and pathos, comedy, tragedy and tragicomedy that perfectly reflects and … Continue reading

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Cowboy Junkies’ All That Reckoning

Cowboy Junkies’ latest release marks the 30th anniversary of the Canadian folk-rockers’ breakthrough album The Trinity Session. All That Reckoning, all these years later, still is built around Margo Timmins’ hushed vocals, but this one seethes with a barely suppressed … Continue reading

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Oliver the Crow’s self-titled album

Cellist Kaitlyn Raitz and fiddler Ben Plotnick perform as the folk duo Oliver the Crow. These classically trained musicians based in Nashville make a progressive, stripped-down Americana that draws on everything from Appalachian ballads to classic rock on their beguiling … Continue reading

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Ants Ants Ants‘ Why Why Why? and Red Yarn’s Old Barn

Ants Ants Ants’ Why Why Why? I picked up Ants Ants Ants‘s new album Why Why Why? because it straddled a nice sweet spot, music I can share with my godkids, ages 6 and 8, on roadtrips without anyone’s sanity … Continue reading

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Dana Sipos’ Trick of the Light

If like me you appreciate deeply rooted folk music that’s recorded with the sort of post-modern studio wizardry that enhances that music’s moods and meanings, then you owe it to yourself to check out Dana Sipos’ Trick of the Light. … Continue reading

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Various artists’ Swing West!

Country music and Nashville are synonymous, right? Wrong. Since the late 1940s, California, particularly Bakersfield, has been the breeding ground for its own strain of country music that stands outside of the mainstream flowing from Nashville. Razor & Tie, which … Continue reading

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Various Artists’ Hummingbirds & Helicopters Vol. 1

Jolie Holland, the idiosyncratic folk singer-songwriter (who’s one of my favorites) is spearheading an effort to raise money to benefit the people whose homes were devastated by hurricanes in 2017. The first installment is Hummingbirds & Helicopters Vol. 1: A … Continue reading

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Sarah Shook & the Disarmers’ Years

By the time we reach the second track of Sarah Shook’s new album Years, it’s already the second time she’s not just saying goodbye to a lover who doesn’t meet her standards, but saying, in effect, “get the hell out, … Continue reading

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Western Centuries’ Songs From the Deluge

Western Centuries makes country and western music like they used to, but it’s not an exercise in nostalgia. They rock, they roll, they twang and they shuffle. They keep close to their roots and draw from the wide spectrum of … Continue reading

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Birch Pereira & the Gin Joints’ Western Soul

Birch Pereira, Oregon-grown and now based in Seattle, leads his band the Gin Joints through a set of hot jazz, rockabilly, bluesy folk and more on their sophomore album Western Soul. It’s a tour through Americana in the era of … Continue reading

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Vivian Leva’s Time is Everything

Time is Everything is a notable debut from Vivian Leva. The young country-folk singer-songwriter is rapidly becoming someone you need to know about, so you can say “Heck, I’ve liked her since her first album way back in 2018!” Leva … Continue reading

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Jay Ungar and Molly Mason’s The Quiet Room

If you’re expecting a logical appraisal of this new recording — whose subtitle Music to heal the heart and soothe the soul could be applied to every recording that this superb artistic couple has done over their long career — … Continue reading

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Joan Baez’s Whistle Down The Wind

It’s just great to know that Joan Baez is still out there falling in love with good songs, singing them to her fans, and putting them on record. She’s been doing that since the year I started kindergarten in 1960, … Continue reading

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I’m With Her’s See You Around

Having tested the waters with a single and a couple of EPs since 2015, the Americana super-group trio I’m With Her now releases its debut full-length See You Around. I don’t think I’m going too far out on a limb … Continue reading

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Ruby Boots’s Don’t Talk About It

Don’t Talk About It is the second album released by Ruby Boots, her first since the Australian landed in Nashville and signed with the Chicago label Bloodshot. It’s a self-assured, swaggering sophomore release, hardly surprising for this musician who’s been … Continue reading

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Richmond Fontaine’s Don’t Skip Out On Me

I didn’t see this one coming! One more album from Portland’s beloved Americana rockers Richmond Fontaine. Frontman Willy Vlautin has turned mostly to the life of an author and away from life on the road with one or the other … Continue reading

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Sunny War’s With the Sun

Blues music, Appalachian music with roots in the British Isles, punk rock and more go into the potent music made by Sunny War. A young African-American woman who grew up in Nashville and Los Angeles and is now based in … Continue reading

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Mary Gauthier’s Rifles & Rosary Beads

Mary Gauthier has made a name for herself by writing and singing intense narrative songs that draw on her own life. And what a life it has been. Growing up an orphan in New Orleans, she has battled substance abuse … Continue reading

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Jolie Holland and Samantha Parton’s Wildflower Blues

I’ve been a big fan and follower of Jolie Holland since her home-recorded debut Catalpa came out of left field in 2003, but this little gem sneaked under my radar. If you missed it, too, when it came out quietly … Continue reading

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Gun Outfit’s Out of Range

Out of Range is the fifth full-length record by the Los Angeles-based Gun Outfit. They refer to the sound of their music as “Western expanse,” and that’s as good a description as any. Musically it’s a guitar-laden melange of cosmic … Continue reading

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Jeffrey Martin’s One Go Around

I’m not a bad man, I’m a poor man I’m not a bad man, I’m a poor man I’m not a bad man, I’m a poor man Sinkin’ “Poor Man,” by Jeffrey Martin Jeffrey Martin immersed himself in the literature … Continue reading

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John Lawless’ Five & Dime

I was shocked when, after listening to Five & Dime a couple of times, I discovered that it’s banjo player John Lawless’ first recording. It’s that good. Lawless, an editor at Bluegrass Today, has been playing regionally out of Roanoak, … Continue reading

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Dori Freeman’s Letters Never Read

The first single and opening track on Dori Freeman’s delightful sophomore album is a sunny, optimistic and warm portrait of love called “If I Could Make You My Own.” It’s a sweetly swinging tune full of professions of all the … Continue reading

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Billy Strings’ Turmoil & Tinfoil

If you love acoustic guitar playing, or if you love bluegrass music — or both — you have to check out the duet that Billy Strings plays with Bryan Sutton on a traditional tune called “Salty Sheep,” on Billy’s new … Continue reading

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Anna Tivel’s Small Believer

Anna Tivel, whose Heroes Waking Up rose to the top of my best-of list in 2016, has a new record out already this year, and Small Believers lives up to the high mark set by that record. Portland’s Anna Tivel … Continue reading

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Deer Tick’s Deer Tick Vol. 1 & Deer Tick Vol. 2

In the chorus of “Only Love,” midway through the acoustic, folky Deer Tick Vol. 1, Deer Tick front man John McCauley sings, “It’s only love, so don’t be afraid, it will let you down but not today … it won’t … Continue reading

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John Reischman and The Jaybirds’ On That Other Green Shore

If you want solid, no-nonsense bluegrass music these days, you won’t go wrong with any release by John Reischman and The Jaybirds. Their latest release On That Other Green Shore is no exception. That’s no accident, of course. One of … Continue reading

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Bill Frisell & Thomas Morgan’s Small Town

Bill Frisell, one of the elder statesmen of the electric guitar in America, and young acoustic bassist Thomas Morgan team up for a sublime set of tunes on Small Town. It was recorded live in 2016 at the storied Village … Continue reading

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Willie Nelson’s God’s Problem Child

“I woke up still not dead again today,” Willie Nelson sings. “The internet said that I had passed away.” I first listened to this song shortly after reading – yes, on the internet – that Willie was circling the drain. … Continue reading

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Cory Branan’s Adios

The best thing about Cory Branan is his now-they’re-funny, now-they’re-sad lyrics. No, wait, the best thing is the way the tune always works just right with the lyrics, and it’s always catchy as hell. No, wait, the best thing is … Continue reading

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Jenny Scheinman’s Here on Earth

American fiddler Jenny Scheinman has created an album of music to accompany a film that celebrates the legacy of North Carolina Photographer H. Lee Waters. Here on Earth consists of 15 tunes, all of which stand securely on their own, … Continue reading

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The DeSoto Caucus’s 4

The DeSoto Caucus released their second and third albums within 11 months of each other, in 2013 and 2014. I first caught up with them on their third, self-titled album, which I liked a lot. This Danish quartet took a … Continue reading

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Jake Xerxes Fussell’s What in the Natural World

Throw the vandals in court Say the bells of Newport All will be well if if if if Cry the green bells of Cardiff Why so worried, sisters, why? Sang the silver bells of Wye And what will you give … Continue reading

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Transatlantic Sessions to perform at 2017 MerleFest

The Transatlantic Sessions tour will be part of the 30th anniversary MerleFest in April. The Transatlantic Sessions is a series of musical productions that brings together innovative and iconic U.K. artists with the best American roots artists, under the musical … Continue reading

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Cowboy Junkies’ The Trinity Session

Cowboy Junkies’ The Trinity Session was pretty revolutionary when it was first released in November 1988. Their second release, it was recorded pretty much “live” and pretty much in one day, in a Toronto church, around a single microphone. It … Continue reading

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Rhiannon Giddens’ Freedom Highway

Rhiannon Giddens’ Freedom Highway is one of those rare recordings that grabs your attention right from the first note and won’t let go. Giddens was one of the founders of the Carolina Chocolate Drops, a seminal folk group that brought … Continue reading

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Julian Lage and Chris Eldridge’s Mount Royal

I’m still wringing major bits of pleasure out of last year’s electric Julian Lage Trio release Arclight, when here comes this splendid acoustic offering from Lage and Chris Eldridge. Mount Royal is the second full-length by this duo, following Avalon … Continue reading

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Rayna Gellert’s Workin’s Too Hard

Rayna Gellert is one of those musicians who has played with lots of folks and who can play lots of instruments. She may be best known for her stint in Uncle Earl, which is sort of a retrospective supergroup in … Continue reading

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Gillian Welch’s Boots No. 1, the Official Revival Bootleg

Gillian Welch is marking the 20th anniversary of her inaugural release Revival with a two-disc set of alternate versions, outtakes and demos from that album’s recording sessions. I’d rather have a new Gillian Welch release, but speaking as a fan, … Continue reading

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The Handsome Family live in Portland Oregon

The Handsome Family rocks. They do now, anyway. I’ve been a fan of The Handsome Family since the late 1990s and have seen them live several times since 2004. I’ve always enjoyed their performances, but none as much as this … Continue reading

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Dolly Parton, Emmylou Harris and Linda Ronstadt’s The Complete Trio Collection

Dolly Parton, Emmylou Harris and Linda Ronstadt probably did a lot to establish “Americana” as a category of music with their two Trio albums in 1987 and 1999. Some of the ways they did that, I’m not sure are necessarily … Continue reading

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Laurie Lewis & The Right Hands’ The Hazel and Alice Sessions

The influence of Hazel Dickens and Alice Gerrard continues to reverberate in bluegrass and Americana music. The two became pioneer women in the male-dominated world of bluegrass music in the 1960s, leaving their mark on generations of musicians and singers … Continue reading

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Waylon Jennings’ The Lost Nashville Sessions

They keep unearthing hidden treasures, in country music as much as in jazz. The latest, and apparently just the tip of the iceberg of this particular trove, is a parcel of recordings made by Waylon Jennings in 1970 as part … Continue reading

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Caleb Klauder & Reeb Willms’ Innocent Road

When you listen to an album and you can’t tell which are originals and which are classic country covers, that’s a good sign. I was pretty sure that the opening track of Innocent Road by Caleb Klauder & Reeb Willms … Continue reading

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Courtney Granger’s Beneath Still Waters

If you’ve got the classic country music jones, you can scratch that itch right here with Courtney Granger’s Beneath Still Waters. And by jones, I just might be referring to George Jones, whose influence is strong on this knockout disc … Continue reading

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