Something for the weekend: Passenger “A Song for the Drunk and Brokenhearted”

Well that’s it from us for another week dear reader. Passenger aka Mike Rosenberg, who headlined Black Deer 2018, hasn’t had a new album now since that same year’s ‘Runaway’ which was billed as his first foray into Americana, but in fact there’s always been a twang to his music, and the (almost) title track from his forthcoming album ‘Songs for the Drunk and Brokenhearted’ (which you can preorder in various nice limited edition formats here) is his twangiest yet. The record was originally due to land in May of this year, and then you know, that thing happened. He comments: “I decided to hold it back as it just felt like a bit of a waste to put it out during lockdown with no real means of promoting it. I’m soooo glad that I made that decision. I ended up writing a bunch of new, and frankly better songs.” The album is now due out in January, but in the meantime this is a flavour of its sound, and it’s as warm and inviting as ever, a real tonic for the times with a great video too. Nice one Pash! Have a good one.

Pick of the Political Pops: Paul Kelly “Little Kings”

King of the Pops Mr Villers is currently away holidaying while observing social distancing in his back garden, and while his normal eloquence will return next week, in his absence we briefly turn to Australian singer-songwriter Paul Kelly who has featured in more than one of our writers’ best americana albums of all time lists which we have been publishing in recent months. His ‘Words and Music’ album from 1998 begins with the line: “I’m so afraid for my country, There’s an ill wind blowing no good, So many lies in the name of history” which feels like as good a description of how many people are feeling this year for all kinds of different reasons, not all of them Covid-related. Continue reading “Pick of the Political Pops: Paul Kelly “Little Kings””

Video: Rosanne Cash “Crawl Into The Promised Land”

Rosanne Cash has released a new single ‘Crawl into the Promised Land’  featuring her husband and producer John Leventhal. It’s a topical song, in which she references the pandemic and Black Lives Matter amongst other issues. Speaking to Rolling Stone, Cash told them: “My tour was cancelled and I was off the road, sequestered in my own home, with time, a stack of writing journals, and a recording studio in the basement. The only thing to do was write songs.” In a post on social media she commented: “We can get back to our dream of America, where the ‘enemy’ is an individual burden, inside each of us, aching for a truce. We’re exhausted. We’re disoriented. But I know we have the strength and will to deliver ourselves.” Continue reading “Video: Rosanne Cash “Crawl Into The Promised Land””

Songs for the apocalypse: Tom Petty & the Heartbreakers “Walls”

It would have been Tom Petty’s 70th birthday yesterday and although a lot of the focus at the moment is on his 1994 solo record ‘Wildflowers’ due to its rerelease (we have a lovely piece on it in our Classic Americana Albums series tomorrow), one of the lesser known albums he recorded with the Heartbreakers was the soundtrack to the 1996 indie movie ‘She’s the One’ which was named after the Bruce Springsteen song of the same name. The film itself was OK but the soundtrack was blistering. Jeff Lynne made his mark on arguably the lead song from the film ‘Walls’ but the soundtrack album contained alternative versions including this one, number 3 apparently, which I still go back to often. That chorus. Happy boxing birthday Tom.

Something for the weekend: Toad the Wet Sprocket “Starting Now”

Well that’s it for another week dear reader, and we leave you from the most locked-down place in the country (or at least England) with the first video and title track from the forthcoming new album from California’s Toad the Wet Sprocket. The last album from Toad was seven years ago, and in that gap amongst other things lead singer Glen Phillips played the AmericanaFest over here in 2017. ‘Starting Now’ was written before the pandemic hit but its lyrics almost seems prophetic in their aptness. “I wrote this song about two years ago after listening to an On Being podcast”, said Phillips, “They were talking about optimism and pessimism being passive states where the future is presumed to be set so no action is needed, but hope being the acceptance that the outcome is uncertain but the good work is worth doing regardless. That’s only become more important as time has gone on.” Amen to that. Have a good one.

Sturgill to release first bluegrass album

Sturgill Simpson has announced the release of his first solo bluegrass album, ‘Cuttin’ Grass Vol. 1: The Butcher Shoppe Sessions’ which comes out today. Or tomorrow, whichever way you look at his Instagram post on it. The album, a follow up to 2019’s ‘Sound and Fury’ was meant to be a surprise release but those pesky fans spotted its early listing on an online streaming site. Continue reading “Sturgill to release first bluegrass album”

Watch Isbell and Shires cover John Prine’s “Storm Windows”

Jason Isbell and the 400 Unit have been playing several fairly rainy nights of socially distanced performances at the Caverns venue in Pelham, Tennesse which concluded on Sunday night, but the previous night’s show took place on the birthday of the late John Prine. In honour of that occasion, Isbell and wife Amanda Shires played a belting version of the Prine classic ‘Storm Windows’ which was appropriate given the weather at the time. It’s not the first time they’ve played the song – indeed in 2014 the pair even got to sing it with its creator at the Grand Ole Opry. You can watch some of Saturday’s performance of the song below.

Something for the weekend: Jason Isbell & the 400 Unit “Only Children”

That’s it from us for another week dear reader, and we leave you with something fairly stunning from Jason Isbell and his band who’ve released a rare video for one of the tracks from their most recent album ‘Reunions’. Isbell has been fairly quiet over the last few months, appearing intermittently with wife Amanda Shires on their lockdown I So Lounging streams, but he’s back to doing live shows over there, as crazy as that might seem here right now (outdoor and socially distanced of course). The video for ‘Only Children’ is written and directed by Kurt Simpson and produced by Beth Martychenko, and follows two friends on a late-night adventure in the suburbs who chase after a backpack which falls off the back of a truck, which then starts glowing. Read into that what you will. The song about a childhood relationship which ends when the life of one of the characters dies is absolutely devastating btw. On that note (!) have a good one, and take care.

Lucinda Williams and Drive By Truckers join Black Deer 2021 bill

2021 really can’t come soon enough. Our favourite music festival bar none Black Deer has just announced some new additions to an already fairly impressive line-up, including Lucinda Williams, Drive-By Truckers and Canadian cowboy Colter Wall. They’ve also released their day splits which you can see below. Continue reading “Lucinda Williams and Drive By Truckers join Black Deer 2021 bill”

Video: Fleet Foxes “Can I Believe You”

Fleet Foxes have got a new album out ‘Shore’ which has been receiving some rather nice reviews and they’ve shared a new music video for a track from the record, ‘Can I Believe You.’ The visuals for the video were directed by frontman Robin Pecknold’s brother Sean, with art direction and production design by Adi Goodrich. In a press release, Sean said of the new video: “With this film, I created an interpretation of what trust (or the uncertainty of it) feels like as two characters journey towards one another through a pulsating world. This film also reflects the frustration and lack of human connection brought to all of us during the pandemic of 2020. Our dedicated film crew worked hard to bring this to life and we hope you find metaphors in it you can relate to as you listen to the music and watch the film. As always, Adi Goodrich and I loved bringing Robin’s songs to life with mesmerising visuals. This is the third part of a three-video FF trilogy starring Jade-Lorna Sullivan and Jean Charles.”