Nathan Kalish “Songs For Nobody” (Independent, 2020)

Nathan Kalish is the kind of songwriter that other songwriters love. He’s a road warrior and his travels fill the pipeline of the songwriting cycle. When you combine that with a band that’s turn-on-a-dime tight and knows how to groove across a variety of styles, the results are more than just okay. The songs on Kalish’s newest album are as sonically and lyrically diverse as the day-to-day life of folks who put in long miles every day just to spend every night in a different town doing the same old one-night stand. Continue reading “Nathan Kalish “Songs For Nobody” (Independent, 2020)”

Michael Doucet “Lâcher Prise” (Compass Records, 2020)

America is big and America is a melting pot. This has important implications for Americana music because, despite centuries of diligent stirring, there are some spots in that melting pot where things have burned just a little too hot and bits have gotten stuck to the bottom. Towns like Nashville, Austin, and Bakersfield jump to mind as shining examples of how this has been a good thing for the musical stew. Continue reading “Michael Doucet “Lâcher Prise” (Compass Records, 2020)”

Nathaniel Rateliff “And It’s Still Alright” (Stax, 2020)

It was no secret that the new album from Nathaniel Rateliff would take on weightier subjects than what you’ll find in his work with the Night Sweats. Rateliff was open about the central role that dealing with the breakup of his marriage and the loss of a close friend played in writing the songs for the album. The singles that were released ahead of the full album certainly lived up to the expectations that the artist had set for the project. Now that the rest of the album has been released, listeners get to experience the work as a whole. Continue reading “Nathaniel Rateliff “And It’s Still Alright” (Stax, 2020)”

Dustbowl Revival “Is It You, Is It Me” (Medium Expectations/Thirty Tigers, 2020)

The new album from Dustbowl Revival isn’t “more of the same” it’s both “more” and “the same”. ‘Is It You, Is It Me’ is full of the interesting arrangements, intelligent lyrics, and stellar vocal harmonies that you would expect. At the same time, this album feels like the band spread their arms wider than they have on previous offerings and brought in an even broader swath of musical influences. Great work from the horns and rhythm section tame and unify all of the parts and pieces into something that flows smoothly from open to close. Continue reading “Dustbowl Revival “Is It You, Is It Me” (Medium Expectations/Thirty Tigers, 2020)”

Miss Tess “The Moon Is An Ashtray” (Tone Tree Music, 2020)

It’s hard to believe that the 12 tracks on ‘The Moon Is An Ashtray’ clock in at less than 40 minutes. The songs bring together all of the best elements of more than three decades of American music. From 50s ballads that bring Kittie Wells and Patsy Cline to mind to songs that breathe new life into the best of the 70s Nashville Sound—it’s all in there. It gives the album the expansive scope of an epic journey. But perhaps the most impressive and enjoyable things about the album are that it makes it all seem effortless. Every song feels both fresh and familiar. Continue reading “Miss Tess “The Moon Is An Ashtray” (Tone Tree Music, 2020)”

Miles Nielsen and The Rusted Hearts “OHBAHOY” (Independent, 2019)

Miles Nielsen and The Rusted Hearts have released another solid set of tunes. The album, which came out late last year, carries on their tradition of blending diverse influences into smooth, well-written, and well-produced power pop packages. You’ll hear a lot of the late ’80s, LA-based AOR in the tracks from this set. But there’s a freshness that runs throughout the latest offering—probably due to the broader stylistic pallet that the group draws on. Continue reading “Miles Nielsen and The Rusted Hearts “OHBAHOY” (Independent, 2019)”

AmericanA to Z – Hamell On Trial

I have to admit, as I sit here getting ready to file the latest entry in our ongoing alphabetical exploration of all things Americana—I’m wondering if I might not have finally stretched the boundaries of Americana just a bit too far. They might snap under the strain this time. You’ve been warned. Protective eyewear might not be the worst idea in the world if you choose to continue reading. Continue reading “AmericanA to Z – Hamell On Trial”

The Hackles “A Dobritch Did As A Dobritch Should” (Jealous Butcher Records, 2019)

The second time around the duo of Kati Claborn and Luke Ydstie took a much more collaborative approach to the musical arrangements that support their still lovely harmonies and vocal interplay. Whereas their debut album was striking for the sparse arrangements that accompanied their voices, this album brought in friends from the Astoria, OR music community to arrive at a fuller sound. Claborn and Ydstie credit producer Adam Selzer with the final shape that the album took, saying that he had a “huge effect on how the album turned out”. Continue reading “The Hackles “A Dobritch Did As A Dobritch Should” (Jealous Butcher Records, 2019)”

The Avett Brothers “Closer Than Together” (American/Republic, 2019)

Prior to its release, Seth Avett laid out a mission statement for the Avett Brothers’ 10th full-length album by way of a four-paragraph letter. In it, he opines that “the last thing the world needs is another piece of sociopolitical commentary,” before going on to explain why some of the tracks on the album seem to break with the band’s tried-and-true formula and veer in that direction. He concludes the letter with the observation that “the Avett Brothers will probably never make a sociopolitical record. But if we did, it might sound something like this”. Continue reading “The Avett Brothers “Closer Than Together” (American/Republic, 2019)”

EG Vines “Family Business” (Independent, 2019)

When his band called it a day in 2015, EG Vines decided to strike out on his own. Last year’s EP ‘Conversation’ put listeners on notice that there was more to come. Vines’ debut LP ‘Family Business’ is out now and it has a lot of good things going for it. The songwriting is intelligent but easy. The arrangements bring Petty, DBT, and the Black Crowes to mind. The production is top-notch, and while it leans Nashville, it doesn’t squelch the songwriter’s swagger that Vines brings to each track. For a debut album, that should be enough . . . but why stop there? Continue reading “EG Vines “Family Business” (Independent, 2019)”