Nashville singer songwriter Becky Warren’s debut solo album “War Surplus” is out now, the tale of a relationship between an Iraq bound soldier (Scott) and his girlfriend (June), and she’s sharing a bonus track with us “I’m Leaving” which is not included on the album. She told us: “I wanted a song where it was clear how much June struggles with the decision to leave Scott, both because she loves him and because she knows the way he’s been acting is a result of PTSD and she has a lot of sympathy for that.” The song was recorded with the string band Big Chimney, with Alex Sens on dobro, John Seebach on mandolin and acoustic guitar, Avril Smith on electric guitar, and Jeremy Middleton on upright bass.
M.C. Taylor’s band Hiss Golden Messenger have a new album “Hallelujah Now” which arrives September 22nd and he’s dropped a couple of advance tracks from it online including the track Domino (Time Will Tell). He told Uncut: “‘Domino’ is an acknowledgement that what I do for a living is, on its face, funny. But this life has a pull for me; travelling for a living has been existentially good. It’s hard, and hard things are good, I think. When you travel a lot, so many perceived differences between people are flattened, and you realize how small the world is, and how everybody wants the same things—love, warmth, shelter, food, happiness. Things that are simple in description but also deeply rich and, for many, hard to get at.”
“Two Horses” is the new EP by Pennsylvania raised singer-songwriter Caroline Reese which lands on September 8th, and Gawd bless her she’s shared a track from it with us to delight both of your ears (or one if you’re listening in mono). It’s a lovely piece of subtle alt-country of which she told us: “Nicotine” is about the summer I turned 18, when I was working on a Montana ranch and fell head-over-heels in love with the state and a boy I met at the gas station all at the same time. I had to leave them both to go to college and it broke my heart, but I thought that, eventually, I would get over it. I never did, and seven years later I finally got the courage to move back out there. So “Nicotine” is reminiscing about the past, but is also poised at the present, at the moment before I changed my life dramatically.”
Amongst the many fine songs on Lydia Ramsey’s most recent album, Bandita, this song Ghosts is a real stand out. A hypnotic guitar line, a little banjo and a gorgeous fiddle melody blend together to give the song a suitably haunting tone. It draws on Lydia Ramsey’s growing interest in her family tree as she explains “I began to learn of my roots in Appalachia and further back in Ireland, and how many of my ancestors shared a love of musical creation. I found it fascinating that this love of making music was passed on through generations, and now here I was, doing the same thing, picking tunes, loving it. I wanted to tell their stories”.
Michigan based Cameron Blake has his new album “Fear Not” coming out on November 17th – with an ensemble of nearly 50 musicians, he deals with a variety of subjects including the Tiananmen Square protests, Baltimore race riots and this track which we’re premiering this morning. Cameron says of the track: “After Sally is about the effect a trauma (loss of a child) can have on a relationship. I had some friends who went through this recently. I noticed that they both grieved differently as individuals but were forced by the situation to grieve together. I imagine it was a difficult dance between selflessness and self-care.”
Nicole Atkins has had some turbulent times in recent years, but more recently found herself in a better place and able to record a new album – the rather excellent Goodnight Rhonda Lee. One old friend who encouraged her was Chris Isaak, who in the midst of all her soul-searching and soul-baring suggested that she write songs that emphasised the one trait that most sets her apart from the mere mortals of the industry, telling her, “Atkins, you have a very special thing in your voice that a lot of people can’t or don’t do. You need to stop shying away from that thing and let people hear it.” He was right – and the result was the instant classic A Little Crazy.
Brooklyn singer songwriter Paul Tabachneck has been writing in his own words “relationshippy” music for a while now, but world events have turned his head to another subject. He told us: “One reason I always gave short shrift to political songs is that I always found them to have an incredibly short shelf-life — if I wrote a song one day about how Bill Clinton was being raked through the mud, it would turn out the next day that the blow-job stuff was true. If I wrote about how it was time to move on from Bush to Kerry, Kerry would lose and the song would expire. This is the first political song I’ve written whose lines keep gaining relevance as the term serves out – he keeps making the same missteps, the same ways, on larger and larger scales – so I decided to put this one out on orange vinyl, sell it at a premium, and give the profits to the ACLU.” You can pre-order the vinyl here today if you’re feeling flush.
Joan Osborne has just released an album of Bob Dylan covers, review coming up on AUK soon, and from that record she’s releasing a single. Speaking about her version of ‘Quinn The Eskimo (The Mighty Quinn)’, Osborne says: “We went back and listened to a few other versions of ‘The Mighty Quinn,’ and I was struck by the gospel flavour of Manford Mann’s 1960s cover. My co-producer, Jack Petruzzelli, had been listening to the Edwin Hawkins track ‘Oh Happy Day,’ and suggested changing just one chord in the song to accentuate that gospel flavour. When we did that, it really lifted my vocal performance and brought it to a very joyful, celebratory place. Whoever ‘Quinn the Eskimo’ is, we eagerly anticipate his arrival!” We think it might be Ian Duncan Smith in disguise.
Moonsville Collective is a Southern California five piece whose new album “Moonsville III” comes out on September 8th promising “sonically warmer, more upbeat waters” for these troubled times. Their new single from the record, Hurricane Girl is an understated, bluegrass train shuffle and love song with a brush-snare backbeat and mandolin solo that channels Whiskeytown-era Ryan Adams, Josh Ritter’s delicate indie/folk sound, and the band’s communal, nostalgiac approach to “music for music’s sake.” Simon Cowell would not be pleased.
Silver Torches is Erik Walters, a touring member of Perfume Genius and David Bazan’s band, and his first single from his forthcoming album If I Reach dropped on Stereogum earlier this week, a synth laden, heavily Springsteen influenced number. The new album dips in and out of americana, with the legendary Greg Leisz lending some pedal steel to a couple tracks and guest appearances from Courtney Marie Andrews and Noah Gundersen. AUK and synths. The end of the world must be nigh.