Archive for the ‘Album Reviews’ Category

Wood, Wire & Words: Norman Blake’s New Album Touches the Roots of American Music

Wood, Wire & Words: Norman Blake’s New Album Touches the Roots of American Music

Norman Blake’s strings have helped shape the sound of America’s music. His guitar work has anchored artists as essential as Johnny Cash, Bob Dylan and Kris Kristofferson. He was a driving force of the bluegrass revival. His discography includes more than three dozen titles and his playing can be heard on the soundtrack of movies […]

The Hares Catch Fire With Their Debut Album, “Smoking in Bed”

The Hares Catch Fire With Their Debut Album, “Smoking in Bed”

Distinctive sounds and great music do not always go together. But the Sautex label has a nose for finding acts combining both, whether on the stage or in the recording studio. They do not disappoint with one of their newest finds, San Antonio roots rockers, The Hares. Their debut album, Smoking in Bed, offers twelve […]

Complicated Songs: James McMurtry’s “Complicated Games” Showcases a Master Storyteller.

Complicated Songs: James McMurtry’s “Complicated Games” Showcases a Master Storyteller.

By Jon Black (photo: Shane McCauley) The world James McMurtry paints through his songs is distinctive: a place of stark isolation, of desperate hope struggling against unbeatable odds and where tragedy and beauty make strange but eternal bedfellows. Little wonder his work has been praised by artists as diverse as John Mellencamp, Jason Isbell and […]

Never Past the Point of Rescue: Hal Ketchum Overcomes Challenges of MS to Release New Album

Never Past the Point of Rescue: Hal Ketchum Overcomes Challenges of MS to Release New Album

By Jon Black (Photos: Pete Lacker) At its heart, county music is about the struggles we face and our efforts to overcome them. Few artists know more about struggle than veteran country musician and songwriter Hal Ketchum. After his diagnosis with Multiple Sclerosis (MS) several years ago, Ketchum went into a self-imposed exile in the […]

Billy Joe Shaver – Long in the Tooth

Billy Joe Shaver – Long in the Tooth

I’m always excited about a new Billy Joe Shaver album – especially one with almost all new songs (“The Git Go” first appeared in 2012 on “Live at Billy Bob’s.”). This one even kicks off with a duet with Willie Nelson on “It’s Hard to be an Outlaw,” an enjoyable tune that sets up the […]

Cory Branan – The No-Hit Wonder

Cory Branan – The No-Hit Wonder

Cory Branan is a hard guy to peg, but he seems aware of that fact. His sound mixes enough influences that he called his last album, “Mutt.” While “Mutt” did showcase some strong songwriting, it simply didn’t cohere perfectly as an album. “The No-Hit Wonder” is a different beast. While there are still plenty of the […]

Glen Campbell Will “See You There” – The Rhinestone Cowboy’s Latest Album Still Sparkles.

Glen Campbell Will “See You There” – The Rhinestone Cowboy’s Latest Album Still Sparkles.

By Jon Black That “See You There,” the new album by country legend Glen Campbell, exists at all is remarkable enough. Diagnosed with Alzheimer’s disease in June 2011, there was wide expectation that “Ghost on the Canvas,” released the same year as Campbell’s diagnosis, would be the artist’s final album. With “See You There” Campbell […]

A Coffee Table Fable with Deer Tick

A Coffee Table Fable with Deer Tick

The night I first heard Deer Tick is the night I fell through a glass coffee table. For the past seven years the third weekend of October has been reserved for my annual “poker” trip, otherwise known as “Veiny Balloon Weekend”, which takes place somewhere along the Virginia/North Carolina border with seven lovable scoundrels with […]

Jason Isbell – “Southeastern”

Jason Isbell – “Southeastern”

Jason Isbell has seen some major changes in his life in the last couple of years — chief among them marriage and sobriety.  If anything, those changes have been positive for Isbell as a songwriter.  Listening to  “Southeastern,”  Guy Clark repeatedly comes to mind in terms of Isbell’s handle on the power of a lyric […]

Get Primitive with Daniel Bachman: Seven Pines Album Review

Get Primitive with Daniel Bachman: Seven Pines Album Review

Daniel Bachman is an intriguing young artist. At 22 years old he is the torchbearer for American Primitivism, a little-known genre started by John Fahey in the late 50’s which is derived from the country blues and string band music of the 20’s and 30’s. Just to clarify, no real torches will be carried. Fahey […]

A Look at The Wild Feathers

A Look at The Wild Feathers

“And I don’t know how I got this far down with the ceiling,” cries Taylor Burns, one of five vocalists for The Wild Feathers, on their first single, The Ceiling. However, with each opening set for Bob Dylan, Willie Nelson and Ryan Bingham, respectively, that ceiling–a retractable roof–opens wider to reveal the sky-high limit for […]

Wing and Hollow’s Signal Fire: EP Review

Wing and Hollow’s Signal Fire: EP Review

See the billowing smoke in that faraway clearing? Down below Jill and Haven Lamoureux are stoking the flame. Their Los Angeles-based band, Wing and Hollow, is trapped in the dense wilderness of criminally neglected Indie Rock. Signal Fire, their third EP, may change that. The EP opens with Cage a Bird, which was recorded at […]

French Camp’s Sophomore Album, Odd Particle: A Review

French Camp’s Sophomore Album, Odd Particle: A Review

Made by Music Lovers for Music Lovers As innovative and fun as their first self-titled outing may have been, the structure of Odd Particle—the cohesive balance between driving rock and ethereal vocals—is something to be envied. The influence of Radiohead, especially early albums, is pervasive but not overwhelming. The band has a style all its […]

Bobby Long’s Wishbone: Album Review

Bobby Long’s Wishbone: Album Review

A Talk with Bobby Long: Part Three It’s not accurate to say Bobby Long reinvents himself with every album, however much evidence the music gives. Instead, I think each EP and LP is a step toward something greater, and Wishbone is no exception. Bobby Long told me he never intended to be labeled a singer-songwriter—that […]