What's the matter, James McMurtry (from the New West Records release The Horses and the Hounds)
Even in the worst years – and the last two years have been beautiful – new music from James McMurtry is always a ray of hope. Given the songwriter's infrequent album releases – The Horses and the Hounds is his first album in seven years – it's a blessing that he is arriving to take a musical break from a troubled world.
"If It Don’t Bleed," written from the perspective of someone in the later half of life, advises that our lives matter. “So break in another shelf, pour another shot,” sings McMurtry, and adds, “You won't get it back, so give everything you have as long as you still have a more or less functional body and mind to have".
“Operation Never Mind” is probably coming a little at home these days, the story of military operations of a mysterious kind. “We won't let the cameras near the fighting, then we won't have another Vietnam,” he sings.
McMurtry takes to the streets with a pair of bar rockers. The album title track is about a truck driver who makes his home on the road. "Sister says I should come back for Christmas, Mom wonders why I never come over," he confides, "Lord, I run so long that I just can't find a way home."
"What’s the Matter" is a brilliantly entertaining story by a musician who grapples with dissatisfaction on the home front while on tour.
The phone's on the dash, the goddamn thing
It's one of those times when I know the doorbell will ring
I don't want to answer, but I have no choice
Something bad is wrong, I can hear it in your voice
From there, things just escalate. "I don't know what to tell you, I don't know what to say", he says angrily, "how am I supposed to fix it, I'm a thousand miles away".
The lively and most widely spoken word “Ft. Walton Wake-Up Call "is next to his classics" Red Dress "and" Levelland "another standard for the McMurtry cannon. A mostly spoken word rant lamb, well, pretty much anything. "Twitter is on fire, my stocks are full," he complains before admitting what really drives him – "but what really annoys me is that I keep losing my glasses."
The Horses and the Hounds is another strong appearance from an artist who never disappoints. It's everything we want it to be – lively storytelling and hearty rock & # 39; n & # 39; roll.
Don't lie, Christone "Kingfish" Ingram (from Alligator Records version 662)
I'm a little late for the kingfish party. Since he's only 22 years old and has just released his second album, I might not be late at all – Ingram is just getting started. 662, the area code of his hometown in Mississippi, rustles with muscular guitar and songs. There are plenty of electric guitar blues, such as “That's What You Do” (with the text “there ain't no short, that is what you do for the blues”), but I feel drawn to the more rock-oriented tracks like “Not Gonna Lie”, the agonizing “Long Distance Woman” and the soulful bonus track “Rock & Roll”.
Elsewhere, Ingram shows his acoustic skills on the love that went wrong "You & # 39; re Schon Gone", while his bluesy guitar is accompanied by a brass section on "That & # 39; s All It Takes", giving the song a tasty R&B Gives splendor.
Ingram brings it all home with Something In the Dirt, a somewhat autobiographical story about growing up in the cradle of the blues. "I was born here in Clarksdale, have lived here since I was born," he sings, "well, the music has magic, there must be something in the dirt."
Red Roses, Jeremy Pinnell (from the Sofaburn Records release Goodbye L.A.)
Kentucky singer-songwriter Jeremy Pinnell sings country the way it should be sung. I mean, when he sings "You wanna hear about life just listen to an old Jones song" on "Wanna Do Something" he casts doubt on his beliefs.
The authenticity is particularly strong in the weathered complaint of “Never Thought of No One” and the truck driving “Doing My Best”. The songs capture characters who lead simple lives and strive even when they don't realize their ambition. “I'm not doing anything good, I'm just doing my best,” he sings on the latter.
A careful listening reveals the wondrous quality / some special qualities in Pinnell's writing. “Red Roses” in particular offers country instrumentation, but has pop cross-over appeal. The song has a soulful quality that is intoxicating. You could easily hear someone like John Legend wrapping his voice around him and singing, "And the roses are not the roses are not the red as they werely, but they are in memory."
If you're looking for some real country music, you won't find anything better than Jeremy Pinnell.
Living in the USA, son Volt (from the Transmit Sound Release Electro Melodier)
Jay Farrar has never been one to go through with his punches. Much of Electro Melodier has been written and recorded over the past year, so the Covid pandemic and our age of social unrest, political discord, and the specter of climate change frame many of the songs. The results underscore Farrar's status as one of our most thoughtful and intelligent contemporary songwriters.
"Living in the US", a somewhat stinging indictment against a country in turmoil, is a case in point:
This land of freedom, everyone can live the dream, they say
With screaming voices and howling sirens
Money flows through every back channel door
Cash crowns the king, there are no more limits
Yet Farrar still breathes hope, or at least a desire to find hope, into the chorus by asking, “Where is the heart from the old days? Where is the empathy? Where is the soul? "
As this text suggests, Farrar often challenges the listener to face difficult realities and remodel them in a more positive light. Lucky Ones, a soulful celebration of deep friendship, begins with a warning, “Still losing the lucky ones with everything if we don't chase those blues away,” before Farrar declares, “Life is good with you, the weight of the world is nowhere to b? found."
With the rousing "The Globe" he goes one step further. A universal call to arms, Farrar proclaims:
People all over the world
Understand what is bad and what is good
Now is the time to appear
To wake up last time
You can feel that on the street
Pushing back authority
The feeling of hope, not to mention the openness, extends to the love song "Diamonds and Cigarettes". As the chorus acknowledges that a bumpy road has been traveled – "all the hard lessons with no regrets, we're still diamonds and cigarettes" – it shares a sense of persistence:
Never let the drum beats tell you otherwise
Or rattle your core
Time heals what it can
Until you are no longer over the barrels
Farrar has a style with words that is both direct and effective. In the case of Electro Melodier, it's a particularly potent rock album.
Life in between, Gary Louris (from SHAM / Thirty Tigers release Jump For Joy)
Gary Louris' compositions have always had a strong pop element, even as he and the Jayhawks helped define what is now known as Americana. On his only second solo album (the first is from 2008), Louris leans on Beatles-esque – and especially McCartney-style – pop in all its glory.
Songs like opener “Almost Home” and “New Normal” have a gentle urgency, with some musical tension to balance the catchy melodies. This contrast is further manifested on “Living In Between”. A hearty "la la la" refrain gives the song a posh charm as Louris tries to understand overwhelming times. “I'm just a simple man in a complicated world,” he sings.
The mood continues with the muted "White Squirrel":
Ever feel like a square pen in a round hole
Like a broken spoke, a constant show-off
A spectator who never gets the joke
Those who want a Jayhawks touch will be drawn to "Too Late the Key" and "Dead Man's Burden," two songs Louris originally wrote for the band. Both have the warm, organic feel that is a hallmark of Jayhawks, the latter an eight-minute opus that embodies the melodic and lyrical ambition that has shaped the songwriter's career.
Only stupid kids are bored, The Northern Belle (from Die With Your Boots On Records release The Women In Me)
You call when Nordicana and there is something to see. The breadth of Americana-style music that emerges from Norway has, to some extent, established this country as Far East Nashville. Northern Belle's latest release is another Nordicana gem that is beautifully celebrating the local music scene thanks to some notable guest appearances.
Songwriter Stine Andreassen finds The Women In Me in a pensive mood. "I talked to all the women in me, they can't follow this narrow path," she sings on the title track, a song that is reserved and yet quietly empowering. "Two Rhythms" pays homage to her late grandfather with a notable John Prine reference, "Pop from John Prines Club, try the vodka ginger ale".
The album contains several collaborations that show the breadth of Norway's musical talent. Outstanding is "Only Stupid Kids Get Bored", in which the instrumentalists Orions Belte can be heard in a song that combines a rousing pop melody with assertive percussion and a touch of sea shanties in the chorus. The equivalent of a Norwegian supergroup – with Darling West, Ida Jenshus, Louien, Malin Pettersen and Signe Marie Rustad joining Northern Belle – transform Sufjan Stevens "Chicago" into a moving ballad of nostalgia and regret.
The group closes the album with a moving cover of John Prine's "Summer’s End", a wonderful homage to the late singer-songwriter and a fitting keystone for The Women In Me.
My story, Robert Finley (from the Easy Eye Sound publication Sharecropper’s Son)
It's easy to focus on Finley's story – the rare occurrence of true talent that emerges from a reality television show. However, that doesn't do him justice. One of his key differentiators on the show was the performance of his original songs, stories from his own life that he infused with personality, passion and raw energy.
I will tell my story
As long as the Lord allows it
I know it won't make a difference
But I'll say it anyway
Sharecropper & # 39; s Son, his latest album, exudes even more of his enormous talent. Musically, the collection is rooted in the blues, but with a lot of R&B splendor. The songs give an insight into his life story, rich in details and openness. Yet even in their darkest moments, they were filled with passion and hope.
You are never too young to dream
Never too old to live
Reach out and hug the ones you love
Because it's never too late to give
All of this comes together in one inspired – and inspiring – collection. There's a joy and gratitude that is exhilarating, not to mention that they're catchy as hell.
We have to teach
Our children how to fly
So that they can reach the stars in the sky
'Cause it's one thing I know
That dreams come true
That's why I told my story
This is how you can start dreaming too
Speed limit, Tim Easton (from Black Mesa Records' You Don’t Really Know Me)
Don't let the laid-back style of music fool you – Tim Easton has a lot on his mind. And he lets his feelings become known on the outstanding You Don't Really Know Me. He sets the stage with the opening theme song and confronts someone while reminding them of the importance of getting to know someone completely before making a judgment. He also warns against jumping to conclusions and sings "It takes more than one mistake to define a life".
"Speed Limit" and Peace of Mind "form something like a spiritual center for the album. The former preaches to find his way, but at a measured pace. "I can't worry about tomorrow, yesterday is just a waste of time," he sings before thinking, "when the pain of staying the same outweighs the effort of change."
"Peace of Mind" advises wonderfully:
Nobody wants to wake up angry
Nobody wants to go crazy to bed
Nobody really wants you to suffer
Nobody wants someone to be in pain
For whatever you really want for someone else, one day you can have yourself
You Don't Really Know Me is a perfect blend of melody and meaning.
Way of the Heart, Willie Nile (from the River House Records release The Day The Earth Stood Still)
Willie Nile finds the day on which the earth stood still in fine hymn form. Whether he's spitting political comments or singing the praises of love, Nile gives his songs an infectious enthusiasm.
On the political front, Nile does not shy away from biting comments. The opener “The Day The Earth Stood Still” reflects the Covid lockdown while Nile pleads, “Offer some kindness and compassion if you will, and remember well what it was like when the earth stood still. "
On the other hand, the singer is less benevolent with the fiery “Blood On Your Hands”, a stinging accusation against greed and indifference. There will come a time when the whip falls, "sings guest singer Steve Earle," when the poor man is king and the king becomes a clown. "
Nile channels the Rolling Stones, circa Some Girls, on the rocky “Expect Change” and “Time to Be Great”. Both songs offer perspective and encouragement to deal with difficult times.
He turns his attention to love and relationships on the solemn "sanctuary" and the uplifting "way of the heart." The latter is a fitting end to the album, building from a smooth beginning to a rousing chorus that proclaims Nile:
The way of the heart is the way of the river that flows home
The world will turn, the flame will always burn
The way of the heart is the reason the mountain waits alone
And why I'm coming to your home
First Yoke (live), Daniel Romano's outfit (from the release of You & # 39; ve Changed Records Fully Plugged In)
Describing Daniel Romano as productive just doesn't do him justice. As soon as I got into this summer's live album, it released a new studio offering and continued its breakneck pace of sharing 2-3 (or more) albums a year. For the moment, however, I'm sticking to the appropriately titled Live-Outing Fully Plugged In.
Anyone who's seen Daniel Romano and his outfit in the last few years (well, in earlier times) knows the anger of the group's performances. While the age of Covid has taught us that there is nothing that can replace the energy of "in the room", this live album from the beginning of 2020 captures some of the energy that Romano and Co. bring to the stage.
The album leans heavily on songs from his later albums, although he is releasing an electrified version of his early country gem "The One That Got Away". Otherwise it's a full rock attack, especially the clash of "Anyone & # 39; s Arms" in "First Yoke". "The Pride of Queens", a tribute to the Ramones, is another gem, right down to the closing musical quote from the group's "Teenage Lobotomy".
About the author: A gentle corporate manager by day, an excited Twangville resident at night.