On January 26th, Laura Benitez and the Heartache will release their third full-length, With All Its Thorns, which, despite its name, is something to behold as Benitez tackles the prickly aspects of relationships with keen insight, unique perspectives, and heart.
With All Its Thorns starts off with the Tex-Mex flair of the lively “Something Better Than a Broken Heart” which with its opening line “I’d always thought I’d get that diamond ring” and accordion work (courtesy of Billy Wilson who plays throughout) instantly grabs your attention. That’s followed by ten more songs, told by Benitez’s distinct voice, that strike a chord, whether they’re breaking your heart or lifting it up.
The slow shuffle of “Easier Things To Do” conveys the thought that even though things, whether in work or love, aren’t always we easy, we shouldn’t avoid them; while the jaunty “Our Remember Whens” tells a darling story about looking forward to being able to reminisce with a new love, and the rollicking “Whiskey Makes Me Love You” where she asks, “How can you say it’s wrong when that amber starts to pour” extols the virtues of the favored beverage.
While Benitez is the primary songwriter, The Heartache - Bob Spector (acoustic and electric guitar), Ian Sutton (pedal steel), Mike Anderson (electric and upright bass), and Steve Pearson (drums) - elevate her lyrics with their dynamic musicianship whether with the dark backbeat on the murder ballad “In Red,” the haunting fiddle (courtesy of Steve Kallai) and steel on the stirring “Ghostship,” a true story of a fire in an artistic collective, or capturing the conjunto feel of “Almost the Right One/Casa Mi Cielo.”
With All Its Thorns is rounded out by the astutely told tale of two cheaters entitled “Secrets,” the charming “The Fool I Am Right Now” and the bluegrass infused closer, “Nora Went Down the Mountain” which tells the story of an ordinary woman who, one day, simply picked up and left.
Alphonse Karr is quoted as having said, “We can complain because rose bushes have thorns, or rejoice because thorns have roses.” Benitez and company adeptly tackle life’s sadness, heartaches, and struggles on With All Its Thorns, and in doing so have exposed the beauty behind those thorns, capturing something incredibly pure, poignant, and timeless.
Alabama native, Tiera, who was the Song Suffragettes #LetTheGirlsPlay Artist of the Month in August of 2016, has been singing ever since she was a little girl. The self-taught guitarist and soulful singer-songwriter earned a spot performing at Nashville establishments like the Bluebird Cafe and the Listening Room Cafe, and recently opened for Shenandoah and the Charlie Daniels Band. With these highlights already under her belt, the Nashville resident has been hard at work on new music at FAME studios in Muscle Shoals with producer Noah Shell.
Tiera's follow-up to her 2015 EP is a brand new single entitled “Wake Up Call." Written by Tiera and Shell, "Wake Up Call" is a mid-tempo anthem that portrays a no-nonsense, self-assured woman who finds the strength to leave a relationship that hinders, behind. "Wake Up Call" has a breezy melody that's easy to hum along to, but it's also a song with a message of empowerment and independence that women should take to heart.
"I don't take orders from nobody but myself
I ain't that pretty little piece of arm candy
You can put on your shelf
No I ain't the call for a good time
Go and take a slow ride
Type of girl"
"Wake Up Call" will be released on January 5th.
Having charted 26 singles on the Billboard Hot Country charts, including number one hits "The Church on Cumberland Road," "Sunday in the South," "Two Dozen Roses," "Next to You, Next to Me" and "If Bubba Can Dance (I Can Too)" as well as a Grammy for "Somewhere in the Vicinity of the Heart," which featured guest vocals from Alison Krauss, Shenandoah return with a brand new single, their first in twenty years, "Noise."
Produced by Rascal Flatts' Jay DeMarcus, "Noise" is a romantic mid-tempo ode to finding that special someone who helps to block out all of the "noise" in the world.
"Cause when we kiss the world outside is gone
And whatever lonely there is moves on
My heart doesn't have any choice when I hear my name on your voice everything else is just noise"
"Noise" finds the beloved sextet remaining true to their sound while also bringing a contemporary flair that will appeal to their original fans and new ones as well. Welcome back.
A full-length release is slated for 2018.
For more information visit HERE
Austin-based singer and multi-instrumentalist Parker McCollum broke out in a big way in 2013 with his critically adored debut The Limestone Kid and now McCollum builds on that momentum with his latest, Probably Wrong. The 10-track LP was introduced in a three-part rollout beginning in July with Session One, followed by Session Two in September and finally adding two final songs to complete the project for its full release on November 10th. And while it was undoubtedly a unique way to release an album, the payoff is full of rewards.
Produced by Lloyd Maines, Probably Wrong finds the singer-songwriter further showcasing his striking ability to craft honest, accessible tunes that never sacrifice sharp storytelling and instantly memorable melodies for trends, and the result is an exceptional album that finds McCollum leading the class.
Throughout the project, McCollum concentrates (successfully) on writing about what he knows - love, relationships, and life on the road – and does so in a way that nods to tradition all while being contemporary, vivid, and unique. In addition to current single “I Can’t Breathe” (co-written with Micky Braun) Probably Wrong contains nine additional tracks, two outside cuts and seven co/written by McCollum including album opener “Memphis Rain,” which addresses adjustment and growth before flowing seamlessly into “South Of The City Lights” which, with its easy, understated guitar and keys, ponders life lessons. The breezy “Lonesome Ten Miles” and rollicking “The Truth” both have inescapable (and danceable) vibrant keys-driven melodies that juxtapose their themes of loneliness and heartbreak, “Been a long hard crawl to the bottom of the wall, but there’s no place I’d rather be,” while the steel work in “Misunderstood”, alongside McCollum’s sad yet resigned vocals, amplifies grappling with the strain of being away from someone you love, “But I’ll live out of a bag til the day I die.” Things turn from weary to slightly optimistic on the shuffler “Things Are Looking Up” which has a welcome three-minute instrumental that will keep your toes tapping long after McCollum stops singing before leaning on a bit of Bluegrass in “Blue Eyed Sally,” (written by Austen Biggers) a mandolin-led love letter to the woman he comes home to after a day in the coal mine. The album is rounded out with the delightfully old-timey “Learn To Fly” and closer, "Hell Of A Year," a sincere heartbreaker.
Probably Wrong does everything right; it’s one of those rare records that completes the triad of storytelling, melody, and delivery, securing McCollum’s spot as a distinctive voice in music who will not only forge his own path, but carry on the tradition of the respected songwriters before him.
Country newcomer Claudia Hoyser recently released her new EP, Steam, a five-track outing that is sure to find the young singer-songwriter gathering momentum in country music. Steam kicks off with the full of swagger "Drinkin' with the Boys" then segues into "Steam," a ballad with a classic yet contemporary country feel reminiscent of early Miranda Lambert. From there, Hoyser slides into the laid back "No Matter What It Costs," the spunky "What Kinda Man" and closes it all out with the delicate, emotional "Red Light's Turning Green." Steam is a refreshingly solid EP that is sure to make Hoyser one to watch.
Hoyser is currently working on her full-length album.
For more information visit HERE
Stream the album HERE
With roots deeply planted in Central California, where they immersed themselves in agriculture, husband-and-wife duo, Terra Bella (Joseph and Martina Costa) toured up and down the West Coast playing clubs and rodeos as well as opening for national acts such as Lee Brice, Gary Allan, Montgomery Gentry, Thomas Rhett and more. In August of 2013, the pair decided to move 2,200 miles across the nation to "Music City, USA" committing to their musical purpose. In 2016, their debut EP Road To Forever came to fruition and scored the duo's first Billboard Indicator (#51) and Music Row (#42) charting song with the single "You've Got That Somethin'."
Since the release of Road To Forever, Terra Bella has been endlessly writing new material for a much- anticipated album, produced by Johnny Garcia, due in early 2018. The duo recently released the first single from that album, "Before You," on October 24th. The heartwarming, hopeful mid-tempo tune, sung by Martina, is an ode to the one who helped make you whole again.
"I was careless, lost, and broken
Careless, lost, and broken before you"
Watch below as the duo perform an acoustic rendition of "Before You" below.
For more information visit HERE.
With seven albums and years of touring already under his belt, respected Texas singer-songwriter Drew Kennedy is hardly new to the music scene. On November 3rd he releases At Home In The Big Lonesome. Produced by Dave Brainard (Brandy Clark, Jamey Johnson), the eleven track collection combines Kennedy’s well honed writing skills and soulful vocals with piano and strings alongside the more traditional acoustic instrumentation on his previous albums. The departure works well and serves as a perfect sonic backdrop for the evocative nature of the songs.
The tender, piano ballad ,“When I’ll Miss You Most” draws the listener in immediately with its reflections on the death of a lover, “With a steaming cup of coffee, and the paper by my side/ I can’t bring myself to read it ‘cause I know your life’s inside”, and the knowledge that memories of her will remain intact as he navigates the future without her. “Sing This Town To Sleep” and “Jackson” are sweetly nostalgic with the former celebrating the joy of sharing the small town life with the one you love while the latter recalls memories of a past relationship, “We sang along with The Jackson Five/Made love to Jackson Browne.”
Co-written by Kennedy and Sean McConnell, “24 Hours In New York City” takes the listener along on a young, teenaged couple’s impulsive roadtrip complete with vivid descriptions of the sights and sounds. “Cream And Sugar” brings you along on the excitement a blind date in a coffee shop as you follow the inner monologue of the guy trying to quell his nerves and minimize expectations.
The simple sounds of acoustic guitar and harmonica drive “Miles To Go” which uses roadtrip necessities as a guide for living a good life, “Keep a map in the glovebox and cut a path to the sweet unknown” while “House” conveys advice in more of a “how not to” guide for a crumbling relationship, “Not saying what needs saying is a sure fire way to let that fire die/And going through the motions is only good if you don’t wanna try/ I ain’t no architect but I know without a doubt, how to turn a home into a house.”
At Home In The Big Lonesome closes with a beautifully done cover of Walt Wilkins’ “Walnut Street” which serves as a reminder that no matter whose name is on the deed, a house is a vessel containing the memories of all who lived there. It’s a fitting way to close an album of songs about memories; some likely personal and others possibly conjured of out empathy and understanding of the human condition.
To find out more about the artist, his music and touring schedule, visit his website at www.drewkennedymusic.com.
Newly minted Angeleno Sam Marine will release his third cd, Big Dark City, on November 17th. Produced by Brian Whelan, the five-track outing delivers a smokin’ dose of straight up roots rock that’s all at once edgy, personal, complex, dark, and vulnerable. Marine and company (Whelan on guitar and organ, Mitch Marine on drums, and Aaron Stern on bass) kick things off with the thumping percussion and driving guitars of the title track, a tune that’s permeated with an underlying sense of both unease and excitement, “I ain't really been to sleep for very long just yet/I'm a couple drinks ahead of you I'll bet.”
From there Big Dark City segues into the urgency of “Dawn Come and Gone,” which begins with echoes of Mellencamp then travels to warp speed as he laments finding himself alone after a night of tending bar (Marine also works as a bartender), the pounding, anthemic “Freeze Em Out,” and the weighty “I’ll Soon be Gone,” where Marine’s rasp conveys the inner turmoil of self-imposed emotional isolation, “Nobody really knows me, good enough to know something's wrong/Sitting here all alone all night, clenching on my jaw.” Big Dark City closes with “Mike Lee,” a warm tribute to a good friend who passed way, and a song that provides the perfect closer, offering a dose of comfort in the fact that even though the city is often big, dark, and lonely, there are still good people who have your back.
While one may have to be cautious in the city after the sun goes down, you needn't be wary of this Big Dark City as each track offers Marine's insights into life's complexities that are deliberate, reflective...and intoxicating.
With a career that has produced nearly twenty hit singles, including three #1's, as well as chart-topping albums and sales in the millions, Darryl Worley returns with a brand new track, "Lonely Alone."
Truer words were never spoken in the poignant, heart-tugging mid-tempo tune that gently sways along as Worley sings without sorrow or regret, simply conveying a realistic, sad truth.
"If I'm gonna be lonely
I might as well be gone
If I'm gonna be lonely girl
I'd rather be lonely alone"
Purchase "Lonely Alone" HERE
In 2016, singer-songwriter Sean McConnell’s eponymous album was met with a great deal of critical praise. The 10 track collection of well written and beautifully recorded songs resonated with listeners, conveying universally relatable life experiences with exceptional artistry. On September 8, McConnell re-visits these songs (and adds a new duet) with Undone, released via Rounder Records, but this time in acoustic format. The simplicity of the stripped down production adds even more weight and intimacy to his flawless vocals and powerful stories.
The lone piano on “Holy Days” is the ideal vehicle to drive the reflective song. Part fond memory and part loss, the track is a bittersweet reflection on a first love that wasn’t meant to be, “Underneath the moon with the radio playing Tangled In Blue, I remember you saying Baby, don’t move. Just let me look at you.” McConnell visits the place that played host to those Holy Days in “Ghost Town” with its “apparition memories” and current residents who are frustratingly unaware that, to him, they walk on sacred ground while “Babylon “examines the ruins of a failed relationship and ponders the way forward.
“Hey Mary” is a breezy, charming tune about the quest to win over the object of his affection and “Beautiful Rose” finds the way to the mature acceptance that though childhood dreams don’t always come true, the good outweighs the bad and life is beautiful. “Queen of Saint Mary’s Choir” chronicles his journey in the musical business and expresses gratitude for the things keep him grounded.
Undone closes with a song original to the album, “Nothing On You”, featuring Lori McKenna. Their voices meld beautifully needing nothing more than a guitar and a harmonica for accompaniment on the love song, “I took a knee in Notre- Dame. I lit a candle at the cross but ten thousand angels can’t keep me from coming back home cause Baby, ain’t nothing, ain’t nothing got nothing on you.”
If you were a fan of the 2016 release, you’re likely going to love its new incarnation in Undone. And if you missed out on the original, Undone gives you a great opportunity to see what you were missing.