Hailing from Colorado, singer-songwriter Tyller Gummersall recently released his fourth album, Long Ride Home. The album, which was recorded at The Zone Studio and engineered by Pat Manske, was produced by the legendary Lloyd Maines. In addition to Maines and Manske (both also play on the record), Long Ride Home features Gary Cook [flatpicking guitar], Dennis Ludiker [fiddle], and Riley Osbourne [keys] whose talented musicianship brings the songs to life.
The eleven track collection’s songs were solely penned by Gummersall and throughout the album, one can clearly flesh out a picture of who he is: a proud of his roots country gentleman, and an old musical soul who hasn’t forgotten the beloved traditional sounds of the genre.
The album kicks off with the hummable melody of “This House” which focuses on what’s left “with you gone.” From there, Gummersall’s roots show on the shuffling “Rocky Mountain Man” where he sings “Well I’m not from the west coast and I ain’t from the southern plains/They don’t like my hat out in Nashville/I guess the cowboy really did ride away” and the stomping, fiddle driven “Country Boy.” He presents life lessons learned in the poignant and touching “Better Than You Found It” and is reflective and contemplative in the title track.
Gummersall also addresses the many sides of love on a quartet of songs, which feature the gorgeous harmonies of Kate Willyard blending with his own warm vocals. There’s getting to know someone on the gentle, “Sing You A Song,” yearning on “Kiss Me,” trying to forget old lovers on “Ghosts” (“Can you love me without gettin’ your heart broken?/If you can then I’ll forever owe you mine”), and questioning whether one is worthy of another on “Good Enough.”
Over the past year, and particularly the past six months, we have seen that country listeners are craving a little less of what’s been predominant and a lot more of what’s traditional. Gummersall’s album should satisfy that craving nicely, finding a home in your music collection, on your playlist and hopefully even on the radio.
Hailing from New York state, Chloe Collins has been singing and playing guitar since the age of eight. Having already performed at the House of Blues, the Bitter End and the Bluebird Café, Chloe, who is still in her teens, recently released her EP 5@15. The current single from the EP, “Forget Your Name,” is a pop country earworm in the best way possible. Penned by Collins, the tune has an insanely catchy hook alongside well-crafted, relatable (and sing along ready) lyrics about a relationship that’s just …done; you’ve been hurt too many times and simply want to move on and forget that person’s name. Now who, young and old(er) hasn’t been there?
“And so tonight I’m gonna
dance until I can’t feel my feet
Spin under the lights til I can’t see
Drown your laughter out with the music
Twirl until my shoes falls apart
Smile until I can’t feel the scars
Find someone to numb this pain
And do what it takes to forget your name”
A native of Baytown, Texas, Breelan Angel’s career launched in 2012 with a radio single followed by opening spots for Loretta Lynn, Cody Johnson, Randy Rogers, and more. She was the first female artist to be signed to the Bud Light Texas Country Music Sponsorship and her singles “Halfway To Wasted” and “Double Standards” reached the Top 40 on the MusicRow Country Breakout chart while “Pocket Change” (written with Bri Bagwell) was a Top 20 on the Texas Regional Radio Report.
Angel’s latest EP is 2015’s Diamond In A Rhinestone World, a seven song disc which was produced by Trent Willmon and contains her latest single, “Rhinestone World.” Co-written with Lacy Green the well-crafted tune is a tribute, both lyrically and melodically, to those inspiring women, like Dolly, Loretta and Tammy, who took chances and succeeded. With a toe-tappin’, pickin’ melody “Rhinestone World” relates Angel’s feelings about women in the industry, with no-nonsense, candid lyrics (“Be their puppet on a string, So they can be the one who said, they turned me into an overnight success”). Yet, the song also has an encouraging message for every and any woman not to be afraid to stay true to themselves and do things their own way; as she sings with confidence, “Honey if it ain’t what you feel/it ain’t worth the raw end of a 360 deal.” Preach.
“They called Dolly a dumb blonde
They said that Tammy could dream on
They told Loretta she’d be better off not singing about the pill
That just goes to prove you can’t let other people chose what they think is right for you”
Leslie Cours Mather, who sent a warning to cheaters everywhere with her previous single “Hell Hath No Fury,” returns with her new track, “That Was The Whiskey,” from her upcoming album, Countrified. Written by Nini Camps, the county rocker (with a nice influx of keys) depicts a Saturday night that many can relate to; where one may have done some things completely out of character due to the influence of a little (or a lot of) alcohol. “Well that girl might’ve looked a hell of a lot like me, but that was the whiskey.” Mather’s strong vocals once again shine, telling the story matter-of-factly, and with no regrets, advising not to believe everything you see because "Sunday moring will save us all"....giving ladies everywhere a new justification for that behavior we may not want to take full responsibiity for.
“That was the whiskey in a little red dress
Putting on a show that you won’t forget, that was the whiskey
That was the whiskey, with a trucker hat
Jaegermeister girl on her back, that was the whiskey
Well that girl might’ve looked a hell of a lot like me, but that was the whiskey”
Singer-songwriter JD Souther, who was inducted into the Songwriter’s Hall of Fame in 2013, may best be known as a writer of hits for others including The Eagles (“Best of My Love” & “Heartache Tonight”) and Linda Ronstadt, yet his own albums, although critically acclaimed, never brought notoriety. That may change this year when Omnivore Recordings launches a reissue initiative that started with Souther’s first album, John David Souther, being released on January 8th.
Even though John David Souther is over forty years old, it would fit, with incredible ease, into the Americana landscape of today. Souther, who grew up in Amarillo and later moved to California (where he discovered classic country via Ronstadt), has an album with a definite 70’s feel, but one that remains timeless due to its thoughtful songwriting, and blending of country, rock and blues.
From the country laced opener about getting over a lover (“The Fast One”) where he sings, “I’m tired of all this tragedy/I’m giving you back your misery” to the stories of infidelity (“Run Like a Thief”) and loneliness (“It’s The Same”) Souther’s vocals melt, and connect, with a realism and truthfulness that resonate. Throughout the album, Souther highlights the blues (“White Wing”), gospel (“Jesus in ¾ Time”) and rock (“How Long”), rounding out the main portion of the album with two ballads: the reflective “Out To Sea” on which he sings “Well I might never sing a song that’s good enough….to chase the doubts and fears away” and the tender closing track, “Lullaby.” In addition to the album's ten original tracks, it also contains seven "must listens": previously unissued demos that offer the insightful evolution of some of the songs.
Sometimes people tend to let reissues pass them by, thinking the songs are outdated, or taking the “been there done that” mentality. Don’t let that thinking influence you here. Look to the past to see how it influenced where we are now, expand your musical horizons, discover musical treasures and give Souther’s debut the attention it may have missed the first time round.
Omnivore Recordings will release Souther’s other albums, Black Rose and Home by Dawn, on February 12, 2016.
The 2015 recipient of the Steve Martin Prize in Banjo and Bluegrass, Danny Barnes, has re-recorded his classic album, Get Myself Together, as Got Myself Together (Ten Years Later) which was released this past November.
Barnes has said of the album, “I spend a lot of time developing new contexts like the barnyard electronics aesthetic. I wanted to make something with this record that featured more of my raw acoustic sound, as though I was kind of playing in your living room.”
And that’s exactly what you hear, and feel, as you listen. There’s true American storytelling here (and, of course, impeccable picking), offering tales of hardworking men and woman and their (often hard & troubled) lives. The album’s twelve songs, plus an encore, are stripped down to their core, and the resulting feel is intimate and special. Got Myself Together has a beautiful simplicity that, using so little, conveys much - allowing one to truly hear the story and have its impact be even greater.
You’ll have to check the calendar to make sure it’s actually 2016 when you hear Minneapolis-based duo The Cactus Blossoms' - Jack Torrey and Page Burkum - new release You’re Dreaming. Out on January 22nd, produced by JD McPherson and released via Red House Records, You’re Dreaming brings that timeless sound of years past front and center. Blending elements of early rock n’ roll and classic country, The Cactus Blossoms have successfully (and seemingly with ease) tapped into a sound that should delight a listener’s ears. The songs do the talking; with minimal instrumentation, thoughtful and innocent lyrics and enviable harmonies the duo recall The Everly or Louvin Brothers, while there’s echoes of Hank Williams on the shuffling opener “Stoplight Kisses” and Jerry Lee Lewis/Beach Boys on “No More Crying The Blues” (originally an Alton & Jimmy tune). Heartbreak can be found on the title track, while earnest, simple and effective ballads take center stage on the lovely “Queen Of Them All,” the flawless waltz “Adios Maria,” and the somber, introspective “If I Can’t Win,” on which he sings, “I talk to my cigarettes, the most they listen is ten minutes, but I’ll have another one it’s a new pack so they can’t run.”
Guaranteed to stick in your head and get you swinging, “Clown Collector” is a humorous tune about a woman, “a honeybee looking for nectar” while the western leaning “Change Your Ways or Die” recalls the man in black. Rounding out the project is the dreamlike mood of “Mississippi” and closer “Travelers Paradise” which appropriately begins with “Goodbye, sure is good to know ya/I’m so thankful for ya, that’s how I’ll always feel,” and will have you feeling as if you’ve come to the end of a movie with the characters trailing off into the sunset.
Without feeling forced or fabricated, You’re Dreaming brings tradition to the present in an album that will leave you in awe as to how people so young can firmly and effectively grasp the sounds of the past and bring them to a new audience. Even though it is only January, You’re Dreaming will be one album you return to throughout the year.
One of Australia’s best-known performers, Henry Wagons, makes his first full-length solo album debut with After What I Did Last Night… which will be released on February 12th via Goldview/Metropolitan Groove Merchants. Wagons, best known as front man for outlaw country-rock band Wagons, left his native Australia to record the album in Nashville with producer Skylar Wilson (Justin Townes Earle, Andrew Combs) with assistance from guitarist Richie Kirkpatrick (Jessica Lea Mayfield, Bobby Bare Jr.), drummer Jerry Pentecost (Jonny Fritz), fiddler Josh Hedley (Justin Townes Earle) and harmonica player Cory Younts (Old Crow Medicine Show) with singer-songwriter Rayland Baxter on backing vocals.
After What I Did Last Night… traces Wagons’ life from youth to traveling troubadour to family man. From the remorseful opener, “Cold Burger Cold Fries” to the good times and misadventures on the road in the rousing “Only Sane Mother F*****” and debaucherous “Cowboy in Krakow,” Wagons’ songs are filled with drama, humor, wit, and heart. The lurid vibe of “King Hit” vividly tells the story of life, (near) death and a bar fight with Wagons’ rich baritone conveying a darkness and cocky swagger that oozes cool. The throwback honky-tonk “Head Or Heart” (devil or angel) details the decision to cheat or not, finally declaring “I’m going to the doctor and get you both removed.” Bluesy and sexy, “Anything You Want”’s inventive lyrics would win many a woman over, “You want a snake, girl, I’ll charm it/If you need weed I’ll farm it.” Wagons also pays homage to his daughter in the sweet and tender, “As Long As I Breathe,” and “the best mate he could ever have” in the rollicking “Tomboy.”
That album closes with “Only Child” and “Melbourne.” The former is a sorrowful tale of being an only child, alone and lonely, that quietly fades into the latter, which is not just an ode to his city where he finds peace, but to the woman that provides it as well.
After What I Did Last Night… recounts a life filled with good times, dark times, mistakes, new life and most importantly, love. It’s oft-times dark, yet utterly original, and wicked cool.
Laura Jean Anderson’s four song EP, Righteous Girl, blends together garage rock, blues, soul, folk and even some psychedelic sounds into a debut that like a magnet, immediately pulls you in....and from which it is difficult to be released.
From the first track to the last, the listener is drawn into something of a sonic kaleidoscope, whose melodies surround and immerse. From the dreamlike state of “Over and Over” which focuses on that one thing we all have experienced that consumes our thoughts to “It Won’t Be Long,” which bridges rock with a magical feel, longing to have one’s burdens lifted and knowing that if the time isn’t now, it will come. A similar theme can be found in “Take Me In” which wickedly merges folk and roots rock as Anderson sings sadly yet with an optimism that she’s “gonna make it to that sunshine even if takes all of me.” The bluesy soulful title track “Righteous Girl,” is infused with that same ethereal/hazy feel although Anderson’s vocals convey a woman self-assured, assertive; one who has wrestled with issues and finally has come into her own, on her own terms.
Just as the melodies ebb and flow, so do Anderson’s vocals which are at once edgy and powerful, yet soothing, and enchanting adjusting from a whisper to a growl and then reaching the high notes without missing a beat.
Well written, atmospheric, soulful and insightful tracks that showcase an artist uniquely her own. Righteous Girl indeed.
Watch the video for "Righteous Girl" here
Let’s preface this by saying I consider myself a pretty big Dierks Bentley fan. Great songwriter, great singer, great entertainer and just a great guy. That said, just because you like an artist does not mean that you have to like everything they put out. In fact, it sometimes leads to looking at things with a more critical eye, as is the case with Bentley’s new single, “Somewhere On A Beach.”
The single is the first from Bentley’s highly-anticipated new album, Black, which is due sometime this year. While Black has been touted as exploring “the shadows and edges of the heart,” the first single still remains in the beaming sunlight. A companion song to his mega-hit “Drunk On A Plane,” "Somewhere On A Beach” deals with what happened after that plane ride. The song opens with a promising bluesy guitar riff that pulls you in, but then comes the lyrics…..and in the words of Dierks, ”nawh.” Landing on that island, he’s “getting sun, getting some” after finding a girl who’s “got a body” and “likes to get naughty.” And it doesn’t get much better than that. SOAB is full of throwaway lyrics that one would expect to hear from other artists on t40 radio. In the words of a good friend, “Et tu, Dierks?”
While Bentley has had his share of fun silly songs, they tend to have had some heart or substance, which SOAB lacks. Heck, even though DOAP was silly, you felt for the guy and knew he was in pain. Here via the language used, you just feel……meh. If the goal was to release a fun summer song that the masses would love, then Bentley probably has a hit on his hands. Me, I’ll skip this one and wait with baited breath to hear the rest of the album.