Led by Justin Ahmanson and Emily Villareal, the Austin-based band The Traveling Ones (which also includes Reed Jones on bass and Greg Henry on drums) is set to share their new album, Meet Me There on February 3rd. The all original project features Villareal and Ahmanson sharing vocals on the nine-song collection that features a mellow, blues accented feel on songs about dreams, life and love.
The album begins with the gentle and affecting “Wildfire Heart” which tells of a powerful, encompassing love before segueing into the keys accented, passionate “Yours Tonight” (where the duo’s harmonies shine), and the lively, harmonica-laden “You Only Have to Break My Heart.”
Meet Me There flows beautifully from the soulful and hopeful “Red Lights” to the sincere “Baby When It Rains” and the sentimental “Upper Circle.” The album is rounded out by the heavenly “Here In The Light,” and standout track “I’m A Woman” where a love is revisited, but may not last “If you don’t want me release my hand….If you can’t keep me well it’s a Goddamn shame” before closing with the incredibly stirring “Ride With Me” - which will leave you with “all the feels,” as the saying goes.
The soothing, subtle melodies, earnest lyrics, and tender harmonies on Meet Me There glide along peacefully, yet never fail to make an emotional impact and connect with the listener. One of the early surprises of 2017, don’t neglect to visit The Traveling Ones on Meet Me There.
One of the most endearing aspects of good music can be found in its ability to reassure you that your experiences are shared, to lift you up and to make you feel happy; in short to heal the heart. That’s just what you’ll get when the Texas-based juggernaut known as Shinyribs delivers the cure for what ails you on February 24th with the release of I Got Your Medicine.
It’s the fourth studio album for the band that started as a side project for The Gourds lead singer, lyricist and multi-instrumentalist Kevin Russell but quickly became a full time entity all its own. The sound is a blend of funk, blues, jazz and old school 60’s R & B (with a dash of gospel for good measure) which makes it impossible to listen and remain seated. It requires the active participation of dancing and singing along like no one’s watching.
The R & B is strong and mighty in the opening title track, “I Got Your Medicine” which embodies and projects the spirit of the album, and in the lovelorn “I Gave Up All I Had”. The tale of a long, wild night of sorrow drowning gets the Dixie funk treatment in “Tub Gut Stomp & Red-Eyed Soul”. The twang-edged soul in the duet “I Don’t Give A Shit” leaves you laughing and reminiscing about those bad-for-each-other relationships that feel so right and manage to work due to the mutual dysfunction of the players. Redemption closes the album with the spirited, witty, jazzy gospel of “The Cross Is Boss”.
Shinyribs is one of the most charismatic, captivating and entertaining bands I’ve ever seen and none of the magic of the live show is lost in the transition to the studio. Visit the website at www.shinyribs.org to pick up your copy of I Got Your Medicine and check the tour schedule. If the band is even remotely close to your area, don’t miss out on going to a show that will leave you smiling long after the encore.
Austin’s The Band of Heathens - Ed Jurdi, Gordy Quist, Richard Millsap, Trevor Nealon, and Scott Davis - will release their fifth studio album Duende, on January 13th. Defined as a spirit of passion and inspiration, Duende solidly puts forth that mood with songs exploring interpersonal relationships, communication, and social issues via a groove infused, divinely relaxed style.
Things kick off with the earnest, warm plea for another chance on “All I’m Asking,” which immediately pulls you in with its infectious backbeat and lush melody. Duende also includes the carefree vibe of “Last Minute Man” and the high-energy roots rocker “Trouble Came Early” which were premiered pre-release, as well as seven other originals including the sultry, trippy groove of “Sugar Queen” (based on a character from Plath’s The Bell Jar), the romantic jam “Deep Is Love” and “Road Dust Wheels” which fuses Latin rhythms in a song about the memory that lingers as people leave their families for a better life. Duende is rounded out by the contemplative shuffler “Keys To The Kingdom,” the soulfully funktastic tale of a woman working her way into his heart on “Daddy Long Legs” and the ethereal “Cracking The Code” before closing with “Green Grass of California” a gently soothing number about marijuana and its legalization.
Duende is infused with the spirit of the blues, rock and roll, country, soul, and more; capturing the essence of Americana and conveying a musical passion evident through dynamite grooves, thoughtful lyrics, and the smooth vocals of Jurdi and Quist all of which permeate your speakers leaving you on a musical high.
Singer-songwriter AJ Hobbs teamed up with Ted Russell Kamp on his first full-length, Too Much Is Never Enough, which is due February 17th. Combining intimately personal storytelling with an outlaw spirit, Hobbs brings a soulful authenticity to the twelve track project which feature country, Texas, and gospel stylings.
Hobbs bursts out of the gate with the rousing, foot-stomping opener “Too Much Is Never Enough” which recounts his own battle with bottle before rolling into “Life Without You” a honky tonk ready number about not having a complete life without that one special person, and “The Loser” about a man who ditches the day job for the road. “I nearly lost the will to live just working that 9-5/Now the only thing that I can’t lose is the feeling of being free.”
The country gospel groover “Daddy Loved The Lord” is elevated by a fabulous piano, twangy guitar, and shuffling percussion while “Eastside” is a slow burner, a soulful, emotional ballad (recalling The Band) where he implores one to “Take a long ride to the Eastside honey and lay all your troubles down on me”. “Shit Just Got Real,” featuring the clavinet, adds some swagger and humor in a traditional barroom anthem, “Are You Going to Tennessee” is a jaunty ode to the state that offers much and “A Whole Lot of You and Me” (penned by Kamp) is a delightful romantic shuffler.
Too Much Is Never Enough is rounded out with the flirty mid-tempo duet “Take It Slow” which features Dominique Pruitt sharing a wink and a nod, “Don’t think so fast I’d like to take it slow…..We’ll just lay low til everybody clears out of the barroom/And then we'll take it slow as far as they all know/The quicker we get out of here the slower we can go”; a horn infused take on the classic “The Bottle Let Me Down” and “Tomorrow I’ll Be Hurtin’” which tells of the often lonely, costly life on the road. “Sometimes it feels like heaven, most days I’m going to hell/All you want is water but there’s nothing in the well/So help me if you can put something in my jar/Tomorrow I’ll be hurting tonight I’ll be a star.”
Hobbs delivers an album that is lyrically and sonically compelling; all the while being unabashedly honest in conveying a man’s weaknesses and strengths in a manner that is sincere, immediate, and relatable. Even though it’s only January, Too Much Is Never Enough is an early sure thing that will undoubtedly be found on many a best of year end lists.