Recorded at Signal Hill Studio in Austin, Shawn Nelson’s latest full-length, You Are Me, was released in late 2016. The self-produced project, Nelson’s ninth, was inspired by a year-long residency at Austin’s Hole In The Wall and contains eleven tracks that flow beautifully, like the Colorado River after a heavy rain. A mix of brand new songs, covers and acoustic takes on previously released tunes, You Are Me begins with the heartwarming sentiment of Townes Van Zandt’s “Colorado Girl” which segues seamlessly into “Oh Tonight” whose delicate mandolin strikes a chord in a song about growing old and living life, “There ain’t no taking no easy road/There ain’t no shortcuts that I know/I’m out here living life you see and time keeps catching up with me.” Nelson and his stellar players - Morgan Thompson (upright bass), Fletcher Murchinson (mandolin & harmony vocals), and Matt Slusher (acoustic guitar & harmony vocals) – present a fun, jaunty take on “My Old-Time Gal,” get fabulously funky on the bass-heavy “Nobody Got A Hold On Me” and rejuvenate “P&L Midway” with a jug band feel. The album also includes the Carter Family’s “Wildwood Flower,” the soulful title track and the bittersweet harmonica-laden, “Streets of Gold.” Nelson closes everything out with “Austin” an ode to the town that, until recently, he called home. Tender and truthful, You Are Me is a well-crafted and warm acoustic collection from a singer-songwriter who should most definitely be on your radar.
Recorded at Ramble Creek Studios in Austin, The Merles debut album, Hate To Say Goodbye brings the classic country sound of yesteryear to a new generation. Released on February 10th, the fourteen-track project puts forth tales of heartache, lost loves, and drinking in the stories of a man who hits rock bottom and does some terrible things – often more than once.
Front man Todd Deathrage and company - Loren Tarnow (vocals), Derek Tarnow (guitar), Matt Winegardner (drums) and Phil Spencer (bass) - kick things off with the shuffler “I Told You So” before turning to the title track which deals with the push and pull of the road and family, and current single “Room 242” which conveys the tale of a down and out man who now lives where he once loved. Meanwhile, The Merles juxtapose melody and lyrics in the piano-centered “Six Pack of Heartache” which will have you ready to two-step as he drowns his sorrows, the jaunty “Alcohol and Issues,” which documents his relationship with bottle, and the sorrowful “My Payback." The album is rounded out with “If the Walls Could Talk” where a victim of love recalls being fooled, and the rockabilly “What the Hell I Did Last Night” before closing with the up-tempo, yet firmly (and sadly) decisive, “She's Leaving Me.”
Basil McJagger (The Derailers), Geoff Queen (Hayes Carll), Eddie Dickerson (Curtis Grimes), and Michael St. Clair (Polyphonic Spree) all lend their talents to the project, complimenting the five-piece’s sound centered on male-female harmonies, pedal steel, and brush drum that put forth that traditional country and rockabilly sound making for an enjoyable listen start to finish.
Cincinnati-based Americana Family Band, Edward + Jane emit an uplifting, warm folk spirit on their new EP, As Family We Gather. Released on February 24th, the brief collection (five tracks) begins with the delightfully irresistible “Days” a song that proclaims a surprising positivity in that no matter how big one’s problems are in life, we have to keep moving, “Never thought I’d feel this way, everything will be okay.” The duo’s glorious harmonies and knack for crafting charming melodies shine on every track including “Little House” a song that reminds one that wherever you may be, home is with the one you love, the delicate “We Will Meet Again,” the spirited “Blood and Bones” and the string-filled closing track “The Table” which stresses the importance (on many levels) of fellowship.
As Family We Gather is a heartwarming, welcoming, truth-filled record that focuses on the importance of closeness of family and the ones you love. Purchase/Download the EP HERE
Hailing from Texas, Charlie and The Regrets released their new album Rivers in the Streets on February 25th. The story songs in the all original nine-track collection put forth a realistic portrait of life in the place they call home, Houston. Kicking things off is the irresistible “Proud Man,” which injects humor (a la Shinyribs) into a rousing tune that takes on relationships and how they change a man, “I will fry you a potato/I will bring homes slabs of meat/I will get you fancy lotion I will rub it on your feet…and if we ever disagree, you will be right/I will be wrong.” That’s followed by the dance floor ready “The Gavel,” which through its swinging melody tackles the tale of a middle class guy in prison for weed possession “Now the state has got my body and the county just sold my truck” while the blunt “Baytown” (which recalls the Georgia Satellites) with its gritty guitar riffs, addresses that part of town you can go to maybe get a little crazy - and puts forth some serious truth, “Sometimes to stay sane, you gotta lose your mind.”
Front man Charlie Harrison (who co-wrote all the tracks) has a knack for balancing somber topics with welcome doses of humor such as in the jaunty “Last Time I Was Here” which tells the tale of a man getting out of prison after 25 years - “For the life of me I don’t know why I drove the car that day but you know Bill did all the shooting and the clerk lived anyway” - apologizing in his own way and asking the one he loved years ago to take him back; and the frenzied “What Can I Do” (really listen to those lyrics!) which relates how a down and out guy tries to get over his blues by running all over town.
And while Rivers in the Streets is a lot of fun, he and his stellar band display a different, more serious side on the record with tunes such as the gentle, guitar-centered “Houston Rain,” the moody, heartbroken waltz, “New Night,” and “No Good News” which closes things out on an incredibly somber note. “Ain’t no good news in this town/Hope lies buried in the ground.”
Rivers in the Streets is gritty, tender, humorous, sad, and sometimes irreverent…. but there's a sincerity that flows through each song. It's a well-balanced, solid listen, that will undoubtedly find it's way to music lovers ears well beyond their beloved Houston.
Mark McKinney returned January 20th with his new album, World In Between, which is the singer-songwriter’s fifth release and first since 2013. The album contains eleven tracks, all written or co-written by McKinney, that center around life, love, struggle, and resilience and include recent TRRR #1 “Sunshine” a touching song about his wife’s strength as she battled illness.
Harmonica leads (and pulls you right in) on the opening track, “90 Miles” on which McKinney’s vocals convey a strength, warmth, and resolve on a tune about life as a troubadour while things take a darker turn on “Bridges” whose ominous undertones (courtesy of banjo and fiddle) compliment the story of a woman who keeps stoking the fires of an old relationship, and “Alright” which tells of a man whose idea of fun keeps getting him into emotional trouble “Cause I’m all yours on beer, weed, and good whiskey and right now you’re exactly what I need.”
While McKinney deals with grittier parts of love, he also deals with the sweeter as well. Written with his wife, “Bacon & Eggs” is a delightful ode to being with someone and having each other’s back “You’re my twin soul and two hearts make us whole” while “Yours” is upbeat and romantic and “Close” brings the heat “When my pillow talk turns to a whisper, she knows it’s time to get close.”
The album is rounded out with the humorous “Mondays,” the practically perfect “Stories” where he sings “Every day is another page, another 24hour gift/And there’s no such thing as growing old aw hell that’s just a myth” and “Revolution.”
World In Between is a strong collection of well-written songs that reflect and elicit a myriad of emotions, just like life itself. For more information visit HERE.
Sometimes when you have a famous family member or two, it’s difficult to forge your own way, but Jenny Gill has no issue doing just that on her debut project, The House Sessions. Merging the Blues, Country, and more, the six song self-penned autobiographical collection begins with the incredibly sweet and soulful “Lonely Lost Me,” which with its divine 70’s groove, conveys the contentment of finding the one, “Like a broken record I was stuck in a groove and skipping over the scratches instead of changing the tune, but that vinyl now is shining, it’s like I’m all brand new.” The romantic “Look Where Loving You Landed Me” continues, and captures, that theme with picture perfect lyrics, “I was a bluebird flying around in circles with my head in the clouds, then I found you and couldn’t wait to get my feet on the ground” while “Lean on Love” (recalling Bonnie Raitt) infuses bluesy-gospel influences on a tune that encourages following the heart, and letting love lead the way.
Gill rounds out the short set with “Whiskey Words,” an airy ballad that finds her wishing an ex would reach out when he’s sober, and the intensely personal “Your Shadow” on which Gill opens up about her insecurities growing up with her famous father [Vince Gill] and pursuing her own musical career, “… terrified that I’m reaching too high and someone will say I’ll never compare and I’ll pour my heart out and no one will care/So I’ve got to find a dream that’ll shine on its own in the light of your shadow,” before closing with the funky, “The Letter.”
With The House Sessions, Gill delivers a genuinely lovely EP that finds her successfully carving a place for herself that’s individual as she is.
Released on February 10th, Chuck Prophet’s latest full-length, Bobby Fuller Died For Your Sins is a thirteen-track set dealing with death and violence, lost love, and dreams set in an atmosphere Prophet has appropriately dubbed, “California noir.” The all-analog project, which was recorded at Hyde Street Studio in San Francisco (the same spot he did his very first recording session), kicks off with the jangly title track, a nostalgic look at the one hit wonder (“I Fought The Law”) before turning sexy and suggestive on the gritty “Your Skin” - where he delivers seductive lines like “Like a spoon of honey dripping down my throat kinda makes me wonder what you’re hiding in that coat;” and stunningly tender and romantic on “Open Up Your Heart” a ballad where feelings are bared “I don’t carry anything unless you count this torch for you.”
Along with his band, The Mission Express - Stephanie Finch (vocals, keyboards, guitar), Kevin White (bass), Vicente Rodriguez (drums, vocals) and James DePrato (guitar) – Prophet takes you down an ominous path on “Coming Out In Code” and goes darker in the tale of a girl who encounters a “Killing Machine” before taking a somber tone remembering those we’ve lost in 2016 in the undeniably catchy “Bad Year for Rock and Roll.” The album also includes the groovy harmonies of “Jesus Was a Social Drinker” (cowbell!!) which compliment a tale of that “all around decent dude” in relation to a contemporary coupling, “We Got Up and Played” which shows the less glamorous life of a musician: a night in a club “wondering who will show” yet doing your job nonetheless, and personal favorite “Rider of the Train” before closing out with “Alex Nieto” a hardcore tribute to the Bay Area security guard who was killed in 2014.
Although I have listened to isolated tracks, I have never given a Prophet album a listen in its entirety until now – and that’s definitely something to be rectified. Prophet brings heft, heart, and honesty to songs with dynamic melodies and lyrical depth. Bobby Fuller Died For Your Sins is Prophet’s 14th album. I’ve got a lot of catching up to do.
After receiving critical praise with his two previous singles, Travis Rice returns with his latest, "Don't Waste The Rain." While "When The Fish Didn't Bite" and "Women, Water, and Beer" were heartfelt and good-time rockin' respectively, Rice's new single adds another dimension to the singer: sexy.
Penned by Rice, "Don't Waste The Rain" finds his rich baritone relaying the sultry tale of a man doing all he can to call his lady back home from work to spend a rainy, dreary day together indoors. It's a tune whose romantic melody and lyrics are bound to raise the temperature in any relationship.
"Right now we've got a perfect storm
Just begging me to keep you safe and warm
No we don;t get weather like this every day
So come on baby, let's not waste the rain"
Watch the video HERE
"These songs are snippets of the lessons I've learned and am still learning. Some people believe that fear is something we should live with, or that we should use it as motivation to achieve our goals. From my experience, I believe it's something to be conquered and routed out of every area of our lives. I try to live on a daily mission to seek and destroy all traces of fear and oppression in my life.”
British/Jamaican/Nigerian singer-songwriter Bianca Rose has been writing and composing for the best part of a decade. In 2007 she self-released her debut EP, Truth and Tiny Tragedies, and on January 30th returned with her debut full-length, No Fear Here.
The album begins with the ethereal “No Fear Here Part One,” a brief introduction, and continues with eleven additional tracks that fuse Pop, Folk and Gospel sensibilities on songs told from the female perspective. “Hidden” is a soft, horn-laden track about the parts of us that we may keep to ourselves until the right time or person comes along while “Eagles” takes a folkier approach on an irresistible tune about conquering fears and “Wall Paper Painting” fancies a nostalgic, romantic melody.
Interspersed are two spoken word tracks, one from the male perspective, “No Fear Here – Breis’ Story” and one from the female, “No Fear Here-Carina’s Story,” about a woman who finally believes she is enough and valued.
The album also includes the uplifting “You’re Beautiful,” “When It’s Gone” which reflects on the past but looks to the future, the subtle and romantic “Because of Love,” and album highlight “I Know Who Holds Tomorrow” which with its gentle strumming and religious connotation highlights how there no need to worry about the future because He knows what lies ahead,” before closing with “No Fear Here Part Two” where she sings with certainty “I’m gonna get there…and you have no doubt she will.
Bianca Rose is a soulful and ethereal voice whose No Fear Here brings songs that are thoughtful and empowering - demonstrating self-acceptance, optimism, and strength.
“We figured we might as well put both our names on it and just make it a thing,” says Will Kimbrough, “because the chemistry’s there, the writing’s there, the harmonies are there, and so is our mutual love of all the music these songs are derived from and inspired by.”
After years of writing, recording, touring and collaborating Brigitte DeMeyer and Will Kimbrough join together as an official duo on Mockingbird Soul which was released on January 27th. The twelve-song collection (of which the two co-wrote ten) begins with DeMeyer taking the lead on the soothing, romantic “Everything” which is followed by the “Broken Fences” a song that spotlight the duo’s harmonies, and the funky-blues of “The Juke” which features Kimbrough’s harmonica and DeMeyer’s sultry vocals. The diverse project includes the jazz inspired old-timey feel of “Running Round” lends itself to the theme of the passage of time, the bluesy gospel-tinged title track, the glorious duet “Little Easy,” and the affecting “I Can Hear Your Voice” which tells of the ache of a parent who is physically present but whose mind has flown.
Mockingbird Soul is rounded out with “Honey Bee” whose strong bass line alongside DeMeyer’s smoky vocals exudes a sexy playfulness, the tender “Carpet Bagger’s Lullaby” (which DeMeyer cowrote with Oliver Wood) and album highlight “Until Then” before closing with a cover of the Incredible String Band’s “October Song.”
By blending their varied influences, the duo has arranged a set of songs that are scaled back yet encompassing, crafting an album that’s varied and cohesive, compelling and enchanting, and ultimately, moving.