There is something really special about hearing an album from an artist who is completely new to you and knowing from the first verse of the first song that it’s going to be good; very good. Such is the case with The Day After The Night Before, an eleven-song release from singer-songwriter, Terri Binion due March 25th.
The title of the album sums up its origin and direction. With stories born from a year of personal tragedy and loss, it carries the listener with her on the journey from being lost to again finding direction and purpose.
Banjo, steel guitar, lyrics dripping with imagery and flawless vocals are constants throughout, beginning with the opening song, “Long Way Back” and continuing through to the closer, “My Satellite”. Highlights from this excellent album include, “Tiny Little Land Mines “Grace In Mid City”, and “10 Burden Song”.
Try to imagine Joni Mitchell, meets Amy Winehouse, meets banjo; all in the best possible way. If you’re looking for a musical breath of fresh air, you’ll find it in Binion’s The Day After The Night Before.
Review by Harriett. You can find her tweeting about her love of music @harriett0312
Singer-songwriter James Shead's latest single "Own Way Home" is from his recently released album, A Light For The Fires. The lush, mid-tempo, and highly emotional, tune recalls waking up without her, fully knowing she is independent and will be okay.....but Shead's rich, sensitive vocals leave you wondering whether he will be too.
"Moring sun on my skin
Empty space lying next to me
I can't close my eyes, dream of her again
But I know shes alright
Maybe she walks for miles
Maybe she wears that smile
Maybe, maybe oh
She knows her own way home"
Watch the video here
Rod Melancon’s upcoming EP, LA 14, due April 22nd for Blue Élan Records is a short, dark project that puts forth a picture of South Louisiana, an area Melancon knows intimately, and the people that reside there. Produced by Brian Whelan [Dwight Yoakam’s lead guitarist] “Perry” opens the project with a pulsing, electronic, (almost ominous) percussive introduction on a driving country rock number about a misguided man lost in violence and addiction. Melancon’s strong songwriting continues through the blues and rock soaked numbers including the incredibly heartfelt “Dwayne and Me,” the story of the close bond with a second cousin and the alarming, emotional “The Lights of Carencro” which (through a combination of narrative and a metal-esque melody) tells of the tragic death of his brother in 1976.
Rounding out the collection is “A Man Like Me Shouldn’t Own A Gun” and “By Her Side.” The former is a too brief humorous honky-tonk ready tale of a trouble causing (or trouble finds him) gentleman. “As he wrote up my prescription he says boy you listen you know a man like me shouldn’t own a guy….is that really necessary?” The latter is a beautiful, haunting ballad (featuring Marty Rifkin) telling of a love that transcends even death.
Melancon has created a reflective and powerful collection centering around life, loss and redemption with complex characters and stories with depth that stay with you long after the last note has played and last word has been sung.
If there’s an EP that gets your ready for warmer weather, afternoons by the water, tailgating or just hanging out on the deck, Pre-Party is it. Casey Donahew is set to release his sixth full-length album All Night Party this fall, however, come April 8th, fans can get a “sneak peek” at new music with a brand new four track EP, Pre-Party.
While there are loads of serious singer-songwriters out there, and Donahew does that as well, sometimes you just need straight up fun and Donahew delivers. The four tracks here are quintessential CDB: energetic, up-tempo and perfectly describing a way of life (as he has always done) that many are familiar with. From opening track “Country Song” to the foot-stomping vibe of “Feels This Right” Donahew keeps the energy high with songs that are sure to sound just as great coming out of your speakers as they are hearing them live, including the undeniably infectious, “That’s Why We Ride” (an ode for all the rodeo lovers) and closer “White Trash Baby” which is infused with Donahew’s trademark humor.
It’s a brief set that definitely brings the good times and leaves you anticipating the All Night Party ahead.
Singer-songwriter Simon Linsteadt (lead vocalist/guitarist with Steep Ravine) released his self-titled debut solo album this past January. The twelve-song project is a collection of gentle folk songs that focus on Linsteadt's songcraft as well as his intimate writing and performing style. The songs are soothingly sparse, yet atmospheric; dealing with observations, questioning and restlessness.
The dreamlike “Half Moonlit Mood” leads off a collection that ebbs and flows smoothly on such tracks as the haunting "Ft. Bragg," the lively New Orleans flaired "The Sentinel" and the bluegrass sounds of "Time & Again" before concluding with the thoughtful "Pine Hill Road" on a record perfectly suited for quiet reflection.
Steve Moakler’s self-titled debut EP is creating a buzz on the country scene. Newly released on March 11, it contains 5 songs that introduce the world to this Pennsylvania native. Having written songs recorded by such artists as Dierks Bentley and Kellie Pickler, Moakler has a knack for writing songs that identify with audiences and artists alike.
Moakler’s EP kicks off with an introduction to where the artist hails from. “Steel Town” is a mid tempo blue collar anthem about the hardships that face those who work in the industry and the sense of community. The lyrics are straightforward but heartfelt, “...In a steel town, you learn how to bend and not break…” and “...You can leave but your heart will hang around…”
The lead off single is “Suitcase” and is a perfect choice for the season. The sweet lyrics are wrapped perfectly around Moakler’s warm and engaging vocals. Meanwhile, “Jealous Girl” is an up tempo, breezy song that explores the singer’s love towards a girl he can’t have. The play on words here is excellent and this should be a contender for the next single.
“Summer Without Her” is the only ballad here and feels like it would be at home on country radio. The song paints a visual of times past and Moakler’s vocals here shine on the lyrics “...The sun ain’t as gold as the memories I hold…” The EP’s closer, “Love Drunk” is a fun, party tune featuring an awesome guitar riff throughout. It has a cool vibe that will have listeners jamming all Summer long.
Moakler’s EP is available wherever music is sold. Grab yourself a copy!
Review by Kelli. Find her writing about her love of music on Thoughts From A Gypsy Soul
Breaking the proverbial mold and offering up something undeniably unique is exactly what Shooter Jennings does on his latest, Countach (for Giorgio). The project is Jennings’ tribute to Giorgio Moroder, the Italian producer whose contributions to disco and 80’s films will not be forgotten (Flashdance’s Jennifer Beals and The Neverending Story’s Falkor make appearances on the album cover).
Countach plays as one continuous collection with breaks in between songs being spoken word or movie dialogue creating an entire piece of work that somehow successfully marries genres you never imagined would work well together. Synthesizers, reverb, and dance floor ready tunes mix in with country elements starting off with the elder Jennings’ “Don’t You Think This Outlaw Bit’s Done Got Out of Hand” before taking a sharp left on “Loading...” quickly answering one's initial reaction of “what exactly is this” with “this is something pretty badass.”
“Loading…” flows seamlessly into “Countach” which recalls the electronic heyday of artists like New Order with pulsating drum loops and electronic elements segueing into the dance floor ready “From Here to Eternity” (who knew Jennings' voice was so ripe for techno?). “I’m Left You’re Right She’s Gone” plays like some electronic country punk hybrid that quickly becomes an earworm in the best way possible. Featuring Steve Young, “Born to Die” regroups with a true roots sound before dropping some serious futuristic fiddle-laden beats and circling back again while “Chase” bridges the gap to “Love Kills” which makes you want to break out your black fishnet gloves and shoulder pads. The album is rounded out by two strong tracks: Brandi Carlile’s sweetly ethereal vocals are featured on Jennings’ remarkable version of “The Neverending Story” while Marilyn Manson channels Bowie on the goth-rock closer, “Cat People.”
It’s incredibly refreshing to see an artist follow his inspiration and produce something totally unexpected and creative like Jennings has with Countach...it's a record that leaves you wondering just what he'll do next.
California native Jake Loban continues his story through his new, self-produced EP Chasing Fire. The four-track set kicks off with the smoky pedal steel-laden title track that details the end of a toxic love before segueing into the lively "Califonia Kid" an ode to the state, the people and the good times had there. Harmonica perfectly captures the sentiment in "Solitary Blues" which deals with having to chose between a woman and music, and having done so, being left alone and lonely. Persevering through the hard times is the focus of roots rocker "Tough Love" which rounds out a brief set that you should definitely give a listen.
Husband and wife duo The Grahams' 2015 release Glory Bound gets the deluxe treatment with five newly recorded, David Garza-produced tracks. This deluxe edition offers two new versions of songs from the original album, two re-imaginings of unreleased Grahams songs and one rendition of an Alejandro Escovedo tune.
This time around, The Grahams brought in some of their famous friends to assist in bringing these tracks to life. Sean and Sara Watkins give an updated take on the propulsive opener "Glory Bound" with Sara alternating vocals with Alyssa as the song moves forward like the train on the cover. Garza and Suzanna Choffel are featured on the gospel-flavored "Mama" which also includes contributions from The Milk Carton Kids' Kenneth Pattengale on guitar and John Fullbright on piano. Fullbright (who also plays harmonica) and Alyssa share vocals on the affecting “Tender Annabelle" which finds Matt Hubbard adding a softness with his Wurlitzer organ while Escovedo's "Broken Bottle", the only song that the duo performs themselves, is possibly even more impactful than the original. The sweet, yet heart wrenching “The Lonely Ones,” closes out a collection that was forged out of friendship and a communal love of music, allowing others to come in, share, and shine, on an edition that is definitely glory bound.
“Songwriter. Mentor. Curator. Teacher. Historian.” - Owen Temple on Kent Finlay
There are few individuals whose devotion to nurturing songwriters has had as great an impact as Kent Finlay. For over forty years, Finlay, owner of the beloved Cheatham Street Warehouse in San Marcos, provided artists a place to hone their craft while being a mentor, champion, and friend. Finlay passed in 2015 on Texas Independence Day at the age of 77 but left behind a legacy felt in Texas and beyond. His story, and the story of Cheatham Street, is brought to light in a new book, Kent Finlay,: Dreamer: The Musical Legacy Behind Cheatham Street Warehouse.
Written and compiled by Brian T. Atkinson and Jenni Finlay (Kent’s daughter) the book honors and celebrates the man, his life, and his everlasting legacy. The first half of the book is full of stories from Kent’s life told to Jenni by Kent himself. The accounts include stories of his youth, the importance of his Texas roots and how he began doing what he loved. There are also numerous reflections - full of wit, wisdom and humor - about his relationships and experiences with artists from George Strait to Todd Snider to Randy Rogers.
The second half of the book is overflowing with kind words and stories - from a litany of “who’s who” in the songwriting community including Hal Ketchum, Bruce Robison and Ray Wylie Hubbard to name a few- full of love, admiration and respect for a man who clearly meant a great deal to them, not only professionally, but personally as well.
The undeniable fact that music was in Finlay's blood pulses through every page of Dreamer, and when finished reading, you will know some things for certain. Finlay deeply loved Texas. He loved songs and the writers who wrote them, and he loved the camaraderie he found in his life’s purpose of nurturing sincere songwriters. And you will know, without a doubt, that all of the love he gave, was returned to him in abundance.
Accompanying the book is the album, Dreamer: A Tribute to Kent Finlay, which features more than a dozen “Finlay disciples”, including James McMurtry, Walt Wilkins, Adam Carroll and Slaid Cleaves, singing songs Finlay wrote or co-wrote before concluding with Jamie Lin Wilson’s stirring rendition (along with the Hill Country Choir) of “Hill Country.”