Singer-songwriter Sarah Peacock returns with her new album Dream On on May 10th. The all acoustic set, recorded at Eddie's Attic and the Bugle Boy, showcases Sarah's rich and powerful vocals [reminding one at times of Brandy Clark] paired with only her acoustic guitar for an incredibly intimate listen.
The ten song set kicks off with "Haystack" a ready for the weekend roots rocker telling of that one place you can go and just be accepted as you are. That's followed by "Without Me" which mixes the pain and anger of possibly being cheated on, "Tornado In A Trailer Park" about that one person who "bulldozed every dream" and the uplifting "Make A Little Room." Peacock offers a positive look at letting go on the ballad "Until Goodbye" while in the plucky "High School" she talks of that one person who can turn you to butter when they look at you, and in the soaring "All I Know" she wonders if her heart can open to find love again. Dream On is rounded out by the personal and affecting anti-bullying song, "The Cook Kids" which reminds that you never know what people are going through. "When you get to the source of the pain there ain't no such things as the cool kids."
Dream On consists of what life is made of: enjoyment, struggle, love, anger and sorrow in beautifully told stories that touch the heart and mind....and even encourage you to dream on too.
After bringing us three impressive studio albums, Nashville-based bluegrass group, The Barefoot Movement, returns with a live album. Set to release May 13th, Live in L.A. is steeped in the sounds of traditional bluegrass and folk music, while being infused with youthful exuberance. It’s the perfect showcase for their musical acumen and love of performing.
The album covers a lot of ground, with eleven songs from their previous works and two new songs in “Pressing Onward” and “Anywhere I Plant My Feet,” both of which take differing sonic and lyrical approaches to landing in a safe place. The former tackles the struggle by focusing on the will and drive to overcome setbacks. The latter speaks of the pull of new places and experiences while knowing the time for settling down will come and be welcome.
Foot stomping beats and rapid-fire lyrical delivery are represented on “Bowling Green” and “Rocky Island” where the singers’ harmonies never falter and their playing is about as good as you’ll hear. In addition, there are three stellar instrumentals in “Sheepherder,” “High Road to Linton” and “Shuckin’ the Brush.” No words are needed with these songs. The melodies speak for themselves.
Bluegrass and folk connoisseurs, and novices as well, are sure to find a fresh take on the elements that drew them to the music in the first place. There’s no auto-tune, and no production trickery….just the joy of a good story well told. With groups like The Barefoot Movement on the scene, the future of bluegrass is in safe hands.
Check out their story at www.thebarefootmovementofficial.com. Live in L.A. will be available on iTunes and other digital outlets on May 13th.
Review by Harriett. Find her on Twitter
Charlottetown’s Nudie captures classic country on his latest full-length, Everything’s Different in the Night. Released on April 22nd, the album balances that definitive sound while simultaneously being incredibly fresh - infusing earnest songwriting and welcoming, emotive vocals in every track. The twelve song collection kicks off with self-awareness in the two-stepper “It Ain’t Gonna Happen Today” which tells of an unwillingness to let those bad habits go. “And when I find the strength to leave you that’s when the good times will really start I’ll finally know what it feels like for a man to walk around without a messed up heart.” Heartache and sorrow abound on the mid-tempo “I Had To Learn About Sheila The Hard Way” and the superb tear-in-your-beverage-of-choice waltz, “That’s All I’ve Got.” However, it’s not all sadness - at least melodically. There’s the charming duet with Sylvie Smith, “Mr. Why’d You Come To Texas,” the Cash-recalling, horn-laden (with Ryan Weber on trumpet) “I’ve Been Here Before,” the rockabilly “Hearts and Flowers” and the rockin’ “Why’d Ya Do It,” which while ready for dancin’, are lyrically melancholy.
The album is rounded out with a perfect rendition of “If You Really Want Me To I’ll Go” and a pair of songs that convey the difficulties of distance on relationships, “Island Girls” and “Train You Took My Baby”, before closing out with “Everything’s Different In The Night.”
The songs of heartache, longing, and love on Everything's Different In The Night comprise a superb collection that is satisfying no matter when (day, night or those hours somewhere in between) you choose to listen to it.
Fiddle, mandolin, banjo, and washboard percussion unite to form a driving collection on the Hackensaw Boys' latest, Charismo, which was released on April 15th via Free Dirt Records.
From the opening track, “C’mon Baby Don’t Be Against Me,” it’s evident the Boys are in fine form bringing their gritty, often raucous and always real roots music to the masses. Led by founding member, guitarist and songwriter David Sickmen, the quintet also includes Ferd Moyse (fiddle), Jimmy Stelling (banjo), Thomas Oliver (mandolin/bass) and Brian Gorby (washboard percussion), who tell stories straight out of Appalachia that would be equally at home at a honky-tonk in the big city, a campfire in the woods, or a back porch in the burbs. Filled with tales of everyday struggle, triumph, love, and unhappiness, Charismo contains a bluegrass meets old time meets punk spirit, on which the Boys exude a genuine resilience.
There’s also an earnestness that flows through each word whether they’re singing about someone’s desire to win at all costs (“Content Not Seeking Thrills (Ain’t You)”), pondering a relationship (“Happy For Us In The Down” on which he sings, “what I want is to see you smile, to never see you frown/and to be sad with you in the up and happy for us in the down.”) or being in love with someone who doesn’t know you exist (“Flora”). On other tracks, the traveling melody of “The Sweet” perfectly conveys the message of the tune, “I’m searching for a home a place I can be/ where I’ll exist…I ain’t found it yet remains unseen I’m searching for a home a place I can be.” while there’s a hint of Ireland in “Ol’ Nick.” Charismo is rounded out with “Worlds Upside Down” and a true crowd sing along about being true to yourself even though someone may want you to change, “You Want Me To Change.”
The Hackensaw Boys have been making music in one form or another for the better part of seventeen years and if the energetic spirit of Charismo is any indication, they have many more years ahead of them...which is lucky for us.
Mountain Heart is set to return with Blue Skies, their first studio album in five years, on May 6th. The album finds the group reinvented with front man Josh Shilling being the only member previously featured on a Mountain Heart release. The rest of the line-up now includes violinist Molly Cherryholmes (of 5-time Grammy-nominees Cherryholmes), Jeff Partin, Aaron Ramsey, and Seth Taylor and while the quintet stays true its bluegrass roots, they add R&B, country, and jazz alongside some heavenly harmonies and brilliant musicianship creating a high-energy, soulful sound.
The ten-song collection, which was produced by the band and cut live to tape, begins with the lazy day jam “Blue Skies,” a clear as day toe tapper reminding one to “set your spirit free every once in a while.”
There’s a hint of a bluesy Michael McDonald in "Miss Me When I'm Gone" a matter of fact tale of not knowing a good thing until it’s gone. “Sip your whiskey, drink your wine, do what you have to to ease your mind, but mark my words when you’re all alone, you’re gonna miss me when I’m gone.” The group puts a bluegrass spin on Dylan’s “Maggie’s Farm” before segueing into the moving ballad "No One To Listen" which conveys the loneliness that often accompanies chasing your dreams. “Every call I’ve made, every letter that I wrote says life sure is great way out here on the road, but you know even a gypsies need a friend.”
Mountain Heart mixes it up with the immensely soulful "She'll Come Back To Me," the fast-paced, dark-edged instrumental “The Bad Grounds” and the southern spiritual “Have You heard About The Old Hometown.” They merge jazz and bluegrass on the clever “I Can’t Get Over You” and deliver emotionally on the impassioned ballad “Hurting.” The album is rounded out by the pop-folk of “Addicted” which is not only the closing track but also the way you’ll feel after listening to Blue Skies. And it’s definitely an addiction you can feel good about.
Releasing May 6th, Ryan Beaver’s anticipated Rx is just the remedy you’ve been looking for. Anchored by the hopeful resilience of “Dark” and the melancholy nostalgia and idealism of “If I Had A Horse,” Rx is replete with songs that are lyrically and sonically compelling, interesting, effective, and universally relatable. Beaver, who co-wrote nine of the twelve tracks, brings insight to a myriad of emotions including sentimentality, innocence, and longing and merges them with a welcome, edgy frankness; successfully conveying sentiments to either male or female in “a-ha” moments that have you realizing he nailed it.
With songs whose melodies compliment and carry the story, Beaver isn’t afraid to push the envelope and veer off course providing the listener with sonic surprises around every corner beginning with the tumultuous take-off of “Rum and Roses” which prepares you for the bumpy ride that is giving into temptation while knowing there will be repercussions, and possibly regret. “Some nights you just wanna feel something comfortable/and the devil that you know is better than the devil that you don’t.” (Beaver draws out the “you” and the listener can sense that even though he didn’t write this Josh Osborne and Ryan Tyndell penned tune, he’s lived it.)
There’s a downright smoky, sexy grittiness to “Fast” about enjoying the ride of a relationship that’s moving in the express lane “I love the way you hate way the glass looks in your hand when it’s empty/I got just enough of a buzz to look u in the eye and say something risky…. here we go,” while sharp lyrics merge with an ominous vibe on the out and out wicked, “Gravedigger” which leaves you swirling in a psychedelic rainbow of feelings after having a number done on your heart. “I drank every drop of your poison you served it up in such a pretty cup it ought a be illegal your love's just plain evil, I swear you keep a shovel in your trunk.”
The romantic mid-tempo “When This World Ends” enamors…because who doesn’t want someone to tell them they’ll “love you til the end?” while “Habit,” which contains one of the most truthful lines on the entire record - “Why can’t love stay like it is when it’s brand new? - wraps you in an enchanting and emotional melody in a story about a female who manages to always leave. In “Vegas,” it’s the memories that won’t disappear in a sincere tug-at-the-heartstrings ballad which uses clever word play to want what happens in Sin City to perhaps last a little longer. Continuing that sentiment is "Still Yours," an immediate ear grabber with an undeniably delightful melody, the tune delivers on that all too common experience of being unable to get your mind off of someone no matter how hard you try. “I try to find some secret road, but there ain’t a street that you don’t own.”
A few acoustic lines of Kristofferson’s “Jesus Was A Capricorn” blend seamlessly into “Kristofferson” (the two are in the same key) which pays homage to the icon while also tipping its hat to all of the songwriters trying to do their thing. Rx is rounded out by the devastatingly honest title track, that’s all at once powerful, ruminative and wrenching. “Fools like me they just can’t help, to try to find holy water in a whiskey well/It takes a little more medicine than it used to take/It takes a little more of the highs to chase the lows away/It takes a little more of the night to make it through the day.”
Beaver has said that he titled the album Rx because the songs are like medicine to him, but what he provides in Rx is a musical balm for anyone's soul...and one of the best albums of 2016 thus far.
Jill & Julia are singers, songwriters and sisters who signed their first record deal with Lamon Records Nashville in 2013. Their original style of music – a hybrid of indie, alternative, country and folk – is on full display in their latest single, “Sounds.” From their 2015 EP Cursed, “Sounds” is a haunting tune that spotlights the duo’s harmonies. A dark, almost gothic feeling of loneliness permeates a song about things (or people) that linger in memory, long after they should be gone.
"Faded pictures line the walls
Faint voices fill the halls
For the echo and I can't take
Myself to walk away"
Five-time winner of West Australian Music Awards’ “Best Country Music Act,” Ruby Boots (Bex Chilcott) lives and breathes music, becoming one of the pre-eminent Australian artists on the Americana/alt-country scene. In 2015 she released her critically acclaimed debut album, Solitude, a ten song collection that includes “Wrap Me In A Fever,” the West Australian Music (WAM) 2015 Country Song of The Year.
Released on the iconic alt-country label Lost Highway Records in Australia, Solitude will bring your ears to attention at first listen. Chilcott can rouse deep emotion with her sharp lyrics and full-bodied passionate voice whether singing about hurt and relationships or living free. Opening track, “Cola and Wine” will draw you in with it’s opening line, “Is your bottle half empty or is it too full?” and genuine roots-rock melody as does the melancholy “Ruby Blue” on which she sings “Thirsty as a river runs deep for you.” There’s a frailty to the pedal steel driven “Middle of Nowhere” while “Lovin’ In The Fall” about coming to the realization that maybe you found the one to tame your heart, begs a twirl on the dance floor “Now I thought I could go on home, not give it another thought/But lying to yourself is the hardest part.” The album is rounded out with the retro feel of “Baby Pull Over,” the twang of “Walk Away,” the keys centered “No Stranger” and the quite superb “Long Time Coming.”
It’s a record you’ll most definitely want to give a listen, or two, or three…but don’t keep it to yourself, as Solitude begs to be shared.
“As a teenager who loves country music, it was hard to relate to the lyrics of songs that I heard on the radio.” says Bailey James adding, “I thought, I could do this and with the help of my parents and great professionals in Nashville, we created an exciting debut record.”
While she is only 13 years old, Bailey James has a voice beyond her years. The young songstress will release her full length debut album, Where It All Begins, on April 29th. The first single from the collection entitled, “Texas Swing,” is a pleasant traditional country tune that any fan looking for an alternative to terrestrial radio should be happy to hear. Co-written with her producer, Dave Norris and writer/vocalist Lala Deaton, “Texas Swing” is youthful, fun and innocent, with a hummable melody that tells a sweet tale of young love and a swing hanging from the weeping willow tree.
“Sitting here waiting on my baby
Here he comes hand full of daisies
Mama said he’s cute
I said ain’t he”
Singer-songwriter, Tawnya Reynolds, released her third album on February 1, 2016. The aptly named 8 Track contains eight songs, over half of which were written and co-produced by this talented artist.
It’s easy from the first song, “Wander,” how Reynolds landed a spot on the fourth season of NBC’s The Voice. She draws you in immediately with her silky vocals, and keeps you there with prominent mandolin and fiddle alongside clever lyrics about leaving love behind to follow your dreams; wondering about the consequences as she wanders.
The albums current, steel guitar driven, single, “The B-Side,” tells of the longing for “what ain’t, but what ought to be.” Relatable to anyone wanting something more than the ordinary in their music and in their day to day experiences, it’s a real highlight. 8 Track closes with “Southwest,” a beautiful song about the peace found in coming home to familiar places and faces “when this guitar gets heavy on my back.”
With country radio beginning to embrace more female artists than they have in years, program directors would be wise to include Tawnya Reynolds in the mix. You can add her to your mix by visiting her website
Review by Harriett W. Find her on Twitter