On March 24th, London’s Ned Roberts released his second album Outside My Mind on Aveline Records. This highly anticipated follow-up to his critically acclaimed self-titled debut retains Roberts’ folk sensibilities but displays an unmistakable sophistication. Relying predominately on acoustic guitar, piano and harmonica, the instrumentation is simple and the melodies beautifully arranged to complement Roberts’ crystal clear vocals and stirring lyrics.
The ten tracks follow the stages commonly experienced after the end of a romantic relationship and Roberts employs images of water on many of the songs to convey the accompanying emotions. The opening track, “Drifting Down” deals with trying to convince yourself you’re okay as you try to avoid the “rushing waters” of sadness. The familiar stage of being in limbo is artfully relayed in clear, snow-filled images on “Through The Arches.” (“Wiser eyes in the morning, nights are shaded blue/Why should I let my days go, spiraling out of you.”) “Ribbon Of Water” concludes that the process of getting over someone follows an unsteady, flowing line and in “Lights On The River” bittersweet memories begin to get further away. The album concludes with “Outside My Mind”, an ethereal reflection on what it will be like to run into your old love in the future after you have both moved on.
Listening to Outside My Mind is akin to spending time at an art gallery for a talented painter’s latest exhibition. Ned Roberts’ words and music paint lovely pictures worth taking time to gaze on and reflect upon. You can find out more about the artist as well as a link to purchase this excellent release HERE
North Carolina’s Sarah Shook & The Disarmers - Eric Peterson (guitars), John Howie Jr. (drums), Aaron Oliva (upright bass) and Phil Sullivan (pedal steel) - unapologetically deliver truth, grit, and a brazen, no-nonsense attitude on their Bloodshot debut, Sidelong. The twelve-song set (originally released in 2015) begins with the rousing “Keep The Home Fires Burning” and hammers through to “The Nail” whose rockabilly melody provides the backdrop for a clever look at a couple pretty much ready to call it quits, “When I think about the end and boy I think about it often/I can’t decide which one of us will be the nail in this here coffin.” Proving hard living and drinking aren’t just for the boys, Shook fearlessly gives us snapshots of damaged women who don’t fit the mold, particularly on “Heal Me” a shuffler which tells of heartache unhealed by the bottle, “There’s a whole in my heart ain’t nothing here can fill/But I just keep thinking surely the whiskey will”; “Misery Without Company” which amplifies despair and loneliness this time while finding comfort in alcohol, and the ballad “Dwight Yoakam” which finds her alone after being left for another (who happens to look like the title’s namesake).
The themes of heartbreak and loneliness can also be found on “Solitary Confinement” which begins as a tear in your beer ballad but quickly morphs into a spirited tune about that familiar feeling of drinking away the loneliness before giving into it “I wish I could forgive you as quickly as it seems you can forget me” and on the title track where being alone is deemed the better option over a deceitful relationship, “I don’t need no one to set my world on fire/I rather die all alone than settle for a liar.” The album is rounded out with “Fuck Up” a song that bluntly conveys a feeling that’s all too universal. “I can’t cry myself to sleep so I’ll drink myself to death…. Ain’t a thing that I can change to get my luck up/God never makes mistakes He just makes fuck ups” and the darkly alluring “No Name” whose mythical outlaw’s identity is only found in the devil’s book, before closing out with some light on the buoyant “Road That Leads To You” a tune whose hint of vulnerability offers some hope.
On Sidelong, Shook conveys a world-weary honesty told through the eyes of one who has lived the drunken nights at the bar, suffered through the less than ideal relationships, and felt many a broken heart. Delivered with candor and conviction, it’s a (totally badass) record for the one who might be broken in love, but isn’t down for the count.
After studying and working in Denver as a veterinary technician, singer-songwriter Gwyneth Moreland returned to her hometown of Mendocino finding inspiration for her latest album, Cider. Produced, engineered, and mixed by David Hayes (Van Morrison) and mastered by Karl Derfler (Tom Waits), Cider is a largely acoustic collection of ten tracks all written or co-written by Moreland and features Gene Parsons (The Byrds and The Flying Burrito Brothers) on pedal steel on the title track and banjo on both “The California Zephyr” and “Danny Parker.”
Sweeping the listener off their feet with lead tune “Movin’ On” a harmonica-laden track with a swingin’ retro feel, the disc continues with the travelling theme on the airy “Broken Road” and searching for a love on “Little Bird” which reveals an often surprising “freedom in the pain” of losing someone.
Highlighted by delicate strumming, the jazzy “Farmhouse” puts forth an old-time front porch feel; “Eloise” considers complicated emotions and “Your Smile” is lovingly romantic. The collection is rounded out by the title track and the spacious “Summer Song.” There’s nothing not to enjoy on Moreland’s Cider which immerses you in sweet harmonies, poignant lyricism and sweeping melodies. For more information visit HERE.
Recorded at Memphis’ High/Low Recording throughout 2016, the Dead Soldiers latest The Great Emptiness is an amalgam of Folk, Americana, Bluegrass, and Punk that is both raucous and reverent. The album catapults out of the gate with the mosh-pit ready, morbid “When I Die” and continues with nine other tracks that while driven by strings, fiddle, and horns in largely danceable melodies, paint sometimes dark, bleak portraits of life including the rollicking “White Collar Blues” and “Teddy Bears” which blends desolation with a jaunty, bohemian chorus. Things slow down, yet still retain a realness on the harmony-laden “Old Time Religion,” the dramatic “Still Climbing the Mountain” and the jazz-flavored “A Love Song.” The Great Emptiness is rounded out with the perceptive “The Smartest Man in the World” and the barnburner “Prophets of Doom” before closing out with the biting “Cheap Magic” an ode of sorts to an old love. Filled with stories and characters written with heart and honesty, The Great Emptiness offers interesting perspectives and distinctive melodies that will surprise you with each listen. For more information visit HERE.