When one thinks of cities with well-known music scenes, Austin and Nashville typically come to mind, but Asheville, NC has a growing and thriving roots music scene. Hailing from that area is Tellico, a band of four who release their Kickstarter funded, debut album Relics and Roses on June 2nd. The album features the singing and songwriting of Anya Hinkle (guitar, fiddle) and Stig Stiglets (bass), with Aaron Ballance on dobro and pedal and lap steel and Jed Willis on mandolin and clawhammer banjo. Jon Stickley, who produced the album, also makes guest appearances on both drums and guitar.
Tellico’s bluegrass sound is organic and earthy, embodying a true “Appalachian” feel. Storytelling, while at the forefront of their music, is adequately supported by unique voices (Stig and Anya share lead vocals) that wrap you with a sense of intimacy and security as well as instrumentation that plays a key role in setting and expressing the atmosphere of the songs whether it is the pedal steel or fragile mandolin. All of the songs on Relics and Roses were written by Hinkle and Stiglets-except the closing medley, a bluegrassified version of Neil Young and Crazy Horse’s “White Line-River of Pride”-and deal with themes of life, love, family, and tragedy.
Opening the record is “Backstep Blues” a song about a man pulling away from his wife, hence leaving her with a sadness. It’s a melody that instantly makes your ears take notice and stay attentive for the remainder of the record. That is followed by the vivid, detailed, dark tragedy at sea, “Calamity,” which was sparked by Hurricane Katrina and the 2011 Japanese tsunami. “Can’t Go Home Again,” inspired by the Thomas Wolfe book of the same name, reminds that sometimes home, while a lovely idea, might not be so lovely once you get there. “I Want To Know” has a gentle cadence and lovely harmonies while the simple, beautiful “Forsaken Winds” makes you feel like she could be singing a poem. Everything isn’t all seriousness though, the tone is lightened with the spirited “Hawkeye Pierce and Honeycutt Blues” and “Lean Into It” in which he tells his cheating love “you used to bake me cakes and apple pie, but now you feed me leftovers, tell me your dirty damn lies.” Personal favorite “Morning Haze” and “Mexico 1995,” a coming of age tale, round out the record.
Relics and Roses is a record that you be will be drawn to not to simply listen, but to actively listen. While timeless and authentic are words you hear describing music quite often, here they both ring true.
Tennessee native Logan Brill released her first album, 2013’s Walking Wires to critical acclaim…which is something she should prepare herself for more of when her sophomore album, Shuteye, drops on June 2nd. The project contains twelve tracks, two co-written by Brill and the others penned by such respected songwriters as Ryan Tyndell, Don Schlitz, Chris Stapleton and Natalie Hemby, among others. The lyrics and melodies grab you, while Brill’s vocals convey emotions from sassy and sexy to sorrowful, forming a record that is a complete listen from start to finish, with songs blending country, rock and the blues into something special.
The record kicks off with single “Shuteye” a gritty, bluesy, sexy number about “crawling around on a Monday morning like a zombie” because her “baby won’t let me get no shuteye” (she’s not complaining). Personal favorite “World Still Round,” reminiscent of Bonnie Raitt, reminds one that like the laws of the universe, there are laws of love that can’t change. “Time moves on, gravity pulls down/ You don’t love me and the world’s still round.” There’s lots of swagger packed into the under three minute “Don’t Pick It Up” where she warns her ex that if he sees her number on his phone don’t answer it because then she’ll know the “that door is closed, the window's shut.”
“Far Cry From You,” “The Bees” and “Where Rainbows Never Die” are a triad of emotionally charged songs. The latter is about a woman “bound for glory,” but rather than being solemn, the song’s up tempo melody finds her reflecting on life and feeling settled, ready to “trade my troubles for a crown.”
“Tupelo” paints a vivid picture of the place her heart calls home while “Halfway Home,” written by Lori McKenna and Barry Dean, encourages a female to value herself and not settle for a relationship when there is real love down the road.
There are two guest appearances on the record--David Nail on “Woman On Your Mind” and Charlie Worsham on “I Wish You Loved Me”. The latter, a ballad, closes the record on an incredibly somber note that really connects with the listener. “I wish summer would last through winter/And I wish that my ring as still on ur finger/I wish that laughter didn’t make me feel lonely/And I wish you loved me as much as you don’t.”
While there certainly is a lack of females on country radio, there are many who are releasing quality material, just waiting to be heard. Brill is one of those artists and hopefully radio will open it's eyes and add her to the playlist.
Purchase Shuteye here
Drew Kohl is a singer-songwriter from Athens, Georgia who now resides in Nashville. Drawing from influences such as The Avett Brothers, Old Crow Medicine Show, and Ryan Adams, Kohl writes an acoustic blend of bluegrass, folk, and country that can be found on his newest EP, Sweetheart. An independent release, Kohl worked alongside friends and musicians at Smoakstack Studio to produce a record of six original songs dealing with the positive and negative aspects of relationships.
“Are You Gonna Be My Friend” feels like an old time bluegrass song on overdrive (that’s a compliment). It’s fast paced fiddle and banjo asks a simple question, “Are you gonna be my lover/Are you gonna be my friend/Are you gonna stand by me until the very end?” Continuing that toe tapping frenzy is “Is It You” and “If I Didn’t Have You” while “Drops of Ink” slows the tempo down, and with that emotive harmonica that gets me very time, compares hurtful words that you can’t take back to the stains of drops of ink.
Mid-tempo “Someone to Let You Down” takes a unique look at the end of a relationship putting forth the fact that you have to go through some tough ones in order to find the one. “Don’t you need someone to let you down/So you can find the one who picks you up?”
The album closes with “A Love Letter.” Its simple production, melody and Kohl’s unique vocals put forth a soothing, positive sentiment. “May you never be away from the things that you love/May your tears be dry when the going gets rough/May you live in peace as you were meant to do and may our souls be free when our bodies are through.”
Kohl has released a bluegrass driven, folksy, twangy, and thoughtful set of songs that you should definitely give a listen.
A familiar face on the Texas music scene, Jamie Lin Wilson has put forth a collection of story songs vividly detailing the lives and experiences of real people on her wonderful full length debut, Holidays and Wedding Rings. With a voice so familiar and so undeniably real, Wilson conveys a myriad of emotions in personal, identifiable and thoughtful songs. Her striking voice, somehow always soothing, evokes honest emotions from comfort, to love and hope, to utter sadness on songs dealing with heartache, love, life and death. Holidays and Wedding Rings is a record where lyrics, melody and voice unite into a perfect triad.
The twelve track release begins with “Just Like Heartache,” a song in which the happy go lucky melody contrasts the heartache and loneliness of the lyrics. “Oh, I don’t wanna be lonely/Do you think that you could hold me til the worse is over.” Co-written with Dani Flowers, the thumping drum intro of “She’ll Take Tonight” delves into the heart of a lost and lonely, yet optimistic female who, despite one night stands is “hoping for a kinder and gentle man.” It’s a song where you’ll genuinely feel for the character and hope that she does find someone who will give her something lasting. Similarly on the western flaired “Nighttime Blues,” she encourages a guy to stop trying to “hide your pride behind a highball glass and sleeping pills” and simply take the initiative with a female in hopes of weeding out the loneliness.
A relationship ended and a home now in disarray are the focus of “You Left My Chair.” Co-written with Adam Hood and Jason Eady, the song, wistful and deliberate, contains the striking line, “when you leave things alone, it’s a wonder they survive,” reminding us that marriage needs tending by both parties for it to survive and thrive.
A palpable hurt is felt on “Just Some Things” Wilson’s duet with Wade Bowen in which both parties have done something they regret, but are unable to take back. Their vocals complement one another well, with both conveying a quiet devastation. “It’s like running for the edge and thinking you’ll fly/Knowing damn well that it’s suicide.”
With its sparse instrumentation and placid vocals, the simple, soft “Whisper On My Skin” will bring tears to your eyes. On the cheating ballad “Roses by The Dozen” she sings, calmly and confidently, “the things about forgiveness it ain’t coming from my lips…but you know silence is made of gold,” while harmonica plays prominently in “Seven Year Drought," which compares a weather related drought to an emotional one.
The record’s title comes from a line in “Moving Along” an up tempo, delightful tune about identifying one’s priorities and making sure they don’t slip down the ladder of importance. “I’m finding out as I go along that I’m not too smart and I’m always wrong, but I do believe that I’m getting stronger.” The bluegrass “Yours and Mine” celebrates a home built together, even if it’s not a “scene from Home and Garden magazine.” It’s love, it’s joy, it’s perfect.
Reflecting on a life of fifty years together, the quiet “Here Tonight” chronicles an older woman’s life as she prepares for death. “I don’t need your sympathy, but I sure like your company today/So just sit here and talk to me ‘cause I believe I’ll have to go away.”
An ode to family life, “Old Oldsmobile,” closes the album on a perfectly reflective, and cheerful, note. As with much of the album, the song points to Wilson’s ability as a songwriter to take an everyday object and connect it with a deeper emotion. Just like a chair and a house, the car symbolizes the unconditional love of a husband and wife, of a family. It’s a reminder of what’s important to her and really, what we should all hold close.
JB and the Moonshine Band are releasing their third studio album, Mixtape, on June 30th. The lead off single from the project, "Shotgun, Rifle, and a .45," finds the band taking a firm stance on their 2nd Amendment rights. The single, written by front man JB Patterson, is about more than one's individual right to bear arms. The song emphasizes the need to stay vigilant over protecting basic rights and to be aware and involved to ensure that they are not compromised.
Not matter what side of the issue you are on, you know that JB sings what he believes. It's assertive introduction leads into a grungey-country rocker (with a bit of hip hop in the chorus) that drives the lyrical points home with conviction and firmness.
"Will we watch over our freedom
Or will we just watch more tv
Cause we keep flipping thru these stations, but we forgot what this nation's founded on
Yeah we gotta stand up for our rights or before we know it we'll turn around and they'll be gone"
"Shotgun, Rifle and a .45" is bound to become an anthem for anyone who values and supports the #2A and will surely receive an incredible response when performed live.
The self-produced track was recorded at Red Wasp Studios, housed in Patterson's 100-year-old log cabin, and will hit Texas radio on May 26. The song will be available for download on iTunes, Amazon and other major digital retailers the same day.
John Anderson has been a staple in country music since coming to Nashville in 1971. His career has produced multiple award nominations, including a Grammy nomination, an ACM Career Achievement Award, a CMA Horizon Award, and an induction into the Nashville Songwriters Hall of Fame. In addition, he has released 23 albums and had numerous hits including, “Seminole Wind,” “Swingin’,” and “When It Comes To You.” After nine years, Anderson is now preparing to release a brand new album, Goldmine, under his own newly-formed record label, Bayou Boys Music, on May 26, 2015.
The album features thirteen tracks, either written or co-written by Anderson, that touch upon freedom, love, life, death and religion. The songs are country music at its finest, full of classic instrumentation where the melodies as well as the lyrics and Anderson’s distinct vocals play their part in conveying the story songs.
The rockin’ introduction of “Freedom Isn’t Free” kicks off the album. He sings of knowing that our country might not be perfect, but “he’ll take it any day” and we should remember the things we have here come at a cost. That is followed by the more light-hearted swinging feel of “Magic Mama” about a special lady in Malibu who was willing to teach him what he didn’t know. Lead single “I Work A Lot Better,” is another high spirited, frisky toe tapper about having a love that “Keeps me running strong……Can’t do nothing without your lovin’/I’ll prove it to you when we’re all alone.”
“Back Home” is a beautiful tearjerker, a mandolin filled ballad about a son coming to see his mother to bring her “back home” to the Lord. The comforting “I Will Cross O’er The River” compliments “Don’t Forget the Lord” which reminds us to do just that at the end of every day while personal favorite, “Song the Mountain Sings” has the perfect triad of melody, lyrics and vocals.
Love pervades both “Happily Ever After” and the mid-tempo “Goldmine.” The former, a fiddle filled ballad that also includes a guitar solo, is one where he expresses his love for the woman who is partner, lover and mother to his children. In the latter with his voice, loving and tender, he sings about striking it rich when he met his love. “I see treasure when I look at you…There ain’t no doubt I hit the jackpot.”
Day to day struggles are dealt with in “Holdin’ On” about trying to keep a grip on everyday life. “I thought I had a grip on things, and then it slipped away/Now I just keep on fallin’ every day.” While “On and On and On” touches on the struggles of hurt, forgiveness and trying to reconnect again after all the years together.
The album closes with “You Are All Beautiful,” which is an ode and thank you to the fans. Amidst piano, pedal steel and fiddle, Anderson mentions the states he has been to playing the big cities to the small fairs where he was “proud to be” having a “big, big time” watching his fans dancing in the sun and waiting in the rain. “I thank the good Lord every day for the music and friends along way….If it’s the last thing I ever do/I just had to write this song for you.” It’s the perfect ending to an album that is a treasure trove of heartfelt songs.
After a few years away from the business, Canadian singer-songwriter Anthony Tullo is looking to take on the UK music industry with his new single "Borderline." The up-tempo contemporary country single combines a bit of pop and rock with a catchy toe tapping banjo hook. Tullo's gravelly, strong, believable vocals (reminding one of fellow Canadian Bryan Adams) tell the story of a man needing to end a relationship that has stalled.
"Don't say my love was never there
Don't say that I didn't care
You got my love more than a thousand times
And two people will go crazy if I don't get out and mine"
On May 4th, country newcomer Dustin Hensley released his new single, "Don't Call It A Night." The romantic ballad is about spending an evening out with someone special and not wanting it to end like it typically does: with a kiss and a goodbye. He's willing to take a chance on love without worrying about labels. And as long as she doesn't "call it a night," it can be whatever they want it to be, right or wrong.
"Don't have to sneak out, the neighbors already saw what we're doing
Midnight moonshine lets have another sip
Drink it down one more round cant get enough of it
Who cares who sees, girl I don't
You can call it anything you want just don't call it a night"
Hensley delivers the lyrics with sincerity and his vocals really shine on the chorus. It's a nice first offering and makes one look forward to more.
The David Motel is the latest project from singer/songwriter David Brooks. The new album, People, Places, Things, which was released in January, offers tales of heartbreak, weariness, the passage of time, and daily struggles.
Brooks says of the project-one that chronicles the transition from collegiate life in Baton Rouge to professional life in Nashville-“These songs embody the roller coaster of emotions I’ve experienced over the last several years. There have been highs and lows. And this collection really puts that journey into perspective."
Recorded in Nashville, the album contains twelve tracks that blend Americana influences. The album kicks off with the mid-tempo country tune "Goodbye Loneliness" then flows into the roots rocker "Green Eyes," about aching for a love that has since moved on. “I wish that you were here/I wish you'd pick me up and dust me off and fill me full of promises….I swear this life is hell, but it’s mine I guess." Personal favorite, “Nothing Lasts Forever,” with its gentle melody and lyrics compares thinking about the end of a relationship to thinking about the end of life. “Will I be remembered the way I'd like to be/ Or will I slip forever into obscurity…..Nothing lasts forever when you need it to."
Two songs find the harmonica being used to display opposite emotions. “Ain't That How It Goes" is a simply irresistible up tempo tune with a fun melody about life, relationships and chasing your dreams while "Let's Talk it Over" deals with heartbreak; trying to decide whether to try again with an old flame, but being unable forget the things she said. There are ballads a plenty including “Good Alibi," the beautiful, harmony filled "Sing Me To Sleep” and The Band-esque "Little Girl from Natchez."
Also included on the album are “Doing Time In A Rented Room Again” and “Shine Your Shoes.” The former is a horn laden tune while the latter's swinging melody reminds us that life can be a tough road, but we need to not to take things so seriously and pat ourselves on the back for making it--whether we're 23 or 34. The album closes with the celebratory "12-21-12."
People, Places, Things gives a glimpse at those things, the highs and the lows, that make a life....well, a life. While you're on that journey and need a bit of a refuge, check into the music of The David Motel and stay awhile.
North Carolina’s Rainey Qualley moved to Nashville to pursue songwriting, but quickly embraced her desire to entertain. Recently, Qualley was named the flagship artist for new label, Cingle Records and the young singer-songwriter is preparing to release her debut project, Turn Down The Lights on June 2nd.
The title of the record aptly reflects its themes: love, romance and relationships. Turn Down The Lights contains seven songs including the twangy “Turn Me On Like The Radio,” which was added as a "Highway Find” on SiriusXM’s The Highway and rose to #17 on their countdown. With its undeniably catchy chorus, "Me and Johnny Cash,” [which will be her debut single], is a sing along ready, country rocker about forgetting the old flame who scorned her. “Burning up some old love letters tonight/Goodbye lies, goodbye blue, life’s too short to be missing you…..Gettin’ rid of you one batch at a time/Me and Johnny Cash and a bottle of wine.”
“Watered Down” balances a soaring chorus with the urgency of the banjo--perfectly complimenting the sentiments of the lyrics and Qualley’s delivery of them. She’s ready for love, but a handful….and she’s not going to change. “Take me strong/Don’t take me watered down/So much of me you’re gonna wanna drown….You better run if you have any doubts.” Things slow down on the romantic mid-tempo “Cool Wild Whatever” and on the fiddle infused “Dead and Gone,” dealing with growing up and the choices one has to make. The album concludes with the beautiful ballad, “Never Mine,” with Qualley’s vocals conveying that ache of wanting to tell someone how you feel, but knowing you would never be more than friends.