Born and raised in NYC, Emily Duff has been called "the perfectly cool combo of Steve Earle meets Patti Smith." In 1996, Duff replaced Jeff Buckley as lead singer of Gary Lucas’ Gods & Monsters and then fronted Eudora. In 2015, she released her latest album, Go Tell Your Friends. The eight-song collection, all written or co-written by Duff, starts off with the roots rocker title track on which she swears "she's gonna make you happy" and win over his friends who don't believe she's the perfect girl for him. That's followed by the rockabilly tale of the morning after on "Walk of Shame" and the somber "Blind and Numb" on which Duff's vocals are real, raw and impactful. There's an underlying sadness on "Remedy" and a disturbing darkness on "What You Saw," the story of witnessing a child's murder. The album also tells of loss: that of a family member on "Daddy," and of true love on "Bottles and Cans" on which she sings "Losing true love will surely make a girl think/But it will rarely drive her to put down that drink" before closing with the hopeful, tender "Blue Moon Over Grove Street"....."Don't go hiding under that umbrella of a life not meant to be."
If you're searching for an album of well-crafted, meaningful songs with melodies to match look no further than Duff's latest. And as she says...go tell your friends.
Emily Duff will be suporting Steve Earle and Shawn Colvin at City Winery NYC on June 10th. The show is sold out. Add your name to the wait list here.
Growing up in the small town of Waggaman, Louisiana, Kayla Woodson was a little girl with a big voice and a love for the stage. At age seven, she started playing the Texas/Louisiana Opry circuit and, by age ten, she was fronting her own band and performing at parades, parties, and festivals across the region. In 2004, Kayla took her talents to Italy to train at the Bocelli School of Music then later that year to Romania to represent the United States at the Golden Star Children’s International Talent Fest, where she took 2nd place in the world. By age fifteen, Kayla was writing her own music and released an album, I’m Movin’ On, which included four of her original songs. In 2012, Kayla moved to Nashville where she has since spent time honing her craft. In April of this year, she released her self-titled EP, a five song collection that includes all out rockers and heartfelt ballads, each of which she had a hand in writing.
The project kicks off with the intense “Fan For The Flame”, a done-me-wrong tale of a woman who isn’t taking it anymore (on which Woodson perfectly channels Carrie Underwood). That’s followed by the emotional ballads “Before It’s Too Late” and “Last” on which Woodson’s incredibly powerful, and emotive, vocals shine. She switches gears on the country rocker “Tearin’ Up This Town (Party All Night)” before closing out with the sweetly romantic, mandolin accented, sing-a-long “Crushin’.” Woodson’s EP displays her versatility and remarkable vocal talent that showcase an artist coming into her own…and one that we should pay attention to.
Hailing from West Texas, Mason Lee knew he wanted to be a musician as early as kindergarten when he began taking piano lessons and could read the notes he needed to play before he could even read the words to “Twinkle Twinkle Little Star.” Continuing on his journey, Mason fell in love with singing, performing, and songwriting in high school and took his passion for music across the country to Boston where he attended Berklee College of Music. After graduating Cum Laude, he moved to Nashville where he has persistently spent time writing and co-writing. Currently, Lee is working on his debut EP and recently released his new single, “Already Gone.”
A country-rocker about the demise of a relationship after infidelity on her part, “Already Gone” finds him not wanting to reconcile, drown his sorrows in the bottle or hear any of her lies; he’s discovered her indiscretions and has left her behind long before she wakes to the light of day. With Lee’s honest delivery and the tune’s infectious chorus it’s an anthem for men (and women) to move on after spending time in a not so healthy relationship.
“You’ve been nothing but a needle to my vein
And I won’t be strung along
I don’t need to kill the bottle to kill the pain ‘cause I’ve moved on
I’m already gone”
In advance of her July 15th debut album, Erica Bryan recently released the first single from her upcoming project, "Leaving You in Memphis."
"Leaving You in Memphis" presents a woman who is prepared to rid herself of an ex and start down a road that is heartbreak free. Alongside an irresistible - and slightly menacing - groove (as well as name checks to Memphis hot spots), Bryan's strong vocals convey a woman who is confident, resolute in her decision and ready to heal.
"Echoes of an Elvis song
Remind me only fools fall in love
Memories have followed me here
But I'm leaving you in Memphis"
On May 27th, Ray Johnston Band released the follow-up to their well-received 2014 album No Bad Days with #GoesGoodWith. Produced by Erik Herbst, #GoesGoodWith contains six songs, all co-written by Johnston alongside Paul Overstreet, Hunter Hutchinson, Roger Creager and Matt Boggs among others.
Starting off with the carefree, up-tempo “Make Mine A Double,” which encourages doubling pretty much everything (except trouble), Johnston injects a lightheartedness and humor into the EP, which continues in the Tex-Mex flaired “Little Lupe” and the barroom number “My Liver Don’t Live Here Anymore.” Abbey Cone joins Johnston on EP standout “Horses and Hearts” (co-written with Kylie Rae Harris), a dance hall ready tune about two of the things that are “hard to break” while the tender and romantic ballad, “Beautiful You” really is the perfect first dance - and if that’s not in the cards yet, it will leave you hopeful to find someone who feels that way about you.
#GoesGoodWith is rounded out with the laid-back and uplifting “Watching The Lord Turn On The Lights” which features Brady Black’s (Randy Rogers Band) incomparable fiddle on a traditional tune about doing the thing that makes your heart content. “Middle of nowhere is where my heart beats best/and I can take some time to put my mind at rest/There ain’t another place Lord that I’d rather be/where the grip of time can’t grab a hold of me.”
Humor, heart, joy and an overall feel-good positive vibe makes #GoesGoodWith pair well with….well, everything.
Charlie Faye’s last album, 2013’s You Were Fine, You Weren’t Even Lonely, reached No. 16 on the Americana Music Association’s airplay chart and earned her a “Songwriter of the Week” designation from American Songwriter magazine’s website. This time around, Faye switches gears from solo singer-songwriter to front woman of all girl group, Charlie Faye and the Fayettes. Channeling the 1960’s (think Ronettes, Shirelles, Supremes) the threesome are a welcome throwback to Motown’s soul-pop era which they capture perfectly on their debut.
The collection contains eleven breezy gems largely about love and relationships (all written or co-written by Faye) that merge honest, pay-attention lyrics with irresistible melodies delivered by Faye’s warm, sweet - never over the top sugary – vocals and the Fayettes (Betty Soo and Akina Adderley) pitch perfect harmonies.
On opener “Green Light” Faye encourages a suitor not to hold back, a sentiment delightfully echoed by the Fayettes as they harmonize “make your move.” That’s followed by “Loving Names” which finds her appalled by the overuse of sweet nothings, particularly now that an ex is saying them to someone else, the melancholy ballad “Carelessly” which has her wondering if he knows how much he is hurting her and if so, requesting to “cut me loose,” the simply divine “Heart” and “Sweet Little Messages” a tune that will have you swinging and swaying.
Faye steps outside of relationships on the funky, horn-laden, “Eastside” which comments about an area of town losing its identity to “progress” as she sings, “Nothing against all the current events on the Eastside/I know all things change and no one’s immune to the times” before returning to them on the irresistible “Coming Round the Bend” where she sings, “Years of life go by like the pages in an ordinary book.”
The album is rounded out with a serious R&B lean on “One More Chance” where she realizes she let a good thing go and if given another chance “Won’t mistake it for something I wouldn’t give anything up for,” and (personal favorite) the driving “See You Again” where she’s a woman with a mission: “Don’t matter where or when/I’ve made up my mind I just gotta see you again” before closing out with the wonderfully hopeful “It’s All Happening” that chronicles failed relationships before finally finding and accepting true love. “….but now the words of love ring true just like this song I’m singing to you.”
Don your shift dress, pour a whiskey sour and spin this gem of a record that lands Charlie Faye & the Fayettes firmly in the foreground of this retro-revival.
Singer-songwriter AP Mauro released his latest EP, Rainmakers, via Lamon Records on May 13, 2016. The collection contains six songs and includes his current single, the roots rocker "You're a Rainmaker" which cynically comments on politicians and presidential candidates. Rainmakers starts off with the driving “Lonesome Highways” and continues with the playfully romantic (and danceable) “She Dances With My Heart,” an ode to the one who captured his. The EP is rounded out by the melancholy “These Chains,” the heartfelt, gentle piano ballad “Two By Two” and the standout story song “Urban Outlaw.” Listen to “You’re A Rainmaker” here.
Studio Gold artist Scott Brantley is gearing up to release his second single, "How Summer Goes." Written by Brantley and Derrick Hampton, "How Summer Goes" is a mid-tempo tune that, while realizing summer love is often fleeting, finds him consciously choosing to live in the moment and enjoy it. The lyrics and melody combine to paint a picture of a summer near the water that will make you nostalgic if you have ever experienced a love like that or will have you imagining the possibilities if you haven't.
“Like a silver moon in the heat of June
With the morning sun it fades way too soon
And before you even know
That’s just how summer goes"
Amanda Platt and Co. released one of 2015’s best albums in Me Oh My and promptly (and welcomingly) return almost a year later, on May 20th, with another stellar collection, On The Ropes. The thirteen tracks, all penned by Platt, except a beautifully done rendition of Leonard Cohen’s “Hallelujah” solidify her place as one of the strongest songwriters on any scene today.
On The Ropes is brimming with affecting, relatable, and on point lyrics beginning with the title track whose opening line “I’ve been making something out of nothing for a long time now” provides the definitive statement of a woman who has lived and lost, but gained a security with herself and an ability to get through the tougher times. It’s not just Platt’s ability to tap into emotions and experiences so keenly that makes On The Ropes so special, the band’s tight musicianship brings Platt's lyrics to new heights. Tal Taylor’s mandolin adds something special to every song as does Matt Smith’s pedal steel, dobro, and electric guitar while Rick Cooper (upright and electric bass) and Josh Milligan (drums/harmony vocal) expertly keep a precise beat.
Echoing with mandolin and steel, “Blue Besides” tells of someone who gives up on themselves too easily, yet the track is ultimately encouraging, reminding one to pull themselves up (sometimes with a good kick in the pants) and not let failure or mistakes hold you back. Hurt, heartache and sorrow can be found on “500 Pieces," as well as in the bluesy guitar of “Golden Child” which contains this truthful line, “When it comes to heartache I’ve learned to let it ride.” and “The Only Eyes” which conveys the sorrow being away from someone she loves, while also being a woman wanting a relationship on her terms. “I want you to love me, but I wanna say when and I wanna say how much, I wanna know how it ends.”
“Back Row” is a detailed (that introduction recalls Fleetwood Mac), harmonica laced cheating tune while “Useless Memories” is touching and nostalgic, remembering things and events that, even though they do no good now, bring a warmth and familiarity. A love taken for granted is the focus of the understated “Piece of Heaven” where she fully understands what she lost while drowning her sorrows with the lesser angels in the bar wondering how she can get it back. “I never thought love was worth the fight now I’m pulling my punches making up for lost time.”
While Platt excels at stirring, poignant songs, On The Ropes also contains two fun, playful tunes. Aided by the harmonies of the ladies from Sweet Claudette “The Handbook,” with its old-timey feel, is a lighthearted and darling love song. “All I know is when we’re together my heart starts singing and I’m gonna let her/And you don’t have to ask to kiss me/I like it when you taste like whiskey/Makes me feel like I was fifteen.” While “Let’s Get Drunk” is a perfect toe-tappin’ barroom number on which she sings, "And if I'm gonna live with with my choices/I expect that I'll regret at least a few".
On The Ropes is rounded by two immensely emotional tracks, “Ache” and “Barmaid’s Blues”. The former lives up to its title. Raw, aching, haunting and powerful, it will have you in a ball of tears by the chorus because it is so undeniably truthful. “And I never ask you to stay, ‘cause pride won’t allow it/But all of the same I ache oh baby I break when you’re near me my heart starts racing/I can’t think clearly my knees are shaking when you bring your hand to my face and you hold me and whisper my name baby I ache.” The latter closes out the record on a lonesome note as the barmaid sees all of her customers moving on while she’s still alone, but also fully aware that she was “never one to compromise."
With On The Ropes, The Honeycutters deliver an album dealing with trials, persistence, introspection and self-awareness that demonstrate they are anywhere but down for the count; rather they're solid, steady, energized and ready to go a few more rounds.
Born and raised in Austin, Texas, singer-songwriter Aaron Einhouse is gearing up to release his latest album, It Ain't Pretty on May 13th. This new project, produced by Erik Herbst and recorded at Panhandle House in Denton, contains ten songs that demonstrate why Walt Wilkins and the late Kent Finlay encouraged Einhouse to pursue songwriting - he has a way with a pen that is creative, personal, wholly relatable and real.
Running through It Ain’t Pretty is a palpable energy that translates both physically and emotionally beginning with the raucous opening track, “Dancin’”. It’s a tune that will undoubtedly have you moving while it tackles that duality between home life and pursuing your dreams. “You work around nothing but snakes you might grow a few scales, you do whatever it takes even if it takes you to hell.” Similar sentiments are weaved through other the stories on the album as well, including the southern rocker “That’s What You Get” (co-written with Johnny Chops), the sweetly affectionate “On and On” and the title track where Einhouse doesn’t sugar coat life’s realities, “I’m here to tell you that it’s all wrong/I’ve been lied to by fairy tales and songs.”
Einhouse’s truly one-of-a-kind, passionate vocals soar on the wistful, bluesy “Thinking of You” and the cheating ballad “My Susannah” which leaves you empathetic while wondering “did he or didn’t he?” “Parked in front of the house where they’re cheating/My heart is so black and the bottle is dry/There’s a .357 sitting under my seat/I think I’ll stop in and say hi.”
Roots rocker “The Richest Man” and “The Fall Are of Eli Wilde” are the embodiment of well-crafted, thoughtful story songs. The former (originally from his 2009 album Off The Edge) tells of his grandfather who imparts wisdom that we all need to be reminded of every so often, particularly that wealth doesn't equate to riches, while the latter is a straight up funky, quirky tale of a wild man who finally meets his match in a woman who turned “A mountain of a man into a little bitty hill.”
The album is rounded out with the smooth, soulful feel of new love on “Like Rock and Roll” and “I’m Done” a song that tells of those all too familiar relationships where on the exterior seems perfect, but ultimately isn’t good for you. “Well, the first night we had was so special after that we both fell pretty hard right into a fast downward spiral and if I don’t quit it’ll tear me apart.”
It Ain’t Pretty finds Einhouse pulling no punches, honing in on his sound with confidence, vigor, and a bit of attitude; crafting songs with the crystal clear realization that sometimes life ain't pretty, but it's those highs and lows (and places in between) that make life what it is....and people who they are.