Texas native, and Studio Gold Nashville recording artist, Curtis Braly has released his newest single, "Living on Sunshine," from his recent album All About The Ride.
The song, written by Maryland Francis along with co-writers Lauren Taylor Bachofer and Brandon Maddox, is a fun loving perfect for summer tune. The easy to fall into appealing melody tells the story of those long warm, carefree days of summer spent making memories with the one who brightens your life.
"Hey this is our time
And what could be better than this
You and me being free in a red wrangler jeep
Taking snapshots with our minds
Loving this sweet ride
Living on sunshine"
Enchanting. Captivating. Delightful. The Vogts Sisters first original album, My Own Dixie is all of those things; an album blending Folk, Americana and Bluegrass into something graceful and pristine, filled with harmonies and instrumentation that are absolutely gorgeous.
My Own Dixie showcases ten original songs, written and arranged by Maggie, including the award-winning “A Love Miscast,” a 2014 Indie-International Songwriting Competition folk-division winner and “Wrong,” which was selected and performed for the NewSong Showcase at the 2014 Walnut Valley Festival in Kansas. The remaining songs have depth, yet are simple and honest as well; melodic (“Better Off Alone”), sadly romantic (“The Loving Kind”), somber (“Guitar Man”), toe-tapping (“Southern Summer”) and comforting (“My Own Dixie”). It’s an album that stays with you long after you listen. Accompanying the girls on fiddle, mandolin, and bass are the Eicher Family (Shelby, Isaac, and Nathan), professional musicians from Oklahoma who compliment and help to bring to the life the atmosphere of the album.
One wonders how ladies so young (Maggie graduated college in 2013 while Abigail graduated high school in 2015) can compose treasures that clearly grasp a traditional sound. There seems to be no doubt that the Vogts are indeed old souls who have a strong sense of self and a respect for time honored music. My Own Dixie is an album you should most definitely give a listen.
“Well I don’t know why I'm worried, what’s meant to be always will/Eventually everything will come together and I can see the reason for what is real.”
Sometimes a song instantly grabs you with its melody, sometimes with its lyrics and sometimes there is that rare song that hits you with both. Melissa Ratley’s latest “The Outside” is one of those songs.
Vocally Ratley recalls Bonnie Raitt and Melissa Ethridge while her writing style is emotional and real--filled with lyrics that connect and hit a nerve, like contemporaries Courtney Patton and Jamie Lin Wilson. The scaled back production and instrumentation (the always emotive fiddle) only compliment and never detract from the story.
Co-written by Ratley and Caroline Schmitz, “The Outside” touches on multiple levels. What begins with melancholy overtones about life choices and concerns over one's future ultimately concludes on a positive, hopeful note encouraging one to let go of whatever holds you back, allowing yourself to take chances and simply try.
“In the darkness I can see it
The hope shining through the doubt
I don’t know if I’ll ever feel this but I can see it now
The glass won't shatter as I walk by
The clouds will part and I will feel the sunshine and I’ll take a few steps and make my way
And I will breathe again
Running in circles won’t mean a thing
I know I’ll make it ‘cause I’m not afraid to climb that wall the one I’ve been behind
So I can finally see the outside.”
“Guilty As Pleaded" is the new single from Erich McMann's latest record, Trucker Country, which is the follow up to 2013's The Last American Songbook. “Guilty As Pleaded” is a catchy tune in the vein of traditional western swing. The song’s up-tempo, shuffling melody contrasts the story of a trucker who makes a promise to his wife that he doesn’t keep.
“There’s no excuse for what I’ve done,
You’ve heard it all before
I’ve lost my way and your sweet love when walked into that door,
I made a promise to you when I strayed from being true and now the price I have to pay is being without you.”
“My brother Taylor and I do the type of music we do because this music speaks to us, and speaks to the souls of its listeners. For us, traditional country music is the ‘real deal’ – every song portrays life’s joys, heartaches, problems and happiness. It comes from the heart, and has depth and truth.…”
— Christopher Malpass
At first listen to the The Malpass Brothers recent self-titled release (Organic Records) you will feel as if you stepped back in time. The brothers, Christopher and Taylor, not only look like they belong in a different era, but they sound as if they do as well. Without having to introduce the words “fresh” or “contemporary” their sound can simply and easily be described as classic, traditional country, reminiscent of Hank Williams, early Merle Haggard and Marty Robbins. The album contains twelve songs: three originals that pair perfectly with well-done takes on the standards.
The gentlemen convey sadness and heartbreak on “A Death In The Family,” “Begging to You” and George Strait’s “I Met A Friend of Yours Today.” Then bring a little happiness into the fold with Hank Williams’ “Baby We’re Really In Love” and the lovely original, “Here In Alberta I'll Stay." Written by Pete Goble and sung by Christopher, the song is about a cowboy from Texas who finds the “dream he’d been chasing” in a Canadian cowgirl.
Standout track (and another original), “Learn to Love Me Too,” was co-written by the brothers and has both a melody and lyrics that are absolutely touching. “I’m praying you’re the lifeboat that comes to recue me/I will sail across the sea of life with you/And when the storms arrive we’ll anchor in a love that’s true/And no matter where the waters flow we’re together me and you/Maybe I’ll find myself and learn to love me too.” While Christopher sings on the majority of the songs, Taylor, along with the brother’s harmonies, gets to shine on the lonesome, yet humorous, take of “Hello Walls.”
Pedal steel, fiddle and mandolin (along with quality musicianship) can be found throughout the record while piano plays prominently as well, particularly on “I Found Someone To Love,” and the Jerry Lee Lewis cover “It’ll Be Me.” The album concludes with the Louvin Brothers’ “Satan and the Saint” on which Chris plays Charlie Louvin’s guitar, and Taylor plays Ira Louvin’s mandolin.
Many artists cover songs and claim to hold steadfast onto tradition, but it doesn’t seem to get any more genuine than The Malpass Brothers. One can tell they have a true respect for the past that I for one look forward to hearing more of in original material in the future. If you are looking for an alternative to the mainstream, definitely give The Malpass Brothers a listen. It’s a good place to start.....and then delve deeper into the sound that they hold dear, the one that is the basis of the genre.
Kendal Conrad might be a newcomer to the country music landscape, but she is already a seasoned veteran in the entertainment world. Conrad is a singer, actor, published author and award winning songwriter. She has performed at the Bitter End, Musikfest and the White House (to name a few) and recently performed "When We Were Us" with Keith Urban on stage at his concert in Bethlehem, PA. On top of all of that, Conrad recorded her first EP at Reba McEntire's Nashville studio last year. "Country Queen," a song penned by Conrad that can be found on the EP, is her new single.
Conrad has the vocal chops and pulls off an energetic, country rocker in which banjo and fiddle combine with electric guitars in a song that finds her extoling all of the things she prefers over the big city.
"I wanna wear my boots til I can't no more
And go line dancing, two stepping get on the floor
The city just ain't my scene
I'm a country queen
No one will ever change me
I was born to be a country queen"
Way to make Pottstown (Conrad's hometown and mine as well) proud!
Prepare to be impressed. Texan Abbey Cone is poised to release her new project, entitled Abbey, on July 10th. The young singer songwriter’s (she’s only sixteen) release will have your ears doing a double take as you listen to her incredibly strong, soulful (and pretty flawless) vocal delivery that, along with the maturity in her songwriting, delivers a wisdom typically not found in someone so young.
The album, an acoustic one which conveys a full band feel, was produced by Rocky Gribble and Curtis Jones. It contains sixteen tracks, fifteen of which Abbey penned herself-writing songs of heartbreak, life and love that are not solely for the under twenty crowd. Lead-off single “Love Like Him Again,” is a ballad on which she sings sadly, yet hopefully, about finding new love. “His eyes might not be blue, his hands not quite as strong, but Lord knows I’ll be waiting when that new love comes along/I don’t know where or when, but I’m gonna love like him again.”
In what could have easily been an up tempo tune, “Southern Charm” finds her quietly, lovingly extolling the qualities of the gentleman that makes her life complete. “He’s my pecan pie/I’m his sweet iced cream.” Love is also celebrated with music (“Mix Tape”), the beautifully told story of everyday life (“American Dream”) and honesty (the folksy fun “Do Ya”) while heartbreak is dealt with in songs somber (“This Ain’t Your Heartbreak” and “Fragile”), incredibly emotional (“Better Off A Memory”) and sad, yet encouraging (“Shoebox”).
Abbey is a record on which you will find simple, graceful production; where the instruments (fiddle, banjo and acoustic guitar) and vocals combine into something that sounds classic, yet new…something special. If this is what she can accomplish at sixteen, then the future indeed looks incredibly bright for Abbey Cone.
Led by singer-songwriter Katie Brennan and guitarist Brendan Curley, New York City’s (by way of Washington) Bourbon Express, also includes bassist Andrew Dykeman, Jonny Lam on pedal steel, drummer Andrew Hodgkins and Sarah Kinsey on harmonies. The band recently released their new album, One Big Losin’ Streak. Written over the course of five years and recorded in both NYC and Tacoma, the album is a gem; toe tapping and twangy, with a sound that is decidedly old school, fully utilizing classic instrumentation and successfully transporting you to a honky tonk where the whiskey and music are free flowing. Not only is One Big Losin’ Streak a throwback sonically, it is lyrically as well, with well written songs filled with humor and heartache.
The songs maybe short, but there is much to love including lots of sharp guitar work, pedal steel, mandolin and Brennan’s unique vocals that fall somewhere between the spunk of Nikki Lane and the sweetness of Ashley Monroe. The ten track compilation starts off with the two step ready “Don’t Turn Me Down” followed by “Upward Track” on which she sings, “But for just one night, I want my old life back, it might be lonely but there’s comfort in that, one last bar light one last wild night before I land on the upward track.”
There’s heartache a plenty including “Last Dance” about the end of a relationship that finds her wearing “my tallest shoes for walking away,” “I’m Not Ready” about having to move on, even though you may not be ready to do so and the cheating, swing number “Slippin’ Around.” Standout “Which Wine Goes With My Heartache” is a tear in your wine ballad in which she sings, “Which wine goes with his memory and which wine can help stab it out and which wine can turn this bitter lady into the sweet woman he forgot all about.”
Good times abound on “Party Girl” and “Let’s Say I Do” about ropin’ the cowboy that she wants to perhaps spend forever with. The album closes on a happy note with “Those Days Are Gone,” a love song about making a brand new start with “a different kind of lover, a cut above the others.”
One Big Losin’ Streak puts Bourbon Express on a winning streak with its terrific combination of sharp lyrics, melody and voice. Give it a listen.
JB and The Moonshine Band will release their third studio album, Mixtape, on June 30th and the album’s title could not be more appropriate! Mixtape is a true…mixtape, showcasing the band’s versatility on tracks pure country, rock and places in between. As well as being sonically varied, the album also touches on diverse themes, both the familiar (love and heartache), and unique (the Second Amendment and utilizing songwriting as a place for social commentary).
Mixtape kicks off with current single “Shotgun, Rifle and a .45” and keeps the energy high with “You Can’t Take My Backroads” which isn’t your typical backroads song. The song has a pulse and a nostalgic feel. “You can’t take my backroads, you can’t steal my red dirt road memories.” That feeling is also found in the title track, which flawlessly details the experience of making a mixtape for someone special.
Tear in your beer ballad “How Can I Miss You” is lyrically and melodically a classic country song while “Light It Up” cranks it up quite a few notches with serious rock attitude. That’s followed by “Close Enough to Heaven,” a roots rocker about finding something close enough to the Promised Land on earth with the one you love.
Filled with the crunch of guitars, “Wagon” speaks of avoiding temptation while the rollicking, sure to be crowd pleaser “Good Lord’s Grace” talks about straddling that line between sinner and saint.
“Mess Outta Me” tells of heartbreak and promises broken. “So I guess I’ll pack a bag and pick a highway/‘Cause it don’t feel like this is where I outta be/You tried so hard to make me into what you wanted me to be, but you made a mess outta me.” While “Keep A Couple Beers Cold” is a mid-tempo love song hoping she’ll find a way back.
The album is rounded out by two standout tracks. The gentle, reflective “Back When We Were Kids” and “Where’s Woody Guthrie.” The latter, co-written by Allen Shamblin, talks about when songwriters were also poets, expressing their views honestly in their songs with their “guitar gun.”
JB and The Moonshine Band’s album is the real deal, a genuine Mixtape, with varied sounds that when assembled, just work. It’s a record with heart and grit. So pop it in and press play.
Formerly known as The Cameron Brothers Band based out of Canada, Harvey Cameron now reside in Nashville. The band, comprised of brothers Braden (guitar/vocals) and Scott Cameron (bass/vocals) and Emma Harvey (drums/vocals), combine Blues, Folk, Country and Rock into a combination that will make your ears take notice. Their new release, Heavy Romancer, contains six songs all written by the trio that focus on love, when it’s works and when it doesn’t, and life. Alternating lead vocals throughout, their voices are brought to another level when they harmonize.
Those lovely harmonies are front and center on the gospel flaired “Shine A Light” as well as the mandolin tinged “Letting You Go” which tells the story of a relationship that’s “not bad, but you know it could be better” and how they realize that they both deserve more. “If Loving Me” has a throwback du wop sound filled with organ, which compliments Harvey’s soft soulful voice. “If loving me is a candle growing dim, then maybe baby you weren’t meant for loving.” “I’ve Been Thinking Lately” provides a toe tappin, honky tonk good time (harmonica!!) telling to story of a guy who is down and out because his love left him while “One More” has more of a roots rock feel. “Hard Earned Day,” (whose introduction is reminiscent of The Cranberries), closes the album with a similar throwback melody that leaves you with a happy heart, waiting to hit “replay.” Heavy Romancer is a record you should definitely give a listen.