Singer-songwriter and multi-instrumentalist Hudson Moore will release his long- awaited new album, Getaway, on June 17th. The project contains fourteen songs, including “Sand In The Bed” and “Some Are”, that were all written or co-written by Moore alongside such songwriters as Rob Baird, JT Hodges, and Brian Layson.
The album’s title (and cover art) perfectly conveys the overall feel of Getaway: it’s a sun shining bright, windows down, music turned up loud type of record that will have you singing along type. From the carefree opener, “Might As Well” to the bluesy “Bring On The Rain” all the way to the romantic closer “Here For You” (co-written with Liz Rose), Moore displays an incredible ease of moving between varied musical landscapes while unifying the disc around the theme of relationships. “Girl Like You” brings in an 80’s pop vibe, “Stop Light Love,” with its heavy electric guitar, has a rock lean, “Summertime Queen” brings in a modern country sound and “Midnight Kiss” is a nostalgic, amorous ballad of summer love.
The album is rounded out by standout tracks “Don’t Want to Lose You” which merges balladry in the verses with an up-tempo chorus (and finds him requesting another chance, but refusing to blame her if she walks away), and “21 (Or Was It 17)” where he reminisces of those untroubled moments of youth where you can live in the present.
Relatable lyrics and memorable hooks coupled with Moore's confident, rich vocals, make Getaway the perfect escape....and cements Moore's place as one to watch.
“Disciple of the highway” sings Zack McGinn on Dolly Shine’s current single, “Rattlesnake,” one of the nine tracks that comprise the Stephenville, Texas’s band’s [which also includes Wesley Hall, Johnny Goodson, Jerrod Flusche, and Ben Hussey] latest release, Walkabout. Visualized as a concept album, the project is a wanderer’s diary of nine well-crafted tales dealing with relationships, murder, desolation, and lonesomeness. From the gritty opener, “Blackbird,” which comes out guns a blazing, Walkabout’s songs are candid and uncomplicated, emphasizing the quintet’s tight musicianship and a production that while polished, retains an edgy sheen.
From the magnetically seductive and gritty vibe of the tale of a murderous drifter in “Hitchhikin’” to the detailed, seedy account of meth and murder in the disquieting “Snakeskin Boots:” “Found him dead floating in Red River, somebody robbed him just to get their quiver, shot in head so I don’t think it hurt to drop him in the dirt,” Walkabout seamlessly, and successfully, blends varied styles such as country, rock, Americana and bluegrass, on story songs from the highway as well as tunes that deal with the varied aspects of relationships.
But there are no sugary sweet tales of happily ever after here, instead, there are troubled, complicated - and completely realistic - relationships in abundance. From “Come Out Swingin’” about an encounter with an old flame where he soon realizes “You got a death grip on my heart but it sure as hell won’t last long,” to the unapologetically frank “Closing Time” where he refuses to take a lover back because “I love you woman, but I hate you and I can’t live with your new way of life/Can’t find a reason to believe you/You never leave alone at closing time” and “Anywhere Close to Fine” which is infiltrated with heartbreak, “I didn’t know about the bleeding until the heartache came from you” the songs, brimming with fiddle and memorable melodies, are refreshing in their honesty.
The journey, emotional and literal, concludes with “Twist The Knife” which deals with that adage of being old enough to know better, yet still going back for more - even though you’re fully aware there will be “bridges burned and hearts [get] bruised” - and the thoughtful “Old Flame” which finds both resignation and acceptance at the end of a love that’s toxic. “Loving don’t come easy/And leavings twice as hard/Lay it all on the line sometimes/All you end up with are broken hearts and scars.”
The culmination of the band’s growth, both personally and professionally, Walkabout is a journey that you will want to join them on, both now, and for the foreseeable future.
Hailing from Asheville, Ryan Furstenberg and Melissa Hyman comprise the duo known as The Moon and You. While the twosome shares vocal duties, Ryan plays guitar and Melissa can be found on cello. This past May, they released their latest album, A White Light That Sings. Comprised of eleven songs, the disc is full of beautifully unique string arrangements, folk melodies, charming harmonies and thought provoking lyrics that start with opening track “Clever Worms” and continue to the hymn-like “Bottom of the Road” before moving onto the closer “Austen’s Lullaby.” In between those songs are eight more tunes including the gloriously folky “Currituck County Moon,” the Appalachian sound (juxtaposing the title) of “Micro-chip Electrode Brain,” the gothic-like “Somebody Else” - where a person turns out to be someone other than you thought they were - and the jazzy, dreamlike “Diamonds.” All in, it’s an intriguing, and often beguiling, record that you should definitely give a listen.
Rooted in his love for The Allman Brothers, The Derek Trucks Band, and the blues, David Trull’s musical journey started in his native St. Louis, and continued through college where he began to develop his songwriting skills through Bourbon & Bitters, his college trio. Eventually, he released his first solo EP, Sowing Season, and after, quit his office job to embark on a 500-mile pilgrimage across France and Spain, composing his newest album, Coin Toss, in its entirety while on the journey.
The collection, which contains ten songs including "Dark Magic," where Trull notes, "It's truly tragic when living becomes just a habit,” blends thoughtful, often times existential, lyricism with gentle, alt-country/folk melodies. Whether about returning to a familiar place (“Welcome Home”), relationships (“Apple of My Eye,” “Beautiful World”) or something deeper (“Passing Phase”) Trull’s vocals, which recall one of my favorite bands, North Carolina’s The Connells, are earnest, familiar and comforting.
The album is rounded out with the wistful “Old Town,” the delightful “When You’re Around,” and the reflective “Another Day” such that no matter which side the coin lands on, you’ll win with Coin Toss as it’s one of those albums that draws you in and has you finding something new to enjoy with each successive listen.
I always nervously anticipate an artist’s sophomore release if I felt a strong connection with the artist’s debut. Brandy Clark’s 2013 powerhouse 12 Stories was one of the best albums I’d heard in a long time and remains in heavy rotation in my house, so I was prepared for her newest, Big Day In A Small Town, released on June 10th, to be a step down from its predecessor. However, upon first listen, I was pleased to find that my fears were not necessary.
The atmospheric opening (complete with a gospel choir) of “Soap Opera” serves more as a mini overture to a musical play than the beginning of a song. It signals that the listener is about to experience vignettes from a day in the life of the residents in this small town. The song moves on, driven by a unique combination of banjo and organ, to set up the songs that follow.
Title track, “Big Day In A Small Town” is a bluesy, swampy tale of a typical small town day where “somebody’s getting married or buried or carried away.” Everybody knows your business, from infidelity to teenage pregnancy to drunk driving.
More acoustic offerings are found in “Homecoming Queen” and “Three Kids No Husband.” Both share the narrative of things not turning out like you think they will when you’re young but from different perspectives. The former homecoming queen is living the life she dreamed of that looks perfect from the outside but is far from perfect. “Too bad life ain’t a local parade, in your uncle’s Corvette on a Saturday, with all the little girl’s waiting for you to wave, when you’re seventeen.” The single, working mother in “Three Kids No Husband” struggles with the demands of everyday life with no support, financial or otherwise, from the husband she thought would be her happily ever after.
The most poignant, gripping song, on an album that has no lack of them, may be “Since You’ve Gone To Heaven.” Based in part on the death of Brandy’s father, a family struggles with the aftermath of the loss of their patriarch. It’s another example of something Brandy does so well. As a listener, you feel every ounce of the pain the family feels.
The lead single, “Girl Next Door” is probably the offering that will be the most problematic for fans of more traditional country sound. There is a slight EDM feel to the production that may be jarring for some. In the lyrics, we find more familiar territory: lines that drip with sarcasm and wit about having no desire to be someone else’s idea of the perfect, cookie-cutter wife or girlfriend seem fitting. After several listens, I found the unexpected sonic course to be an echo to the lyrics. Apparently Brandy has no desire to be defined by anyone’s idea of what she should be and will, at times, defy expectations.
Produced by Jay Joyce, Big Day In A Small Town is not 12 Stories but it doesn’t have to be. Brandy Clark is the consummate lyricist and vocalist, proving herself again to be one of the best in country or any other genre. Give it a listen and then go back and give it another. You’re sure to discover more to love each time you visit this small town.
Review by Harriett W. Find her on Twitter where she loves to discuss all things music.
Austin’s Michael Fracasso delves into pop crooner territory with his latest album, Here Come The Savages, which was released on June 10th. A mix of heavenly folk-pop (and a little rock/psychedelia added in for good measure) Here Come The Savages’ thirteen tracks include originals, as well as decidedly unique takes on half a dozen covers from Brian Wilson’s “Caroline, No” to The Rascal’s “How Can I Be Sure?”
While sonically reminiscent of Brett Harris’s Up In The Air, Fracasso’s album is centered around a different thematic one – that of a break-up, specifically his own divorce. Beginning with the delicate opener “Say,” which proclaims his freedom from her ability to negatively affect him (and quotes a line from The Beatles “All You Need Is Love”), and continuing on “Open,” where he manifests his openness to love even as his relationship crumbles, “I’ll keep an open mind”, Fracosso’s tenor conveys melancholy, regret, heartache and resolve in emotional songs that will affect anyone who has recently experienced the same.
While the subject matter remains relatively constant, Fracasso changes up the instrumentation throughout, incorporating bits of pedal steel, banjo - even some French horn - and piano, which notably appears on the touching rendition of “You Can’t Put Your Arms Around A Memory” before closing out the album on a hopeful note (for both parties) on The Kinks “Better Things.”
No matter how you slice it, the dissolution of a relationship is always hard, but listening to Fracasso’s Here Comes The Savages you'll get the sense that you’re not alone and that eventually, you too, will move onto better things.
Singer-songwriter Alex Stern presents a collection of original songs inspired by personal moments on her latest EP, Midnight Bandits, which was released on June 9th. A short, but very enjoyable listen, the EP contains four songs that showcase Stern's dynamic vocals and relatable songwriting.
In addition to current single, “Runaways,” the EP contains "Already Gone,” a mid-tempo ballad about a love that she is trying to keep herself from missing, “Midnight Bandits,” a carefree tune about what happens when the lights go down “stealing kisses, kings and queens shooting whiskey Crowns” and standout track "White Picket Fences.” A song that both sonically and lyrically will tear at your heart, “White Picket Fences” tells the story of something you, or someone you know, probably has lived (or is living): a relationship that from the outside looks perfect, but as we are all well aware, looks can be deceiving. “Let’s pretend this house is a home…don’t fix it when it’s broken as long as it’s pretty from out on the street/So we keep on keeping our messes behind the white picket fences.”
While there are many females releasing new music, there is something different about Stern – she has the ability to connect the listener with songs that genuinely make you feel something. Moonlight Bandits leaves you anxious to hear more while sensing a bright future ahead.
Don't forego listening to Derrick Davis Band's latest single "Gimme Back My Gun" because of some preconceived notion you may have about the song's title, or you'll be missing out. From the first guitar note and the rapid-fire percussion, "Gimme Back My Gun" is a breezy tune that blends pop, folk, and rockabilly into something completely delightful. The hand clap-filled, lively, and irresistible, tune recalls a relationship, now over, and finds him wishing he could recover the time wasted (something many of us can relate to).
"You say you're fine, suggest I'm doing well like my future's yours to tell
You're some kind of prophet, it seems to me like my futures something you deserve to see
I've had my heartaches you top the list, like the first time that we kissed upon the second, second time we met"
After having spent time in Brooklyn, New York, Davis and his band are now back home in Austin, where they have just completed work on a sophomore EP, The Burnout. For more information visit his official website.
Single-songwriter Scott Low will take you back with his latest release, The New Vintage which is due June 17th on 10 Foot Woody Records. This new project merges blues, folk, Americana and country into a wondrous melting pot that features ten well-written story songs alongside those pulled straight from Low’s own life experiences.
The album kicks off with the bluesy goodness of “Back To The River” on which Low’s weathered, gravelly vocals encourage removing yourself from the path you’re stuck in, examining the possibilities and getting back to what makes life good again. Nights in Low’s past are heard on the solemn “Going Home Alone” where he reveals “I love like a drunk driver crossing lines and running stop signs/Should have had my seatbelt on, either way I’ll end up fine” while he opens the curtain on his personal life on the utterly romantic “Kiss You Again” and the ballad “Angel in White.” The former finds the couple coming back together after a break-up while the latter is the story of Low marrying his now wife, acknowledging that “We both got our scars/Let me fix up your heart.”
Low mixes it up with “Little Nicky” about a gal who has curves in all the right ways, takes you to deep south on “Dreamin’ Memphis Blues” and incorporates a roots-folk feel on the memorable “Cliché.” The album is rounded out with the rollicking gambling tale, “Mr. Gold & The Jesters” and “Body Bag,” the story of a divorced man and how he ultimately ends up, before closing out with the uplifting, communal vibe of love and happiness on “If We Get A Little Higher.”
With The New Vintage Low has an album that is fresh and familiar, genuine and real, harkening back to the old but also representing the new. If this is where Country/Americana is headed, come along for the ride.
Jerry Castle’s t-shirt on the cover of his latest, Not So Soft Landing, pretty much conveys what you can expect from his latest: rooted in rock, it’s an oft times out of this world trip of ethereal, expansive melodies coupled with earnest lyrics all delivered by Castle’s rich tenor.
Castle credits his time floating in sensory deprivation tanks as heavily influencing the project, due on June 24th, and that impact can be felt beginning with the pulsating opener and its heavenly chorus “Moonlight is my protector/I have nothing to hide/On the road to forever/It’s time to start the ride.” “Ride” tells the journey of a musician’s life on the road, but also launches the (sometimes) trippy journey through a truly unique record (much like Jonathan Tyler’s 2015, Holy Smokes).
The hazy “She Kills” is the dramatic tale of a female who has been through much, but needs something deeper, something that makes her feel rather than just going through the motions of life while the shadowy “American Dream” is a character study of someone who would “do just about anything to justify the means” in the rat race.
The sweeping melodies in “How Long” convey a tender pleading to a scared lover to return, “How long will you stay away pretend you’re okay?/What’s the use in being lonely?”, “Mercurial Love” provides meditative thoughts on a temperamental relationship and “Sunday,” with its gorgeous harmonies, is where he learns to face life post-breakup, “If I can get through Sunday I might pick up the phone, call up some old friends so I don't feel so all alone/Open up the curtains and let some light in here and pray your memory disappears.”
The album is rounded out with a bit of free-wheeling swagger on “Weekend Brawl,” and introspection on “Self,” which deals with internal struggles (amplified by the background vocals), “Need a trance to ease the pain/If I get ahead there’s hell to pay” before closing out with Castle’s take on the personal “Change.”
Not So Soft Landing is all at once atmospheric, psychedelic, and deep....succeeding in not only giving you well-crafted songs, but also in its ability to transport the listener to another place, perhaps somewhere to do a little meditation of their own.