Singer-songwriter Langhorne Slim released his new album (and second with his band The Law), The Spirit Moves, on August 7th. The project, recorded at Andrija Tokic’s Bomb Shelter studio in Nashville, was co-produced with Kenny Siegal. The twelve songs deal with themes stemming from major life changes for the artist, including laying down roots in Nashville, a change for the self-professed “born to be in motion and follow the sun rambler.” In addition, the collection marks the first album in his career that was written and recorded completely sober.
The Spirit Moves is a personal and introspective album, focusing on themes including new beginnings, love, strength and growth. And while the songs are incredibly honest and passionate, they are not all somber; some beg to be danced to, like the incredibly infectious “Strangers” and optimistic “Southern Bells.” The title track, which opens the record, is a joyous, horn filled ode to life and opening yourself to experiences. That is followed by the emotional “Whisperin’,” a story song about infidelity in which he sings with hurt and anger, “How do you sleep at night holding another then re-apply your lipstick to kiss me?” “Changes” is an intimate, yet relatable, look at reformation while standout track, the folksy “Airplane,” touches on overcoming difficulties and taking flight with your life.
The 1950’s feel of “Life’s A Bell” calls one to open their heart to love; an idea that is continued in the du wop sound of “Put It Together,” about connecting with that one person who can heal your heart. In contrast, the soft strum of the banjo on “Meet Again” highlights both a remorsefulness and hopefulness after a love fell apart. “I want to hold you in my arms and take back all I’ve done wrong if we should meet again.”
The piano ballad “Strongman,” the seemingly autobiographical “Wolves,” based on a James Kavanaugh poem, and the romantic, soulful “Bring You My Love” round out the album. While often deep, The Spirit Moves is a record that is balanced with melodies that you can literally move to, while simultaneously moving your spirit with a positivity and strength that gets stronger with each successive listen.
Hitting shelves August 7th, Jonathan Tyler’s new release, the highly anticipated Holy Smokes, will have you uttering those exact words after the first listen. Holy Smokes has a pulse; free flowing and varied, it oozes cool while taking you on a sonic trip that is simultaneously funky, ethereal, psychedelic, personal and thoughtful.
The record contains eleven tracks, including the trippy “Everything Was Cool in 2002.” It kicks off with “Hallelujah,” a take me to church, thumping hymn to the saving power of music and doing what you love. “Another blue collar man with a taste for action/Working for the man never gave satisfaction/So I picked up the guitar learned to play a little Muddy Waters and some Stevie Ray.” Following that, the tempo takes a turn with the deliciously bluesy pickin’ of “Goin’ Down,” a song that just makes you want to go to the city, grab a stiff drink and listen to the band play.
The rollicking keys filled melody of “Honey Pie” contrasts the lyrics in which he wonders, “All the times we shared so close, tell me it was real/I did my best to be your man and I would do it again/ I did my best to be your man and baby that ain’t a sin/So tell me why honey pie, love went dry.” Relationships continue to be the focus in “To Love Is To Fly” and “Cannon Ball.” The former, a simmering duet with Nikki Lane, is about one of those (maybe not so healthy) relationships that brings you down, yet also provides the highs (literally and figuratively). The latter, with its soaring 70’s melody (including harmonica in the bridge), deals with a deep want of another. With its gritty guitar work, pulsating percussion and the repetitive “mines,” “Riverbottom” is a killer 3:29 in which he promises “I’ll give you my last dime if you say that you’ll be mine.”
Tyler’s reflective on “California Sunshine,” an ode to being able to be oneself, finding a new state of mind, and love, in the Golden state. “I wanna live, I wanna fall in love, I wanna show everyone I know what I’m made of……And I am on my way." That continues in “My Time Ain’t Long.” Co-written with Ray Wylie Hubbard, it’s a song that, by its conclusion, has you feeling that time is indeed slipping away.
“Late Night Special” and personal favorite “Disappear” round out a record that has a spirit; its melodies, along with Tyler’s unmistakable vocals, creating an atmosphere that surrounds you and swallows you up in the best way possible. Holy Smokes indeed.
Singer-songwriter and banjoist Anielle Reid recently released a seven track collection called Ain’t Like 'Em, which was recorded at Little Pioneer Cider House in Brooklyn, NY. The project’s songs, highlighting the ever loved and respected banjo, were all penned by Reid. They range from folky to pop to a more gothic feel and show Reid’s versatility and skill as a songwriter as well as the range of the banjo (which many simply associate with bluegrass music).
“Someday,” a song about becoming smarter and finally realizing the time is now, rather than “someday,” to leave an unfulfilling relationship, kicks things off. “I’m happy now /Without you in my way/It’s been a good time/We’re better off this way.” In the same vein is the mid-tempo “Better” in which she sings without regret, “I gave it up ‘cause I dreamed for better things and you weren't one.”
With its pop-folk sensibilities and harmonies, “Secrets” has somber lyrics that contrast the breezy melody. That is followed by the title track which finds the banjo contributing to an ominous atmosphere in an almost cautionary tale about one’s destiny while “Morality” provides an insightful, truthful look into how sometimes doing the right thing will get you nowhere.
The EP also includes two bonus tracks, “Cottage White” and “Shadow.” The former, with its incredibly catchy melody, finds her adult self challenging the dreams of her youth “When I was younger I made this all my dream/But now that I'm in it I wish I could just leave” while the utterly sad “Shadow” looks at a woman, “disabled by love,” unable to be herself, but too afraid to move on. It’s a striking ending to an EP filled with honesty and individuality.
Ain’t Like 'Em proves Reid, like that banjo, is in a class by herself.
Canada’s Whitney Rose will release her sophomore record, Heartbreaker of the Year, on Cameron House Records, via Redeye Worldwide, on August 21st. The Raul Malo produced album was recorded in just four days at Toronto’s Revolution Studios and contains eight originals and two covers: Hank Williams’ “There’s a Tear in My Beer” and the Ronettes’ “Be My Baby,” on which she and Malo duet. Malo also contributes vocals, guitar and percussion throughout, accompanied by fellow Mavericks Jerry Dale McFadden (keyboards), Paul Deakin (drums) and Jay Weaver (bass), as well as Burke Carroll (steel guitar, dobro, lap steel) and Drew Jurecka (strings), plus Rose’s guitarist/mandolinist Nichol Robertson.
The instrumentation, as well as Malo’s production, is stellar while Rose has the ability to capture a myriad of emotions with her vocals, simultaneously conveying a sweetness, yet hinting of a fiery sassiness. Sonically, the songs will take you to back to a different era, but her lyrics are modern day; simple, well-written, thoughtful, witty, and sometimes biting.
Opening track “Little Piece of You” finds her listing the qualities of someone she wants to know better; someone with an old school soul, an open mind, and a heart of gold. With its western cadence, “My First Rodeo” deals with personal changes and those all-important firsts.
In contrast, the nostalgic and sorrowful “The Last Party” remembers the things that turned out to be the “lasts” of a relationship. That is followed by “Only Just A Dream,” a song that could be described as a part two, in which the shuffling beat compares a lost love to a dream. Love and loss are also dealt with in “Ain’t It Wise,” a sad song about being hurt by someone but still wanting to love them and “Lasso” about the strong pull of a man she can’t escape.
The title track, with its menacing finger snaps and guitar work, tells the story from the perspective of the heartbroken, who is ready to crown the man who wronged her the “heartbreaker of the year” while ensuring that it doesn’t happen to her again. “Your mama’s probably smilin’, wiping away proud tears/If I wear a sparkling gown, can I be the one to crown the heartbreaker of the year?”
“The Devil Borrowed My Boots Last Night” and “There’s A Tear In My Beer” round out the collection. The former has an incredibly funky melody and clever lyrics that provide a new line for women everywhere to use when they do something out of character, while the latter, done almost in the vein of a lullaby, closes the record in a unique way.
Rose is an old soul; someone who successfully connects with a classic sound from yesteryear that listeners will find easy to fall in love with. And contrary to its title, the only reason the record will leave you heartbroken is when it’s over…and thankfully, you can play it again.
Tucker is a multi-instrumentalist and songwriter who has played and toured with Eric Durrance on the Jason Aldean Tour (2008 CMT), Jimmy Wayne, James Otto, Guy Penrod, and more. A sought after musician for some of the busiest artists on the road, Tucker now comes into his own as an artist with the release of his debut EP #Country.
Available now, #Country contains seven tracks, six of which he had a hand in writing. Bringing to mind Aldean, his first single, the country rocker “#Country” kicks off the project. The remaining six are honest, emotional and relatable tunes based on Tucker’s own experiences and the experiences of those around him. Radio ready “She’s Like That” describes the special gal in his life, while the mid-tempo “Missing A Part Of Me” deals with that promising relationship that is no more, as does the heartfelt “Burn” which finds him trying to rid himself of her memories. “Leave,” featuring a lovely piano introduction, has him deciding the time to leave-without regret-is now, as “it’s hard to love her when you’re getting nothing back.” The EP also includes “What I Can Change” and “Meant To Be.” The former is an inspirational look at life and what we can and can’t change; reminding us that we have the power to make those little changes that could make another person happy if only for a moment. The latter, and closing track, is a romantic ballad about finding “the one” after almost giving up.
A promising debut from an artist who stands apart from the pack. Give #Country a listen.
Portland, Oregon rock quintet Blitzen Trapper is set to release their eighth record, All Across This Land, on October 2nd. In anticipation of the release, the band provided the first single from the project, “Lonesome Angel,” free to fans on Soundcloud. The song has a nostalgic feel that harkens back to the 70’s and early 80’s. Well-crafted and melodious, “Lonesome Angel” features harmonica, violin and keys that, alongside lead singer Eric Earley’s vocals combine into something thoughtful, expressing both a road weariness and a longing.
“My Lonesome Angel rolling down the highway in the night
Lonesome Angel you got what it takes to make things right (x2)
Oh my soul
What it takes to make things right
Oh my soul (x2)”
All Across This Land will be out October 2nd on Vagrant Records and Lojinx.