Hailing from Kentucky, celebrated independent group Jericho Woods, who climbed the Billboard & iTunes charts with their debut, recently released the first single from their sophomore project Better Now. The single of the same name, penned by vocalist Josh Mitcham and bassist Paul Priest, is mid-tempo tune about that one person – be it lover, friend, or mentor – who had a positive impact on one’s life. With its fiddle-accented, roots-based melody and Mitcham’s warm, honest vocals, “Better Now” is a heartfelt track that leaves your spirits lifted.
“You lit a fire in me
Burning like the sun
God I think I finally found, finally found the one”
“I try to find moments that are sublime,” says Adam Carroll. “They just last a little bit and then you’re back to your regular life and strife, but there are just these perfect little moments.”
Released on October 28th via Eight 30 Records, Highway Prayer: A Tribute to Adam Carroll, is a labor of love, celebrating a Texas songwriter, a songwriter’s songwriter, who, in just under the course of two decades, has inspired others with his grounded, poetic songcraft. The sixteen track collection features James McMurtry, Hayes Carll, and Slaid Cleaves, among others, who capture the human moments in Carroll’s songs with great simplicity, detail and an emotional depth that allows the listener to become fully immersed in the lyrics of each story.
In addition to the aforementioned, Band of Heathens lend their soulful grooves to “Oklahoma Gypsy Shuffler” while Jamie Lin Wilson offers her pristine vocals on “Hi-Fi Love,” and Scott Nolan and Betty Soo’s subdued harmonies make “Rain” something especially moving. The tribute also includes Danny Barnes (and his banjo) on “Smoky Mountain Taxi”, Jason Eady telling “Errol’s Song” and Mando Saenz taking the listener “Home Again” before closing with the bonus track “My Only Good Shirt,” performed by Carroll himself.
You may not be familiar with Carroll (or many of the artists paying tribute to him here) but don’t let that be a deterrent to listening to, and appreciating, this tribute. Carroll’s songs are vividly told, detailed stories that are personal, relatable, and undeniably genuine.
RIYL: Guy Clark, Hayes Carll, John Prine
A finalist in the John Lennon Songwriting Contest (folk) Josh Farrow has performed at Hangout Fest and Merlefest, opened for Butch Walker and Sturgill Simpson (among others), and saw his songs placed on television, including Nashville. On October 28th, the singer-songwriter will release his anticipated new album, Trouble Walks With Me. Produced by Dexter Green, the ten track project features artists such as The McCrary Sisters (Bob Dylan, Buddy Miller), Elizabeth Cook, Ruby Amanfu, Chris Donohue, Brian Owings, and more assisting Farrow in executing his distinctive sound that blends Americana elements with a hefty infusion of New Orleans R&B and Soul that’s downright dynamite.
Weaving themes of love and loss, self-reflection, pain, and salvation Farrow kicks things off with the delightfully funky, keys-driven opening track, “I’ll Be Your Fool,” where he makes a declaration of sorts to a “two-timing lady” that he’s hers no matter what comes, including heartbreak. That’s followed by the bluesy “Wash Me in the Well” where his search for peace and redemption are deeply felt and urgent, and “Before You Leave,” a heartbreaking plea to “take what’s left of me” before she leaves for good.
The clock rewinds to the 1970’s with the soulful funk (a la the Steve Miller-like intro) of “Time Ain’t No Friend of Mine” where he reflects on the troubles that occupy his mind and hold him back from moving forward, while the pedal steel, smoky atmosphere of “Tijuana Girl” offers a subdued hallelujah for a murder committed and covered up. Thoughtful introspection and a shuffling percussive beat drives the rootsy “Worryin’ Kind” where he admits, “I’ve been a down-home sinner with a worryin’ smile;” while the groovy “Who’s Gonna Love You When I’m Gone,” provides a light bulb moment where he finally has enough of her two-timing ways, slips out the back door and vows to be “miles away from you before you know.”
The album is rounded out by the superb “Devil Don’t You Fool Me” which balances darkness with its vibrant bluesy, gospel-flavored chorus, and the intimate “No Need To Say Goodbye” before closing with the subtle, haunting intensity of “Trouble Walks With Me” - “Long gone and lonesome is all I’ve been these days/These heavy old bones are gonna swallow me whole.”
Trouble Walks With Me is an emotionally striking, cohesive and balanced album which impacts deeper with each listen. Fusing tender ballads, groovy funk and ample heart, Farrow’s sonic stylings showcase a welcome individualism that can’t be pigeon-holed - and that’s a good thing. File under good music, play and repeat.
Nashville’s Drew Kohl returns in fine form with New Rain a stellar short collection of folk-inspired heartbreak. Released on October 20th the five-track project, all penned by Kohl, begins with the subdued mandolin of “Who’s Gonna Take You Home” a shuffler filled with heartache, “Drive downtown while the streetlights spark/Just like shooting stars/Maybe there’s one you can wish upon/To find an ending to this fading love song.” Kohl follows that with “I’ll Go Mine,” a tune whose vibrant melody balances the resignation of a relationship gone wrong and the ballad “New Rain” which uses metaphors to convey his desire to wash away an old love and start over. Kohl’s melancholy vocals relate a palpable loneliness as he ponders the reasons a relationship fell apart on “Like You Used To” - “Maybe I just wasn’t good enough/Maybe you just wanted too much/Maybe you’re trading the old for the new/But you don’t love me like you used to” - before concluding with the gentle, harmonica-laden “I’m Gonna Try” where he acknowledges forgiveness is out of reach, but for one night he’s going to make it a point to get her off his mind. Although Kohl’s songs mine an incredibly broken heart, their wholly relatable lyrics and appealing melodies may just end up putting a smile on your face.
In her new book, Without Getting Killed or Caught: The Life and Music of Guy Clark, writer, producer, and Grammy winner Tamara Saviano chronicles the life story of one of the country’s most revered and esteemed songwriters. Divided into three sections or time periods, “The Beginning,” Nashville,” and “Guy and Me,” Saviano takes you on a journey, telling you the story of Clark’s life beginning with his childhood in Monahans, Texas and ending with his death on May 17th, 2016.
In “The Beginning,” we learn about Guy’s parents and grandparents, his experience wood carving (which ultimately influenced his songwriting and guitar making), and his friendship with Lola (which had a profound impact on his life), as well as the initial meeting he had with his life’s love, Susanna.
The second section “Nashville,” engages readers with highlights and lowlights of Clark’s career and personal life including pulling back the curtain on the extremely complicated relationship between Clark, Susanna, and Townes Van Zandt. In addition, Saviano weaves commentary from friends, colleagues and admirers with the back stories on some of Clark’s most well-known songs while tying in the politics of the industry and the emergence of the Americana scene.
The final section, “Guy and Me” finds her detailing her own relationship with Clark, as biographer, producer, reporter and friend. In the end, it’s clear that Clark shared much with Saviano, giving her an all access, and intimate pass, into all aspects of his life. And in doing so, created a book that not only left you fully aware (if you weren't already) that Clark was a master songwriter - a poet, whose songs touched many - but that he was also son, father, husband, skilled luthier, generous friend, compassionate mentor, champion of the arts, and most importantly….human, a man who had faults and strengths like the rest of us.
Without Getting Killed or Caught is a lengthy, detailed, and fascinating read - a lovingly crafted homage that is essential reading for any music lover.
Purchase Without Getting Killed or Caught here
Nashville by way of Dallas singer-songwriter Troy Cartwright’s 2015 full-length, Long Flight Home, introduced listeners to a young artist who had a firm grasp on conveying stories that moved and resonated. Cartwright continues to tap into his rich songwriting well for five emotional and relatable tracks on his latest EP, Don’t Fade. Produced by Rob Baird and Brian Douglas Phillips at Phillip’s Austin Rattle Trap Studio, the cohesive collection finds Cartwright’s writing sharpened and matured; detailing relationships in well-crafted tunes that are accented with memorable grooves and brought to life by Cartwright's seasoned vocals.
Don’t Fade opens with “Never Coming Back” which with its organ-fueled, bluesy vibe mixes anger, frustration and brutal honesty into the eventual demise of a relationship, “I used to adore you, but lately all you do is piss me off.” That’s followed by four more tracks, all written or co-written by Cartwright, including current single “Busted,” as well as “Nobody But You” which accesses the painful hope that remains after being left behind by the one you love, and the wistful title track which struggles with keeping memories and moments alive. The album closes with standout “Arkansas,” a beautifully affecting acoustic track where the softness, honesty and longing in Cartwright’s vocals leaves you reflective...and touched.
Adam Searan (Cumulus’ NASH Next runner-up) recently released his new single, “Bumper Sticker,” which can be found on the deluxe version of his self-titled EP.
The emotional and heartfelt contemporary country ballad reflects on the pain of losing a special love due to the inability to say those three little words. Searan's earnest delivery is filled with heartache, regret, - and hope that perhaps one day they could come together again so he could tell her just how much she means to him. With its fresh perspective on a theme many will identify with, "Bumper Sticker" is a song that will resonate.
"We used to talk about forever
But I was too young and afraid
I should have held onto the one
Before she was the one that got away"
Singer-songwriter and producer Kris Bradley grew up on a varied mix of genres from classical and jazz to classic rock and nineties country. That upbringing found her at home with many musical styles which in turn led to her having songs placed on the Cartoon Network, E! Entertainment, as well as scoring a French-produced short film for a major artist music video, playing SXSW and opening for Big Bad Voodoo Daddy in 2016. Now, she brings a bold, fresh sound to listeners' ears with her debut single, “We Don’t Paint the Town” from her upcoming EP, Worth a Shot, due in early 2017.
Written by Bradley and Daniel Schwarz, "We Don't Paint the Town" captures the aftermath - and fuzzy memories - of a wild night on the town with someone who might not exactly be the right choice - but he is a fun choice. The clever, contemporary lyrics are delivered by Bradley with sultry sass and the exuberant, jazzy, foot-stomping melody is an all-out good time that leaves you wanting more.
"Alarm clock starts a buzzin'
I fall out of bed
The morning reeks of passion, whiskey, and regret
I stumble to the kitchen for black coffee and a cigarette
Last night's picture show is coming back in waves
My hangovers begin with him, but the pleasure's worth the pain"
In his new album Temper Of The Times (available November 11) East Nashville-based singer/songwriter Kent Eugene Goolsby delivers a unique reflection on the journey to self-actualization. Ups and downs, highs and lows are not merely recounted, but celebrated as well, through poetic lyrics, gritty vocals and powerful guitars and percussion reminiscent of Neil Young or Ryan Bingham.
“The Stone” conveys the important role curiosity plays in finding yourself – “But the seekers keep the faith because they know what’s at stake. If you call off the search, how will you find your way?” The pitfalls and rewards of being compelled to follow your muse are put forth in “Some Crosses” and the peace that comes from looking back with no regrets is summed up in the outstanding “Wishing Well” – “And now there’s more coins than water in that ol’ wishing well, but if I could have every cent back, I’d spend it just the same as I did before.”
Temper Of The Times is a satisfying nine track collection; weighty without being maudlin and hopeful while avoiding the trap of looking life’s struggles through rose colored glasses. You can find out more about the album and the artist at www.kenteugenegoolsby.com
2016 has seen a host of stellar albums from female singer-songwriters including Elise Davis, Bonnie Bishop, Kelsey Waldon, and Margo Price, to name a few. And if you enjoy any, or all, of those artists, make certain you give Karen Jonas a listen.
Released on October 14th, Country Songs, the follow-up to her critically acclaimed debut, Oklahoma Lottery, begins with the title track, a twangy and humorous thank you of sorts that’s followed by nine more tunes - all written or co-written by Jonas - including the rollicking kiss-off “Keep Your Hands to Yourself” on which she boldly asserts, “Hey, just because I wanted you doesn’t mean you can make a fool out of me,” and the jaunty “Ophelia” where she offers sage advice to another who isn’t in the healthiest of relationships. Jonas balances those mid-tempo two-steppers with somber heartache, taking a seductively moody turn on the stunning “Garden” and adding a smoldering noir feel with her nuanced, breathy vocals (recalling Norah Jones) on “Why Don’t You Stay” where uncertainty and anger simmer. Melancholy merges with hope on the intensely intimate “Wasting Time” where she laments using too much of her time to forget another (whom she clearly still loves), while the shuffle of his wandering feet leaves her lonely, leading her “Wandering Heart” into temptation.
Country Songs is rounded out by “Whiskey and Dandelions” a perfect-in-every-way tale of a woman who prefers the simple things; the astute, thought-provoking, and urgent “The Fair Shake”, “And all the things you think are yours aren’t really yours to take/Be gracious when you can and when you can’t let them walk away” and a timely variation on a standard in the bluesy “Yankee Doodle Went Home.”
Country Songs wraps fiddle, steel, organ and guitar around inspired storytelling that is all at once insightful, honest, tenacious and vulnerable. Completely avoiding any sophomore slump, Jonas’ Country Songs captures something timeless and special in an album you'll be listening to well after year's end.