Boston’s Girls Guns & Glory returned with a brand-new album, and first independent release, love and protest, on November 4th. The all-analog recording includes eleven tracks penned by frontman Ward Hayden, as well as a rollicking cover of “Hot Burrito #1,” that were co-produced with Drew Townson at Zippah Studios.
Refusing to fit neatly into any packaged genre, GGG takes a unique musical approach mixing rockabilly, country, and rock and roll in songs that mine the presence and absence of something most everyone craves - love. Kicking off with the rootsy lead single, “Rock 'n' Roll”, Hayden and his talented band - Josh Kiggans (drums), Paul Dilley (bass/vocals) and newest member Cody Nilsen (guitar) - slide into the clever rockabilly of “Wine Went Bad (But I'm Still Drinkin')” where he laments “On the sea of heartache, I’m on a ship that’s sinking/Wine went bad baby, I’m still drinking,” before plowing into the Mexican-accented, shuffling “Reno, NV,” the dark undercurrent of “Diamondillium” and “Well Laid Plans” which, with its western touch, offers a different viewpoint on pursuing a relationship, “It’s not the destination, it’s the journey we seek.”
Hayden’s singular voice measures ache and thoughtfulness on “Who Will Love You” which ponders starting over after a broken heart while steel guitarist Buddy Cage joins in on the narrative of "Memories Don't Die" and the barroom lament "Empty Bottles." The foursome tackle loneliness and pain on the raucous “Stare at The Darkness” and insert a slice of punk on the politically minded “Man Wasn’t Made” before closing out with the sobering ballad, “Unglued.”
love and protest is GGG’s strongest outing to date. A well-written, varied, and cohesive record that you’ll be spinning well after 2016 comes to a close.
RIYL: Hank Williams, Dwight Yoakam, Chris Isaak
Holly Norman gives The King the Bluegrass treatment on her new album, Taking Care of Bluegrass: A Tribute to Elvis, which was released October 14th. The collection, which includes twelve Elvis Presley tunes as well as one original written by Norman, features special guests James Burton, who was Elvis's legendary guitarist, and Elvis backing quartet Terry Blackwood & The Imperials as well as top notch players including Rob Ickes, Stuart Duncan, Aubrey Haynie, Glen Duncan, Scott Vestal, Kevin Grantt, Alan Bartram, and Justin Moses.
Norman dives right in on the jaunty opening track, “C.C. Rider,” before slowing things down on the stirring “In The Ghetto” and heartfelt “Always On My Mind.” She and her capable musicians tackle such well known tunes as “Suspicious Minds,” “Love Me Tender,” and “Viva Las Vegas” in ways so refreshing that you’ll fall in love with them in totally new ways. Norman rounds out the well done collection with “Separate Ways” and “Kentucky Rain” before closing with a respectful rendition of “Sweet, Sweet Spirit.”
Norman’s vocals are classic country, incredibly smooth, and easy on the ears and alongside the Bluegrass arrangements make this tribute one that you’ll want to add to your collection whether you love Elvis, Bluegrass or both.
The classic self-titled solo debut by The Nerves co-founder and leader of The Plimsouls, Peter Case, was reissued via Omnivore Recordings as an expanded 30th anniversary edition on September 16th.
Produced by T Bone Burnett and Mitchell Froom, Peter Case includes eleven originals and a cover of the Pogues’ “Pair Of Brown Eyes" and features guests such as Mike Campbell (Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers), Roger McGuinn (The Byrds) and Rusty Anderson (Paul McCartney), to backing vocals by John Hiatt and Victoria Williams, string arrangements by Van Dyke Parks and contributions by Jim Keltner (drums), Jerry Moratta (drums), and Jerry Scheff (Elvis Presley’s bassist).
In addition to the re-mastered original twelve-track album, the reissue contains seven bonus tracks including two acoustic tunes from a 1986 promotional EP and five previously unissued recordings as well as unseen photos and a new essay from Case about the album.
Case earned his first Grammy nomination for the song “Old Blue Car” and landed atop The New York Times’ list of best albums of the year, with NYT contributor Robert Palmer stating, “Peter Case is the sort of album that is going to be remembered and treasured for years to come.”
Whether you're new to Case (as I was with 2015's HWY 62) or quite familiar with his catalog, this influential debut is one you'll want to add to your collection.
Releasing December 9th, the debut album by Burlington, North Carolina’s The Carri Smithey Band, Midnight Ride, is a collection of eleven songs steeped in country and rock and roll. Recorded and mixed by Dynamic Soundworks in Wilmington, NC, Midnight Ride is filled with honest songs of love, heartache, family, and loss all written or co-written by front woman Smithey.
Things kick into high gear with opening track “T-Bird,” a mid-tempo rocker that blends country sensibilities, that is followed by the sweetly romantic “In Your Arms," and the sultry ballad “Close To Me.”
The band showcases a southern rock vibe on “No More” while “Movin On” is a lively anthem celebrating finally breaking away from someone who wasn’t the best for you, and “Love Somebody” offers a dose of classic country sass where she doesn’t hold back, “Just mind your own business and do your best to be happy.”
The album also includes the magical duet “Greatest Love,” the emotional and nostalgic ballad “Carolina Sky,” and the incredibly catchy and clever “Kiss My Grits” before it closes out with the serene “Lullaby,” a song for her daughters.
Smithey captures varied emotions on a set that’s equal parts thoughtful, fiery and charming. Go along for the ride.
Nashville-based singer-songwriter Taylor Noelle brings catchy hooks and a soulful delivery to the four delightful tracks on her debut EP, Out Of My System, which released today, November 25th. Produced by Andrew Conner, the project kicks off with the sassy, blues and jazz influenced anthem “Too Good” and continues with the gorgeous, delicate “I Fall,” and the utterly infectious retro-feel of “Won't Waste My Time” before closing out with the graceful and sweetly romantic “Covers Me.”
Noelle explains of the EP’s title, "The EP's title reflects how it even came about -- I had all these songs that meant a whole lot to me that I just needed to get 'out of my system' and into the world. My vision is that there are people out there who can hear these songs about my pain and my joy and connect them to their own lives. I use songwriting to process my feelings, and I hope that my songs can help other people to do the same."
Noelle may have gotten the songs out of her system, but they’ll definitely get into yours…and that’s a good thing indeed.
Los Angeles based artist Patrick Joseph, who was named Producer of the Year in the 2015 Independent Music Awards, is gearing up to release his latest studio album Hindsight and is giving listeners a glimpse of what to expect via his new single, "Sorry."
Originally written for the film, Not Cool, the lush piano ballad is an introspective and affecting apology from a man wanting to come "back to where I belong." Joseph's vocals convey regret, remorse, and the human ache of a man wanting to rectify an unspecified wrong to be with the one he loves. It's simply beautiful.
"I wish I could remedy all the things I can't undo
And I may fail and fumble, I'll never be untrue
And I know words ain't worth their weight without some follow through
But still, I'm stuck here hoping sorry could bring me right back home to you"
Hindsight will be available on November 22nd.
Based on the popular book Country Faith penned by Deborah Evans, the latest in the hit music series, Country Faith Volume 2, was released on November 18th. The new project features thirteen curated, faith-based country songs by George Strait, Wade Hayes, LeAnn Rimes, and other bestselling Country artists.
Opening with Luke Bryan’s “Pray About Everything,” the collection continues with twelve additional compelling songs of faith including Wynonna’s soulful “Live With Jesus,” Lee Ann Womack’s stirring “Stubborn,” and Phil Vassar’s timely “This Is God,” among many others.
Placed together, the songs on Country Faith Volume 2 provide listeners with unique perspectives on grace and faith that both inspire and comfort.
Cracker Barrel, the family restaurant chain, will feature an exclusive Country Faith Volume 2 in all its 630 locations. In addition to the 13 songs featured on the standard release, the special Cracker Barrel edition will feature two exclusive tracks—American Young’s “God Sends a Train” and Mo Pitney’s “Give Me Jesus.”
Track Listing for Country Faith Volume 2:
1. Luke Bryan “Pray About Everything
2. Michael Ray “Real Men Love Jesus”
3. Wade Hayes “What’s a Broken Heart For You
4. Lee Ann Womack “Stubborn” (Psalm 151)
5. George Strait “I Saw God Today”
6. Brad Paisley feat. Dolly Parton “When I Get Where I’m Going”
7. John Michael Montgomery feat. Alison Krauss and Dan Tyminski “The Little Girl”
8. Drew Baldridge “Tractors Don’t Roll”
9. Brooks & Dunn “Believe”
10. LeAnn Rimes “I Need You”
11. Phil Vassar “This is God”
12. Wynonna “Live with Jesus”
13) Shenandoah “Hallelujah for the Cross”
Texas-based husband and wife duo The Kirks (Hartlee and Jordan) released their latest album, Loud Mouth Young Boy, on November 4th. The full-length project (the follow-up to their New Tyme EP,) is brimming with fiddle, steel and bass on ten songs - honest and emotional - centered around love, family, and faith including two standout tracks, “Half Full” and “Fallin’ Ain’t Flyin’”, which bookend the collection.
Loud Mouth Young Boy kicks off with the outlaw edge of "Half Full" where Jordan’s commanding, rich vocals offer a positive message in actively choosing optimism over negativity, "I don't fear death like I oughta, I was baptized in the water, and sometimes late at night I feel invincible. Someday life's gonna catch me up, and when it does I'll raise my cup and say, "You gotta live like the glass is half full."
That optimism flows through to the closing track, “Fallin’ Ain’t Flyin'” where the combination of the duo's soaring harmonies and Kent Gill's lush fiddle heightens the emotional impact of a tune that encourages taking chances, “I’d rather live and die than never spread my wings and fly.”
For more information visit their official website
Listen to and purchase Loud Mouth Young Boy here
Hailing from South London, singer-songwriter and self-taught guitarist, Mariam released her debut EP, Heart to Heart, on November 3rd. The short collection consists of three full tracks - including her dynamic (and intensely catchy) single “Be There For Me” – as well as two brief interludes, that are filled with stirring melodies, heart, and soul.
Mariam’s airy vocals fly above a steady percussive beat on the first interlude, “What I Want,” while “Without You” blends a soulful pop melody over a plea to remain strong. Heart to Heart is rounded out by the second interlude, the acoustic “Grow,” where Mariam’s vocals convey strength and encouragement and the soaring, piano-laden “Running.” Purchase Heart to Heart here.
Since 2007, North Carolina’s Balsam Range have left their mark on the Bluegrass world. Their fifth album, Five, saw multiple songs land at #1 and earned the band the IBMA for Vocal Group of the Year in 2015. On November 11th, the five-piece - Buddy Melton (Fiddle, Lead and Tenor Vocals), Darren Nicholson (Mandolin, Octave Mandolin, Lead Vocals, Baritone and Low Tenor Vocals), Dr. Marc Pruett (Banjo), Tim Surrett (Bass, Dobro, Baritone and Lead Vocals), and Caleb Smith (Guitar, Lead & Baritone Vocals) – released their latest, Mountain Voodoo, an album that focuses on personal journeys, home, and perseverance and showcases the band’s impressive musicianship and stirring harmonies.
Mountain Voodoo begins with the uniquely written “Something 'Bout That Suitcase,” which ponders the hopes and dreams contained a piece of luggage that’s “tattered torn and burstin’ at the seams.” That’s followed by the jaunty mandolin of “Blue Collar Dreams” which confronts the frustrations of working hard and chasing your dreams; the swampy, cleverly told tale of a broken heart on “Voodoo Doll,” and the subdued “Eldorado Blue,” which reflects on leaving home or remaining where you are – and being satisfied with one’s decision.
The album also includes “The Girl From The Highlands” a journey song inspired by Scottish highlanders traveling to the US, the calming “Rise and Shine,” the exhilarating “Chain Gang Blues” and the vibrant instrumental “Spring Hill.” Mountain Voodoo is rounded out with the old-school country flavor of “Hello Heartache,” the stirring “Lines In The Sand”, whose reserved instrumentation details the desire to fix a crumbling relationship and the impactful hymn-like closer, “Wish You Were Here.”
A musical journey that meanders through peaceful valleys, and climbs exuberant peaks, Mountain Voodoo is well-crafted thirteen track collection that will leave you spellbound.