DISClaimer: Rodney Crowell Welcomes Lee Ann Womack, Randy Rogers On “Flatland Hillbillies”

We are long past due for a survey of current Americana recordings.

To my ears’ delight, there is no shortage of new talent on the Americana scene. Newcomers in this listening session included Emily Scott Robinson, Casey Lambert, Tim Gartland, Lucy Isabel and our superbly innovative DisCovery Award winners, Davina & The Vagabonds.

Give a Disc of the Day honor to that enduring Nashville treasure Rodney Crowell.

Writer: Tim Gartland; Producer: Kevin McKendree; Publisher: none listed; Taste Good (track)
– This slow, sleepy-eyed blues track serves as the title tune of this Nashville singer-songwriter’s current CD. He is a warm baritone vocalist who also shines brightly as a harmonica master on album tunes such as the jazzbo “Walk On” and the rapidly rumbling honky tonker “Drinking for Two.”

RODNEY CROWELL/Flatland Hillbillies
Writer: none listed; Producer: none listed; Publisher: none listed; RC1
– Crowell will be given the ACM’s Poet’s Award on Aug. 21, which is also when his new Texas CD will be on the market. In the meantime, go to YouTube for this easy-going video that teases the upcoming collection. His drawling, Lone Star singing and snappy guitar playing are joined by amiable cameo vocals by Randy Rogers and Lee Ann Womack. It’s a hard-luck lyric with dashes of pluck and hope. In other good news, Rodney is back on the road and is booked for the Franklin Theater on Sept. 18-19.

Writers: Davina Sowers; Producer: Garry West; Publishers: Davina Marie Sowers, BMI; Red House
– This smoky-voiced Minneapolitan came to Music City to record her debut album, Sugar Drops, which drops tomorrow. Driven by her confident piano work, its single is a horn-laced romp with touches of backbeat blues and languid jazz. The cast includes such notables as Reese Wynans, Doug Lancio and Jim Hoke. Delightfully different and well worth your attention.

Writers: Emily Scott Robinson; Producer: Nelson Hubbard; Publishers: Tone Tree, ASCAP; ESR (track)
– It’s a folkie ode to fond memories, warm romance and smiling nostalgia. She sings in a clear soprano with just the right touches of yearning and ache. The Nashville backing track is a marvelously tasteful, understated gem. It comes from her debut album, Traveling Mercies, which is evidently aptly titled, since she is an itinerant troubadour who lives in an RV with her hubby as they journey from show to show.

Writers: Ryan Bingham; Producers: Cgarlie Sexton and Ryan Bingham; Publishers: Lost Bound, BMI; Axster
– This former Americana Artist of the Year (2010) appears on the TV series Yellowstone, which is where he introduced this track from his current American Love Song CD. Over a nervous, rippling acoustic track he cuts through with a gritty, penetrating, whiskey-and-cigarettes vocal. You might recall Bingham for his Oscar-winning “The Weary Kind” from the soundtrack of the film Crazy Heart. Also check out the anthemic, soaring tracks “Blue” and “Stones” on this album.

THE SAM BUSH BAND/Stop The Violence
Writers: Sam Bush/Jeff Black; Producers: none listed; Publishers: none listed; Samanda Lynn
– It kinda sounds like a ‘60s rock protest song. But its plea for peace couldn’t be more timely today. As usual, Bush is on fire with manic energy. The band’s video can be seen on YouTube, where you get the full effect of his electro-mandolin workout.

Writers: none listed; Producer: Britton Patrick; Publishers: none listed; Sound Emporium
– Casey is a Nashville bluegrass guitarist who sings with reassuring heart and soulful warmth on this lovely, graceful ode to his Alabama upbringing. It comes from his self-titled, four-song EP. The cast is awesome — Darrell Scott, Kenny Malone, Dave Roe, Brittany Haas and more. Give this man a full-length showcase.

Writers: A.L. Owens/Dallas Frazier; Producer: Nathan Stanley; Publishers: Sony/ATV ACuff-Rose/Unichappell; BMI; MC1
– This 1969 Charley Pride classic becomes a heavenly hillbilly duet is the throats of these blue-chip country vocalists. Nathan’s straight-from-the-heart tenor takes the first-verse lead, while Patty soars above in harmony. Then she takes a turn in the spotlight, sounding as sensational as ever. As refreshing as a drink of cold water on the desert.

LUCY ISABEL/Rambling Stranger
Writers: none listed; Producer: Jared Anderson; Publisher: none listed; LI (track)
– The title tune of Isabel’s debut album is sung in a direct folk soprano with a softly thumping backing track featuring sighing accordion and gently strummed guitar. Elsewhere on the CD, the Nashville singer-songwriter is a hooky roots rocker and a lovelorn balladeer. Quite promising.

PAT GREEN & JOE ELY/Trip Through Your Wires
Writers: none listed; Producer: none listed; Publisher: none listed; Greenhouse Music
– These Texans wail this bluesy stomper for all they are worth. Electric guitars and harmonica abound.


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Robert K. Oermann is a longtime contributor to MusicRow. He is a respected music critic, author and historian.

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