It’s Americana music week in Nashville, and the genre’s stars are shining brightly.
None are brighter than The War & Treaty, who easily nail down this week’s Disc of the Day award.
Not that there wasn’t plenty of competition. Check out the sounds of Daniel Tashian, Larkin Poe, the Dirt Band and Jake Blount, for starters. Rootsy tunes are where it’s at.
JIM LAUDERDALE / “That Kind of Life (That Kind of Day)”
Writers: Jim Lauderdale; Producers: Jim Lauderdale/Jay Weaver; Label: Sky Crunch
–The kick-off track of Lauderdale’s new Game Changer album (his 35th), is a rollicking, lively, Telecaster-driven, Bakersfield-nodding toe tapper that has a built-in smile. Drawling, uplifting and totally country.
MARGO PRICE / “Been to the Mountain”
Writers: Margo Price/Jeremy Ivey; Producer: Jonathan Wilson; Label: Loma Vista
–This is Price’s moment. Her memoir Maybe We’ll Make It will be published Oct. 4. She has a new Sonos Radio podcast titled Runaway Horses. She’s been elected to the board of Farm Aid. Her new album is previewed by this stirring single/video. She wails in an echo chamber, backed by a grinding rock riff, about persevering through tough times. Haunting.
DANIEL TASHIAN / “Night After Night”
Writers: Daniel Tashian/Paul Kennerley; Producer: Daniel Tashian; Label: Big Yellow Dog
–Rockabilly nirvana. Acclaimed producer Tashian returns to record making of his own with this slab of retro energy. The project’s title tune channels Buddy Holly, The Everlys and Carl Perkins in an absolutely irresistible stew of stinging guitars, relentless rhythm and in-the-pocket vocal comfort. Better than a cup of morning coffee and more bracing than a ride in a convertible. Essential listening. Tashian’s AmericanaFest showcase is Saturday at noon at the Country Music Hall of Fame, and he headlines at The Basement next Wednesday night.
AMANDA SHIRES / “Hawk for the Dove”
Writers: Amanda Shires/Lawrence Rothman; Producer: Lawrence Rothman; Label: ATO
–The new Take It Like a Man collection by Shires leads off with this dramatic track. Her distinctive, penetrating voice leads the listener into a dark, electronic soundscape of keening guitars and thudding percussion. A wary romance of uncertain fate.
NITTY GRITTY DIRT BAND / “Girl From the North Country”
Writer: Bob Dylan; Producers: Ray Kennedy/Jeff Hanna; Label: MRI
–The revived and reconfigured Dirt Band rises to new heights on its Dirt Does Dylan album. This classic gets a loving, gorgeous, crystalline remake with rippling guitars, sighing fiddle, mandolin droplets and heart-in-throat vocals. Arguably a founding act of the Americana genre, the legendary group will showcase its Dylan tunes as well as old favorites at The Ryman on Saturday night.
JOY OLADOKUN / “Purple Haze”
Writers: Joy Oladokun/Dr. Luke; Producer: Dr. Luke; Label: Amigo/Verve Forecast/Republic
–The simple beauty of folk music shines on this current single by this gifted performer. Her liquid alto and perfectly strummed acoustic guitar convey a hopeful message of survival and eventual emotional prosperity. Even though the end of the world might be nigh.
THE WAR & TREATY / “That’s How Love Is Made”
Writers: Michael Trotter Jr./Tanya Trotter/Dave Barnes; Producer: Dave Cobb; Label: Mercury
–This Nashville couple is as good as it gets. There are no finer singers, nor more emotional interpreters in our world. Their soul-ripping voices can make the angels in Heaven weep for joy. This smoldering, electrifying outing stopped the show at the AMA Awards on Wednesday. Its single/video is a stunning, ecstatic, breath-taking experience. This is the sound of Pure Love that shatters and defies every musical category.
JAKE BLOUNT & DEMEANOR / “The Downward Road”
Writers: Brian Slattery/Jake Blount/Traditional; Producers: Jake Blount/Brian Slattery; Label: Smithsonian Folkways
–This fascinating artist’s album The New Faith drops a week from today. Blount is a banjo player, musicologist, journalist and scholar who fuses percussion loops with old-time fiddle and Demeanor’s rapping on this preview track. Audio layered and folky hooky, it somehow manages to be old-time country and contemporary bopping at the same time. Really cool.
LARKIN POE / “Georgia Off My Mind”
Writers: Rebecca Lovell/Tyler Bryant; Producers: Larkin Poe/Tyler Bryant; Label: Tricki-Woo
–This guitar-wielding Nashville sister duo, Rebecca and Megan Lovell, have a new album called Blood Harmony coming in November. In the meantime, we have this dynamite advance single. It totally rocks, in a bluesy, twangy kinda way. The lyric name-checks Georgia institutions like Coca-Cola, Ray Charles and peaches as items in the rearview mirror as they head to Music City to pursue dreams. The ridiculously catchy track bubbles and boils. Yowza!
TOMMY McLAIN / “The Greatest Show on Hurt”
Writers: Tommy McClain/Nick Lowe; Producer: C.C. Adcock; Label: Yep Roc
–This swamp-pop pioneer had hits in the ‘60s. He’s 82 years old now and releasing his first album in 40 years. This slowly paced ditty has a woozy, lackadaisical charm as he relates his circus-themed heartbreak. His Americana showcase is at Riverside Revival tonight at 9 p.m.
VALERIE JUNE / “Look at Miss Ohio”
Writer: Gillian Welch/David Rawlings; Producer: A June Tunes Music Production; Label: Fantasy
–June’s new Under Cover is a collection of covers of tunes by Dylan, Joe South, John Lennon, Nick Drake and others. Her rendition of this Gillian Welch song features a drawled double-tracked vocal, moaning guitar and echoey atmosphere. Languid and dreamy.
TODD SNIDER / “Big Finish”
Writer: Todd Snider; Producer: Todd Snider/Eric McConnell; Label: TS
–I’ve always been a big fan of this clever guy. The troubadour opens his shows with this wryly humorous, self-aware, solo folky-blues tune. You’ll find it on his live album, due next Friday. The album-release show is at the Ryman on Saturday, Sept. 24. You won’t find a better one-man band. Prepare to be wildly entertained.
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