It’s Americana Week here in Music City, so let’s dive right in.
There’s a lot to fall in love with in this stack of sounds. So much so that we have three Disc of the Day winners. The male winner is the exploding Tyler Childers. Allison Russell takes home the female award. The Group du jour is The Shindellas.
Our DISCovery Award goes to Carter Faith. Looking forward to more from her.
ALLISON RUSSELL / “The Returner”
Writers: Allison Russell/Drew Lindsay/JT Nero; Producers: Allison Russell/Dim Star; Label: Fantasy
– The title tune of this gifted artist’s latest collection is a slow groove that’s equal parts gospel, folk and soul. The lyric of surrender and inspiration glows with mysticism and is drenched in sisterly harmony vocals. This album is essential. Russell’s social activism was saluted with the Seigenthaler Free Speech Award at the Americana Awards on Wednesday eve.
BUDDY & JULIE MILLER / “I’ll Never Live It Down”
Writer: Julie Miller; Producer: Buddy Miller; Label: New West Records
– In The Throes drops tomorrow (Sept. 22) as the latest album from these enduring Americana icons. It features celeb guests such as Emmylou Harris, Regina McCrary, Larry Campbell and Gurf Morlix. On this focus track, Buddy goes solo with spare guitar-percussion backing. The drawling ballad is steeped in sadness and the heartbreak of a broken relationship. He will perform tomorrow at Musicians Corner in Centennial Park on a stellar bill that also includes Rodney Crowell, The Secret Sisters, The Wild Feathers and the North Mississippi Allstars. The sounds commence at 3 p.m.
BRANDY CLARK / “Come Back to Me”
Writers: Brandy Clark/Shane McAnally/Trevor Rosen; Producer: Brandi Carlile; Label: Warner Records
– The track ripples and rolls with folkie verve. Clark, as always, sings like a beacon of truth. The message is a lovely, releasing farewell with a promise that the one leaving can always return home. This goddess of song showcases at City Winery today (Sept. 21) at the Northern Lights Music show presented by Brandi Carlile & Tracy Gershon.
DALE WATSON / “That’s Where The Money Goes”
Writer: Dale Watson; Producer: none listed; Label: Cleopatra Records
– Of course he should have been a country superstar years ago, but let’s not go into that again. As it is, he’s an Americana founding father. Watson’s new Starvation Box collection features this working-class lament that’s a deep-South blues tune with a Johnny Cash attitude. I remain a devoted fan.
JOY OLADOKUN / “Taking Things For Granted”
Writer: Olubukola Oladokun; Producer: Joy Oladokun; Label: Amigo/Verve Forecast/Republic Records
– This Nashvillian’s latest, Proof of Life, confirms her as one of our great communicators of hope and insight. This upbeat track explores a child’s loss of innocence and the persistence of the spirit. Oladokun sings with a mixture of resignation, indignation and intellect. A classic, true troubadour.
CHARLEY CROCKETT / “The Man from Waco”
Writers: Charley Crockett/Bruce Robison/Kullen Fuchs/Taylor Grace; Producer: Bruce Robison; Label: Son of Davy/Thirty Tigers
– This Texas treasure is a prolific record maker and a force of nature as a performer. This is the title tune of his current album, a cowboy saga of murder and its haunting aftermath. Also, check out his music video for the moody “I’m Just a Clown.”
THE GOODWIN BROTHERS / “Everyday Thing”
Writers: Dwight Liles/Tom Paden; Producer: Jonathan Goodwin; Label: Pinecastle Records
– This Lexington, Kentucky band is billed as “bluegrass/Americana,” which is suitable, since the Americana genre has always embraced all kinds of acoustic sounds. The group’s Have You Noticed album is being promoted via a charming video of this lilting ode to simple living and country pleasures. Sweetly inviting.
CARTER FAITH / “Cowboy Forever”
Writers: Carter Faith/Lauren Hungate/Tofer Brown; Producer: Tofer Brown; Label: CF
– She sings in a deceptively delicate soprano. As the heartache song progresses, a tense power emerges, and she breaks into falsetto and back with ease. The minor-key track echoes with a neo-western vibe, and the whole thing is a highly involving audio ride. Faith showcases tonight at 8 p.m. at The Basement East in Nashville.
ALISON BROWN & STEVE MARTIN / “Foggy Morning Breaking”
Writers: Alison Brown/Steve Martin; Producers: Alison Brown/Garry West; Compass Records
– I can’t remember the last time I heard a country instrumental this enchanting. Brown is a three-finger banjo wonder, capable of dazzling runs and groovy time signatures. Martin keeps pace in clawhammer banjo style while Stuart Duncan (fiddle), Sierra Hull (mandolin), Chris Eldridge (guitar) and Todd Phillips (bass) get their licks in. If you need a feel-good, pick-me-up, look no further.
TYLER CHILDERS / “In Your Love”
Writers: Tyler Childers/Geno Seale; Producers: Tyler Childers/The Food Stamps; Label: Hickman Holler/RCA Records
– This guy’s new Rustin’ In The Rain album is an all-genre sales sensation and his new arena tour has sold out everywhere, including two nights at Madison Square Garden, Red Rocks and Rupp Arena as well as two nights next April at Bridgestone. The penetrating country singer-songwriter is becoming a total rock star without any radio support. Americana Highways calls him, “one of the most talented and important musical forces in American music.” Amen to that. The brilliantly acted video for this love song has stirred some controversy since it depicts two male coal miners who fall in love until one is felled by black lung. If you are not on this man’s express train to stardom, get on board now.
NATHANIEL RATELIFF & THE NIGHT SWEATS / “Tight Rope”
Writer: Leon Russell; Producer: none listed; Label: Stax
– These soulful Americana faves take Leon Russell’s 1972 pop hit out for a welcome revival spin. Goody goody.
THE SHINDELLAS / “Ooh La La”
Writers: Claude Kelly/Chuck Harmony (Louis York); Producers: Claude Kelly/Chuck Harmony (Louis York); Label: Weirdo Workshop/Thirty Tigers
– The “girl group” sound of the ‘60s, ‘70s and ‘80s is not dead. It lives on in the delicious sound of this Nashville trio. They swing lightly to the groove-soaked beats of this sunny love ditty, alternating solo vocal step-outs with creamy harmonies. As fizzy and sweet as a soda-fountain concoction. There’s a video out now, and you’ll find it on the group’s new album, Shindo, which drops Oct. 20. Can’t wait that long? The Shindellas’ Americana showcase is Saturday (Sept. 23) at 7 p.m. at The Basement East.
JESSI COLTER / “Standing on the Edge of Forever”
Writer: Jessi Colter; Producer: Margo Price; Label: Appalachia Record Co.
– Legendary Colter teams up with Americana darling Margo Price on her new album, dropping Oct. 27. Its title track is out now, and it’s an echoey rocker with beats to spare. Three of its other tunes will be vocal collabs with Price, and that’s something to look forward to, since she is a fine harmony vocalist.
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