In the embarrassment of riches that is the current country/Americana landscape, it’s an increasingly common issue where there are more new album releases on a given Friday than time to review or even listen to them in a timely manner. So to make sure you don’t miss anything…
A new Johnny Cash compilation, as well as a 10th year Anniversary/Deluxe Edition of the James Hand studio album ‘Mighty Lonesome Man’ is coming from the Austin, TX-based independent record label Hillgrass Bluebilly Records. The releases are part of a last hurrah and Grand Finale from the label after releasing multiple original albums, compilations, and reissues over the past 15 years.
Once or twice a year, you have one of these mega release days in country music where the albums are so important, and the amount of releases so daunting, you need a field guide, or a Sherpa to help shepherd you through it all. Luckily you have little ol’ Saving Country Music.
Her latest album The Southwest Sky and Other Dreams is an imaginative and inspired work of involved stories and finely-woven songwriting, with intermissions of enjoyable romps through country and roots escapism, influenced from treks through desert California and West Texas.
Hear ye, hear ye, hear ye. By the power vested in me by country music, I am officially declaring the 28th of August, in the Year of Our Ford 2020 as an officially-sanctioned country music holiday, with all the rights and privileges thereof afforded to all self-professed country fans.
The Saving Country Music Top 25 Playlist is built to keep you informed on all the best songs and albums coming out right here, right now in country and roots music. It’s available on most all streaming formats. New songs have just been added.
2018 has been incredibly busy with new albums in the country and roots realm, and the 2nd half of the year looks to be just as busy. So to help you keep track of it all and perhaps help separate the wheat from thew chaff, here is a handy guide to some of the top releases to anticipate, a more expansive list of confirmed releases, and a rumor mill.
A song can change a life, and a song can change the world. And if you’re a real music fan, you know this to be true because you’ve felt it, and seen it yourself. We’re not looking for fanciful ditties that get stuck in your head here. There is a time and a place for those, but that’s not here. We’re looking for songs that barrel you over.
It’s within the anticipation her first record inspired that the sophomore effort ‘Country Songs’ from Karen Jonas comes spilling out of her songwriting pen just as fervent and hungry as her first effort, yet with more refined and deliberate results due to the wisdom won through the experience of her debut.
“Country Songs” speaks right to the heart of what true country music is all about. It’s there to mend the wounds and help us all commiserate over the misery life invariably throws our way. There’s nothing wrong with happy songs either, but country music has always been the best remedy for a sad state of affairs.
This isn’t going to be some long form praising of Sturgill Simpson’s work in 2014, or yet another rundown of his long list of successes last year. There’s already been plenty of that, arguably too much of it, and I am just as tired of writing about it as you are of reading of it. Yeah yeah, Sturgill Simpson’s great, but his name has become the independent country version of click bait.
In 2014, you had two previously-unknown women release towers of country music brilliance in Tami Nelison’s Dynamite! and Karen Jonas’s Oklahoma Lottery. You had folk blues songwriter Charlie Parr deliver a masterpiece in his instrumental triumph in Hollandale. You had the Swedish sister duo First Aid Kit feature what very well would had been considered an Album of the Year on any other year…
2014 has revealed itself as the “Year of the Dark Horse” when it comes to compiling the greatest albums released in the last 12-month span. Tami Neilson, Karen Jonas, Charlie Parr, Matt Woods? Who’s heard of these people outside of their respective fan bases? And meanwhile the realm of mainstream music can’t field one candidate, unless you want to count First Aid Kit.
Compared to albums, making picks of songs is such a tough, arbitrary business. This year seems especially tough, not because the field isn’t strong, but because many of the best moments are coming from unlikely sources, including a cadre of cover songs that despite the spirit of the “Best Songs” approach being about original compositions, seem almost criminal to omit.
2014 so far has been an interesting year for album releases for sure. Some names we were hoping big things from like Sturgill Simpson and Jason Eady delivered in big ways. Other dark horse names we’d never heard of like Karen Jonas came out of the woodwork to stun. Some names like Don Williams and Charlie Parr put out surprising albums that have to be considered high water marks of their career.
Fredericksburg, Virginia’s Karen Jonas surprised everyone in March when she released one of the year’s most unexpected, yet critically-acclaimed albums called Oklahoma Lottery. The album showed tremendous musical wisdom for a freshman effort, and scored high marks for songwriting, musicianship, arrangement, singing and guitar playing by Jonas.
Karen Jonas, whether she knew it or not, heeded the advice of the great Ray Wylie Hubbard to all songwriters: don’t just listen to The Ghost of Tom Joad, read The Grapes of Wrath. How do we know this? It’s not just from the wisdom interwoven in the lyrics, it’s from the amount of pain Ms. Jonas is able to capture in her performance.