Christmas is officially cool again after years of American popular culture being too cool for Christmas. But there was never a time when Christmas and music was cooler in America than in the 1950’s. JD McPherson proves himself uniquely qualified to tackle the difficult task of recording a Christmas record.
I get it, you take to the internet to read insightful and incisive reviews on records you may or may not purchase or stream. But on this particular project, I really don’t know what to think about it, or what to tell you to think about it. More specifically, I can see it both ways, and think that both sides of the argument are right.
Like Ralphie from ‘The Christmas Story’ waiting for his Little Orphan Annie secret decoder pin to arrive in the mailbox, we’ve been dutifully checking our email inboxes and social media feeds for any news on new music coming down the pike from the King of Country Music himself, George Strait.
Thomas Gabriel doesn’t need a history lesson on Johnny Cash; he received one while growing up. In his album ‘Long Way Home,’ Thomas Gabriel takes you through an autobiography of a very turbulent, incarcerated, addiction-riddled life with an eerie connectivity and continuation of the Johnny Cash story.
Kane Brown is not country, and by insisting that he is, unnecessary conflict is created. Understand that many country fans would rather listen to a hip-hop, R&B, or pop record as opposed to Kane Brown, because at least that music will be authentic and honest, and genuine about its nature, as opposed to an aberration of the truth.
Boy, you thought witnessing the never-ending drama and identity crisis roiling The Band Perry was dizzying to the point of hilarity, and then began to feel downright sorry for them as matters got even worse as they grappled for mainstream relevancy. Well now Zac Brown has just said, “Hold my beer and watch this.”
Songwriter Will Hoge has spend his career canonizing the common man and singing about his struggles, becoming sort of a more thoughtful, alt-country version of Mellencamp with music that carries the tone and meter of Heartland rock. But with his most recent album, Will Hoge leaves all nuance and allegory behind.
If artists such as Luke Bell and Pat Reedy suit your fancy, Nick Shoulders will slide right into your wheelhouse. But where these artists perhaps own a deeper arsenal of original songs at the moment, Nick Shoulders distinguishes himself by possessing an incredible, world-class high voice and yodel the likes of which we’ve rarely heard.
Jason Isbell has ascended to being considered the King of Americana by making all of the right moves at the right time. Isbell’s Ryman Auditorium residencies over the last few years have become a thing of legend all to themselves. But the simple truth is that ‘Live From The Ryman’ is a rare misstep by Isbell and his crew.
On the Pistol Annies’ third record and their first in a long while, you will find the songs you would expect from the supertrio. But beneath the Southern female glitz and unruly frivolity on the surface of the Pistol Annies’ persona is perhaps the trio’s most involved work.
How many times can you remake the same movie and it still be good? If it’s a classic story told with passion, is well-acted and directed, and expertly updated for the modern context, the answer would be at least four. “A Star Is Born” is a big moment for Americana music.
It’s not exclusively the music from our favorite artists that inspires us. It’s how they’re gifted with the tenacity to pursue their dreams fearlessly, and with a willingness to sacrifice we all wish we had, or maybe we did have at one time before life got in the way. But they don’t let life get in the way. They get in the way of life.
It’s not just the words, but the music of Carson McHone’s Carousel that help create an audio illustration of this emotional battlefield that it’s haunting at times in how well it mirrors our own experiences. This is her opportunity to slip out of the “velvet handcuffs” of Austin. “Carousel” is worthy of that charge.
William Michael Morgan has sent us selling our stock, and then buying it all back again just in a matter of a couple of weeks. The first taste from his upcoming and unannounced sophomore record was a song called “Tonight Girl.” And then here comes “Brokenhearted.”
Screw it all. You want to save country music? Put it on the back of the Buick City Badass Whitey Morgan along with his backing band The 78’s, and let them carry the whole damn genre. Whitey Morgan is like the embodiment of all the rage and frustration of true country music fans channeled into one hairy human vessel.
We’re not talking honky tonk country by close approximations and burdened with qualifiers. Dillon Carmichael is the pure, unadulterated, 100 proof version of country. If the term was still cool, you would call it “Outlaw.” This record is nothing short of merciless in how it grinds out one deeply-powerful plodding track after another.
There’s plenty of mainstream country stars right now braying about the virtues of 90’s country in radio singles, but Maddie & Tae are the only ones actually singing and writing stuff even closely resembling it. Like all good country songs, “Die From A Broken Heart” would fit well in most any era.
Identical twins Adam and David Moss have done something that is not just remarkable in roots music, but in modern music in all its incarnations. They have re-connected with that original magic that compels you to stop, take a deep breath, shove everything else to the side, and truly give yourself to a listening experience.
If you’re looking for a little levity amid a world gone mad, and music served with a surprising bit of twang, the latest release from long-standing alt-country stalwarts The Bottle Rockets will do you good. Called Bit Logic and brought to you by the fine folks at Bloodshot Records, they put the “country” in front of the “alt” on this one.
Tom Buller opens his mouth, and you’re immediately transported back to the Golden Era of country music, whichever era you choose the ‘Golden’ one to be. Where has true country music gone, you ask? It’s gone right down the gullet of Tom Buller, and comes back out in the form of one of the purest country voices you’ll hear.
Without an ounce of hyperbole, one can decree Colter Wall’s voice as a one-in-a-million phenomenon among humankind, and find very little resistance to that pronouncement. Yet the most remarkable thing about his voice is that he’s chosen to employ it in the service of keeping the most primitive forms of roots music alive.
Enough trying to settle for the latest Eric Church record simply because it’s better than most of the stuff in the mainstream, or squinting at Luke Combs and trying to make him the second coming of Waylon. You’re in the mood for a honky tonk fix? Quit throwing darts at the Billboard charts, and pick up the latest from JP Harris.
There is a war going on for control of Eric Church’s soul. It’s similar to the war that persists in the hearts and minds of most every mainstream country music artist. But for Eric Church, the war is different. It’s more pronounced, and has been playing out through the span of his career.