Tuesday, July 5, 2011

An Americana Summer - Four New Releases

We've received some excellent Americana music in the past few weeks which makes us believe that the current musical Renaissance is continuing. We will start off with The Wilders and their self titled CD The Wilders. This recording is so varied that sometimes that I had to double check my ipod to make sure it didn't skip ahead to another artist. There's amazing fiddle tunes, old school county and honk-tonk, some rock and even a little punk. This band is still going strong as they celebrate 15 years together. Here's a track by track evaluation:

1. Ordinary People: soothing pop; favorite track
2. Mid November: old time country
3. Riding On Your High Horse: The Speckers raucous fiddle instrumental
4. She Says (I Say): classic honky-tonk, similar to an old Hungarian saying
5. Get Up Kid: slow and powerful
6. Stay With Me: the band turns to rock
7. Pat’s 25: slow ballad
8. Riverboat: another old time fiddle song
9. L.A.: punk out
10. Things They Say About Home: pop-ish with catchy hook
11. No. 7: more raucous fiddling
12. This Old Town: classic alt-country; second favorite track
13. Lay Down Our Guns: another slow story

Next up is songstress Sarah Jarosz, who released Follow Me Down in late spring. Not only are her vocals powerful, but she was most impressive on the guitar. Can't believe she's only 20 years old. 

1. Run Away: classic Jarosz - soft but powerful2. Come Around: she's angry at him
3. Annabelle Lee: celtic styled ballad with great instrumentals
4. Ring Them Bells: going gospel - nice acoustic guitar
5. My Muse: dumbfounded on this one - nice
6. Floating In The Balance: favorite song - great composition
7. Old Smitty: Stringduster-ish instrumental
8. The Tourist: slow, slow down.....
9. Here Nor There: more nice acoustic guitar
10. Gypsy: she can sing
11. Peace: finish with a peaceful calm - beautiful

The coolest surprise comes from an unlikely source Nick 13 of the Psycho-billy punk band Tiger Army. Apparently the lead singer decided to trace the roots of early punk to rockabilly and then to the country music of the 40s-60s which he refers as “hillbilly music”. And in particular he gained an appreciation for the fellow California based songwriters: Buck Owens, Ricky Nelson, Merle Haggard and The Byrds. Determined to write similar material with his own stamp, he moved to Nashville to soak up that city's musical influences. The result is an amazing self titled CD, Nick 13. I can't get enough of this one - seems I've been thirsting for this sound for quite some time. Plus it includes amazing backing from legendary steel guitarist Lloyd Green and Sara Watkins, among many others.

1. Nashville Winter: Why head to Nashville (steel guitar)
2. In The Orchard (2011): slow ballad - beautiful song
3. All Alone: classic early rockabilly - Elvis?
4. Someday: life lesson delivered by song "with failure - keep on trying"
5. Restless Moon: more hillbilly music
6. Gambler's Life: even more hillbilly music
7. Cupid's Victim (2011): Ricky Nelson meets the Byrds
8. Nighttime Sky: favorite track - dreaming of love
9. Carry My Body Down: shades of country western "Rawhide"
10. 101: close with a bang - dedicated to Highway 101

And finally there's Tara Nevins from Donna the Buffalo and her new solo release: Wood & Stone. This CD has been growing on me the more and more as I listen. The hardest part is after 21 years listening to DtB, I kept waiting to hear Jeb take lead vocals.  Once I accepted the fact that this was all Tara, I became to appreciate the release; the songwriting, the musicians, the production. And why not. Anyone who has heard DtB knows multi-dimensional contributions from Ms. Nevins and, in addition, anyone who has heard the Levon Helm Band lately understands and appreciates the many talents of Larry Campbell & Teresa Williams. Don't expect this CD to replicate DtB's funky sound either (expect maybe the first tune). This is old time mountain music with a Cajun twist - expressing Ms. Nevins' powerful songwriting. 

1. Wood And Stone: start off funky similar to DtB; doesn't get better than this
2. All I Ever Needed: uptempo - old time country\Cajun - fiddle\accordion?
3. You’ve Got It All: love sucks
4. You’re Still Driving That Truck: love still sucks
5. Who Would You Tell: still trying to find love to a country tune
6. Snowbird: Jim Lauderdale assists in resisting love - great track
7. Nothing Really: jammin' fiddle tune
8. What Money Cannot Buy: love the musical composition
9. The Wrong Side:again?
10. Stars Fell On Alabama: another wonderful composition
11. Down South Blues: rockin' guitar; is that Campbell?
12. Tennessee River: haunting it is
13. The Beauty Of Days Gone By: Van Morrison song leaves us optimistic

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