Americana Music News – Aaron Lee Tasjan dropped by the Family Wash in Nashville today to sing a few songs on a WMOT Roots Radio broadcast in support of his new album “Silver Tears.” Here he talks about the new recording and an unusual promotional tour.
New and recent releases:
The Mavericks – All Night Live, Vol. 1 – Mondo Mundo Records – The Mavericks have had an extraordinary resurgence in recent years, emerging as top Americana music artists. All Night Live, Vol. 1 is packed with vibrant live versions of songs, largely from recent albums, plus a charming cover of Neil Young’s “Harvest Moon. The collection is the first release on the band’s new Mondo Mundo label, and lead singer Raul Malo told the Tennessean there are “so many freakin’ volumes” to come in the “All Night Live” series. A new studio album is expected in April 2017.
— Americana Music News (@KenPaulson7) October 23, 2016
Blind Pilot – And Then Like Lions – ATO Records – Third album from the Portland-based band, now on tour in California.
Jesse Dayton – The Revealer – Blue Elan Records – The ninth album from Jesse Dayton includes standout track “Holy Ghost Rock ‘n’ Roller,” now getting good play on WMOT. He’s on tour through early December
Dale Watson – Under the Influence – BFD – Dale Watson revisits honky tonk and country classics on this new collection, including covers of Doug Sham, Merle Haggard, Johnny Cash, Conway Twitty, Lefty Frizell and Mel Tillis.
Becky Warren – War Surplus – Here’s a novel album concept. Nashville-based Becky Warren tells the story of a solider in Iraq and his girlfriend, with songs alternating their points of view. Warren goes on tour with the Indigo Girls beginning October 27.
Cris Jacobs – Dust to Gold – American Showplace Music – Second album from Cris Jacobs, on tour through October and November.
David Nipper – EP – Fresh collection from talented Nashville singer-songwriter David Nipper. He’ll appear in the round at the Commodore Grill in Nashville on November 10 with Phil Dillon and Dave Gibson.
By Paul T. Mueller
In the Dark marks a couple of changes of direction for Houston-based singer-songwriter Matt Harlan. He’s now part of a duo; his musical partner and wife, Rachel Jones, has contributed to previous projects, but this time she gets equal billing on the CD cover and a much-expanded vocal role, of which she’s more than worthy. And his songs are more about poetic abstraction – images and feelings – than the narrative of such earlier efforts as “Elizabethtown” and “Old Allen Road.”
Case in point: In the title track, nothing much happens except some sitting – in a bar, at home – and watching the night give way to the day. The stylistic shift might be frustrating to fans of Harlan’s storytelling skills, but there’s a place for quieter, less linear songs as well. Harlan and Jones are good at this kind of thing, using their understated but expressive vocals as a vehicle for Harlan’s literate lyrics. All of it is supported by his excellent guitar playing and contributions from some talented guests.
The album’s only song not written or co-written by Harlan, “My Mother’s Song (at Seventeen),” does feature a narrative of sorts. Written by Steve Dodson and Danny Jones, it’s a dialogue of conflict and reconciliation between a parent and a child. “You look at me and disagree,” Jones sings, “and shake your head and sigh.” Guest vocalist Allison Fisher replies, “The thing that you don’t understand is – we sing a different song.” Later they harmonize on a conclusion: “The thing that you don’t understand is – we see a different light.”
Time is a recurring theme on In the Dark. “Move Slow” envisions “every day [as] a gift from somewhere else” and admonishes us to seize the day: “Just imagine all the time we’ll never get to dance out in the thunderstorms.” “Strangers on the Hill” laments the passage of time (“Simple story: Time drifts by”) while casting a critical eye on how we choose to pass that time: “Obligations, tensions high: trying to live like the strangers on the hill.”
Time and change also figure in “Mozart,” which closes the eight-song set. “Mozart will always be Mozart, just like disco will always be dead,” Harlan sings, but in contrast, “as long as I’m living I’m changing, with each drop of sweat that rolls off of my brow.”
Matt Harlan and Rachel Jones share production credit; contributors include Tony Barilla on accordion and keyboards, Steve Candelari on drums and Willy T Golden on lap steel.
Suzy Bogguss was kind enough to join us a few weeks ago at the Country Music Hall of Fame for the re-launch of WMOT, Nashville’s new Americana radio station. We had the chance to talk briefly about Aces Redux, a revisiting of Aces, her breakthrough album of 25 years ago.
She said her goal was to record the same songs, but with a more organic feel. She’s succeeded.
You live and learn a lot in a quarter century and this new recording reflects both the strength of that original album and Bogguss’ growth as an artist.
Three songs on the album – “Outbound Plane,” “Aces” and “Letting Go” – soared into the country music Top 10 in 1991 and 1992, with “Someday Soon” nestled in at number 12. Still, the new release showcases the other charms on the collection, particularly “Save Yourself” and “Part of Me.”
By Ken Paulson
Timothy B. Schmit, veteran of both the Eagles and Poco, opened his new tour at the City Winery in Nashville tonight, following a number of guest appearances during the 2016 Americana Music Festival.
The tour is to promote his new album Leap of Faith, and most of his set was drawn from that album, including the engaging “My Hat” and the radio friendly “Red Dirt Road.”
If the set was short on familiarity, it was long on musicality and harmonies.
Schmit was in fine voice, and he’s put together a good band, with multiple vocalists.
Schmit did dip into the catalog for his big Eagles hit “I Can’t Tell You Why,” plus “Love Will Keep Us Alive,” “I Don’t Want to Hear Anymore” and the Poco classic “Keep On Tryin’.”
By Ken Paulson
We’re just days away from our favorite music event in Nashville, and the Americana Music Festival boasts another great line-up of performers. The latest list:
Aaron Lee Tasjan
B R U N S
The Ballroom Thieves
Billy Bragg & Joe Henry
Birger Olsen (of Denver)
BJ Barham (of American Aquarium)
The Black Lillies
The Bottle Rockets
Bruce Hornsby & The Noisemakers
The Cactus Blossoms
Cedric Burnside Project
Charlie Faye & The Fayettes
The Fearless Kin
Green River Ordinance
The Handsome Family
Harpoonist & the Axe Murderer
The Infamous Stringdusters
John Paul White
Larry Campbell & Teresa Williams
The Last Bandoleros
Lee Ann Womack
Lewis & Leigh
The Lonely Heartstring Band
The O’Connor Band featuring Mark O’Connor
Penny & Sparrow
Reverend Peyton’s Big Damn Band
Shawn Colvin & Steve Earle
Sons of Bill
Teddy Thompson & Kelly Jones
Tony Joe White
William Clark Green
William the Conqueror
Wynonna & The Big Noise
The festival opens Sept. 21 in Nashville.
By Ken Paulson
Brian Wilson wrapped up his two-night stand at the Ryman Auditorium in Nashville last night with a generous set that included the full Pet Sounds album. Playing with a remarkable band that included Beach Boys veterans Al Jardine and Blondie Champlin, Wilson offered up most of the big hits, along with lesser known treats like “Wild Honey,” “Salt Lake City” and the international hit “Cottonfields.”
Oddly, Wilson described the latter – composed by Leadbelly – as a song that he and Jardine wrote. He said the same thing about Sloop John B, traditional folk song that he arranged. Wilson is a better songwriter than historian.
It’s no secret that Brian Wilson has not been comfortable on a stage for a half-century, and obviously he doesn’t have the voice he once had. Still the songs remain rich and powerful and it’s a privilege to hear the composer sing his own “God Only Knows,” bathed in extraordinary harmonies from his first-rate band.
— Dave Paulson (@ItsDavePaulson) September 17, 2016
saw Brian Wilson last night. Amazing show! crazy difficult to get good footage and be discrete. But here’s the… https://t.co/Un6QINj9EL
— The Dude (@thedailyvinyl) September 18, 2016
By Paul T. Mueller
“This should tide you over until the next full studio album,” read the words of Craig Kinsey on the back cover of his latest CD, The Nylon Sessions. No such disclaimer is needed. This 13-song collection from Kinsey, a singer-songwriter based in Houston, holds up just fine on its own. For the most part, the songs are unplugged renditions of previously recorded Kinsey originals – “songs in their bedroom, without formal attire or affectations,” in his words.
Kinsey, who spent several years in an Arkansas monastery before earning a college degree and launching a career as a musician, is known in Houston for his theatrical stage shows, for which he often wears a top hat and employs burlesque dancers. The Nylon Sessions takes a much simpler approach. All but one of the songs feature Kinsey, an expressive singer who accompanies himself on a nylon-strung guitar (hence the title) and harmonica, plus one other player. The result is a worthy showcase for the thoughtful lyrics of the 11 originals and two covers – as well as for the skills of the supporting musicians.
The Nylon Sessions demonstrates Kinsey’s comfort with several musical genres. Old-time country is represented by a beautifully understated reading of the Lefty Frizzell hit “Always Late (with Your Kisses),” with Kelly Doyle, of Robert Ellis’ band, The Perfect Strangers, on synthesizer. Doyle’s guitar is also featured on the jazzy “Bits and Pieces” and “Romulus and Remus.” Other Ellis bandmates also contribute – pedal steel player Will Van Horn, on the straight-up country of “Cold Shoulder”; banjo player Geoffrey Muller, on the nice gospel workout on “Look at His Hands,” and Muller on electric bass on an excellent cover of Bob Dylan’s “You’re Gonna Make Me Lonesome When You Go.”
Houston-based trumpeter Aaron Koerner lends his jazzy chops to “Siddhartha’s Dancers” and “Montrose Blvd. Blues,” a fond, New Orleans-inflected tribute to the eclectic Houston neighborhood that has long nurtured the city’s musicians and other artists. Sergio Trevino, front man of Houston indie/Americana band Buxton, provides nice harmony vocals on the folksy, irreverent “Atheist’s Love Song.”
The album’s only solo effort is Kinsey’s lovely solo rendition of “Green Grow the Rashes,” Scottish poet Robert Burns’ ode to the ladies. The closing track, another highlight, is the bluesy lost-love tale “After All,” featuring Mike Whitebread on guitar.
“Simply songs. Words,” Craig Kinsey calls this album. That’s plenty.