I wanted to say farewell on June 2, when George Jones was scheduled to appear in Lancaster, Pennsylvania, on his farewell tour. I had my tickets. But George pulled the ultimate No-Show: he passed away five weeks before I had a chance to say goodbye. There's a country song in there somewhere. It didn't matter, really. George has been my constant companion for the past year, even before his passing and the outpouring of commemoration that… more »
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Which acoustic guitarist had the greatest influence on rock 'n' roll — arguably as significant as electric counterparts like Muddy Waters, T-Bone Walker, B.B, Albert and Freddie King, and Buddy Guy? No, not Robert Johnson, though I'd name him and Mississippi John Hurt runners-up. Judging from John Milward's new book Crossroads: How the Blues Shaped Rock 'n' Roll (and Rock Saved the Blues), I'd say the honors go to fingerpicking Piedmont bluesman Rev. Gary Davis. Who? Davis,… more »
It's difficult to believe — or hell, maybe it isn't — that every major label in Nashville rejected Brandy Clark's first album, 12 Stories. The Washington State native has written or co-written songs for Reba McEntire, Darius Rucker, Miranda Lambert and the Band Perry, and her debut is an alternately hilarious and heartbreaking collection of character-driven songs about women who go crazy and the men who drive them there. Even before its release, it was… more »
New + Noteworthy
Remembering Pete Seeger
eMusic Reviews View All
2014 | Label: Brutual Honest / TuneCore
Austin’s Jess Williamson writes folksongs that are spare, intimate and arresting, often in the same vein as Angel Olsen or early Sharon Van Etten. On her debut seven-track EP Native State, she’s usually backed by banjo or a lonely electric guitar and singing in a sweet, hushed alto that cracks and swells and yelps in just the right places. Williamson’s songs are frequently based in nature, with lines about driving through a northwest storm, ladies moonbathing at the riverside, and pride personified as mountains and little birds. As often as… more »
2014 | Label: EMI Records Nashville
Eric Church might look like the traditional macho country badass — the new sheriff defending good ol’ country music from them pretty boys and their trendy pop frills. But what sets Church apart isn’t just the trucker hat he prefers to a Stetson, but his admirable conviction that you can’t stay where you’re at by standing still.
On The Outsiders, Church’s fourth album, you’ll hear all sorts of noises you don’t expect from a mainstream country album: marching-band trombones, down-home funk, a campy goth recitation on “Devil, Devil (Prelude: Prince of… more »
2014 | Label: ATO Records
Alynda Lee Segarra was just 17 when she ditched her home in the Bronx to hop a freight train bound for California, a move that — in an era in which Dickensian costuming is considered high-fashion, and Americana dominates the zeitgeist — feels a little like it was cribbed from a discarded Coen Bros. script: a story so real it can’t be real.
And yet: A washboard tucked under her arm, a teenaged Segarra criss-crossed America by rail before settling in New Orleans in the mid-2000s, where she took… more »
On her beautiful and understated new album, Rosanne Cash takes us on a ride through the American South. She’s been along this road before, linked to it by family genealogy and musical heritage; and yet on The River & the Thread, she travels it as an outsider, seeing the landscape anew, capturing images through the refracted lens of dream and metaphor, reminiscence and fable. The River & the Thread is about returning to a place you hardly know yet have always known.
“A river runs through me,” she sings in the… more »