Samantha Martin & Delta Sugar (from the album Run to Me available on )
Rhythm and Blues is the heartbeat that drives Run to Me, the latest release from Samantha Martin and Delta Sugar. The Canadian trio that frontwoman Samantha Martin feels are co-vocalists sway and swoon as they remember the loneliness of lost love (“Chasing Dream”), chop up the beat with Vintage Soul (“Over You”), rattle out some funk (“All Night Long”), slowly roll rhythms (“Wanna Be Your Lover”), and stab sad stories with sharp chord snaps (“Only So Much”). The power vocal combination of Samantha Martin and Delta Sugar kicks the album into gear on “You’re the Love”, the track namechecking the album title in its Run to Me chorus come-on. A rhythm-infected bounce strides out on the right step with “This Night is Mine” while Samantha Martin and Delta Sugar pound out the beat to march into “Good Trouble” and wonder on the ways of love in “Will We Ever Learn”.
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The Brothers Comatose (from the album Ink, Dust & Luck available on Antifragile Music)
Harmonizing on one wish, The Brothers Comatose stare out the tour van windshield looking to see the sun and surf as they feel the love of their native California and the hearts waiting there calling in “Get Me Home”. The song is what a touring band gets as a parting gift from a life lived on the road. Ink, Dust & Luck chugs with road rhythms as The Brothers Comatose snatch stories from daily life with “As the Crow Flies”, put a Bluegrass stomp underneath “Don’t Make Me Get Up and Go” as the band resist rising, and rattle strings for the personal resume of “These Ways”.
Producer John Vanderslice recorded Ink, Dust & Luck direct to two-inch analog tape, The Brother Comatose guitarist/lead vocalist Ben Morrison recalling that ‘for the first time, every single band member contributed songs to the album. We took the old school, just straight to tape approach, and I think the raw energy really shines through. Vanderslice is a madman in the studio, we couldn’t have done this recording without his genius intuition supporting us all the way through’. Ink, Dust & Luck tenderly picks out love notes for the high desert in “Joshua Tree”, tumbles on a Folksy sway through “Cedarwood Pines”, and measures “Love by Degrees” on sharp chord strums while The Brothers Comatose duet with Nicki Bluhm, each taking a side in “Sugar Please”.
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Robbie Fulks and Linda Gail Lewis (from the album Wild! Wild! Wild! Available on Bloodshot Records)
Country humor can be dark and Robbie Fulks pens tales that bring a smile though the laughter may be sound a little nervous wondering how far “Till Death” will go to make its story true. The tune matches the tales collected on Wild! Wild Wild!, the recent release from Robbie Fulks and rock’n’roll royalty, Linda Gail Lewis, sister of Jerry Lee Lewis. Honky tonk swings with the tale of a young troubadour growing-up listening to his daddy’s outlaw country heroes in “I Just Lived a Country Song” while runaway piano riffs turn the story to life from a female perspective in “Boogie Woogie Country Gal”.
Meeting while on tour, the idea for Wild! Wild! Wild! has been ten years in the creation process with Robbie Fulks and Linda Gail Lewis working together intermittently in the ensuing years. Wild! Wild! Wild! fulfills wishes for both its musicians, Linda Gail Lewis thrilled to be singing on Robbie Fulks tunes while Robbie is happy challenging his songwriting by crafting tracks for someone else to sing. Linda Gail Lewis takes the lead for the traveling woman in “Round Too Long” as Robbie Fulks soulfully handles the lead vocals in “Foolmaker”. Wild! Wild! Wild! pounds out a rock’n’roll beat for the boasting resumes in the title track while Robbie Fulks and Linda Gail Lewis shuffle into salvation “On the Jericho Road”, and shakeups styles to follow the banjo strums into “Memphis Never Falls from Style”
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Liz Cooper and the Stampede (from the album Window Flowers available on Sleepyhead Records)
The term psychedelic has been hijacked, suggesting music created through a hallucinogenic haze, giving the impression that the style was no more than people taking drugs to make music for people to listen to while taking drugs. Psychedelia was a name given the musical hybrids that shifted styles in the 1960’s, reflecting the soundtrack to a time when Blues, Jazz, Rock’n’Roll, Folk, and Country sat at the same table to map out a sound. Liz Cooper and the Stampede use the word, and the traditions of psychedelia, correctly on the debut release, Window Flowers. The soundscapes change in the songs, curving and curling like kaleidoscopic colors, comfortably claiming Folk plucked guitar strings to paint “Walls of White”, forming rounded electric notes and beats to create “Motion”, and climbing “Mountain Men” on layers of finger-picking and effervescent drumming.
Window Flowers nudges the album awake with opener “Sleepyhead”, the sonics rising up on a still-dreaming melody as Liz Cooper stands waiting with advice for the coming day. Based in Nashville, Tennessee, Liz Cooper and the Stampede used hometown studio Welcome to 1979 to record, a time that Liz remembers as ‘our first time working with an outside producer and our first time in a proper recording studio was when we recorded Window Flowers. TJ Elias’ (co-producer) mad scientist ideas, an abundance of hot dogs, and lack of sunlight pushed us outside of our comfort zones to work more cohesively as a unit than we ever had before’. The dancing that Liz Cooper and the Stampede reference in “The Night” steps to meandering rhythms and shapeshifting sounds while a touch of Jazz tickles the memories of “Fondly and Forever”. Window Flowers fuels up on Indie Rock rattle heading into “Outer Space” and trips over percussive psychedelics with “Dalai Lama” as Liz Cooper and the Stampede open “Kaleidoscopic Eyes” on an ever-revolving groove and shout out “Hey Man” on a new-wave washed rhythm.
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Joe Ely (from the album The Lubbock Tapes: Full Circle available on Rack ‘Em Records)
The names and stories remain the same when Joe Ely unpacks a suitcase full of songs from his pre-release days. The Lubbock Tapes: Full Circle returns Joe to the early 1970’s and two recording sessions. After leaving The Flatlanders in 1972, Joe Ely was looking for a band, joining Lloyd Maines (guitar), Greg Wright (bass), and Steve Keeton (drums) together as The Joe Ely Band. The road-tested honky tonkers entered the studio in 1974, tracking tunes that would become Joe’s self-titled debut in 1977. The recordings are joined by a second batch of tracks gathered when the Joe Ely Band entered the studio in 1978 to begin demos for this third release, Down on the Drag. The core band has additional members for the 1978 recordings with Jesse Taylor (guitar) and Ponty Bone (accordion).
The songs collected on The Lubbock Tapes: Full Circle give a back story to the brand of roadhouse country rock’n’roll that Joe Ely has taken as his own beginning with his 1977 debut. The guitar riffs on “Fools Fall in Love” lead the way for the band to follow into the future as Blues puts slashed chords over the country beat of “I Keep Gettin’ Paid the Same” as honky tonk stage lights pick out the house band backing “Standin’ at a Big Hotel”. The sound of The Lubbock Tapes: Full Circle shows how the music of Joe Ely was changing while presenting a historical backdrop for the Austin music scene in the 1970’s as it moved into a hard-edged hybrid of Country, Rock’n’Roll, Tex Mex, and Blues. A simple acoustic guitar strum kickstarts “Road Hawg” as a Texas travelogue namechecks landscape in “Down on the Drag”, Country picks out notes for “If You Were a Bluebird”, dark desert winds toss love around in “Gamblers Bride”, and a rock’n’country groove puts an optimistic strut into the dreams of “I Had My Hopes Up High”.
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Folk Soul Revival (from the album Folk Soul Revival available on )
Life in south stages the stories of Folk Soul Revival on their recent self-titled release. Formed in Virginia, Folk Soul Revival feel the joy of the life they have chosen in “Small Town”, offer a last call slow dance with “Buck Up”, welcome “Workin’ Man’ on a mighty bass and drum beat, chicken pick out guitar notes to back love note darts in “Honey Do”, and make a list of likes on “Other Side”.
The pleasure the characters embrace in the songs of Folk Soul Revival are not simple, they are har-won breaks as the tales look at the dim light of a coming weekend as a beacon calling men and women out of a long work week in blue-collar jobs. Folk Soul Revival makes use of string swells and chopped guitar chords to soak up the sad in “Broken” as it offers a hand for a life time of spins in “Dance with Me”. Road tested, Folk Soul Revival find returning home a goal that begins with the first steps away, the band feeling Bristol both safe spot and muse. Songwriting frontman Daniel Davis feels that the collection of songs on the album ‘are stories of home. We're all backwoods country people who grew up in this area, listening to bluegrass and country. That's where we come from, and that's where this album comes from, too’. A one-on-one goodbye is whispered in “Lie to Me” while Folk Soul Revival fall in line behind a marching beat to spread the good word for bad days with “That’s Life” as they close out the album with a version of Little Feat’s “Willin’”.
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Shooter Jennings (from the album Shooter available on Low Country Records)
The songs of Shooter Jennings have been so comfortable dipping their feet in both Country and Rock’n’Roll that a label for the music has never been in an issue. With his recent release, Shooter, he stays the course with stories showcasing characters that keep in the game no matter how the odds stack against them, putting a church basement piano under the city boy Blues in “Shades & Hue” as Shooter Jennings becomes a sixteen behind the wheel in a memory, late night cruising Mulholland bidding goodbye to lost friends and family in “Fast Horses and Good Hideout”. Shooter poses a musical question with “Do You Love Texas” as the album shows bad decisions come alive in “I’m Wild and My Woman is Crazy”, puts a slinky beat under a red light song with “Denim and Diamonds”, and toasts the relationship between bad break-ups and alcohol in “D.R.U.N.K.”.
His intention was clear when Shooter Jennings entered RCA’s Studio A in Nashville with producer/friend Dave Cobb and though taking chances is the norm on albums, the goal on Shooter was to make a really good country music record. The man who put his name in the title tears out some personal pages for the songs on Shooter, letting memories meander on the slow sway of “Living in a Minor Key” and popping the top on a honky tonk Soul show with “Bound to Git Down”.
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The Devil Makes Three (from the album Chains are Broken available on New West Records)
Independent for The Devil Makes Three meant establishing themselves with their audience from their beginnings in Santa Cruz, California in 2002. The songs are directed to as well as about the audience as much as the stories reflect the band’s outlook on life spent on the road. On their recent release, Chains are Broken, The Devil Makes Three, beef up the busking of core trio, Pete Bernhard (guitar), Lucia Turino (upright bass), and Cooper McBean (guitar/banjo) by bringing in touring drummer Stefan Amidon, filling in the sound with powerful grooves in the title track as “Chains Are Broken” weaves down the highway on a raggedy rhythm. A country rhythm backs the twang building “Castles” as the beat pounds the ground to “Pray for Rain” with choral harmonies and hopes for wet weather.
Recorded at Sonic Ranch Studio in El Paso, Texas with Ted Hutt (The Gaslight Anthem, Flogging Molly) producing, Chains Are Broken is the first album of original material for The Devil Make Three since 2103. Guitar jangle forms into sharp chord stabs as war looms on the horizon of “Paint My Face” while Tex-Mex soundtracks the noir moods of “All is Quiet” and rock’n’roll strums up a “Bad Idea” as The Devil Makes Three wave a sad goodbye in “Curtains Rise” and confess it is never about the winning with “Need to Lose”.
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Joe Rollin Porter (from the album Take This Hammer available on Joropo Records)
Clean picking is the choice for Joe Rollin Porter as the guitar man offers his unique playing style for a packet of traditional tunes in his recent release, Take This Hammer. He backs his love letter to “Peggy-O” with soft harmony and finger-picking, rushes the pace to head to London with “Jackaroe”, trots alongside “Black Jack Davy” as he makes love promises, sweetly sings out “Corinna Blues”, and sits down to strum out a song for “Saro Jane”. Cleveland, Ohio-based Joe Rollin Porter recorded Take This Hammer at Inside Out Studio in Sparta, Illinois. Notes twirl as Joe Rollin Porter waves farewell in “Bye, Bye Baby Blues”, shuffles to mark the time on “From Four Until Late”, and puts some Country into “Bound to Ride” as Take This Hammer takes a swing in “Spike Driver Blues”.
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Chad Elliott and the Redemptions (from the album Rest Heavy: The Sun Studio Sessions available as a self-release)
The redeeming quality for Rest Heavy is its ability to manage its music as the recent release from Chad Elliott and the Redemptions shuffles through Roots Rock, Soul, and Gospel. Recorded in Memphis, Rest Heavy: The Sun Studio Sessions taps into the city’s intuitive nature to build a sound rather than a style. Soul sings its heart out with Country love for the “Hills of Tennessee”, a reverent hush wraps around the melody for “Shining Stars” and walks with a city-street strut through “Shy of Shameless”, slowing the pace to a stroll down “Embarcadero Street”. The fertile farmland of Iowa provided space for Chad Elliott and the Redemptions to grow their brand of Roots Rock. The fourpiece slink into back alley Jazz to vent “Cadillac Problems, Buick Times” and wade into Delta mud for the deep-down Blues of “Dirty River (Catfish Blues)” as Chad Elliott and the Redemptions delicately send out a wistful goodbye for “Alberta” while Rest Heavy pours Gospel Soul into the heartfelt expressions in the title track.
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