Korby Lenker (from the album Thousand Springs)
To record Thousand Springs, Korby Lenker headed to Idaho. The album is number seven in Korby’s studio output, though the songs on Thousand Springswere recorded in a non-studio environment, setting up in locations such as his father’s mortuary as well as a cabin north of Sun Valley, Idaho and removing walls entirely, making music for the album on the edge of Snake River Canyon. Korby Lenker staged the songs using the backdrop of the album creation as part of the storylines for Thousand Springs. Personal history describes what took him to the Gem State, Korby sharing that ‘I grew up in Idaho. My first band, Clockwork Orange, practiced in a basement in Twin Falls. I learned how to play guitar by listening to records and learning the licks, one note at a time. The way I play and think about music now has a lot to do with growing up there, feeling isolated from the outside world. There weren’t a lot of people around me making music. I had to go out and find it’.
Sun on the water makes a song from the image of “Mermaids” in Korby Lenker’s mind while visions of “Last Man Standing” recall the battle for land in the American West, scratchy chords back recollections of a party that introduced a younger self to his older image in “Father to the Man” and tenderly picked guitar notes rise up to display “Northern Lights”. The feel of Thousand Springs mirrors the magic of the journey Korby Lenker took to the songs. He packed recording gear and a high-end battery to capture the heart of each song on his trip to Idaho. Once the core was set, Korby traveled around the United State to finish the tracks with friends in backyards and hotel rooms covering seven states. Thousand Springs puts a heartbeat under “Nothing Really Matters” as the tune plugs into its own inner essence, continuing its search for emotion as it attempts to express feelings in “Wherever You Are” and exposing the many paths traveled to find affection with “Love is the Only Song”. Korby Lenker bares his soul in the songs of Thousand Springs as he turns the pages to reveal a “Book Nerd”, seeks companionship gazing through a windshield on “Friend and a Friend”, and waves goodbye to his heart in “Uh Oh”.
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Steelism (from the album ism)
‘It’s all about the music, man’ is more than an motto for Steelism. The Nashville instrumental outfit make their music a mission, a way to champion and proudly recall the work of groups such as Booker T. & The M.G.’s and The Ventures as well as the orchestral work of movie soundtracks. Steelism are the music side of words and music, adding to their film score and the hits of 60’s musicians on their recent release, ism, with a hero worship nod to the musical gadgetry of Brian Eno. Steelism use assorted strings along with electronic blips and bleeps with the tribute of “Eno Nothing” on ism as they put a percolated rhythm underneath the dreamy feel of “Let It Brew” and lift a “Cup of Wasser” up on a solid backbeat.
At the heart of Steelism are the strings of Jeremy Fetzer (guitar) and Spencer Cullum (pedal steel). The pair co-produced ism alongside Jeremy Ferguson (Lambchop, Andrew Combs). Voices are brought in on ism, adding the vocals of Tristen to the groove of “Shake Your Heel” as Andrew Combs and Jesse Baylin duet on the Country-flavored “Lonely Game” while Ruby Amanfu takes a spin on the circling spy soundtrack rhythms of “Roulette”. Opening ism with a jangle of strings, “Re-Member” takes assured steps into the album while “Chartreuse” colors the sound with dots of notes and “The Henchman/Buffalo” dances on tarantella footsteps as Steelism unravel “Anthem”, rising from humble piano ramble beginnings to banner-waving reverbed guitar and pedal steel riffs.
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Shannon McNally (from the album Black Irish)
Shannon McNally credits an e-mail connection with Rodney Crowell while Shannon was off the musical grid helping out an ailing family member. Shannon recalls that “I had no vim or vigor for a few years. We started this really wonderful thing of just lobbing song titles back and forth’. The results of the conversations isBlack Irish, the recent release from Shannon McNally. Rodney Crowell produced the album, penning the album opener, “You Made Me Feel for You”, which equally serves as an audio remembrance of the collaboration’s beginnings. Black Irish adds in a few tracks from other artists amid other tunes from her producer as well as co-writes from Shannon. Cuts from Stevie Wonder (“I Ain’t Gonna Stand for It”), J.J Cale (“Low Rider”), Muddy Waters (“The Stuff You Gotta Watch”), and Robbie Robertson (“It Makes No Difference”) along with “Black-Haired Boy” from Susanna and Guy Clark are reworked by Shannon McNally.
Black Irish struts out on guitar chords for “Roll Away the Stone”, and quietly strums an acoustic guitar to ask “Isn’t That Love” as Shannon McNally offers a personal history of her time in the music business as well as a tale familiar to all working women with “Banshee Moan”.
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Dead Rock West (from the album More Love available from Omnivore Recordings)
Joy and heartbreak take a hit of California sunshine to tell their tale on the psychedelic Roots Rock of More Love, the recent release from Dead Rock West. Produced by John Doe, More Love is the fourth album from the Los Angeles, California-based band. Elliot Easton (The Cars) lends his guitar work on More Love, hitting “Boundless Fearless Love” like waves constantly in motion and Greg Leisz stopped by the studio gliding over “Singing on the Telephone” with his pedal steel guitar rising up like the heat in the desert tale of a night at the Ace Hotel. The duo of Cindy Wasserman and Frank Lee Drennen make up Dead Rock West, offering originals tunes on More Love and giving a touch of twang to Sam Cooke’s “Bring It on Home to Me”.
Guitar jangle sparkles against the secret-laden edge of “Darkness Never Tells” and slowly builds up as it makes promises in “Waiting Patiently”. The title track opens More Love with pronounced strums before quieting to a Country sway while “Bleeding Blue” drips its color on acid-drenched sonics and ‘Radio Silence” whispers its story as Dead Rock West strip down the playing for the dreamy “Tell Me Goodbye” and percolate the beat as it dials in stations on “Stereo Love”.
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Arthur Alexander (from the album Arthur Alexander on Omnivore Recordings)
The 1972 release of his self-titled album brought Arthur Alexander back into the music world. He recorded his first hit “You Better Move On” at a former tobacco warehouse turned into a recording studio. The success of the track became a building block for Rick Hall’s Fame Studios. Arthur Alexander’s initial recordings were some of the first backed by the soon-to-be legendary Muscle Shoals Rhythm Section, and brought a string of early 1960’s hits. Arthur Alexander was considered a comeback album and added a Country touch to the Rhythm and Blues of the Alabama-based songwriter. The Soul groove blends with a thumping twang for “I’m Comin’ Home”, Country Folk is meets a church piano on “Simple Song of Love”, acoustic picking backs “Down the Back Road”, and a soft sway to urged forward with snaking guitar lines on “It Hurts to Want You So Bad”.
Though his own star leveled before reaching great heights, Arthur Alexander has had his songs recorded by The Beatles, The Rolling Stones, Bob Dylan, Ike and Tina Turner as well as many other artists. With only three recorded album Arthur Alexander is reissued with six additional tracks in addition to unreleased cuts. Arthur Alexander offered the original version of “Burning Love” on the album covered by Elvis Presley soon after the album’s release. Soulful vocals and strings walk down “Rainbow Road” and integrity wins over passion in “Go on Home Girl” as Arthur Alexander presents his version of Billy Swan’s “Lover Please”, cruises in on funky chord chops and percussion for “Call Me Honey”, and shakes out sea-breeze rhythm for “Call Me in Tahiti”.
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A.J. Croce (from the album Just Like Medicine available on Compass Records)
Acknowledging the role that music has played in his life, A. J. Croce admits that ‘I’ve been to therapy for twenty-five years and it never helped me as much as sitting down and playing the piano or writing a song’. Just Like Medicine, the eighth album for A.J. Croce, serves as a healer for others as the songs offer their own remedies and support. Just Like Medicine opens with hard rhythms and haunted harmony playing the role of inner-voices with “Gotta Get Out of My Head”, sits at a piano for an after-hours Blues with “I Couldn’t Stop”, hits the highway fueled by chaotic keyboards on “The Roads, and walks down the aisle saved by love on the gospel-flavored Rock’n’Soul of “Cures Just Like Medicine”.
Partnering with songwriter (“Dark End of the Street”, “I’m Your Puppet”) and producer (The Box Tops, Bobby ‘Blue’ Bland, Clarence Carter) Dan Penn, A.J. Croce set out to make a Soul album with Just Like Medicine. He went into the studio ready to find his own Soul, recalling that ‘I wanted to make a real Soul album, but not a throwback Stax or Motown album or anything like that, even though Dan Penn was producing and there are great players from that world and Muscle Shoals on these tracks’. Friends help Just Like Medicine go down sweeter as Steve Cropper (“The Heart That Makes Me Whole”) The McCrary Sisters and Muscle Shoals Horns back the songs. Vince Gill joins in on the last tune written by A.J.’s dad, Jim Croce, as the pair offer “Name of the Game”. A.J. Croce finds himself on “The Other Side of Love” walking on a confident rhythm and picks up on fellow piano man Allen Toussaint’s style for the New Orleans-flavored “Full Up” as Just Like Medicine winds down for a slow dance with “Move On”.
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Margo Price (from the album Weakness E.P. available on Third Man Records)
It has been a little over one year since Margo Price released Midwest Farmers Daughter, her breakthrough album, in March 2016. She offers an appetizer before the main course of her follow-up, releasing a four-song E.P., Weakness. Margo went into Sam Phillips Recording Services in Memphis, Tennessee to record the songs. Weakness E.P. shows another side to Margo Price. A key ingredient to her music is in her ability to present choices as final decisions, embracing every step without judgment, willingly entering into each new chapter. That tune template continues on Weakness E.P. with a more world view, toasting other topics and holding politics and observations as high as she held the glass in her hand on her previous release.
The E.P. enters on donning masks, Margo admitting to ‘sometimes I’m Virginia Wolff, sometimes I’m James Dean’ on a wrangling Country rhythm while she owns where the whiskey and wine take her as “Weakness” stomps through a day in the life of Margo Price. Margo finally got a formal tour bus, dubbed Purple Haze, for her non-stop touring, and she brings a fan favorite from her live set into the Weakness E.P. with the finger-pointing admonitions of “Paper Cowboy”. Margo Price floats a dark melody under questions directed at humanity for “Just Like Love” as Weakness E.P. wishes “Good Luck (for Ben Eyestone)”.
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The Dustbowl Revival (from the album The Dustbowl Revival available on Signature Sound Recordings)
The sound of The Dustbowl Revival stretches out on the recent self-titled album from Venice, California-based musical collective. The eight-piece band reworked Preservation Hall-style Dixieland jazz into an eclectic blend of Roots as a soundtrack for back yard parties on their previous release, With a Lampshade On. Non-stop touring in support of the release provides The Dustbowl Revival with a musical maturity for the band that encompasses more sounds of the south as they strum a Bluesy Southern Soul for the dark edge of “Don’t Wait Up” and head to the islands for the ska-inflected rhythms of “Gonna Fix You”, groove to a late-night Latin noir vibe for “Leaving Time” and are joined by Keb’ Mo’ on the Jamaican sunshine dappled reggae of “Honey I Love You”.
The vocals for The Dustbowl Revival are led by a male/female dynamic hosted by Zach Lupetin and Liz Beepe. The pair join in harmonies, taking solo turns as Liz lights up “Busted” with a smoky, sultry Jazz glow and Zach slowly turns the tale in “Debtor’s Prison”. Modern problems are backed by the vintage music of The Dustbowl Revival as “Got Over” finds the band wrestling with the sudden death of love as they shimmy on a percolating beat to make a request in “Call My Name”. Memphis Soul struts proudly as The Dustbowl Revival walk arm in arm with new love in “Good Egg’ and tell “The Story” on punctuated beats as a slinky funk crawls across “If You Could See Me Now”.
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Dan Auerbach (from the album Waiting on a Song on Nonesuch Records)
On his work with The Black Keys, Dan Auerbach cited influences from the Blues, referencing both his father’s vinyl record collection and a college education that put aside classes for time spent soaking up the music of Junior Kimbrough. On his second solo album, the recently released Waiting on a Song, Dan Auerbach shows that studies of the classics included the sound of Nashville recordings, giving the album a vintage Music City texture. The album partners Dan Auerbach with co-authors such as Pat McLaughlin and John Prine, who receives a co-write credit on the infectious title track. Friends came into the studio to help on the album, with Waiting on a Song getting guitar love from six-strings heroes such as Duane Eddy, Kenny Vaughan, and Mark Knopfler.
Production on Waiting for a Song, let Dan Auerbach give the cuts a vintage feel with sunshine stitched into the strums and percussion. Thick guitar lines weave over “Cherrybomb” as the rattle of rhythm keeps the track afloat while “Show Me” picks up the pace to gallop on a request to offer actions rather than words as Waiting on a Song raises a rockabilly rhythm to back “Livin’ in Sin”, and dives into “Malibu Man” with powerful strings and soul horn blasts. The beat locks in for “Shine on Me” as the melody and harmony hang on to roller coaster ride rhythms as Dan Auerbach stomps and shouts on the promise of “Stand by My Girl” and trades acoustic guitar licks with Jerry Douglas’ dobro in “Never in My Wildest Dreams”.
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Twisted Pine (from the album Twisted Pine on Signature Sound Recordings)
In the beginning. Twisted Pine were obsessed with Bluegrass, reinventing classic string band tunes for the Boston/Cambridge Massachusetts Roots scene, playing locally while attending Berklee College of Music during school terms and venturing out to the festival circuit during the summer months. The fourpiece had a diverse musical background of Jazz, Pop, Celtic, Funk, Rhythm and Blues, with all their tastes leaning towards the experimental and extremes of any genre that peeked their collective interests. On their self-titled Signature Sound Recordings debut, Twisted Pine used all of elements in their background to create original songs that reflected where they were as a band while still keeping within the string band makeup, transforming Bluegrass without losing traditional instrumentation. Lonely strings form a circle around the loss of home in the sad tale of “Bank Man Blues”, chaotic notes fly through the air, strewn across the melody of “When I Call Your Name”, and quiet notes rise like early morning light in “Easton”.
Versatility is the common factor for Twisted Pine as styles and forms blend into a sonic step forward for the Bluegrass genre. The thump of the bass and the rhythm of persistent guitar strums lays the foundation for album opener “Hold on Me” as Country cabaret worries an edge into the groove of “Lose My Love” with deceit carves one heart back into two parts while Celtic airs scatter and scamper over “Lee Street Tune”. Twisted Pine have an ease to their music, the talent of the individual musicians channeled into the joy of playing. The band drift ooh-ahh harmonies over the instrumental turn that goes into “Hogwild” as a single powerful riff courses underneath “21 and Rising”, and Twisted Pine scat strut a shuffling rhythm for “Bound to Do It Right (The Jersey City Song)”.
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