This month, quite a few acclaimed Americana musicians have adopted the buddy system.
Fans of Emmylou
Harris and Rodney Crowell will be delighted with Old Yellow
Moon, their first-ever duets album. They’ve been pals since the 1970s, and there’s a hint of that era in songs like “Hanging
Up My Heart.” One of country music’s finest songwriters, Crowell contributed four songs to the project. Roger
Miller‘s evergreen “Invitation to the Blues” also gets a freshening up.
Longtime fans of Kelly
Willis and Bruce Robison will be overjoyed with Cheater’s Game,
a project that’s packed with his smart songwriting and her endearing country voice. The whole album is a sterling example
of Americana music, but if I had to pick one favorite, I’d probably choose “Ordinary Fool” because Willis’ voice nearly brings
me to tears every time. If I keep listening, the jaunty cover of Razzy Bailey’s “9,999,999 Tears” will be my new theme song.
Blue Sky Riders have a new album and an interesting lineup of pop star Kenny Loggins and Nashville songwriters Gary Burr and
Georgia Middleman. Listening to well-crafted material like “Dream,” you can tell this project isn’t just a lark. They’re actively
touring, as well.
As always, plenty of bands are offering new material. I’d recommend the following tracks: Drew
Holcomb the Neighbors’ “Good Light,” Ivan Alyosha’s “Running for Cover,” Roger Knox the Pine Valley
Cosmomauts’ “Stranger in My Country,” Chris Leigh and the Broken Hearts’ “Like I Love You Forever,” Mount Moriah’s “Younger
Days,” Mother Banjo Band’s “The Devil Hasn’t Won,” the Nadas’ “Meant to Be” and the Riverbreaks’ “City of Music.”
bands with a bluegrass angle, listen up for the SteelDrivers‘ “When
You Don’t Come Home,” as well as Dave Adkins and Republik Steele’s “That’s Just the Way I Roll,” Flatt Lonesome’s “You’ll
Get No More of Me” and Wood Wire’s “Rambler’s Blues.”
There’s a plethora of singer-songwriters with new projects,
too. Phil Lee‘s “Cold Ground” is possibly my favorite of the batch. In
times of grief, do you know how people walk up and ask, “Is there something I can do?” Lee has a few suggestions, which might
break your heart.
Other cool tracks include Terry Allen’s “Bottom of the World,” John Corbett’s “Steal Your Heart,”
Matt Costa’s “Ophelia,” Samantha Crain’s “Never Going Back,” Jarrod Dickenson’s “Ballad of a Lonesome Traveler,” Jaida Dreyer’s
“South of the Sun,” Mary Gauthier‘s live version of “I Drink,” Wayne Hancock‘s “Ride,”
Susan James’ “Driving Toward the Sun,” Brad Mackeson’s “Love Is a Gamble,” Todd May’s “Build a Better Rocket” and Pharis
Jason Romero’s “Long Gone Out West Blues.”
Listeners who appreciate RB might enjoy Sheila Marshall’s “Trouble,” Hadden
Sayers’ “That’s What You Do” and Otis Taylor’s “My World Is Gone.” Also, save time for Richard
Thompson‘s “Saving the Good Stuff for You,” Reed Turner’s “Ghost in the Attic,” Dustin Welch’s “Across the Rubicon” and
Holly Williams‘ “Drinkin'”
— and raise a toast to the rewarding partnerships in Americana music.
For fans of classic country, it’s worth tracking
down three new compilations from Omnivore Recordings: Merle Haggard‘s
The Complete ’60s Capitol Singles, Wanda Jackson‘s The
Best of the Classic Capitol Singles and George Jones‘ The Complete
United Artists Solo Singles. Their fans will recognize a bulk of the material, yet there are several choice tracks that
haven’t been overly anthologized, such as Haggard’s “The Longer You Wait,” Jackson’s “Sinful Heart” and Jones’ “I Get Lonely
in a Hurry.”
Ominvore has also issued ‘s Sunshine Boy: The Unheard Studio Sessions and Demos 1971-1972. Highlights
include an alternate mix of “Pancho Lefty” without
strings and horns, as well as studio renditions of “Standin'” and the elegant “To Live Is to Fly.”