Milwaukee-based artist Jay Matthes' Dancing After Dark is a twelve track collection of well-crafted heartfelt tunes that truly connect with the listener. The album begins with "Drinking From The Bottle," a mid-tempo shuffling ode to lost love and what once was. From there, Matthes turns in a touch of soul on "Good Lookin' Woman" a tune about making an evening last longer than one night; looks forward to a life in the country on the back porch number, "Bees and Chickens"; and reminds us to remember that life can indeed be full of riches "it's all in your perspective just how poor you want to be" on the affirming "Golden."
Relationships come front and center on the romantic "Keeps Me Close To You," the serene "She Holds On To Me" and personal favorite "If You Ever Come Back Down" where there's hope for the reuniting of two souls. Dancing In The Dark is rounded out with the rollicking "Left The Yard" a tune about love ending dirty that's highlighted by piano and electric guitar; the intensely emotional title track about the passing of his father and the optimistic, 70's inspired feel of "Everything Will Be OK."
With Dancing After Dark, Matthes gives us a record that deals with life's relatable ups and downs, making you realize that blessings come in every shape and size and indeed, that everything will usually work out in the end. For more information visit HERE.
Texas-based singer-songwriter Jim Keaveny's recent release Put It Together is a delightful album of twelve self-penned songs that kicks off with "What I Ain't Got" a song whose shuffling melody, accented by squeezebox and harmonica, pulls you right in. Keaveny follows that with mariachi horns in the ripe for dancing "Is It You" where he ponders, "I wonder if this thing called life just is here for us to just say goodbye", the mysterious instrumental "The Grand Forks", and the punky-soul combo of "Check You Out" which features some fine organ work.
The pace slows on the mournful "Limbo And Grim (Slight Return) The Mariachi Mantra" and the sweet, harmony-fueled, reflective "Good Times" and while "Blown Away" brings back the harmonica and documents a love affair, the rockabilly "Leave This Town" amps the energy back up a few notches.
Put It Together is rounded out by the encouraging title track, the somber "Blue Eyes" and the extended "Six Days In A Jailhouse." For more information visit HERE.
Self-described as the "hottest faux-family country band out of Vancouver" Cousin Arby was formed in 2015 by Scott Postulo who joined forces with guitarist Code Andrusko, harmony vocalist Shevaughn Ruley, and Pierce Kingan and Luke Basso bringing the rhythm section. On July 8th they will release their self-titled 7" vinyl that contains three songs with ruminations on life and love (and a welcome dose of humor).
The triad of tunes includes "Sour Whiskey", a cheeky tune with twang a plenty that compares love to that specific beverage, "The Resurrection" a toe-tapper about a lost love and the longing ballad "Spaceman."
If you're looking for something short and sweet give this one a listen.
Nashville-based singer-songwriter Bern Kelly delivers a solid set story songs with his latest, Lost Films, due June 23rd. Recorded with an array of Music City’s players, including producer Patrick Damphier (The Arcs, Tim Easton), steel guitar legend Russ Pahl (Dan Auerbach, Patty Griffin, Miranda Lambert) and drummer Jon Radford (Steelism, Lily Hiatt, Leigh Nash), Lost Films is a collection of ten songs that are sonically varied, yet bonded by their detailed, meaningful narratives which play out like vivid mini-movies in your imagination as you listen.
Lost Films begins with "Unsold," a heartland rocker about the struggles of moving forward that's fueled by chugging guitars and percussion, from there the album flows seamlessly into "She Keeps Her Light On" whose delicate, dreamy melody brings that always welcome swell of emotion to the chest and "Cash In The Basement" an out and out roots rocker a la Tom Petty.
Throughout the album, Kelly demonstrates his ability to look at familiar life events with fresh eyes - whether it's forgiveness, as in "Garage Sale" a beautifully atmospheric duet which features Elise Davis (whose 2016 album The Token was a personal favorite), revenge in the noir "Sin #2", or trying to understand loss in the wrenching "Last Day of Spring" - making his stories accessible to both head and heart.
Lost Films is rounded out with the upbeat, 70's accented ear grabber "Win Your Heart," the reflective, drifting "Forever Alone" and the jangly-pop goodness of "Julie."
Lost Films may be a week or two too late to make the mid-year best-of lists, but it will undoubtedly be on many a list (including mine) at year's end. To purchase Lost Films, visit HERE.
Texas born, Mississippi-bred singer-songwriter Krista Shows released her latest album, Here We Go, earlier this year. The nine-song set was recorded live in a grain bin in Mississippi over two days in October with only two microphones, a few guitars, and no overdubs, on analog tape. The album, all penned by Shaw except for two covers, is a no-frills collection of songs that are simple, raw and honest, cutting to the bone via weighty lyrics and Shaw's distinctively intense vocals.
Here We Go leads off with "Full of Sin" a candid story of identity, which is followed by "For Whom The Bell Tolls" a tale of true love, and "22" which reflects on the age when it's time to face reality.
The daughter of a preacher, Shaw's originals as well as her covers, reflect her upbringing. There's a sense of being lonely, but never alone with God by one's side on "Orphan In The Land" as well as "Prone To Wander" which reflects on the passage of time and religion and the spiritual "Glory Glory" (with some nice steel work from Scott Sharpe). Shaw rounds things out with the topical "Hell or Highwater" which encourages the need to love one another and a loving rendition of the traditional gospel song, "Just A Closer Walk With Thee."
While there's a sense of internal complexity or struggle to Shaw's lyrics, there's also a serenity and simplicity present on Here We Go that reaches out to the listener as something intimate and incredibly sincere. Give it a listen.
Austin by way of Alabama singer-songwriter Paul Nipper combines Outlaw Country, Roots, Rock, and Americana on his sophomore effort, Kamikaze Heart, which was released on May 19. Recorded in Dripping Springs, TX at Century Recordings, Kamikaze Heart was co-produced by Mike Harmeier (Mike And The Moonpies) and Nick Jay and features twelve tracks of unmistakable country.
The rollicking “Asphalt and Heartaches” with its rousing pedal steel and guitar kicks things off, leading the way for eleven more tunes including the cleverly crafted shuffler “They Don’t Smoke in Bars,” personal favorite “Fiddler’s Lament” (which features Doug Moreland) and the title track, a love song nodding to the difficulties of making a relationship work.
Additional tracks include the 70’s inspired honky-tonker “Out of Sight,” a tender ode to “Texas,” and the personal ballad “Mamma Loved Roses.” Rounding out the album is the jaunty, key-laden “One Of These Days,” the otherworldly “A Lady” and the troubadour’s tale of “Flyin’ High.” With its feet firmly planted in tradition, Kamikaze Heart strikes and hits the target with its timeless instrumentation and storytelling. For more information visit HERE.
The Dustbowl Revival are a musical force to be reckoned with on their self-titled album due June 16th. With assist from Grammy Award winning producer, Ted Hutt (Old Crow Medicine Show, Lucero), the eight-piece expand, yet further refine and define, their sound all while maintaining their knack for crafting well-told story songs that both move and groove.
Straight out the gate, the band pulls no punches with the bold “Call My Name” announcing themselves with Joshlyn Heffernan’s gutsy drumming, trumpeter Matt Rubin and trombonist Ulf Bjorlin’s vibrant horns, and Liz Bebbe’s assured, soulful vocals. Beebe continues her sassy turn with the exhilarating kiss-off “If You Could See Me Now”, angles slightly sweeter on the “woo-hoo” filled, shake your hips-good time ode to the sweetheart in your life “Good Egg” and returns to a slinky sexiness on “Busted” as bassist James Klopfleisch keeps it all in line. Guitarist and vocalist Zach Lupetin teams with Bebbe on “The Story” a spirited, harmony, and trumpet (solo!) filled tune about love while “Honey I Love You” finds them joining forces with Keb' Mo, and the infectious “Gonna Fix You” is just a knock-out, guaranteed to under your skin for days (and that's a good thing).
The octet take a bit of a breather – and let stringmen Daniel Mark (mandolin) and Connor Vance (fiddle) shine – on two tracks where Lupetin takes lead: “Debtors’ Prison” a thoughtful ballad about trying to survive in current economic times and personal favorite “Got Over,” which is quite simply storytelling at its emotional finest. Things close out with swampy, striking “Leaving Time” and the jazzy extended jam of “Don’t Wait Up.”
When the eight parts combine into the whole that is The Dustbowl Revival, the result is a merging of Soul, Funk, Blues, Acoustic Roots, and more into something so dynamic your earbuds will pop – and like a firecracker the album should come with a warning label: be prepared to get down and groove.
Rob Cimitile and Elliot Heeschen - the duo comprising Builder of the House - have released "Evergreen" from their forthcoming album, Ornaments. Lulling you in with a warm guitar and soft percussive beat, "Evergreen", a song about everlasting love, is led by Cimitile's airy vocals and complimented by angelic harmonies and sweeping melodies that make it simply enchanting.
In advance of her debut EP (2017), singer-songwriter Sophia has just released her debut single, "Give Me Heart." Setting an atmosphere that is genuinely captivating, "Give Me Heart" begins with a delicate instrumental that lulls you in as Sophia's vocals - innocent, emotive, and beguiling - emerge, acknowledging a fear of the unknown, but encouraging oneself to allow our hearts to be our guide.... even if uncertainty exists.
"So take my hand and give me heart
I cannot see but neither can I hope or even dream
'Cause when this fear controls me it stops me from being who I am"
Check out the video for Give Me Heart" HERE
Hailing from Phoenix, Arizona, The Grass Fed Giants were founded on an appreciation for Americana music and its focus on songwriting artistry, storytelling, and natural production. The five-some successfully carry on that tradition with new single, "Traveling Light."
A stunning, emotionally-charged ballad featuring Chad Marshall on dobro and a tenderly emotive Bobbi Miller on vocals, "Traveling Light" tells of following one's need to wander, yet harboring a loneliness and intense ache for the one you're left behind.
"Packing up my things again
I haven't felt this lonesome since I don't know when
A million miles and all the while I'm thinking of you
wishing you were here with me"
Listen to the song HERE