EASY ED’S BROADSIDE: Twirlin’ the Dial for New Roots Music
Alex Loban / Pixabay
It’s a week after the first day of autumn here in New York, and it’s going to break 90 degrees outside as I sit in an air conditioned room listening to some new tunes. Perhaps it’s simply “fake weather” and it would be best to throw on a hoodie, take shelter from the impending snowstorm, and ignore the scientists on this whole global warning hoax. Maybe I’ll just keep a clean nose, and wear me some clean clothes. And I won’t need a weatherman to know which way the wind blows. Yep, that’s a nod to Bob.
The summer music festival season has now come and gone, many of us have watched and discussed ad nauseam Ken Burns’ 16-hour Country Music series, and the annual awards for both Americana and bluegrass music have been handed out. But before you curl up and pretend you’re a hibernating bear, I thought I’d bring your attention to some recent releases that may have slipped past you in the sweltering heat of the summer.
And by the way, I’d like to mention that I think Greta Thunberg is one awesome young woman, and we’re damn lucky to have her and a new generation rising up and challenging the old men with their power grips on our planet. Let’s get to the music.
Luther Dickinson and Sisters of the Strawberry Moon – Solstice
The North Mississippi Allstar just wanted a producer credit but the label chose to slap his name on it for whatever reasons labels choose to do such things. The collective of musicians and singers includes Amy Helm, Amy LaVere, Sharde Thomas, Birds of Chicago, and the Como Mamas. Recorded over four days at the Dickinson family’s Zebra Ranch Studio down in Independence, there was no ability to take this project out on the road given everyone’s various commitments. But it’s a helluva record that you might want to check out.
Joan Shelley – Like the River Loves the Sea
I have a particular fondness for the musical genre of “soft-spoken women playing acoustic guitar,” and my favorite Port Royal, Kentucky export has released her latest solo album, traveling to Iceland in order to lay down the tracks. I’ve lost count of how many albums she has out now, but it’s close to a half dozen and if you look hard enough you’ll also find her on several other projects.
Audie Blaylock and Redline – Originalist
As a teenager in the early ’80s, Audie Blaylock played mandolin with Jimmy Martin & The Sunny Mountain Boys and stayed with them for over a decade. After playing in Rhonda Vincent’s band, he formed Redline about 15 years ago. While they play in the traditional bluegrass style, they also add new tunes to keep the music relevant.
Dori Freeman – Every Single Star
Recorded last winter in Brooklyn with Teddy Thompson producing, as he did for her last two albums, this one features 10 new original songs from the pride of Galax, Virginia. As Appalachian music is generally considered a family tradition, Freeman also plays with the Willard Gayheart Family Band, featuring her grandfather, her own father Scott Freeman, and husband Nick Falk.
Ana Egge – Is It the Kiss
I believe this marks Egge’s 12th album in 22 years, and it’s another Brooklyn-recorded project. She is a songwriter, guitarist, and vocalist who defies being pigeonholed into one genre or another, but every project she’s done is its own unique gift for the listener. This one swings into both country and soul territory, and Alec Spiegelman gets kudos for his production and arrangements. Love that Iris DeMent is a guest as well.
The Small Glories – Assinboine & The Red
Based in Winnipeg, this duo features Cara Luft, an original member of the Wailin’ Jennys, on clawhammer banjo and guitarist/singer JD Edwards. Known for their unique stage banter as well as their music, this is their second full album and they have also put out two EPs.
Emily Scott Robinson – Traveling Mercies
If you’re a regular reader of my column you already know about Emily Scott Robinson, as I can’t stop writing about her. Traveling Mercies is my favorite album of the year, and this storyteller and vocalist touches me deeply with her lyrics. This first song is the one that has given her much press, as it speaks in very personal terms of her own sexual assault.
I’ll leave you with one more from Robinson, because I’m in a very sharing mood. And that’s the way it is on a hot day in autumn.
Many of my past columns, articles, and essays can be accessed at my own site, therealeasyed.com. I also aggregate news and videos on both Flipboard and Facebook as The Real Easy Ed: Americana and Roots Music Daily. My Twitter handle is @therealeasyed and my email address is firstname.lastname@example.org.