Video Premier: Jeremy Squires – “Fragments”

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Back in March, I premiered Jeremy Squire’s video for the song “Heaven” which will be on his upcoming album Poems. And, now, I’m premiering the video for another song off of the same album — “Fragments”. Jeremy has been working hard on the new album and has been releasing videos at a steady stream and each song and video just as good as the last. “Fragments” has the familiar Squires poetic lyrics that are wistfully romantic and intimate, but it also has a different sound that is more electric and percussion-driven.

This video as well as the others have me excited for his upcoming album. I don’t know when Poems will be completed, but in the meantime, you can check out Jeremy’s other videos on Adobe and Teardrops and One Chord To Another.

 

Jeremy Squires: Website; Facebook; Twitter; Instagram; YouTube; Spotify; Bandcamp

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Olentangy John – EP Commuter

Olentangy John - Commuter

I have been a fan of Olentangy John (aka John Atzberger) since his last album Doggerel in 2012, and let us not forget that pretty awesome cover of Jason Molina’s “Whip-poor-will” he did for my Molina tribute project. Anyway, a very interesting guy, John makes guitars and is a student of Appalachian folk, folk, and music in general. His sound could always best be described as making the old sound new, but there is something more modern and unexplainable underlying the songs on his new EP, Commuter. A list of tracks that chronicle his commutes home in the Hudson Valley while also maintaining the common theme that life is always in motion changing and “commuting” — new jobs, moving to new homes and new towns, and becoming new parents. Commuter will be released on June 12th via Trailer Fire Records, and I hope everyone will listen because it will probably be the best thing you’ll hear today, tomorrow, and in the future.

 

Trailer Fire Records
Olentangy John: Facebook

Field Report – Summertime Songs

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I’m going to make this post short and sweet since I just don’t have a lot to say or know what to say about Field Report’s new album Summertime Songs, because it’s just that good. I’ve been listening to this album A. LOT. and I have yet to find a flaw. The album really exhibits Chris Porterfield’s growth as a songwriter, composer, and human.

Summertime Songs still provides the tinges of folk in its storytelling like previous Field Report albums, but unlike the albums before, this album has a fuller sound that includes a lot of synth and pop hooks. The new arrangement style provides a vivid background to Porterfield’s vivid storytelling without overwhelming the stories. I think the best example of this is in the opening track, “Blind Spot” — a song that could be a metaphor about becoming a parent when life is no longer about you anymore and you realize that your decisions affect those you love and others in your life. And, “Never Look Back” is a perfect track for summertime listening and road trips. It has a really breezy and easy listening quality with a chorus that is catchy and easy to belt out with the windows down, hands on the wheel, and eyes on the road ahead. While “Summertime” deals with some heavy themes, Porterfield somehow manages to retain a musical composition that embodies what a summer hit is supposed to sound like. This is the type of song that if I were 10 years old again, I would probably hear it playing over the city pool’s PA system making it a constant reminder of that summer and a summertime song that I would sing as an adult while thinking of a happier and not-so-scary time in my life despite its lyrics. (If that makes sense to anyone?)

Although, I have loved all of the albums Chris Porterfield has released under Field Report, Summertime Songs is different in sound yet similar in that every song tells a story. In my opinion, Summertime Songs is more thought out, complete, and, although less intimate in sound, it is definitely more engaging. To me, this album is kinda heavy, but the music composition makes it feel light, like the ebb and flow, light and shade, and the seasons of life…Or, maybe I’m reading too much into it. That’s a possibility, too.

Buy Summertime Songs: Website; Amazon; iTunes
Field Report: Website; Facebook; Twitter; Instagram; YouTube; Soundcloud; Spotify

Courtney Marie Andrews – May Your Kindness Remain

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Photo by Laura E. Partain

For weeks I’ve been listening to Courtney Marie Andrews’ new album, May Your Kindness Remain, and there is nothing that I can say that another music critic, blogger, or any random jabber jaw hasn’t already said, but I still want to share my thoughts. So, to sum the album up in a small post, it’s stunning. May Your Kindness Remain is a hymnal to kindness giving the soul a respite from the big, bad world that we are now living. It contains both personal confessionals as well as examples on how to be kind while surviving the suffering that exists today.

For me, there isn’t a standout track because every song on this album is utterly stunning, but if I had to choose the one thing that has caught my attention, well that would have to be Andrews’ emotive and passionate voice. Each song is centered around a theme of kindness, but with their own peculiar character whether it be soft and tender, bluesy, or gospel-y while remaining compassionate and empathic, and this is due to the range of Andrews’ extraordinary vocals. And, at times…well, the majority of the time…her voice is reminiscent of great legends like Joni Mitchell and Linda Ronstadt — gorgeous, expressive, warm, and straightforward.

May Your Kindness Remain is perfect and you’ll be hard pressed to find another album this flawless. Andrews’ message is one that has been missing in my life and it is most definitely a message the world needs to hear. Her words are both sage advice and sweet personal sentiments about and to former loves, current love, friends, and strangers alike. So, be kind to yourself and listen to this album, let it sink in, and live its message.

 

 

Buy May Your Kindness Remain: Website; Amazon; iTunes; Bandcamp
Courtney Marie Andrews: Website; Facebook; Twitter; Instagram; YouTube; Spotify

Video: Jeremy Squires – “Heaven”

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For those of you who have actually read this blog, and/or those who know me personally, know that I am a huge fan of North Carolina singer-songwriter Jeremy Squires. I relate to his songs on a deep personal level, but not only that, having known Jeremy, I know that he is a solid and decent human being. And, I believe it is this humanity alongside his life experiences of loss, pain, happiness, and love that make him the great songwriter I have known since early 2013. His ability to write and construct delicate, complex, Southern Gothic songs that beguile worn and restless souls into some kind of peaceful trance where warmth and comfort reside is remarkable, and this could not be more true than with Jeremy’s new song “Heaven”.

Presently, Jeremy is in the midst of finalizing his new album Poem, which he has described as an album of “My personal poetry set to music that document changes in my life as well as my loved ones.” Honestly, I feel like every album Jeremy has released has been some kind of personal diary or book of poems for the world to hear, and, as a result, he has mastered the art. So, as a way to build up his forthcoming album, Poem, Jeremy has been releasing videos. The first, “Somersault“, which has been out for weeks, lovingly describes a lover’s love as the best medicine for his anxiety. The second, “Gift“, has also been out for a while now, and, is as Jeremy explains, a song that describes “when what is lost is finally found.” Now, that brings me to his new release, “Heaven” — the song that I am so proudly premiering. This is a beautiful song filled with haunting imagery and a feeling of being lost while the ethereal strings provided by Andrew Joslyn + Passenger String Quartet swirl around the wistful inflection of Jeremy’s voice. It’s magic.

Unfortunately, Jeremy has not set a release date for Poem, but if “Heaven” and the previous releases are any indication, it will cement his reputation as the poet laureate of modern folk.

 

Jeremy Squires: Website; Facebook; Twitter; Instagram; YouTube; Spotify; Bandcamp

Ruby Boots – Don’t Talk About It

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Photo by Cal Quinn

It has been a while since I have written anything about an album I’ve been digging, so I thought I would share my thoughts on Ruby Boots’ Bloodshot debut, Don’t Talk About It. I’m going to do the exact opposite of the album’s title — talk about it. Although, I do believe the album has a completely different meaning and you should definitely be talking about it.

Ruby Boots, whose real name is Bex Chilcott, left a troubled home in Perth, Australia to work on pearling boats where is honed her guitar-playing and songwriting. Living a migratory life really shows on Don’t Talk About It with it’s changing tones, textures, and sounds all the while remaining rooted in a theme of emotions and lessons left in the wake of the wreckage of romantic and sexual relationships gone wrong. Helping Ruby deliver are the fine musicians of The Texas Gentlemen backing her dynamic vocals. Nikki Lee also provides background vocals and co-writing credits on title track “Don’t Talk About It” and “I’ll Make It Through.”

Opening with a driving, fuzzed-out, jangly punk rock number “It’s So Cruel” that holds a passionate insistence that she won’t back down while balancing the hope that they’ll “settle on down and get it right the next time around” and the gritty, cruel reality of an adulterous affair. “Believe In Heaven” has a finger-plucked, old-school vibe that reaches a hard rock climax in the chorus.

And, now that Ruby has your attention, she takes you down another sonic path in “Don’t Talk About It” — a standout 1960s girl-group-esque pop song about an unrequited relationship that is both wistful and defiant. In “Break My Heart Twice” we hear a melancholy melody swirling around her plea to a lover, “Don’t mess it up this time/Don’t break my heart twice.” The following track, “I’ll Make It Through”, is an independent, self-persevering number where Ruby makes the sassy declaration, “I’m more than you can handle, baby.” But, the real knockout on Don’t Talk About It is the a cappella  “I Am a Woman.” In it Ruby’s voice rings raw, steady, and true. There are moments in the album when Ruby Boots reminds me of Bloodshot label-mate Lydia Loveless, like “Infatuation.” So, if you like Lydia, I can safely say you’ll like Ruby Boots.

Don’t Talk About It is the culmination of Ruby Boots’ independent spirit and nomadic life filled with heartbreak, failed relationships, and sass. And, although, the album contains vast landscapes of sound and mood, Don’t Talk About It is firmly grounded in Ruby’s attitude, charismatic vocals, and engaging songwriting. With Don’t Talk About It, Ruby Boots has finally found her little place in the world and she isn’t going anywhere anytime soon.

Ruby Boots: Website; Facebook; Twitter; Instagram; YouTube; Bandcamp; Spotify
Purchase Don’t Talk About It: Bloodshot Records; Amazon; iTunes

Best Albums of 2017

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I forgot that I completely missed 2016…Ah, hell, I’ve missed a lot of posts and new music in the past few years, but that isn’t hard to do with a slew of new artists and new albums that still flood my inbox. Anyway, 2016 and 2017 were busy and life-changing; between work, family, pregnancy, and becoming a new mother to a beautiful baby boy last April, I think I have some pretty good reasons not finding the time or energy to post or pay close attention to the new music that was released. But, I have created a list of MY FAVORITE albums released in 2017…well, at least the ones I did pay attention to. Maybe 2018 will be a better blogging year.

Drum roll, please…

11. Don’t Go Baby It’s Gonna Get Weird Without You, Porter and The Bluebonnet Rattlesnakes.

10. Life After YouthLand of Talk

9. Mental Illness, Aimee Mann

8. Stranger in the AlpsPhoebe Bridgers

7. Dizzy SeasChris Bathgate

6. PurgatoryTyler Childers

5.  Joan ShelleyJoan Shelley

 4. The Nashville SoundJason Isbell and The 400 Unit

3. Hallelujah AnyhowHiss Golden Messenger

2. Honest LifeCourtney Marie Andrews

(2017 UK Release; Released in US 2016, but I’m just slow and out-of-touch)

1. Turn Out the LightsJulien Baker