While 2012 was undoubtedly one of the best years for American folk, roots, and Americana music to date, it's starting to look like 2013 will be able to hold our attention just fine. From newercomers like Anais Mitchell (whose 2012 release made my Best of the Year list) and Samantha Crain, to old faithful favorites like Patty Griffin and Gurf Morlix...Here's a look at five albums you won't want to miss, slated for release in early 2013.
In case you're unfamiliar with Oklahoma-based singer-songwriter Samantha Crain, you should know she's slowly but surely become a serious fixture on the national folk music festival circuit over the past several years. She's made a habit of being invited to play frequently at some of the finest festivals in the land - Pickathon, Bonnaroo, etc. - and spent this fall on the road with William Elliott Whitmore. Now, Crain is getting ready to drop her fourth album, Kid Face, early in 2013. You can stream it now on her website at SamanthaCrain.com.
Gurf Morlix may be best known as a backing instrumentalist for Lucinda Williams (and others), but as a solo singer-songwriter, he's a highly respected and influential figure in the Austin, Tex., music scene - and the national Americana/roots circuit. With over a dozen albums to his credit (as a solo artist and in other capacities), Gurf Morlix Finds the Present Tense will be his first such recording in four years. Check out my review of his last album Last Exit to Happyland then brace yourself for another round..
Caitlin Rose was born in Dallas and raised in the Nashville music industry, the daughter of a songwriter (her mom won a Grammy for writing a song with Taylor Swift) and music marketer with a natural gift of her own. Her debut in 2010 (Own Side Now) raised a lot of eyebrows in the roots and Americana worlds, earning her comparisons to the likes of giants like Iris DeMent and Loretta Lynn. The disc even scored a place among the Time magazine Top Ten Albums of that year. She'll turn 26 in 2013 and has already proven her potential among some of the finest songwriters of her generation. There's little doubt that her sophomore effort, The Stand-In, will be a worthy followup. You can hear the first single - "I Was Cruel" - at American Songwriter.
I've been a fan of Anais Mitchell's work since I laid ears on her ambitious folk opera Hadestown (which she recorded with Justin Vernon, Ani DiFranco, and Greg Brown). Then, in 2012, Mitchell released what was easily one of the very best albums of the year. In 2013, she'll follow it up with a collaborative disc featuring selections from Francis James Child's collection of English and Scottish Popular Ballads. Produced by Alison Krauss producer Gary Paczoza, the disc is slated for a March release.
After spending some time as a backup singer with Robert Plant's Band of Joy, touring with Three Girls and Their Buddy (Emmylou Harris, Shawn Colvin, and Buddy Miller), and following up on her Buddy Miller-produced gospel album Downtown Church, Patty Griffin has announced that her first fully original solo album in six years will drop in 2013. The disc is set to be titled American Kid and will release on ATO Records. Earlier this fall, I got to see Griffin perform in Athens, GA, on one of her (very few) solo dates. In addition to a swath of old favorites, she played a number of tunes from the forthcoming album. From heartbreak to hope, in a way only Griffin can pronounce...suffice to say it's bound to be a doozy.