Claire Lynch is widely considered one of the finest singers on the bluegrass circuit, and with good reason. Her intuition is sharp and she has a creative ear for manipulating melodies away from the same old predictable directions. Check out this full review of her latest disc 'Dear Sister' and see how it measures up.
Almost exactly one year after releasing a collaborative album titled 'We're Usually A Lot Better Than This,' Tim O'Brien and Darrell Scott are back with this collaborative studio record. 'Memories and Moments' is a collection of both artists' original tunes packed together with covers by Hank Williams, John Prine, and George Jones, not to mention some other co-writes. Check out my full review of 'Memories and Moments' by Tim O'Brien and Darrell Scott.
Elizabeth Mitchell and Dan Zanes are both widely known and loved for their light, easy, accessible approach to music for children and families. It's surprising it took them until 2013 to record a collaborative album, given that fact, but the disc is well worth the wait. Check out my full review of 'Turn Turn Turn' by Elizabeth Mitchell and Dan Zanes.
The Civil Wars showed up and dazzled folk, roots, and Americana music fans with their debut album 'Barton Hollow' in 2011. The disc was quickly nominated for a Grammy, Americana Music Award, and other accolades, and scored the harmony-driven duo some serious attention from audiences far and wide. So, how does the follow-up sophomore effort fare? Check out this full-review.
Amanda Shires may be four albums into her career, but she's still relatively unknown to many outside of a small cirlce of hardcore folkies and Americana music fans. Nonetheless, her 2013 album 'Down Fell the Doves' is one of the most beautiful and nuanced discs of the season, with intricate sotrytelling and poetic lyricism, backed by some rusty and raw instrumentation. Check out this full album review of the latest from Amanda Shires.
Alice Gerrard has been a long-time performer, activist, and advocate for old-time, bluegrass, and traditional American folk music. But, in 2013, for the first time in her career, she's released a full-length solo album full of original songs. 'Bittersweet' is an excellent collection of just darn-good songs. Read my full review of Alice Gerrard 'Bittersweet'.
In 2012, to pay tribute to Woody Guthrie on his 100th birthday, a slew of artists ranging from topical singer-songwriters like Ry Cooder, Ani DiFranco, Tom Morello, and Jimmy LaFave, teamed up with bluegrassers and traditionalists like Old Crow Medicine Show, Del McCoury Band, and more, for a monster tribute concert at the Kennedy Center in Washington DC. Now, Legacy Records and the Woody Guthrie Archive have teamed up to release this CD/DVD set titled 'Woody at 100! Live at the Kennedy Center'. Check out my review.
For 20 years, the folks at Putumayo have consistently released some of the finest compilations of American and world folk music around. Their recordings have introduced countless listeners to music from across the world. With their latest Putumayo Kids release, 'American Playrgound', they focus on endearing children to the glorious folk songs and standards that make up the American songbook. Check out my full review of 'Putumayo Kids Presents American Playground'.
Aoife O'Donovan began her career as the frontwoman for Boston-based progressive stringband Crooked Still, but has since established herself as an in-demand songwriter with a knack for catchy hooks. After contributing a song to Alison Krauss's last album and the dissolution of Crooked Still's collaboration (since everyone was working on other projects), O'Donovan inked a deal with Yep Roc Records and started to work at her first solo album. Check out my full review of Aoife O'Donovan's solo debut, 'Fossils'.
Melissa Ferrick's seventeenth album sees her exploring what she can do with lush arrangements and creative license. Find out whether and how it all works with this full review of 'The Truth Is', out on MPress Records in June 2013.
Patty Griffin's seventh studio album in her 17-year recording career is one of her most stunning yet. Where her previous release - 'Children Running Through' (ATO Records, 2007) - explored themes of family and other things related to one's inner child, 'American Kid' is packed with complex and emotional comings-of-age. From stripped-down story songs to atmospheric aural poems and beyond, Griffin has released a 12-song collection which was well worth the wait.
Ruth Moody is perhaps best known as one-third of the Wailin Jennys, but she's also forged quite a glorious solo career with a small handful of discs released on Red House Records. With the release of her 2013 full-length solo album (featuring contributions from Mark Knopfler, Jerry Douglas, the Wailin Jennys, and more), Moody further solidifies her skills as a solo singer-songwriter. Learn more with this full review.
In 2012, Woody Guthrie would have turned 100 years old, and the year was full of appropriate tributes, concerts, parties and celebrations to mark the occasion. One of the most moving tributes was a two-disc collection of oral histories and musical recordings shared by Pete Seeger, with the help of David Bernz and Appleseed Recordings. Learn more about this outstanding collection with this full review of 'Pete Remembers Woody'.
On her third full-length album, Holly Williams takes a folkier turn toward a more singer-songwriter style of music. Still with the old family twang, and with a pile of stories to break your heart, 'The Highway' is easily Holly Williams' finest work yet. Check out this full review for more information.
From "Sweet Sir Gallahad" to "A Hard Rain's a-Gonna Fall", Joan Baez's first decade in the recording industry was replete with incredible music. Check out this greatest hits collection from that prolific decade.
Mary Gauthier is one of contemporary folk music's great so-far under-the-radar singer-songwriters. Her incredible command of story-songwriting, her sense of humor, and her raw approach to performing the tales has long inspired up-and-coming singer-songwriters. With this new live album - recorded live at the Blue Rock Ranch and Studio outside Austin, Tex., Gauthier delivers some of her finest songs the way they were intended - live.
When Ani DiFranco self-released her self-titled debut in 1990, it was given to the world from the stage at gives, in the form of a cassette, back before independent music was trendily known as "indie." Since then, she's built a remarkable career on an independent spirit and stirring songwriting. Check out this reconsideration of Ani DiFranco's debut album.
Nominated for a 2013 Grammy Award for Best Folk Album, 'This One's for Him: A Tribute to Guy Clark' is a jampacked all-star double disc which has a good chance of winning (if for no reason other than it's gathered so many artists who have been influential throughout the industry). But is it really better than all the other non-all-star collections released in folk and Americana music last year? Check out this full review and see what our conclusion was.
Townes Van Zandt is widely considered one of the best songwriters to have ever touched the genres of folk and Americana. 'Sunshine Boy' is a two-disc collection of previously unheard versions of some of his most popular songs, and some lesser-known. Check out this full review of that double album.
At 76 years old, Kris Kristofferson has released one of the finest, most fully realized albums of his entire career. 'Feeling Mortal' will break your heart then put it all back together again. Check out this full review.
On September 14, 2012, Natalia Zukerman and a handful of her best musical friends gathered at SPACE in Evanston, Illinois, to perform a collection of Zukerman's best work. Learn more about how that album turned out with this full review of 'Gypsies & Clowns: Natalia Zukerman and Friends Live at SPACE'.
Fifty years into his career, Bobby Bare has released a collection of his versions of some great American folk songs - from Bob Dylan to Woody Guthrie, Leadbelly and...even U2. Check out this full review to see how it measures up.
Mumford and Sons rocked the world when they showed up on the American music scene with their eponymous debut in 2009. They also rocked the Grammy Awards, establishing quite a buzz for the emergent UK folk music scene. Is their follow-up 'Babel' (2012) worth the wait? Check out this full review.
The Avett Brothers are back with a follow-up release to their highly praised 2010 album 'I and Love and You.' Teaming once again with producer Rick Rubin, the brothers hit much harder this time with a disc that's poised to solidify their place in contemporary folk music. Check out my full review of the Avett Brothers' 'The Carpenter'.
Bob Dylan's 35th studio album - 'Tempest' - is a storm of music, indeed. Dylan's grumbly rasp now verges on a growl, and the music itself walks a fine line somewhere between traditional country, rock, and the blues. Check out this full review of 'Tempest' and learn more about how Dylan's gift is still soaring.