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.
'We're Usually a Lot Better Than This' is a live collaborative album featuring Darrell Scott and Tim O'Brien, taken from two live benefit performances they gave for their children's junior high school. Check out the About Folk Music full review of this highly buzzed-about live disc from two of the best singer-songwriters in contemporary folk, bluegrass, and Americana music.
Kelly Joe Phelps released his eleventh album, 'Brother Sinner and the Whale', on Aug 21, 2012, via Red Hen Music. The disc is a delicious blend of delta blues and humble country gospel, and will likely be well-received by Phelps' fans and critics alike. Learn more with this full CD review of 'Brother Sinner & the Whale'.
Shawn Colvin has followed her music from her Dakota upbringing to the storied pubs of Austin, New York, Boston, Los Angeles, and far beyond. In 'Diamond in the Rough' - her new memoir - she tells the story of how and when her love affair with music began, and how she's managed to keep the fire burning all this time.
Old Crow Medicine Show has been one of the most beloved new-timey traditional folk stringbands ever since they burst on the scene in 1998. Now, with their seventh release (their first in four years), the band seems poised to reignite ever more interest in stringband music. Check out this full review of 'Carry Me Back'.
Paul Simon's 1986 release 'Graceland' was a huge hit pop record for the folk-infused singer-songwriter. Not only did it score him some radio hits and Grammy Awards, but it also introduced a young generation to the music of South Africa during a time of that country's cultural isolation. Read a full review of Paul Simon's 'Graceland' here.
Folk Uke - the singer-songwriter duo comprised of Cathy Guthrie and Amy Nelson - is one of the most lyrically creative new bands on the scene. Check out this review of their second full-length album 'Reincarnation'.
Sara Watkins began her career as one third of the bluegrass trio Nickel Creek. But, since that illustrious group of innovators split, Watkins has divided her time between playing backup for bands like the Decemberists and forging her own trail as a solo artist. Now, on her second solo album, 'Sun Midnight Sun,' she explores territory well beyond the bounds of her bluegrass upbringing. Check out this full review of 'Sun Midnight Sun'.
This new live album from Pete Seeger captures a concert he played at Bowdoin College back in 1960. The result is a double-disc collection of traditional labor, protest, and other songs including Weavers hits like "Goodnight Irene" and "Tzena Tzena Tzena".
New Multitudes is the latest album release from a long-standing project resurrecting thousands of Woody Guthrie's lost songs. Here, indie roots and folk artists like Jay Farrar (Son Volt), Yim Yames, Will Johnson, and Anders Parker unite to give Guthrie's work a spin as part of the Woody 100 celebration. Check out my album review of 'New Multitudes.'
Justin Townes Earle is easily one of the most promising young singer-songwriters on the Americana and roots music scene these days. With his fifth studio album, 'Nothing's Gonna Change the Way You Feel About Me Now', Earle takes a more solid step toward establishing his own distinct sound rather than following the traditions which spawned him. Check out this full review of that album.