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Albums of the Month – Dec 2019

our top picks for the month

Chris Knight – Photo: LTTL

Top New Releases – December 2019

By Rob Dickens

Zachary Lucky

Midwestern

Independent

October 18 2019

Zachary Lucky‘s fourth release Midwestern is a study in simplicity and artfulness. This Saskatchewan joins the ranks of artists from that area that are producing excellent work, such as Colter Wall, Kacy and Clayton, as well as Belle Paine.

The themes here are of fatherhood, the lure of home, ageing and the Canadian prairies. His voice reminds us of the great Gordon Lightfoot – grounded, calm and world weary.

Here’s a live take on one of the new tracks: “Rock and Roll Dad”:

via Hearth Music

ARTIST WEBSITE

The Dead South

Sugar & Joy

Six Shooter Records

October 11 2019

They are not bluegrass. Nor are they strictly old-time traditional. The instrumentation mix is unusual (cello, mandolin, guitar and banjo). Their humour and sense of fun permeates all that they do. The characters embedded in their songs are large and colourful, their deeds both momentous and infamous. Let’s call it drinking and dancing gypsy music.

Sugar & Joy is the first offering of The Dead South recorded outside their Regina base (Sakatchewan again!). This time around, they turned to FAME Studio-trained Jimmy Nutt, a long-time member of the Muscle Shoals music scene whose recent credits include a Grammy for his work with The Steeldrivers. It’s an embraceable romp.

Here’s “Diamond Ring”:

Via Thrillhill Music

ARTIST WEBSITE

Chris Knight

Almost Daylight

Independent

11 October 2019

“Crooked Mile” is worth the admission price alone – a creeping and growling guitar lending plenty to this tale of hard times and love. Then there’s “Trouble Up Ahead” – heading back to Kentucky passing through a faceless, dangerous and suspicious city – a classic outsider tale.

Almost Daylight comes out about twenty years after Chris Knight’s debut and seven years since the acclaimed Little Victories. The voice is a little croakier but that lends itself to the subject matter and the emotion. This is stuff of the finest and most authentic Outlaw Country. Cameos from John Prine and Lee Ann Womack add greatly, as you would expect.

Here’s the powerful “Crooked Mile”:

ARTIST WEBSITE

The Hackles

A Dobritch Did As A Dobritch Should

Jealous Butcher Records

8 November 2019

Partners Kati Claborn and Luke Ydstie were recruited as members of the band Blind Pilot. Here are the fruits of their side project, the album title being a nod to Bulgarian circus impresario Al Dobritch (‘The Show Must Go On’) whose eventful life (and death) make for fascinating reading.

“We’re looking at the big picture through individual lives,” says Claborn. The Hackles shine their spotlight through effective narratives, sublime chords, telling arrangements and glorious harmonies – key tracks are “Seven Lies”, “Peaches” and “Dragon Or A Bird”.

Here’s “Peaches”:

Via Hearth Music

Possessed By Paul James

As We Go Wandering

PPJ Records

31 January 2020

Possessed By Paul James is the stage name for Konrad Wert. Raised Mennonite, he was surrounded by strict rules. “The aesthetic was very  church oriented,” he says. “We had this typified image of Jesus in the living room, Mary in the hallway, and a painting of the Last Supper in the bedroom. Musically, we didn’t get anything heavier than The Monkees.”

Now a passionate advocate for justice in education, he pours his heart out here, his ringing voice front and centre bolstered by a wonderfully authentic traditional backdrop. A clarion call unmistakable in its message.

Via Hearth Music

ARTIST WEBSITE

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our top picks for the month

our top picks for the month

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Author: Rob Dickens

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