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Albums Of The Month – June 2021

Our Top Six Releases Jun 21

Michigan Rattlers – Photo: LTTL

Top Six Releases

June 2021

Our Top Six Releases

By Rob Dickens

Blackberry Smoke

You Hear Georgia

Thirty Tigers

28 May 2021

Celebrating their twentieth anniversary as a group this year, Georgia’s Blackberry Smoke continues to demonstrate an ability to combine a impeccable driving Southern Rock aesthetic with elegant acoustic flourishes. You Hear Georgia pays tribute to the people, places and sounds of their home state and is the ideal tonic for these COVID-restrictive days – it will blow away your pandemic cobwebs.

In addition to the band – Charlie Starr (vocals, guitar), Richard Turner (bass, vocals), Brit Turner
(drums), Paul Jackson (guitar, vocals) and Brandon Still (keyboards) – You Hear Georgia features Benji
Shanks
(guitar) and Preston Holcomb (percussion) as well as special guests Jamey Johnson (“Lonesome
For A Livin’”), Warren Haynes (“All Rise Again”) and The Black Bettys (background vocals).

At the helm was crazy-in-demand producer Dave Cobb, a fellow Georgian, with the new release following Blackberry Smoke’s 2018’s Find A Light, which debuted as the best-selling country and americana/folk album in the USA.

OFFICIAL SITE

Via Jo Corbett Publicity

The Contraptionists

Working Man’s Dread

Independent

29 May 2021

This slightly embarrassed reviewer downloaded and listened multiple times to Working Man’s Dread without reading the media release, somehow coming up with the fictional notion that the album was replete with covers of lesser-known Grateful Dead songs. Imagine my reaction when I discovered that The Contraptionists in fact wrote all these songs and the wonderful harmonies and melodies are a glowing tribute to their indigenous talents.

Paul Givant and Stephen Andrews are The Contraptionists and have played together for almost a decade in Rose’s Pawn Shop in Los Angeles, releasing three studio albums and touring extensively. The name derives from their penchant to weave their folk and Americana threads through a variety of musical “contraptions” made from drums, guitar, banjo, harmonica, stand-up bass and vocal harmonies.

Givant wrote all the songs and he and Andrews developed a lot of them live when they did a month-long tour from California through the Pacific Northwest, Canada and Alaska in 2018. Mike Vizcarra (Brian Wright, Tony Lucca) produced Working Man’s Dread, along with mixing, mastering, and engineering. The end result is a gritty and skillful pot pourri of observations deftly brought to musical life.

OFFICIAL SITE

Via KG Music Press

John R Miller

Depreciated

Rounder Records

16 July 2021

Having seen John R Miller on stage at AmericanaFest in 2019 (actually the last day the all-embracing event was pre-pandemic normal), I have been eagerly awaiting his next offering.

Since then he has signed to a major label (Rounder Records) and Depreciated does not disappoint. Miller has a delightfully laconic, Bobby Charles-esque delivery style, a sharp ear for a rhyme and those talents are infused into songs reflecting on his life in his former homeland of West Virginia. After fifteen-odd years of writing and performing, both leading bands and playing as a side man and bass player for other songwriters including the Hackensaw Boys, Sierra Ferrell and J.P. Harris (see below). the career of John R Miller will now hopefully blossom and be a true reflection of his country know-how.

Depreciated was recorded at Studio A of Sound Emporium in Nashville. Miller was ably backed on the sessions by Adam Meisterhans, who contributed guitar and production, co-producer and Grammy nominee Justin Francis on congas and Wurlitzer, Chloe Edmonstone offering a plaintive fiddle, John Looney on mandolin, Jonathan Beam providing bass, Russ Pahl’s shimmery pedal steel, John Clay on drums and Robbie Crowell playing the Wurlitzer and Hammond B3.

MORE INFO HERE

OFFICIAL SITE

Via Big Feat PR

JP Harris’s Dreadful Wind & Rain

Don’t You Marry No Railroad Man

Free Dirt Records

25 June 2021

JP Harris is a carpenter and home renovator. The talented hands also apply to music and he has been a staple around Nashville and surrounds within pickin’ circles – fiddler competitions and stringband contests with his powerful banjo playing on handmade instruments. He also is known to be a powerful collaborator and has released albums previously, but this time around he has a new project under the intriguing moniker JP Harris’ Dreadful Wind & Rain which dwells on traditional music presented through a wonderfully unsullied lens.

With Don’t You Marry No Railroad Man, he celebrates a truly American musical repertoire in a dazzling fashion. Together with long time friend and ace fiddler Chance McCoy (formerly of Old Crow Medicine Show), the duo feature ten tracks spanning the breadth of American old-time history. Harris wades between ancient ballads that travelled from the British Isles to Appalachia to droning banjo ditties played on one of Harris’ coveted homemade banjos. His work as a serious carpenter in Nashville adds a unique authenticity to his version of the classic ballad “House Carpenter”.

Don’t You Marry No Railroad Man is a canny addition to JP Harris’ oeuvre in which we can all revel.

OFFICIAL SITE

Via Hearth PR

Michigan Rattlers

That Kind Of Life

Massasauga Records

19 May 2021

On a whim at the 2019 Bristol Rhythm and Roots Reunion, LTTL associate Jim Jacob and I ventured over to see the Michigan Rattlers at one of the perimeter venues. We both were mightily impressed with their set and their craft – they seemed to have put all the musical ingredients in the right place, a maturity beyond their years.

The four-piece roots rock outfit – comprising Graham Young (guitar), Adam Reed (upright bass), Christian Wilder (piano), and Tony Audia (drums) – began writing music and performing together in their Northern Michigan high school and they now present their second album That Kind Of Life. The band cites their influences as Credence Clearwater Revival and Bob Seger but I reckon the sound is closer to Dawes and Bruce Springsteen, with more than a little Bono thrown in for good measure.

That Kind of Life is classy, heartland Americana and Michigan Rattlers I bet are going to have a brilliant career.

OFFICIAL SITE

Rod Picott

Wood, Steel, Dust & Dreams

Independent

21 May 2021

Supreme songwriting. And a double album of it to boot which leaves no doubt about the talent at play here.

This is a special and limited release from Nashville based songwriter Rod Picott. Wood, Steel, Dust & Dreams contains fresh recordings of every song that Picott has written with his childhood friend and feted artist Slaid Cleaves over a splendid collaboration spanning thirty years plus. Many of the songs have appeared on Rod’s and or Slaid’s past records and there are a few unheard songs as well. Beautifully produced and mixed by Neilson Hubbard, the album also features the always-wonderful Will Kimbrough on guitar.

In a stand against streaming of any kind, Picott says “The music industry has devoured itself. Musicians and songwriters are squeezed into a spot where if they don’t stream they feel like they can’t access the full potential of the audience that might be out there and if they do stream they basically give their work away. So, I decided I’m making the album as personal as possible. It will go from my hand to a listener’s hand. The only way you can hear this project is to buy it from me. It’s a way of keeping this piece of art between myself and the people who truly love my work.”

Well I love his work. Some of the best songwriting and most passionate ideas you will ever hear is on Wood, Steel, Dust & Dreams.

OFFICIAL SITE

Via Broken Jukebox Media

ADVERTISE WITH LISTENING THROUGH THE LENS

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Our Top Six Releases Jun 21

Our Top Six Releases Jun 21

Our Top Six Releases Jun 21

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Author: Rob Dickens

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