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Albums Of The Month – September 2021

Our Top Six Releases Sep 21

Photo by Mike Vanata

Top Six Releases

September 2021

Our Top Six Releases

By Rob Dickens

James McMurtry

The Horse and the Hounds

New West Records

20 August 2021

James McMurtry is an acclaimed songwriter for good reason. Razor sharp insights and imagery combine with a precise and urbane alt-country vibe. Here is another example of his mastery.

The album is a reunion of sorts, recorded with producer Ross Hogarth at Jackson Browne’s Groove Masters in Santa Monica, California, a studio housing Bob DylanDavid Crosby as well as Browne himself.

McMurtry and Hogarth first worked together thirty years ago, recording McMurtry’s first two albums and mixing McMurtry’s first self-produced album. Another veteran of those three releases is guitarist David Grissom who appears on the new record.

The Horses and the Hounds, McMurtry’s first collection in seven years, is a gem.

OFFICIAL SITE

Via Conqueroo/New West Records

Riddy Arman

Riddy Arman

LaHonda Records

10 September 2021

It’s Montana-based singer-songwriter Riddy Arman with her self-titled debut album. A gorgeous voice reminiscent of the great Bobbie Gentry, showcased perfectly by a starkness of arrangement and imagery of rustic life.

She grew up in rural Ohio but has travelled widely, amassing experiences and stories that belie her age, including working as a ranch hand and immersing herself in a hands-on country lifestyle. The songs here were written collectively while stationed in California ranch country, during an intensely creative period in the beautiful college town Fayetteville, Arkansas and after relocating to New Orleans following a friend’s passing.

Arman and producer Bronson Tew recorded the nine tracks at Portland, Oregon’s Mississippi Studios. Songs like “Barbed Wire”, “Old Maid’s Draw”, “Problems Of My Own” and “Spirits, Angels, Or Lies” (see clip below) leap out of the speakers, while her take on Kris Kristofferson’s “Help Me Make It Through The Night” serves the classic song well.

Stark, lonely songs with a mesmerising voice. I’d recommend you check out this new talent.

OFFICIAL SITE

Via Lucky Bird Media

Shane Nicholson

Living In Colour

Island Records

20 August 2021

Okay, Paul Kelly aside, is there a better and/or more consistent Australian songwriter than Shane Nicholson?

The three-time ARIA Award and eleven (!) times Golden Guitar winner releases his new album full of engrossing mixed notions of self doubt and hope. The song titles reveal a struggle of openness and honesty – “Simple Man”, “The High Price Of Surviving”, “Ain’t Been Loved”, “Life Ain’t Fine” and the closer “This Is War”.

Living In Colour was written and recorded in Nicholson’s Central Coast studio (he is one of Australia’s most-in-demand producers as well) just about on his own due to COVID restrictions, while also producing a bunch of other artists projects at the same time.

Help came at the beginning and the end of the process, with Josh Schuberth recording the drums in his own studio in the Blue Mountains, over which Shane laid all the other parts, and then “comrade in arms” and fellow producer Matt Fell adding his tweaks to the finished product.

And a beautiful product it is.

OFFICIAL SITE

Son Volt

Electro Melodier

Thirty Tigers/Cooking Vinyl Australia

30 July 2021

Son Volt delivers another thoughtful, classy project (their 10th) which again demonstrates the versatility and still-growing maturity of the iconic front man Jay Farrar and band, laying down an uber-impressive history since forming in 1994 after leaving the seminal group Uncle Tupelo. The title Electro Melodier is taken from the names of two vintage amplifiers from the late 1940’s and early 1950’s and there’s a definite retrospective vibe here with a glorious mix of country, blues, folk and rock.

A strong heart propels the material here – the social protest of “Living in the U.S.A.” and “The Globe,” the joy of long-term relationships (specifically his 25-year marriage) in “Diamonds and Cigarettes” and “Lucky Ones.” 

Once again accompanied by the blazing Son Volt line up – keyboardist/steel guitarist Mark Spencer, bassist Andrew Duplantis, guitarist Chris Frame and drummer Mark Patterson – there’s a lot going on in these arrangements, blending The Who-like keyboards, classic country guitar riffs, rock edges and compelling melodies.

“I had more time to devote to and concentrate on the writing [due to the pandemic]. “We were fortunate in that we had just released Union and toured the country, so we were off cycle. It was still a rough year, but as a songwriter, I was able to make the most of it.”

Jay Farrar

OFFICIAL SITE

Via Jo Corbett Publicity

Sturgill Simpson

The Ballad of Dood & Juanita

High Top Mountain Records

20 August 2021

The colourful journey of Sturgill Simpson continues, seeking the high ground of artistic excellence and diversity. The Ballad of Dood and Juanita continues a run of ambitious releases that set the bar high toward the heavens, even though this is his third full-length outing in just twelve months.

This latest one is an actual narrative, set out in chronological order detailing the travails of the title characters and pinned to vibrant styles of traditional country, old time, a capella gospel and bluegrass.

Written and recorded in less than a week (!), the new album features the same stellar musicians who played on last year’s Cuttin’ Grass Vol. 1 and Vol. 2 albums.  

Simpson is currently on location filming his role in Martin Scorsese’s upcoming movie Killers of the Flower Moon – another twist in his tale.

OFFICIAL SITE

Via Jo Corbett Publicity

Yola

Stand For Myself

Easy Eye Sound

30 July 2021

Yola‘s Walk Through Fire was our favourite album of 2019.

Now, the peerless singer gives us Stand For Myself, produced again by Dan Auerbach and for a second time they are triumphant, this time with a well-crafted mix of symphonic soul and classic pop. The album draws inspiration from seminal albums Yola discovered via her mother’s 1970’s record collection, as well as adding modern soul and rhythm ‘n’ blues adornments.

The pandemic came as her star was on the rise. It derailed Yola’s plans to tour stadiums (with Chris Stapleton and The Black Keys) as well as numerous festival appearances, and it delayed her role as Sister Rosetta Tharpe in the new Baz Luhrmann biopic Elvis. She used the time well instead to begin to work on the songs that appear here.

From stress-induced voice loss to living on London’s streets, Yola has navigated it all to launch her very successful solo career. She achieved breakout success with her 2019 debut which landed her four Grammy nominations including Best New Artist.

Think Dusty Springfield and Hal David/Burt Bacharach, with a dose of Aretha Franklin and Amy Winehouse. Classy stuff indeed.

OFFICIAL SITE

Via Big Feat PR

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LAST MONTH’S BEST ALBUMS

More Music Adventures Await!

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Our Top Six Releases Sep 21

Our Top Six Releases Sep 21

Our Top Six Releases Sep 21

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Author: Rob Dickens

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