Albums Of The Month – October 2021

Our Top Six Releases Oct 21

Sean Rowe – Photo: Joe Navas

Top Six Releases

October 2021

Our Top Six Releases Oct 21

By Rob Dickens

Billy Strings


Rounder Records

2 September 2021

The young fella who’s injecting considerable finessed power and shade into bluegrass/roots music releases another fine statement.

Billy Strings in quick time has amassed a Grammy, Pollstar Awards Breakthrough Artist, Americana Music Association Awards nominee, Guitar Player of the Year and IBMA New Artist of the Year *. Now comes Renewal, produced by Jonathan Wilson (Conor Oberst, Roger Waters, Father John Misty) and recorded at Nashville’s Sound Emporium Studios, solidifying his status as a new singular voice who looks to reinvent while fully versed in musical traditions.

In addition to Strings (vocals, guitar, mandolin, piano, synth, guitjo) and Wilson (celesta, percussion, harpsicord), the record features Strings’ dynamite band Billy Failing (banjo, piano, background vocals), Royal Masat (bass, background vocals) and Jarrod Walker (mandolin, guitar, background vocals), as well as special guest musicians Spencer Cullum (pedal steel), John Mailander (violin) and Grant Millikem (synth).

*Just this morning Strings has received two more IBMA Awards


Via Thrillhill Music

Charley Crockett

Music City USA

Son Of Davy/Thirty Tigers/Cooking Vinyl Australia

17 September 2021

Charley Crockett is in a hurry. A ten-albums-in-six-years kinda hurry. And the latest is a double to boot!

From very humble beginnings in the south of Texas, raised by a single mom and taking to whatever he could to survive, he finally decided to take music seriously at the age of 32 (he’s now 37). During the last phase, he’s had open heart surgery to add to the colourful backdrop.

Crockett has a voice that resonates, clear as a bell like Marty Robbins and Glen Campbell – the styles are traditional, but an interesting mix of country, soul, blues, western swing and tex-mex. The result is cinematic and you can see that in the video clips he has been releasing for the past two years or so, which feature rugged landscapes, a man’s isolation, classic western influences and 1960’s artefacts. Music City USA (enjoy the sights of Nashville and surrounds in the clip for the title song below!) is another gloriously ambitious project.

A classic musical offering from an outsider’s perspective.


Via Jo Corbett Publicity

Lachlan Bryan & The Wildes

As Long As It’s Not Us

Social Family Records

17 September 2021

I waxed lyrical about Lachlan Bryan for his previous live album Near Misses Live recently so I won’t repeat myself here.

Here we have another album, this one crafted in the studio and started before the pandemic began. The difference with As Long As It’s Not Us is palpable as the country/Americana staple artist pushes in many other, inventive directions, eschewing mandolins and banjos for drum machines and fuzzy guitars.

Vocally, too, Bryan stretches himself with low tones and emotive flourishes which bring to life this collection of very personal songs which cover isolation, depression and ended relationships, all of which we can fully understand in these lockdown days.

Hats off to the rest of the Wildes too, who contribute more than ever to the crisp songwriting – Riley Catherall is a recent addition to the band (his July solo album release When I Go is beautifully melodic), bassist Shaun Ryan and guitarist/producer Damian Cafarella. Tim Rogers and Harmony James add colour as well.

Enjoy the wry observations, such as: “You remind me of myself, but only better”


Via Jo Corbett Publicity

Nathan Bell

Red, White and American Blues (it couldn’t happen here)

Need To Know Music

1 October 2021

Tennessee’s Nathan Bell has a lot to say, and it’s none too subtle either (language alert for delicate ears). The title is a clear sign and the subtitle a direct reference to Sinclair Lewis’s 1935 novel imagining the possibility that the people of the USA could be mindlessly led to fascism.

The album has thirteen songs starting with the striking and unmistakable “Angola Prison” and “American Gun”. Gruff blues, swamp music, folk, spoken word and roots rock with cutting lyrics feature throughout and the guest vocals from Patty Griffin, Regina McCrary and Aubrie Sellers provide a refined passion and contrast.

Interestingly, Bell is the subject of a 2020 Documentary short film I Don’t Do This For Love (American Songwriter Nathan Bell on tour in Scotland, Wales and England).

It’s an American album. It’s a set of songs about a broken country and its broken people. It’s a cautionary album.”

Mark Kemp, Author of “Dixie Lullaby: A Story of Music, Race and New Beginnings in a New South”

As raw and good as it gets


Via Broken Jukebox Media

Sean Rowe

The Darkness Dressed in Colored Lights

Fluff & Gravy Records

8 October 2021

Sean Rowe looks intense. And it suits his voice, the deepest of soulful baritones.

I was blown away by his appearance at AmericanaFest 2014 at the Soulshine Pizza Factory as part of a Six Shooter Records (Canadian label) showcase, impressed by his spirit, intensity and individuality.  Just him and a battered acoustic guitar that day.

The theme-laden title The Darkness Dressed In Colored Lights provides an insight into this collection which follows much soul-searching, therapy and a guided ayahuasca retreat to help him shed anger and reach a happier, more peaceful place.

The catch cry here could well be – ‘choose your attitude to life’ – and rise from the ashes and denounce despair. All the songs cut to this chase and the record gives us the fullest array of emotions.

(Through his web series, Can I Eat This? Rowe indulges two of his great passions: music and nature, foraging missions for all manner of wild foods for culinary delights.)


Via Sideways Media


B-Flat Earth


17 September 2021

I love jamming bluegrass bands. I prefer my bluegrass music with a little (or large) unorthodox edge. Tick both boxes here!

Swamptooth hail from beautiful Savannah, Georgia and B-Flat Earth is an impressive debut indeed.  A Georgia farmhouse was the setting and provided the band with sufficient uninterrupted space to refine their playing to the highest level (the musicianship on the record is formidable), discuss directions during rapidly-changing times and compiling original material.

Traditional bluegrass gave way to a shifting landscape, one that better reflected the growth and attitudes of the band members. It was only natural that the band recorded their first album in the same space and the eleven original songs are presented wonderfully. “Goa” and “Only Blues” hit a beautiful groove with many turns in the road to keep the listener immensely interested.


Via Broken Jukebox Media



More Music Adventures Await!


Our Top Six Releases Oct 21

Our Top Six Releases Oct 21

Our Top Six Releases Oct 21

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Author: Rob Dickens

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