Albums Of The Month – December 2022

Our Top Six Releases Dec 22

Monique Clare – Photo: LTTL

Top Six Releases

December 2022

Our Top Six Releases Dec 22

By Rob Dickens

Billy Strings


Rounder Records

18 November 2022

An unrelenting revelation when the best artists are asked about their early childhood and/or household situation musically, goes along the lines ‘my Mom and/or Dad were musicians’ or ‘I spent a lot of time in church singing’. Starting their musical career early, either with voice or with an instrument, inspired by their surroundings, very often seem to be the foundation stone for their acuity and success.

And so to Billy Strings. To mark his thirtieth birthday, he announced Me/And/Dad, the first album he has recorded with his father, Terry Barber. A long-time wish, the record features new versions of fourteen bluegrass and country classics that the two have been playing together since Strings was a young child.

Produced by Strings and Gary Paczosa and recorded at Nashville’s Sound Emporium Studio, the album finds Strings and Barber playing with a graceful ease that can be attributed to their familiarity. In addition to Strings and Barber, the album features an all-star band including bassist Mike Bub, mandolinist Ron McCoury, banjo player Rob McCoury and fiddler-extraordinaire Michael Cleveland as well as special guest appearances by Jerry Douglas, Jason Carter and Strings’ mother Debra Barber, who sings on the final track.

Is Billy, is GOOD!


Via Dave Laing Publicity

Elizabeth Moen

Wherever You Aren’t


11 November 2022

An exciting new name for this reviewer, Elizabeth Moen is a guitarist (self-taught), singer-songwriter based in Chicago, originally from Vinton, Iowa. Moen has been on the road in live bands for others, which may explain her street-wise savvy and welcome assertive aesthetic. Two albums and an EP already in the marketplace, Wherever You Aren’t is a step up in production quality, marketing push and edgy outlook.

Genre-wise, it’s hard to pin down, and that’s a marvellous thing, a reflection of the heavy emotions contained within and the stark ambition of this gifted artist. Indie rock, gospel, funk, soul – all are beautifully presented with her potent vocals dominating, ranging from the sensual, the falsetto, the strident. Spellbinding.

The first single “Headgear” already has over 1.7 million listens on Spotify. *


Via Alleyes Media

Matt Hillyer


State Fair Records

Late February 2023

Until 2021, Matt Hillyer used to front the Texas swing band Eleven Hundred Springs, a band that for twenty-three years played countless shows around the world, released over a dozen albums, and became a standard for a swingin’ Texas country band.

His new solo album Glorieta will be issued in late February 2023 and that event will further enhance his rich reputation. A dynamically smooth vocalist (think Roy Orbison and Ricky Nelson), Glorieta is replete with classic country, Texas swing and ballads, the eleven songs encompassing a rich range of observations and sentiments.

Hillyer will shortly be commencing a highly-promising tour with another great Texas vocalist, Dale Watson.


Via RPR Media

Melissa Carper

Ramblin’ Soul

Mae Music/Thirty Tigers/Cooking Vinyl Australia

18 November 2022

This a welcome follow-up to 2021’s Daddy’s Country Gold (see our review).

Singer-songwriter and upright bassist Melissa Carper wrote for Ramblin’ Soul at an Austin farm during the pandemic, working in exchange for housing, vegetables, and fresh air.

“Ramblin’ Soul was inspired by the new appreciation I had for the freedom to travel around the country and perform. I had taken for granted the ability to interact with audiences and friends and how much it feeds my soul and my creative process”

Melissa Carper

From last-to-this release, Carper has gone for a more upbeat vibe and a broader eclectic palette of styles and sensibilities, with the collection featuring ten country, swing and jazz originals, with elements of blues and soul as well. As with her previous album, she has engaged some marvellous players (many of the same names in fact) – Dennis Crouch (bass), Chris Scruggs (guitars and steel), John Pahmer (organ and piano), Matty Meyer (drums), Billy Contreras (fiddle), Rory Hoffman (clarinet, piano), Wes Langlois (guitar), Sierra Ferrell and Larry Marrs on harmony vocals, and a backing vocal trio of Kyshona Armstrong, Maureen Murphy and Nickie Conley

The ease and simplicity of her surroundings during its making comes through in spades. Carper has a supreme vocal style and is a gifted songwriter who is able to make her songs sound like evergreen classics. Captivating.


Via Jo Corbett Publicity

Monique Clare



27 October 2022

Award-winning, Brisbane-born cellist Monique Clare has taught music in Afghanistan, toured internationally as a member of The Maes (that’s where we caught her, at the Port Fairy Folk Festival – see header image), performed at the Sydney Opera House in the Australian Youth Orchestra, jumped onstage as a cellist for Kate Miller-Heidke and Eminem, and led audiences up dark mountainsides for sunrise concerts.
Now she boldly steps into the limelight with a debut indie-folk album, full of gritty emotions and personal stories, such as maltreatment as a teenage girl and other dark experiences.

“This record is a deeply personal story of teen-hood trauma, mental health battles and fears around environmental issues ultimately culminating in acceptance, joy and love. It’s not a happily-ever-after ending, but a reminder to myself that we all embark on these journeys many times in our lives, and it always comes around.”

Monique Clare

But it’s not all dark and grisly, as in “Better Now” (see clip) which celebrates her making some vital life adjustments and achieving a much healthier mental space. The music is complex, full of ebbs and flows and unexpected interludes, wrapped around her wonderful cello and pin-point vocals. A totally laudable and overdue debut.



Via Stuart Coupe Publicity

My Politic

Missouri Folklore: Songs & Stories From Home


9 December 2022

First-time listener. Long-time fan. Long-time friends Kaston Guffey and Nick Pankey grew up together in Ozark, Missouri and now call Nashville their home. Despite the fact that Missouri Folklore: Songs & Stories From Home is indie-folk outfit My Politic‘s tenth album, this has been my first brush with their trajectory and I am now fully absorbed into their musical orbit.

Take the raw lead single “Buzzards on a Powerline” (clip below). A warts-and-all account of substance addition:

“This song has become kind of a ‘fan favourite’ on the road. It’s a character song about judgment. I’ve always been fascinated by the evangelical ‘godliness’ of the Ozarks while all this darkness is right under the surface. I wanted to write from the perspective of someone struggling with addiction while the folks around them never stop reminding them of how badly they fucked up. I remember being very taken by the idea of never being able to escape a label no matter how much progress you make.”

Kaston Guffey

Keen-edged imagery, delicately soft vocals with hard, reflective lyrics, Missouri Folklore is a slow-creeping quintessential addition to your music collection.


* Unfortunately that only equates to about $7,000 to the artist!



More Music Adventures Await!


Our Top Six Releases Dec 22

Our Top Six Releases Dec 22

Our Top Six Releases Dec 22

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Author: Rob Dickens

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