Albums Of The Month – June 2023

Our Top Six Releases June 23

Logan Halstead – Photo: Allen Ralph

Top Six Releases

June 2023

Our Top Six Releases June 23

By Rob Dickens

Ben De La Cour

Sweet Anhedonia

Jullian Records

14 April 2023

“Appalachian Book Of The Dead” is the album opener and immediately sets the scene, which permeates throughout this collection of eleven vivid, dark, mesmerising Gothic Americana stories. In addition, Ben De La Cour‘s vocals are as imposing as Leonard Cohen‘s (exhibit A: “Shine On The Highway”).

Sweet Anhedonia was recorded at Athens, Georgia studios Turpentine Music and The Glow Recording Studio with De La Cour‘s friend Jim White. All the songs were penned by De La Cour with collaboration on “Numbers Game” (Lynne Hanson) and “Suicide of Town” (Jerry Fuentes).

The album also features duets with fellow renowned Americana artists Elizabeth Cook, Emily Scott Robinson, Becky Warren, Luella & Sere.

The storytelling in “Maricopa County” is worth the admission price alone.

OFFICIAL SITE

Via Footstomp Music

Hannah Aldridge

Dream Of America

Icons Creating Evil Art

16 June 2023

The Muscle Shoals Alabama native Hannah Aldridge is now based in Nashville. Her vocals are as nuanced as Gretchen Peters and Dream of America creates an irresistible dreamy, brooding landscape.

The album is a product of some key collaborations, coming together between Melbourne, Australia-based artist/producer Lachlan Bryan and producer/engineer Damian Cafarella, as well as Swedish mix engineer Frans Hägglund (its alternative indie label is based in Sweden),

The production is sublime, with the songs’ colourful character sketches of starlets, wanderers and psychopaths an absorbing look into the seamy side of society. Her cover of Bryan’s “Portrait of the Artist as a Middle Aged Man” adds another dimension to an already marvellous, reflective tale.

OFFICIAL SITE

Via Kick Music Management

Josh Ritter

Spectral Lines

Thirty Tigers/Cooking Vinyl Australia

28 April 2023

Josh Ritter‘s preeminent career has given us ten studio albums. Spectral Lines may be his most ambitious and profound to date.

His has always been an intensely thoughtful and empathetic voice (Ritter is also a successful novelist, with his well-received 2021 book The Great Glorious Goddamn of It All), but here the alt. country/folk vibe is replaced by an atmospheric brew of keyboards, jazz touches and sound effects. All the new sound explorations work spectacularly well (case in point “For Your Soul” which could be mistaken for an ELO resurgence). The album’s closer “Some Day” is a towering epistle, burning with zeal for a better way of life.

The album was produced by Ritter’s regular collaborator Sam Kassirer and the multiple musical layers are evidenced by the large entourage of collaborators – Kassirer (piano, organ, mellotron, synthesizers, drums), Jocie Adams (clarinet, synthesizers, background vocals), Matt Douglas (woodwinds), Zachariah Hickman (upright bass, electric bass), Rich Hinman (electric guitar, pedal steel), Shane Leonard (drums, percussion, acoustic guitar, electric guitar, bass), Kevin O’Connell (drums, percussion, electric bass, electric guitar) and Dietrich Strause (acoustic guitar, electric guitar).

“I think it’s important for us to share some of our most basic and common experiences with each other, however we can. That’s what we really, really need right now. I know we have common experiences, and it’s important to telegraph those back because they don’t have to be lonely experiences.”

Josh Ritter

OFFICIAL SITE

Via Jo Corbett Publicity

Logan Halstead

Dark Black Coal

Thirty Tigers

5 May 2023

West Virginian Logan Halstead wrote “Dark Black Coal” when he was just 15 and the song has garnered almost 6 million views on YouTube. Now 19, the songwriter has recorded eight additional original songs and two covers (Cole Chaney‘s “The Flood” and Richard Thompson’s “1952 Vincent Black Lightning”) for his debut album.

The pride and perception of his homeland and fascinating insights through a double lens of honesty and humour makes this portrait of life in the Appalachian region priceless – tales of hollers, mining, opioid addiction and severe poverty. Add to the mix a soaring and plaintive voice which makes this package highly seductive. 

Recorded at the Sound Emporium in Nashville, Halstead engaged noted producer Lawrence Rothman and procured some first-rate players Kristin Weber on fiddle, Dennis Crouch on bass and Ethan Ballinger on mandolin (with Halstead playing the guitar throughout the recordings).

“Logan’s songs are far older than he is. His voice hit my heart muscle hard, there is so much living in the resonance of his singing but so much youth at the same time.”

Lawrence Rothman

OFFICIAL SITE

Via IVPR Nashville

Malcolm Holcombe

Bits & Pieces

Need To Know

23 June 2023

I was very taken by the previous full-length release from Malcolm Holcombe – 2021’s Tricks Of The Trade (read the review).

Since then he was diagnosed with cancer, so he decided, with long-time confidant Jared Tyler, to get these songs recorded with just the two of them involved (plus co-producer Brian Brinkerhoff), without knowing what the future would bring (thankfully, he has been later cleared of the disease).

There’s an urgency and underlying clarity with Bits & Pieces, Holcombe’s eighteenth album, replete with that trademark rough-hewn voice, the insistent finger picking and the brilliantly phrased observations – eg “People get murdered for no reason / Some give up their lives so others keep breathin’.” – “Fill These Shoes”.

If you’re seeking music that’s edgy, with well-worn stories from an adept old hand who’s been around the block more than a few times, look no further.

OFFICIAL SITE

Via Broken Jukebox Media

Marty Stuart and his Fabulous Superlatives

Altitude

Snakefarm Records

19 May 2023

It has been six years since their last recorded outing, so the teaming up again of iconic country figure Marty Stuart with the sensationally-talented outfit His Fabulous Superlatives (Kenny Vaughan, Harry Stinson and Chris Scruggs) is welcomed with open arms. Altitude is indeed another exhilarating brew of classic country, honky tonk, trippy dreamlike anthems and hard-edged tales.

Recorded in Nashville, the new offering could be seen as a twin of 2017’s Way Out West, cosmic country tales of lost love, country heroes, early rock ‘n roll icons, misfit, losers and hopeless dreamers. Written primarily on the road, the collection was inspired in large part by Stuart’s 2018 tour supporting Byrds co-founders Roger McGuinn and Chris Hillman, who reunited for the 50th anniversary of their seminal Sweetheart Of The Rodeo album.

Another totally classy offering and I am chuffed to be seeing them this September at the Bristol Rhythm and Roots Reunion.

OFFICIAL SITE

Via Missing Piece Group

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LAST MONTH’S BEST ALBUMS

More Music Adventures Await!

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Our Top Six Releases May 23

Our Top Six Releases May 23

Our Top Six Releases May 23

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Author: Rob Dickens

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