Albums Of The Month – November 2023

Our Top Six Albums November 23

Jason Hawk Harris – Photo: LTTL

Top Six Album Releases

November 2023

Our Top Six Albums November 23

By Rob Dickens

Brad Butcher

East Of Everything

Independent

22 September 2023

Queensland’s Brad Butcher has had a twenty-year career, garnering eight Golden Guitar nominations (with two wins), plus countless other music award nods. Somewhat surprisingly, East Of Everything is only his sixth full album. Maybe that is a reflection of his high standards and enthusiasm to get things just right.

And they are just right here. His true vocals, acute songwriting and ability to knock out some beautiful melodies are a feature. He expands into other than country territory with a nuanced balance of folk, Americana and country rock.

“Cutting Peoples Grass” is a wry tale of a musician’s life through the pandemic, “A Little Luck” is a gospel-infused request for good fortune, his duet with Busby Marou on Lori McKenna‘s beautiful “People Get Old” (clip below) is a terrific addition and the ballad “Arrows Of Time” is immaculate. Helen Shanahan lends considerable weight to the strident “Out Of Our Hands”.

“Each album is a time capsule of life during the writing process, and East Of Everything perfectly captures the essence of my world.”

Brad Butcher

It is a world worth exploring.

OFFICIAL SITE

Via Stuart Coupe Publicity

Charley Crockett

Live At The Ryman

Son Of Davy/Thirty Tigers

29 September 2023

No one’s more prolific than Charley Crockett. Revelation of his then-serious health condition a while back hasn’t slowed down his output. In fact, it may well have been the catalyst for what has become an assiduous and ever-glittering career.

It is November 2022, and Crockett plays his first-ever show (a sell-out) at the iconic Ryman Auditorium in Nashville. Live from the Ryman is a joyous document of the night (there is a concert film as well) and showcases the rapidly growing catalogue over his twelve albums, along with choice covers from George Jones, Tanya Tucker, Jerry Reed, T-Bone Walker and Townes Van Zandt.

Twenty-three tracks with Crockett’s soaring vocals and his crack band – a country and honky tonk delight.

OFFICIAL SITE

Via Jo Corbett Publicity

Hannah Gillespie

Paper Heart Angel

Independent

6 October 2023

Another classy Australian release this month. It has been ten years since her last album and Paper Heart Angel proves that Hannah Gillespie has been using the interval wisely. Gillespie entered a competition celebrating the opening of multi-award winner Kasey Chambers’ new recording space The Rabbit Hole Recording Studio on the central coast of New South Wales. The prize was to have one song recorded (“Ain’t It The Best”) but the session went so well that a full album was completed.

It is a complete collection of twelve engaging tracks with family stories and raw experiences, all compelling stuff. Chambers helps out with banjo, guitars, and harmony vocals with other players Matt Nightingale, Brandon Dodd, Bill Chambers, Kayne Butler and Ben Gillespie, all making important contributions.  

It is a twelve-track glorious and ardent songbook.

OFFICIAL SITE

Via Stuart Coupe Publicity

Jason Hawk Harris

Thin Places

Bloodshot Records

6 October 2023

I was fortunate to see Austin-based singer-songwriter Jason Hawk Harris at AmericanaFest this September, particularly as it was unplanned. I later recalled that I loved his 2019 release Love & The Dark so eventually, I was able to connect the dots to Thin Places.

As you can see, there is a lot of imagery on the album cover which reflects the dramatic stories contained within. Since his 2019 debut, he has had to contend with his mother’s death (listen to the biting “Bring Out The Lillies” recalling his mother’s funeral service), COVID and a bankrupt record label.

While there is grief and its aftermath all over this record, it begins with hope and courage to get through it all and the opening track “Jordan And The Nile” (clip below) is an elegant statement “my world is dark, but my abyss is bright“. Harris has an outstanding voice and the arrangements are that particular delicious Texas country swing with elements of Americana, salsa and cajun.

One of the albums of the year, for me.

OFFICIAL SITE

John R. Miller

Heat Come Down

Rounder Records

6 October 2023

Another artist I was able to catch (again in this case) on my recent music trip to the USA, this time at e-Town in Boulder, Colorado. John R. Miller has a lot of hair and usually wears a cap pulled low over his forehead, so consequently it is not that easy to read his facial expressions. Laid back he seems to be, as his music on first contact. But there’s more to Heat Comes Down than initially meets the ear.

Listening to his song introductions in Boulder revealed the passion and quiet tenacity of this artist. Tales of dread, anxiety and sleeplessness bathed in wry and self-effacing humour, almost as though he really would prefer not to bother people with his problems. But his observations are sharp and noteworthy, the vibe being in the mould of the late great John Prine.

The accompaniment is perfect with the ringing steel guitar and the requisite space being provided for all the talented players to serve the songs best. It is a strong statement after his previous release Depreciated and a sign that John R Miller is a serious player in the roots music world.

OFFICIAL SITE

Old Californio

Metaterranea

Old Californio Records

27 October 2023

Old Californio is helmed by songwriter/lead singer Rich Dembowski and guitarist/vocalist Woody Alplanalp, old friends with a rich history both together and individually. Add in longtime drummer/vocalist Justin Smith, bassist Jason Chesney and guitarist Paul Lacques and the augmentation of other collaborators and you have a roots supergroup of sorts with collective membership of bands like The Seeds, Mike Nesmith, Promise of the Real and I See Hawks, plus past collaborations including Bobby Womack and Wilco’s Nels Cline.

Their experience and flair shine through with alt. country rock and electric roots music at its finest in this, the band’s sixth outing. The songs are firmly engrained in their native State and are high-tempo vignettes with flourishes a-plenty. You’ll even hear some Crazy Horse vibes as well.

A fine example of stylish country rock.

OFFICIAL SITE

Via KG Music Press

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LAST MONTH’S BEST ALBUMS

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Our Top Six Albums November 23

Our Top Six Albums November 23

Our Top Six Albums November 23

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Author: Rob Dickens

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