Albums Of The Month – July 2024

Our Top Six Albums July 2024

Evan Boyer – Photo: Will Von Bolton

Top Six Album Releases

July 2024

Our Top Six Albums July 2024

By Rob Dickens

AJ Lee & Blue Summit

City Of Glass

Signature Sounds

19 July 2024

AJ Lee & Blue Summit hail from Santa Cruz, California, with the members meeting as teenagers and jamming regularly together at local bluegrass festivals. Their masterful interactions logically led to forming a band and they have not looked back since, playing with energy and enthusiasm that is highly engaging. The members are AJ Lee on mandolin and vocals, fiddler Jan Purat, and guitarists Scott Gates and Sullivan Tuttle (brother of Molly who adds some vocals on the track, written by their father Jack Tuttle, the yearning “I Can’t Find You At All”).

City Of Glass is their third full-length outing (and first label release) and the technical proficiency supporting the honeyed vocals of Lee leaps out from the speakers. The musical style is hard to pin down and that’s a good thing. Push comes to shove, I would maybe go for country blues with neo-bluegrass instrumentation.

Lee & Blue Summit brought in Lech Wierzynski, of the California Honeydrops, to produce and the result is a sparkling triumph.

OFFICIAL SITE

Via IVPR Nashville

The Decemberists

As It Ever Was, So It Will Be Again

YABB Records/Thirty Tigers

14 June 2024

I first saw The Decemberists at Jazz Fest in New Orleans in 2011 (in the days where you could get up close to the front of the Fais Do Do Stage). I was mesmerised by their folk-rock sound imbued with diversity, such as rollicking sea shanties, masterful cohesion and a wonderful sense of humour. And, of course, Colin Meloy‘s distinctive and articulate vocals.

Having followed the band since, I have been eagerly awaiting this one. As It Ever Was, So It Will Be Again is the band’s ninth studio album and the first after a six-year hiatus. Thirteen tracks over sixty-three minutes including the bold closing epic “Joan In The Garden” which stretches to over nineteen minutes.

The album has everything. As well as the hypnotizing closing track, there’s the highly radio-friendly “Burial Ground” (which, at the time of writing has clocked up over 1.5 million hits on Spotify) and a wealth of thoughtful material in between that is beautifully presented.

The album was produced by Meloy and Tucker Martine and features guest appearances from The Shins’ James Mercer and REM’s Mike Mills. It’s a remarkable journey.

OFFICIAL SITE

Via Jo Corbett Publicity

Evan Boyer

The Devil In Me

Medicine For Mary Records

7 June 2024

This is a debut from Dallas-based singer-songwriter Evan Boyer and it strikes some perfect notes in more ways than one. It’s country rock but the way it is presented is pretty compelling. As the title implies, there’s no unnecessary gloss here, either in the raw arrangements or the noteworthy themes of domestic abuse, loss and redemption. Boyer’s honest vocals are imposing throughout the record.

“The way I see it: I’m kinda flawed… and that’s okay. A lot of my songs are about messing up and dealing with the consequences. About how it’s okay to be flawed. We’re just people.”

Evan Boyer

The Devil in Me is a worthy document that spans the gamut of human emotions and provides many rewards to the listener. The album features contributions from weighty musicians, including Mike Meadows, Jenee Fleenor, Curt Bisquera and Timothy Allen.

OFFICIAL SITE

Via Skye Media

Jesse Daniel

Countin’ The Miles

Lightning Rod Records

7 June 2024

I didn’t quite know it at the time, but my first embrace of country music came with “Guitars & Cadillacs” by Dwight Yoakam. I loved its sparkling production and resonating twangy guitar. Countin’ The Miles has that same feel – unabashed country swing and honky tonk that demands foot tapping and a yearning for the dance floor.

This is Austin, Texas-based Jesse Daniel‘s fourth full-length release and his first as sole producer (after previously co-producing with Tommy Detamore). Daniel should take a bow because the record radiates a joyful vitality and the eleven tracks leave an indelible impression.

“I had such a clear vision for this record, so I knew I had to take ownership over every aspect of the instrumentation, arrangement and sound.” 

Jesse Daniel

Countin’ The Miles has an irresistible swagger and presence.

OFFICIAL SITE

Via Missing Piece Group

Ruth Moody

Wanderer

True North Records

17 May 2024

There’s not much swagger here. But in its place is a set of ten intricate and intimate stories, embellished by beautiful harmonies and perfect arrangements. Canadian singer-songwriter Ruth Moodyfounding member of JUNO-award-winning folk trio The Wailin’ Jennys, has finally given us a follow-up to her last solo release, over a decade ago.

Wanderer is packed with insights into motherhood, the longing for hometowns, and love’s complexities. The album was recorded at Sound Emporium in Nashville, co-produced by Moody and Dan Knobler and mixed by the in-demand Tucker Martine. Moody brought together a bunch of her favourite musicians including multi-instrumentalist Sam Howard, her older brother Richard MoodyAnthony da Costa(guitars), Jason Burger (drums), Kai Welch (keyboards), Russ Paul (pedal steel), Adrian Dolan (string arrangements) and duet partner Joey Landreth (who features on the gorgeous clip below).

Immerse yourself in Wanderer. You will not regret it.

OFFICIAL SITE

Via Propeller Publicity

Wood Box Heroes

444

Independent

7 June 2024

Wood Box Heroes is a supergroup of sorts and 444 is a glorious pastiche of rock, bluegrass and folk. I suspect the band thrives on delivering masterfully a hard-to-classify collection. Members are Matt Menefee (Mumford & Sons, Warren Haynes), Barry Bales (Alison Krauss & Union Station) Jenee Fleenor (Blake Shelton, Larry Cordle) and Josh Martin (singer/songwriter/guitarist).

A gleaming example of their chops is the opening track (clip below) which Bales wrote with the much-heralded Chris Stapleton. That was the first single and “Cross The Line” was the second which made number one on the bluegrass charts. Across the entire album, there’s a defining subtlety with impeccable instrumentation and harmonies.

444 is a dazzling and bold musical junction.

OFFICIAL SITE

Via Wortman Works

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LAST MONTH’S BEST ALBUMS

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Our Top Six Albums July 2024

Our Top Six Albums July 2024

Our Top Six Albums July 2024

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Author: Rob Dickens

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