Category: Country

New Audio: JOVM Mainstay Yola Releases an Uplifting Tune for Young Black Women

With the release of her critically applauded, Dan Auerbach-produced full-length debut, last year’s Walk Through Fire, the Bristol, UK-born, Nashville-based singer/songwriter, guitarist and JOVM mainstay Yola had a highlight-filled, breakthrough year. Some of those major highlights included:

playing a breakout performance at SXSW
making her New York debut at Rockwood Music Hall
playing a live session for YouTube at YouTube Space New York
opening for a list of acclaimed artists including Kacey Musgraves, Lake Street Dive and Andrew Bird on a select series of US tour dates that featured stops at Newport Folk Festival, Hollywood Bowl, Austin City Limits Festival, Lincoln Center Out of Doors
making her nationally televised debut on CBS This Morning: Saturday Sessions
receiving a Grammy nomination for Best Artist, along with fellow JOVM mainstays The Black Pumas.
making her late night national television debut on Jimmy Kimmel Live!
releasing a soulful cover of Elton John‘s “Goodbye Yellow Brick Road,” that’s not only a staple of her live sets — but caught the attention of Sir Elton John himself, who praised the rapidly rising artist and her cover.

The British-born JOVM mainstay had hopes to build upon the incredibly momentum of 2019 with a handful of opportunities that many artists across the world would probably kill someone for: Earlier this year, it was announced that she was preparing to play blues and rock ‘n’ roll pioneer Sister Rosetta Tharpe in Baz Luhrmann’s musical drama Elvis alongside Austin Butler in the title role, Tom Hanks as Colonel Tom Parker and Maggie Gyllenhaal as Presley’s mother. Unfortunately, the film wound up being delayed as a result of pandemic-related shutdowns- and infamously, Tom Hanks contracting COVID-19 while filming in Australia.

The Bristol-born, Nashville-based JOVM mainstay finished her first Stateside headlining tour, which included a Music Hall of Williamsburg show in February, right before pandemic-related shutdowns put the entire known world on pause. In between filming, she was supposed to play a series of dates opening for country superstar Chris Stapleton and Grammy Award-winning acts The Black Keys and Brandi Carlile — with one of those shows being at Madison Square Garden. The best laid plans of mice and men, indeed.

In the meantime, Yola has made her rounds across the domestic, late night television show circuit: Earlier this year she performed, album bonus track “I Don’t Want to Lie” on The Late Late Show with James Corden — and recently, Yola was on Late Night with Seth Meyers with a soulful, gospel-tinged cover of Nina Simone‘s classic and beloved “To Be Young, Gifted and Black” filmed at The Ryman Auditorium.

Her latest single, the Dave Cobb-produced “Hold On” is the first bit of original material from the JOVM mainstay since the release of Walk Through Fire and the track features an All-Star cast backing her including The Highwomen bandmates Brandi Carlile (backing vocals) and Natalie Hemby (backing vocals), Sheryl Crow (piano) and Jason Isbell (guitar). The Yola penned song was recorded during The Highwomen self-titled debut sessions at RCA Studio A — and the track is an uplifting, gospel-tinged track with a warm yet spacious country soul arrangement and that incredibly soulful powerhouse vocal range. The sister can flat out sang, as they say. And along with the aforementioned cover of “To Be Young Gifted and Black,” “Hold On” comes from a rather personal, lived in place.

Inspired by many of the conversations and lessons Yola’s mother gave her about the racism, colorism and systemic unconscious bias she would later experience as a woman, the song finds its narrator imploring the listener — young, Black women, in particular — to be brash and bold, to stand up and take up place, and to to show the entire world that being young, gifted and black is where it’s at, as Nina once sang. Fuck yes, to all of this — and all the goddamn time, too.

“‘Hold On’ is a conversation between me and the next generation of young black girls,” Yola explains. “My mother’s advice would always stress caution, that all that glitters isn’t gold, and that my black female role models on TV are probably having a hard time. She warned me that I should rethink my calling to be a writer and a singer…. but to me that was all the more reason I should take up this space. ‘Hold On’ is asking the next gen to take up space, to be visible and to show what it looks to be young, gifted and black.”

A proportion of the profiles from sales of the track will be donated to MusicCares and National Bailout Collective. She also launched an accompanying line of merch with a proportion of proceeds from those sales also benefiting the same organizations. Check out the following:

https://www,iamyola.com/store

New Video: Acclaimed Swedish Folk Duo First Aid Kit Tackle a Beloved Willie Nelson Classic

Acclaimed Stockholm-based sibling folk duo First Aid Kit — Klara and Johanna Söderberg   can trace the origins of their career to growing up in a rather creative household — their father was a member of the Swedish pop rock act Lolita Pop and their mother taught cinematography. As children the Söderberg Sisters loved performing, often giving concerts using a jump rope as a pretend microphone. Klara wrote her fist song when she was six. 

When Klara was 12, a friend introduced there to Bright Eyes and it led her to Johnny Cash, Bob Dylan, Leonard Cohen, The Carter Family, The Louvin Brothers, Townes Van Zandt, Gram Parsons and Emmylou Harris. That same year, she received a guitar as a Christmas present and quickly learned to play it.

Johanna Söderberg grew up listening to a wide range of music including Britney Spears and German techno; however, watching O Brother, Where Art Thou and listening to the film’s soundtrack changed her life: both the film and the soundtrack inspired her to sing “Down in the River to Pray” with her sister. Fascinated and impressed by how they sounded together, they started to get more serious, eventually busking in the Stockholm metro and in front of liquor stores. 

As the story goes, Klara came up with the band name when she was 13. She was looking through a dictionary and found the term “first aid kit,” and thought it best descried what she wanted her music to be. As they were getting more serious about being a band, the Söderberg Sisters began writing their own original material inspired by Devendra Banhart, CocoRosie and others. 

In 2008, they began to receive attention across the blogosphere for their cover of Fleet Foxes’ “Tiger Mountain Peasant Song.” And since 2008, the Söderberg Sisters have managed to receive international acclaim — they’ve been nominated for two Brit Awards for Best International Group while releasing four critically applauded albums, four EPs which include 2018’s Ruins and Tender Offerings EP, as well as a number of singles and covers. 

Recorded close to a decade ago and unreleased until recently, the acclaimed Swedish duo recorded a straightforward yet gorgeous cover of Willie Nelson’s beloved 
“On The Road Again.” And while marking the first bit of material from the duo since the release of the aforementioned Ruins and Tender Offerings, their latest single adds to a growing list of covers. But more important, proceeds from the single will be donated to Crew Nation, a charitable fund created by Live Nation to help those working backstage, who have lost work this year as a result of pandemic-related lockdowns and quarantines. Of course, interestingly enough, because of the lockdowns and quarantines, Nelson’s classic feels more relevant and hits much deeper and differently than ever before. I’m longing for live shows, travel and adventures; of the new friends I’d meet; of the new food I’d have; the new things I’d see and know.

As we speak, I think of being with some newfound friends in Montreal and how we passed along a bottle of beer while we were walking from dinner to a showcase; of an older woman crowd surfing during Corridor’s set at Le National; of chatting with a group of incredibly Midwestern women in between sets at The Wood Brothers and Nicki Bluhm at The Vic Theatre; of randomly running into a new festival friend in an airport bar and cheering to our safe travels home; and of so many more things I can’t do and miss so much. The video adds to that dull and constant ache I feel lately — but while capturing the Söderberg Sisters (who are absolutely adorable, by the way), their backing band and crew goofing off on the road, playing in front of enraptured fans and more. 

“We’re excited to release our version of ‘On The Road Again’ by Willie Nelson. We recorded this cover a couple of years ago and recently found it while digging through the archives,” the Söderberg Sisters explain in a statement. “The song is a country classic, it feels like we’ve known it forever. Because of the situation with COVID, sadly, the theme of the song has never felt more relevant than it does today. 

We made a video for the song using cellphone footage from our tours throughout the years. Going through all those videos made us emotional. It made us realize how much we appreciate being able to roam freely around the world. How much we love the feeling of playing live for people, in the flesh. How much we miss our incredible band and crew. 

All the proceeds from the streaming of the song will go to Crew Nation. So much of the magic happens behind the stage. It’s easily taken for granted, but without our touring and venue crew live music wouldn’t be possible. It’s important that we help them out right now. 

Oh, how we wish we could get back on the road again! Hopefully we’ll see you down the road sometime soon.”

New Video: Behind-the-Scenes with S.G. Goodman for “Old-Time Feeling”

If you’ve been frequenting this site over the past few months, I’ve managed to write a quite a bit about the rapidly rising Murray, KY-born and based singer/songwriter, S.G. Goodman. Born and raised near the Mississippi to a strict, church-going family of row crop farmers, Goodman went from singing and playing in church three times a week to becoming a prominent member of Murray’s DIY arts and music scene, as well as an impassioned voice and presence in the political and social movements she supports.

Initially slated for a May 29, 2020 release through Verve Forecast Records, Goodman’s im James-produced full-length debut Old Time Feeling has been rescheduled for a July 17, 2020 release as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic.  Recorded at Louisville, KY-based La La Land Studio. which was specifically chosen by Goodman because it possessed her three favorite things — “a creek, a big porch and a kitchen” — the sessions were imbued with a familial and communal touch: Goodman cooked meals for the studio crew and her backing band, which includes lifelong friends Matthew David Rowan (guitar) and S. Knox Montgomery (drums).

Reportedly, the album’s material is a brutally honest, complex and deeply loving look at rural Southern life that debunks rural stereotypes while drawing from her own experiences as a gay woman and artist in a rural and deeply religious Southern community. Interestingly, the album also touches up on living with OCD, estrangement, reconciliation and loving your family and community although you might disagree with them on political and social issues.

Earlier this year, (which seems like a lifetime ago), I caught Goodman play her first New York Metropolitan area show at Communion at Rockwood Music Hall, and the set found Goodman and her band crafting a sound that meshed elements of old-school country, folk, Delta Blues and rockabilly centered around Goodman’s aching Kentuckian twang. Now, as you may recall I’ve written about the album’s two previously released singles. The slow-burning, country blues-like “The Way I Talk,” a brutally honest look at the plight and concerns of the rural farming community she has spent her life in. Much like every aspect of our daily lives, big business and their interests have acted in concert with politicians to exploit and destroy the lives, well-being and environment of everything and everyone within their path. And as a result, the song seethes with anger and defiant pride. The album’s second single was the sparse and atmospheric “Red Bird Morning,” a haunting song song that evokes tear-streaked and lonely drives across unending blacktop, torturing yourself by replaying the messiness of your life from 126 different angles. 

Old Time Feeling’s third and latest single, album title track “Old Time Feeling” is the album’s most rollicking and freewheeling track, as it draws from influences like rockabilly, early rock ‘n’ roll and Sun Records-era country. And while centered around an an anachronistic sound, the song seethes with the modern day frustration and desperation of the working (and barely getting by) poor. But it also subtly points out that we all live in a system that’s insane and sick — and has caused unnecessary hurt and poverty, just to keep a handful of people stay rich.    

Directed by Brandon Boyd, the recently released video for “Old Time Feeling” continues Goodman’s ongoing visual collaboration with the director. Featuring intimate, behind-the-scene footage of Goodman, her band, Jim James and the rest of the studio crew during the Old Time Feeling sessions, the video is an intimate look into the creative process — while reminding us that traditional recording and creation will be at a standstill until we can get a handle on COVID-19.                                                  

New Audio: Emerging Singer-Songwriter Anne Freeman Releases a Shimmering and Radio Friendly New Single

Anne Freeman is an emerging indie-folk singer/songwriter and guitarist, who grew up in Mississippi Delta, not far from Bobbie Gentry’s hometown of Woodland, MS. Although she’s starting out in her career, Freeman has already played festivals across Mississippi and has appeared on Mississippi Public Radio — and praise from American Songwriter. The emerging artist caught the attention of Fat Possum’s Graham Hamaker, who signed her to his label Muscle Beach. 

Building upon the growing buzz surrounding her, Freeman’s latest single, the Matt Ross-Sprang-mixed “Days Go By” is a shimmering and hook-driven song that sounds like a slick synthesis of Nashville and Muscle Shoals, while possessing a radio friendly studio polish. Interestingly, the song as Freeman explains “is about struggling to cut ties with a toxic friend but constantly getting lured back in. Everyone has someone or something in their live that makes them feel incredible for aw nile, but eventually leads them down a dark path.”

New Video: S.G. Goodman Releases a Brooding and Forlorn Visual for Haunting and Sparse “Red Bird Morning”

Over the past couple of months, I’ve written a bit about the rising Murray, KY-born and based singer/songwriter, S.G. Goodman. Born and raised in a strict, church-going family of row crop farmers, near the Mississippi River, Goodman went from singing and playing in church three times a week to becoming a prominent member of Murray’s DIY arts and music scene, as well as an impassioned voice and presence in the political and social movements she supports.

Slated for a May 29, 2020 release through Verve Forecast Records, Goodman’s Jim James-produced full-length debut Old Time Feeling was recorded at Feeling is slated for a May 29, 2020 release through Verve Forecast Records. Recorded at Louisville, KY-based La La Land Studio. which was specifically chosen by Goodman because it possessed her three favorite things — “a creek, a big porch and a kitchen.” The sessions were imbued with a familial and communal touch: Goodman cooked meals for the studio crew and her backing band, which includes lifelong friends Matthew David Rowan (guitar) and S. Knox Montgomery (drums). 

Reportedly, the album’s material is a brutally honest, loving and complex look at rural Southern life that debunks rural stereotypes while drawing from her own experiences as a gay woman and artist in a rural and deeply religious Southern community. Interestingly, the album also touches up on living with OCD, estrangement, reconciliation and loving your family and community although you might disagree with them on political and social issues. Now, as you may recall, I caught the rising Kentuckian play her first New York Metropolitan area set at Communion at Rockwood Music Hall, and the set revealed that album finds Goodman and her backing band crafting a sound that meshes elements of old-school country, folk, Delta blues and rockabilly paired with Goodman’s aching Patsy Cline-like vocals.

“The Way I Talk,” Old Time Feeling’s slow-burning, country-tinged blues-like first single subtly nodded at “Coal Miner’s Daughter” — in the sense that it’s a brutally honest look at the plight and concerns of the rural farming community she grew up in. Much like every aspect of our flies, big business interests have acted in concert with politicians to exploit and destroy the lives and well-being of everyone within their path, leaving the poor to fight the poor for limited resources and options. And as a result, the song seethes with anger and defiant pride. Centered around a sparse arrangement of strummed guitar, atmospheric electric guitar and Goodman’s aching vocals, “Red Bird Morning,” Old Time Feeling’s second and latest single is a haunting and forlorn song, full of regret, loneliness and of heartbreak fueled departures. The song evokes tear-streaked drives, endless blacktop and hours of your own thoughts, replaying everything that’s just happened from 126 different directions. 

Inspired by Goodman’s experience of volunteering at the Standing Rock protests, the song tells the story of her journey to the camp and the failed relationship she was leaving behind. “At a time when I was going through the wrong turns my failed relationship had taken, my mind was brought back to the roads that led me to Cannon Ball, North Dakota,” Goodman explains in press notes. “Through the imagery of that voyage, I was able to capture the feeling of a different forlorn journey. The Standing Rock Protest was a prayer protest, and upon arriving at the camp, my job was to help thaw out wood for the sacred fire. I remember being prayed over, and praying in my own way for the first time in years. The experience was transformative not only by joining others in a valid cause, but in what it sparked in my personal spiritual life.” 

The recently released video for “Red Bird Morning” was shot on an iPhone by Goodman and her friend Tim Johns, after the original shoot was canceled as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic. Filmed a few days before stay at home orders were issued, the black and white video is shot in black and white and includes footage of bleak and empty landscapes, and in and around Goodman’s Kentucky home. And employ an interesting use of light and darkness, the video emphasizes the stark loneliness and aching regret at the core of the song. 

“It’s funny how the universe can have a heavy hand in making what was meant to be, happen,” Goodman says of the video. “In the same way the track itself, which is actually a demo, is bare and to the point, piecing together footage that fit the soundscape of the song became just another exercise of ‘less is often what is called for.’”                                                       

I’m having a major technical issue which has screwed up my own editorial schedule — but we’ll make do with what we can.  Technology can be a real asshole y’all. So let’s get to it: Starting his career as a member of Staggered Crossing, Julian Taylor is a Toronto-based singer/songwriter, whose sound meshes country, 70s AM rock and folkas you’ll hear on his latest single, the tightly crafted honky tonk-like track “The Ridge.” 

Interestingly, the track finds Taylor, an indigenous person of color reflecting on what life was back during his grandparents day in Maple Ridge, BC and his own experience as an indigenous person of color in a primarily white world. As a Black American man, the song evokes things I’ve felt personally — as though I’m not completely accepted anywhere.

 

New Video: S.G. Goodman’s Intimate and Cinematic Look at Southern Rural Life

S.G. Goodman is a rising Murray, KY-born and based singer/songwriter. Born and raised in a strict, church-going family of row crop farmers, near the Mississippi River, Goodman went from singing and playing in church three times a week to becoming a prominent member of Murray’s DIY arts and music scene, as well as an impassioned voice and presence in the political and social movements she supports.

Her forthcoming Jim James-produced full-length debut Old Time Feeling is slated for a May 29, 2020 release through Verve Forecast Records. Recorded at Louisville, KY-based La La Land Studio. which was specifically chosen by Goodman because it possessed her three favorite things — “a creek, a big porch and a kitchen,” the Old Time Feeling sessions were imbued with a familial and community touch: the Murray-born and-based singer/songwriter and guitarist cooked meals for the studio crew and her backing band, which includes her lifelong friends Matthew David Rowan (guitar) and S. Knox Montgomery (drums). The album is reportedly a brutally honest, complex and loving look at rural Southern life that debunks rural stereotypes while while thematically drawing from her own personal experiences as a gay woman in a rural and deeply religious Southern community and touches upon living with OCD, estrangement, reconciliation and loving your family and community although you might disagree with them on political and social issues. And from her Rockwood Music Hall, Communion set last month, the album’s material is a slick and seamless synthesis of old-school country, Delta blues and rockabilly centered around Goodman’s aching Patsy Cline-like vocals.

Old Time Feeling’s first single “The Way I Talk” is a slow-burning and sultry country-tinged blues centered around a sinuous bass line, shimmering guitars, explosive peals of feedback, dramatic and forceful drumming and Goodman’s plaintive, Western Kentucky drawl. Much like “Coal Miner’s Daughter,” which “The Way I Talk” subtly references, the song is brutally honest look at the plight of the rural working class — in particular, the rural farming community she grew up: indeed, much like every other aspect of our lives, big business in concert with politicians have managed to exploit and destroy the lives and well-being of everything within their path, leaving the poor to fight the poor for limited resources and options. And while, the song is seethes with anger, there’s also defiant pride — in the fruits of hard and honest labor, of owning a piece of land and being able to pass it down to family, and so on.

“The song is inspired by the plight of the farming community in Kentucky where I grew up, where big business and the laws that protect them have vast control over my community,” Goodman told The Fader. “It is a scary thing calling into question the very thing that put food on my table and is putting food on my niece’s table (she plays the little girl in the video). Isn’t that the case for every person working a factory line who is afraid to unionize? Or a fast food employee afraid to take sick leave to care for her kid? We are all expected to be thankful, not question, and shut our mouths.”

Directed by Brandon Boyd, the recently released video for “The Way I Talk” is a cinematic and intimate look at rural Southern life that follows Goodman and her family through a day in their lives: while they tend to the little ones, there’s a sense that the adults recognize that their way of life is rapidly becoming unsustainable and will disappear, no matter how hard they fight.

Last year, I wrote about the critically acclaimed Northern Idaho-born, Nashville-based singer/songwriter and guitarist Jeff Crosby. Crosby’s work draws from and meshes folk, rock, American and country in a  way that feels and sounds warmly familiar and radio friendly. Dropping out of school when he was 17 to pursue a music career with a touring West Coast band, the Idaho-born, Nashville-based singer/songwriter and guitarist has spent a significant portion of his life on the road, playing night after night, show after show, from load-in until the last drink is poured and the house lights are finally turned on.

Crosby’s material is deeply inspired by the beauty found in his travels and the unconventional stories of the people and places he has encountered along the way, giving his work the feel of being like a page ripped out of intimate and personal diary, detailing the love won and love lost and experiences of someone who has relentlessly kept on the move. Throughout his career as a solo artist, his work has been compared favorably to singer/songwriters like Bob Dylan, Townes Van Zandt and Steve Earle while building up a profile by sharing stages with Lukas Nelson & Promise of the Real, Charley Crockett, Widespread Panic, American Aquarium, Niki Lane and a list of others.

For about five years, Crosby lived in a small apartment off Los Angeles‘ Sunset Boulevard. Giving up coffee so that he could pay rent, Crosby played with The Homeless and the Dreamers — and while struggling get to get by, he found a way to thrive and make poignant music. Through a chance encounter, he met and befriended a music editor for the critically applauded TV series Sons of Anarchy and wound up with two of his songs being featured the show. During that same period, Crosby split his time touring with his band and later with Widespread Panic’s Jerry Joseph, which found Crosby traveling abroad to tour the UK, Iceland, Mexico, Colombia and Nicaragua. His experiences in each of those countries helped influence the material off his Gregg Williams and Geoff Piller co-produced album Postcards from Magdalena, an effort that received praise internationally.

Crosby’s forthcoming Geoff Piller-produced full-length album Northstar is slated for release this year. So far, I’ve written about the album single “Laramie,” a deliberately crafted song that that recalls 70s AM rock and Full Moon Fever-era Tom Petty — but with a wistful and nostalgic air. Northstar‘s latest single “If I’m Lucky” is an upbeat and country-tinged rocker centered around an enormous hook and earnest lyrics, written from lived-in, personal experience. In this case, the song is deceptively ambivalent: the song’s narrator expresses the hope to be lucky enough to hold onto love, the motivation to keep on going when things get tough — but there’s also the acknowledgement of time passing by quickly and getting older and of the mistakes and poor choices piling up.

“’If I’m Lucky’ is about getting older and avoiding the inevitable end of relationships I’d neglected while spending the last year on the road,” Crosby told Parade. “I finished the verses watching a couple fight in a Motel 6 parking lot in Sacramento, California. I felt kinda lonely and envious that they at least had someone to fight with!”