Buddy Miller has tended to refer to the new Buddy and Julie Miller record, Breakdown On 20th Ave. South, as a Julie Miller solo project, with his wife having written a majority of the album’s 12 tracks.  True, the confessional batch of songs by the esteemed songwriter, her first in many years, is very Julie-centric; but that’s not to take away from the production and playmanship that Buddy brings to the proceedings.  Tense, tortured, seeking lyrics filtered through Buddy’s electric guitars makes for a combustive, exciting record that could only come from this very unique Nashville duo.  Find the album here.

A companion album to his last record, Jeff Tweedy’s new batch of tunes, Warmer,  continues the Wilco frontman’s abstract, sometimes apocalyptic introspection.  Perfect melodies.  Oblique lyrics.  And folk tunes full of hairpin turns.  You can find the album at most online retailers, or at the Wilco website.

Smoke-filled images drift about when listening to the self-titled release of Akron’s Broken Plank.  Backroad honky-tonks. Lost highways.  To the whir and hiss of a tape machine,  sad steel, and wicked guitar; the listener is swept up in a ghostly waltz among the stars.  You can stream and purchase this strange, haunted, beautiful album here.

On his new album, From Here to All of Time’s Entire, Cody J. Martin spins tales both tall and tender.  Across 10 blues/folk/Americana-infused tunes, the dynamic Martin spits out his singular brand of skewed colloquialisms and twisted religious idioms; grappling with hard love and ennui.  This righteous slice of rock-and-roll drops on August 23.  For more information or to preorder, go here.

Discoveries & Recommendations

Movies: Anima (2019)

Ida (2013)

Classic Albums: The Phipps Family, Faith, Love and Tragedy

horizon

A week or two ago, I attended a pre-release listening party for one of my favorite artists. Under the dim lights of Canton’s Deli Ohio restaurant, after hours, I scribbled a few thoughts down as Damien Jurado’s new record spun.  I added a few more later, the sound still lingering…

 

Gray skies over Canton. A whirling April snow. Red lights turn to green.

A voice is carried along on the reverb; a winding stream. It sinks into the wood grain.

Thomas Wolfe. Bruce Springsteen.

Otis Redding. Percy Faith.

Lost in America; stuck in the 70s.

Bob Dylan. Bill Fay.

The red of the exit sign. The hum of the cooler.

Leonard Cohen tells a crude joke.

Lazarus and resurrection. Jonah bouncing around Nineveh.

Old Testament fire. New Testament glory.

A life detached.  A glass darkly.

Charlie Brown on the streets of Laredo.

 

The horizon just laughed.

 

“The Horizon Just Laughed” will be released on May 4th.

Hello dear readers. I’m taking a few short paragraphs out of my regularly scheduled music reviews and write-ups to point you toward a few of my own music projects. I recently released two very different albums that you can listen to or purchase at the links below.

The first is a 70s-style rock and roll project we call “Killbuck”. The album was mostly recorded live onto a Goodwill-purchased tape recorder, at the end of a gravel back road, in a cabin in Killbuck, Ohio.   Matt Kurtz, John Finley, John King, Joe Farr and I collaborated over a love of dark sunglasses, Tom Petty and 3-chord rock songs. The result is our self-titled debut: 11 “heartland-soaked tunes full of Americana angst and Rust Belt blues”.

The second project is a new volume of hymns my friends and I recorded over the past year. Each of us took a different hymn to reinterpret and explore through our individual styles. All profits from the Harp Family Hymnbook: Vol. II will go to Mennonite Central Committee.

You can find Killbuck here , and the Harp Family Hymnbook Vol. II here.

Embleton

This is an older review of the Embleton’s It Did Me Well, originally posted on this site in March of 2015:

In the song, “Leaving for Good”, Kevin Embleton and his band sing of a wandering friend, caught up in a desire to leave town and find meaning in destinations afar. The road-trippy strings of a country pedal steel guide his journey into the unknown while Kevin himself laments over electric chords. The melodies bounce from gentle to melancholic to rocking, like any good alt-country song should. But the lyrics, so full of ambiguity and mystery, set it apart.

“Leaving for Good” is the first single off of the band’s upcoming full-length record, It Did Me Well, releasing March 10. The song perfectly represents what makes the music of Embleton so communal and so relevant: Kevin paints his songs with bold imagery but omits key details. The listener must draw upon their own experiences to fill in the gaps. Amid country waltzes and strummed melodies, everyone shares the same humanity, the same emotions, the same story.

You can listen to and purchase the album at itunes, amazon or bandcamp. For more information, visit Embletonmusic.com.

IMG_5283

It’s late at night and I’m driving home, following the ghost of an old river canal. The sky is close to empty, a few silent stars giving off a dull light for any wayward stargazers that look heavenward. I pass graffiti on concrete. A pine branch sitting in the road. Austin Wolfe is singing Moon Ballads on my stereo. “Could it be now, mama, all that we have loved we’ve loved in vain?” Most of the farmhouses that drift by have a single orange light glowing on the porch. A tiny bit of hope for any wayward prodigals. My eyes grow weary. I consider the trees and the brambles and the loneliness that lives on that road. The loneliness that lives on all roads. Austin contemplates: “I’ll sing to you this longing through the telephone. We’ll think of something warmer and we’ll imagine it until we feel it in our bones”. He sings in fiery metaphors. He mines the ether for truth. The songs…a ray of hope for those late night travelers.

You can preview and purchase the album at https://itunes.apple.com/us/album/moon-ballads/id1100707613 or https://www.cdbaby.com/cd/austinwolfe12