Posts Tagged folk

music review: Hannah Miller


Nashville-based singer-songwriter Hannah Miller composes edgy folk songs on her self-titled album out today. Her sonorous, introspective and sometimes haunting vocals perfectly suit her passionate and commanding lyrics. Portishead vibes through dark, serene electronica blips and hip percussion on “Help Me Out” as well as the ardent “Been Around.” “Fighting” is a contemplative song about relationship challenges. A mesmerizing lounge feel propels “You Don’t Call.” Sweeter lyrics and melody on the soothing “Watchman.” Things grow deep on the rather lovely and contemplative “Outside In”—“always been on the outside looking in/tired of trying doors that don’t open.” Hannah Miller will sonically and spiritually swathe you through this exquisite album.


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music review: Callaghan

A History of Now - Album Cover HIGH RES

Singer/songwriter Callaghan moved to the United States from London in 2010. She blends Americana, folk and pop in her cheerful songs. I call it alt-country. Her sophomore album A History of Now will definitely make you feel 10% happier after listening to it. “We are all, right now, writing a story which will one day fascinate someone,” Callaghan says. “The way we live, the decisions we make, and the moments of hope, grief and happiness which punctuate all our lives will one day make someone stop, think and wonder. All of us are writing our own ‘history of now.’”

The running theme throughout A History of Now is mindfulness and everything’s okay. There’s the toe-tapping opening track “Best Year” that just oozes optimism—“this could be the best year of our lives/ tear up the rule book leave it all behind/ work all day til you close your eyes/ let’s get out of this town/find some bluer skies.” Catchy beats and a cool arrangement usher in “We Don’t Have to Change the World.” Sometimes you get a Shania Twain vibe with Callaghan, like on the track “Crazy Beautiful Life.” It’s an up-tempo optimistic track that’s both catchy and thoughtful. Both strong women with the ability to cross genres and be expressive. A favorite song is “Free to Be” — an exuberant celebration of being yourself complete with an invigorating tempo and infectious lyrics. Sometimes Callaghan gets dreamy and pensive. There’s the wistful “I’ll Take You Away” and the romantic, makes-you-feel-like-slow-dancing, country twinged “When You Loved Me” and gorgeous arrangement and aching vocals of “Lost.” Thoughtful lyrics and lovely arrangements combined with diverse emotive vocals conveys empathy and sentiment. Callaghan scores again with her sophomore album.

A History of Now
Release date: April 7th 2015


purchase at Amazon: History of Now

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NEW MUSIC: Matt Turk

Cold Revival Cover-hi-res

New York-based musician Matt Turk has a new album out: Cold Revival.

Musicians on his new album include notables Russ Irwin (Sting, Aerosmith), Chris Joyner (Jason Mraz, Ray La Montagne, Sheryl Crow) and Dean Butterworth (Good Charlotte, Ben Harper). Matt sings, plays acoustic guitar, mandolin and lap steel guitar.

The songs on Cold Revival are the kind of thoughtful acoustic-y folk to fill a lazy weekend morning. Turk’s deep vocals and varied instrumentation provide layers that become more appealing with each listen. It took a bit for this album to grow on me and now I can’t get the first song, the catchy “When a Boy” out of my head. Other stand-outs include the more somber title track “Cold Revival,” the bold yet mournful “Sorry is Loud” and the fetching “Quiet Day.”

Cold Revival was produced by David Dobkin, a filmmaker who is known for directing Wedding Crashers. Turk has shared the stage with Pete Seeger and opened for Judy Collins, The Doobie Brothers, Fiona Apple, The Grateful Dead’s Mickey Hart and more.

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music review: Colleens

Colleens - Wild Dreams - Album Cover


Josh Harter [singer/songwriter/guitarist]
Jon Harter [drums]
Deric Wynne [bass]
Jackson Floyd [guitar]

Colleens debut album understandably sounds polished and professional. Josh and Jon Harter’s father Keith, a composer, owns San Antonio-based KHM Studios where the brothers work as recording engineers and producers which gives them an inside edge into music production and sound.They’ve been working in the business and know what works and what doesn’t. Fantastic musicianship immediately stands out on “About You.” The album’s brimming with clear, crisp guitar chords, bass lines, soothing vocals and harmonizing. I’m a goner for soothing vocals and alt-folk/ Americana bands with a bunch of bearded dudes. Lovely melodies on “Maybe We’ll Fall in Love.” When they break into wah-wah [“Do You Remember Love?”] and guitar blitzes you get why they’re tagged more psych-Americana and that’s cool. Colleens is also melodious, gentle with 60s and 70s classic pop-inspired flair like on the fantastic “Sun Before I Set.” Impressive 30-minute debut album. I’m looking forward to catching these guys live.

album: Wild Dreams [February 4, 2014]




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Luray: music review


This Washington, D.C.-based bluegrassy, ethereal [banjo-driven folk]/ Americana band revolves around singer/songwriter Shannon Carey’s gentle, sun-kissed vocals and diverse banjo playing. On the magical, glorious title track Carey sings in subdued style then hits an exquisite high note at the chorus. This song sounds the mellowest and most electric at the same time, keyboards and guitar being central instruments. “Kalorama” [a section of D.C.’s Adams Morgan] sounds distinctly alt-country while “Already There” shimmers with a sweet banjo twang and kicky beat. “Tidalground” features a more atmospheric sound and swirly vocals. From the first note of “Crying,” you’ll feel like you’ve hit the road in cowboy boots. When something seems inherently simple it can’t possibly be. Carey possesses the songwriting abilities and vocal range for Luray to straddle several genres while maintaining its own sound. Even though her brother Sean (S. Carey of Bon Iver—a more brooding indie band) produced the album, Shannon clearly prefers singing and writing songs with happier vibes. Think fresh air, blue skies, paddles dipping into cool water, trail mixes, reading on a hammock and long winding hikes.

–by Amy Steele

The Wilder
Release date: August 27, 2013



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Folk/Americana NEWS: Peter Bradley Adams to Preview New Album on Spring Tour


Friday, March 8th at Club Passim
47 Palmer Street
Cambridge MA 02138
Tickets $18 adv / $20 dos; All Ages; 8 pm

singer/songwriter Peter Bradley Adams—and former member of the duo Eastmountainsouth– will be touring this spring to preview his [yet] untitled fifth full-length album.

Adams graduated from the University of the South with a music degree. He earned a Master’s degree in Music composition from the University of Alabama. He later studied film scoring at USC Thornton School of Music. The Folk/Americana musician and Birmingham, Alabama native currently lives in Brooklyn, New York.

Adams will give away free download to all those who attend the March shows.

In 2011, Adams released Between Us— recorded in Nashville and written during his move to New York City from Nashville in 2009.

Stream Between Us


self-titled ep (2005)
Gather Up (2006)
Leavetaking (2008)
Traces (2009)
Between Us (2011)



Jammin Java
227 Maple Avenue East
Vienna, VA
All Ages / $12.00/$15.00

World Café Live
3025 Walnut Street
Philadelphia, PA
All Ages / $12.00/$14.00

Club Passim
47 Palmer Street
Cambridge, MA
All Ages / $18.00/$20.00

Rockwood Music Hall II
196 Allen Street
New York, NY
21+ / $12.00

The Altamont
18 Church Street
Asheville, NC 28801
All Ages / $ 15

Kirk Avenue Music Hall
22 Kirk Avenue SW
Roanoke, VA 24011
18+ / $ 14

Red Clay Theater
3116 Main Street
Duluth, GA
All Ages / $18.00/$22.00

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new video: Chelsea Wolfe “Flatlands”

–if you like gloomy folk, this is for you

29 – Los Angeles, Calif. @ The El-Rey

6 – Milwaukee, Wis. @ Cactus Club
7 – St. Louis, Mo. @ Firebird
8 – Louisville, Ky. @ The Veron Club
9 – Birmingham, Ala. @ Bottletree
10 – Tallahassee, Fla. @ Retrofit
11 – Orlando, Fla. @ Will’s Pub
12 – Tampa, Fla. @ State
13 – Jacksonville, Fla. @ Jackrabbits
14 – Atlanta, Ga. @ The Earl
15 – Carraboro, N.C. @ Cat’s Cradle
16 – Washington, D.C. @ Rock n Roll Hotel
17 – Philadelphia, Penn. @ Union Transfer
18 – New York, N.Y. @ Highline Ballroom
**19 – Cambridge, Mass. @ Middle East
20 – Montreal, Q.C. @ Il Motore
21 – Toronto, Ont. @ Lee’s Palace
22 – Grand Rapids, Mich. @ Pyramid Scheme
23 – Chicago, Ill. @ Lincoln Hall
24 – Minneapolis, Minn. @ Triple Rock

5 – Sacramento, Calif. @ Blue Lamp
7 – Portland, Ore. @ Ted’s – Musicfest NW
8 – Vancouver, B.C. @ Biltmore
9 – Seattle, Wash. @ Barboza
12 – San Francisco, Calif. @ Rickshaw Stop
14 – Los Angeles, Calif. @ The Echo

for more info: Chelsea Wolfe website

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Blind Pilot: music review

SPOILER: my first negative music review in a long time

Blind Pilot has opened for two of my favorite bands: The Decemberists and The Shins. It is also opening for Dave Matthews Band which makes way more sense to me. I went to a Dave Matthews show about a decade ago to see opener Beck. My galpal and the crowd sang and danced away to the white bread music of Dave Matthews Band [okay, I admit I liked that song “Circle”]. I digress, back to Blind Pilot. It’s a six-piece ensemble with Oregonian band founders Israel Nebeker (vocals, guitar) and Ryan Dobrowski (drums) plus Luke Ydstie (upright bass, backing vocals), Kati Claborn (banjo, dulcimer, backing vocals), Ian Krist (vibraphones) and Dave Jorgensen (keyboards, trumpet). And we all know that Portland, Oregon is the indie/ cool capital of the United States [Portlandia anyone?]. So this all makes for quite the impressive indie pedigree. Unfortunately I feel that Blind Pilot suffers from drowsy, cliched orchestration and sloggy songwriting. It might be quite the dullest, most vanilla album I’ve heard so far this year, if ever. Reminds me a bit of folksy boy band in its harmonizing. Also a lot like Boston favorites Guster [I don’t understand the appeal]. Blind Pilot is on auto pilot and not particularly memorable. Listen if you have trouble sleeping and want whitewashed dreams.

Label: Expunged Records
PR: In Music We Trust PR

–review by Amy Steele

purchase at Amazon: We Are the Tide

4/26/12 – Bear Tooth Theatre – Anchorage, AK
5/25/12 – Les Schwab Amphitheater (supporting The Shins) – Bend, OR
5/25/12-5/28/12 – Sasquatch! – George, WA
5/28/12 – Red Butte Garden Amphitheater (supporting The Shins) – Salt Lake City, UT
5/29/12 – Red Rocks Amphitheatre (supporting The Shins) – Morrison, CO
5/31/12 – Harrah’s Council Bluffs (supporting The Shins) – Council Bluffs, IA
6/02/12 – Molson Amphitheatre (supporting Dave Matthews Band) – Toronto, ONT CANADA
6/03/12 – Blossom Music Center (supporting Dave Matthews Band) – Cuyahoga Falls, OH
6/05/12 – Webster Hall – New York, NY
6/06/12 – The National, Richmond, VA
6/07/12 – Neighborhood Theatre – Charlotte, NC
6/07/12-6/10/12 – Bonnaroo – Manchester, TN
7/06/12 – The Fillmore – San Francisco, CA
7/07/12 – The Fonda Theatre – Los Angeles, CA
7/08/12 – Belly Up Tavern – Solana Beach, CA
7/10/12 – The Crescent Ballroom – Phoenix, AZ
7/11/12 – Santa Fe Sol – Santa Fe, NM
7/13/12 – La Zona Rosa – Austin, TX
7/14/12 – Kessler Theater – Dallas, TX
7/15/12 – Fitzgerald’s – Houston, TX
7/17/12 – Mercy Lounge – Nashville, TN
7/18/12 – 20th Century Theatre – Cincinnati, OH
7/20/12-7/22/12 – Firefly Music Festival – Dover, DE
7/23/12 – Interlochen Center for the Arts – Interlochen, MI
7/25/12 – The Opera House – Toronto, ONT CANADA
7/26/12 – Corona Theatre – Montreal, QC CANADA
7/27/12 – Port City Music Hall – Portland, ME
7/28/12 – Newport Folk Festival, – Newport, RI
8/12/12 – Mishawaka Amphitheatre – Bellvue, CO

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Laura Stevenson and the Cans: music review

Music runs deep in Laura Stevenson’s gene pool—her grandfather, pianist Harry Simeone composed “The Little Drummer Boy,” and “Do You See What I Hear?” while his wife and Stevenson’s grandmother Margaret McCravy sang with jazz band leader Benny Goodman. Stevenson started playing guitar and writing songs when she went off to college. She formed the group Laura Stevenson and the Cans with former members of Bomb the Music Industry! including drummer John DeDomenici, guitarist Jeff Rosenstock and trombonist Matt Keegan. She also brought in bassist/omnichordist Mike Campbell [Latterman] and accordion player Alex Billig [The Best Thing Ever]. The result is quirky folk-pop. Stevenson’s precious, deep and slightly raspy voice works well with the unusual instrumentation. “The Healthy Ones,” is a chipper song about an epidemic where the accordion provides an uncommon rhythm and Stevenson sweetly sings: “You will bury them all in the ground.” Horns give “Barnacles” an instinctively jazzy vibe. Some songs on Sit Resist are folk-pop and some like “Montauk Monster” edge toward Americana. The varied elements throughout Sit Resist will draw you in and you’ll hear nuances in the layers throughout every listen. It’s refreshing.

my picks:
“The Healthy Ones”
“Master of Art”
“Red Clay Roots”

Album: Sit Resist
Label: Don Giovanni Records
Release date: April 26, 2011
PR: Riot Act Media

Laura Stevenson and the Cans official website [free download available for limited time]

purchase at Amazon: Sit Resist

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CD review: Norah Jones

Norah Jones
The Fall
Blue Note Records

The Fall is supposed to be an experimental record for Norah Jones and though I hear some country and some varying arrangements throughout, I hear many similarities to 2006’s Not Too Late. Both albums I adore for their sultry, somnolent qualities. Yes, that’s a good thing. Mellow, soothing music heals the heart. It reaches the soul. Jones methodically reveals her emotions through each song. She’s carefully crafted this album. The appeal of Jones is her bluesy, sultry moodiness and her moments of lilting purity. She’s not easy to categorize: not a pop singer, not a jazz singer, not R&B, not blues. Jones does succeed to combine all the best elements of each of those genres for her own signature sound. Jones wrote the majority of her songs and there’s an aching, longing and loneliness running through many of the songs. Stories of lying and cheating men, unfulfilling love and self-doubt. And Jones sings it all with aching maturity, wisdom and elegance. Singing with longing and tinges of regret on “I Wouldn’t Need You” Jones sings: If I could replace/ The things you gave me/ If I could see my face/ Without the tragedy/ Then I wouldn’t need you/ No I wouldn’t need you/ No I wouldn’t need you/ To love me/ But I do. “You Ruined Me” is a country-laced confession: You’ve ruined me now/ Though I liked it/ Now, I’m ruined/ I’m trying to part/ With what’s in my heart/ You’ve ruined me and how/ I thought I liked it/ And haven’t we all been here on the luscious, swirling “Stuck:’ Why can’t it be easy?/ Easy?/ Why don’t you leave?/Leave me?/Leave me be?/I can see you swaying/ I can’t hear what you’re saying/I’m sitting here stuck/ And plastered to my seat/ I think up a reason to leave/ when you finally stop speaking/ I’ll take a long slow/ Walk down Washington Street. On her last song, the vaudeville-inspired “Man of the Hour,” she honors the one who many never cheat on her or hurt her: her dog.

For anyone who’s been in love, wants love or has had a broken heart, The Fall will surely mend some wounds while you cry through the pain. That’s the power and wonder of music. That’s why music is such an essential aspect of my life.


–review by Amy Steele

[review copy courtesy of Blue Note]

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