Sunday, January 29, 2017

That Nashville Sound Sunday Newsbytes

I've been on the road this week so I'm sorry for the lighter-than-normal battery of new posts. But in my absence, there's been lots of great new album announcements and a couple of other nuggets that are important to share. So here you go, a special TNS Newsbyte Sunday feature.

* I feel blessed to be included with some names I admire a lot as one of the 89 writers that contribute to Nashville Scene's 17th Annual Country Music Critics' Poll. This marks about a decade I've contributed and the results are always really remarkable. This year was decidedly a female-dominated affair with names like Brandy Clark, Miranda Lambert, Margo Price, Maren Morris and Lori McKenna making their mark at the top of some of the lists.  Click HERE to read the series of feature articles.

Unpublished was my take on the rewards and frustrations of writing for country music. My take: "I can’t help but draw some comparisons to country music and the political cheese grater that all of the nation went through over the last year. Even without being a political science major, I can see how much of our nation’s left and right have wrapped themselves up in “their sides” of political ideology and come hell or high water, defend that corner vehemently and blindly without analysis or thoughtful discussion. Both sides rip the other to shreds without stopping to provide context and critique to issues, agendas and policies. Unfortunately, I think the short-attention span Twitter-verse that we live in today has created much of that same lack of careful analysis of music in general. As a result, listeners wrap themselves up with just what’s heard on the radio dial or just a sub-genre like honkytonk, bluegrass, traditional country or Red Dirt music and claim it’s the best around while disparaging all other kinds of country music. With fewer and fewer places that are taking the time to provide true careful deconstruction of all kinds of songs, it becomes easier to criticize the person doing the critique rather than contribute to the conversation. The reality is that no matter where you sit on the country music spectrum, there’s good music being released and there’s stuff that’s not very good. Our job as bloggers and music critics is to search it out and provide a healthy place for discourse on it without simply regurgitating the PR machines. Finding that place in the middle seems harder and harder to do these days and there’s fewer places on the web that are doing it well."

* Dukes of Hazzard star and country music singer John Schneider has a brand new album out this week inspired by his beloved studio ranch in South Louisiana that was hit by the devastating floods and the community that bounced back and helped like a "phoenix rising from the ashes." This album was recorded in his flooded home, where friends from all over appeared to help.

“This is really the first time that the music that I’m doing is representative of life rather than thinking ‘Oh, this is a good song,” he insists. “I’ve lived every one of these songs, so it’s an entirely different kind of an album. People’s responses have been great. I guess they are hearing a truth. I don’t guess there is any such thing as ‘the’ truth, but there is a truth, and it’s ringing true.”

On his new song "How Do You Stop The Water:" “You don’t realize it until you’ve actually cut the song, but when I listened to it back – I recorded the song just a few minutes after I found out my mother had passed away. So, there’s something very tangible about the sorrow in that song – but when I heard the song back, I thought ‘I would put this song up with ‘he Stopped Loving Her Today,’ ‘Miss Emily’s Picture,’ or ‘Live Like You Were Dying.’ I think it’s that kind of a song. It’s an experience. It’s not just a tune.”

* Former One Flew South member and singer/songwriter Chris Roberts performed an incredible dedication to the late George Michael at his St. Augustine's Episcopal Church in Nashville. Roberts' solo The Way West was one of our favorite albums of 2015 and this cover of "They Won't Go When I Go" shows just how versatile and interpretive this former Broadway star can be. Listen to the captured live track HERE.

* The SteelDrivers are back in the studio recording their next project. Hear a snippet HERE.

* March 10 is the long-awaited release date for Josh Turner's long-delayed sixth studio album, Deep South.

“I’m really proud of this album,” says Turner. “It was really important for me to expand creatively and explore in new ways for this record. The way I pick songs is different now. There are so many things in my life and career that have matured me as an artist.” He adds, “I’ve had another child since my last project!”

* One of That Nashville Sound's very-favorite artists (and people) is Jason Eady and we're thrilled with the announcement that he'll be releasing his next singer/songwriter self-titled project on April 21 via Thirty Tigers.

“At the beginning I told everyone I wanted to make a record where, if the power went out, we could still sit down and play all the songs the exact same way,” says Eady, who points out that steel guitar is the only electric instrument featured on the album.
“I’ve always been drawn to writing that’s got a simplicity to it, where you’re digging deep into real day-to-day life,” he notes. Here, that means touching on such matters as turning 40 (on the reflective, soul-stirring “40 Years”), his daughter’s growing up and going off to college (on the sweetly heartbreaking “Not Too Loud”), and the everyday struggle to “embrace the messy parts of life instead of trying to get the point where you’ve somehow fixed all your problems” (on “Rain,” a joyfully determined anthem featuring SteelDrivers fiddler Tammy Rogers). Throughout the album, Eady’s soulfully rugged voice blends in beautiful harmonies with his wife, singer/songwriter Courtney Patton. And on "No Genie in This Bottle," the legendary Vince Gill adds his harmony vocals alongside Eady.
“When you first get started making music, your ideas are grandiose and more about the big picture. But the longer I’ve done this, the more I’ve realized that the real joy comes from the process rather than the end goal,” he says. “Now it’s about getting better and finding more of myself with every album."


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