Americana Archive

Hundred-word Reviews for September 2018

Time once again for some 100-word reviews. Please note that I receive many albums each day for review consideration; even when allowing for the fact that 80-90% of them don’t make the cut for coverage/review, there are still far too many to cover. What that means in practical terms is twofold: (1) the only way

Album Review: River Whyless — Kindness, A Rebel

On the group’s 2016 album We All the Light, Asheville-based group River Whyless pushed the boundaries of indie folk, its supposed genre. In doing so, the quartet could serve as Exhibit A for the relative meaningless of genre labels: to be sure, what River Whyless does draw from Americana and folk, but neither of those

World Musician Taj Mahal Gets the Blues

Taj Mahal is a timeless artist who’s always been ahead of his time. The singer-songwriter-guitarist was making Americana and world music long before either musical genre had been coined. He’s earned many accolades—three Grammys, ten Grammy nominations, the Americana Music Association’s Lifetime Achievement Award, an honorary Doctorate—and released more than 30 albums under his own

Album Review: Diamonds and Whiskey — Dark Country Voodoo

The band name suggests an alt.country/Americana act, and while those labels aren’t too wide of the mark, there’s a harder, edgier and slightly more sinister feel to this music. The southern drawl that characterizes Jenny Webb’s voice places the album firmly in the country and Americana realm, but there’s a rocking and bluesy feel to

Fifty-word Reviews for July 2018, Part 1

For years now, I’ve engaged in an occasional series of reviews in which I limit myself to 100 words. The point isn’t at all to give short shrift to these fine releases; instead, it’s to cover albums that would otherwise go unmentioned only for lack of time. Speaking of time, all of these releases are

Eric Congdon Heads Into the Woods

Hendersonville, N.C. guitarist Eric Congdon has been recording and releasing albums since 2006, when he made his solo record debut, Green River. Over the years, the roots-blues musician has built up a solid reputation as an sterling musical interpreter, yet one with his own style. But in 2015 he was involved in a serious automobile

Album Review: Battleground Korea: Songs and Sounds of America’s Forgotten War

Readers old enough to remember the long-running and beloved television sitcom M*A*S*H likely know that according to its creators, even though the show was set in wartime Korea, it was really about American involvement in Vietnam. But despite the show’s comedic framework, it managed to explore some important truths about that ill-advised endeavor in southeast

Billy Edd Wheeler: The Fire Ain’t Gone Out

Billy Edd Wheeler is a West Virginia-born American troubadour, an important part of the Appalachian storytelling tradition. He’s written songs made famous by Johnny Cash, Kenny Rogers and Richie Havens, but songwriting is only part of the man’s impressive body of work. The latest from the pen of the prolific Wheeler – a pillar of

Alejandro Escovedo is Still Burning Brightly

Guitarist, singer and songwriter Alejandro Escovedo released his 14th album, Burn Something Beautful, in late 2016. Reaction to the album—in many ways a return to the rocking end of Escovedo’s musical spectrum—has been so positive that he’s still on the road in support of it. The album distills his interests and influences into a cohesive

A Chat with Fayssoux Starling

These days, Fayssoux Starling can be seen and heard on stages throughout South Carolina’s upstate and in the Hendersonville-Tryon area. But in the course of her impressive career, she’s shared stages and recording studios with some of the biggest names in country, bluegrass and Americana. In the early 1970s, Fayssoux (that’s pronounced fa-SUE) and her