Americana Archive

Hundred-word Reviews for December 2019, #2

With the end of 2019 on the horizon, I figure now’s as good a time as any to bring things up to date with another batch of quick reviews. In this edition: all new music, ten titles. Blues, powerpop, jazz and more. All worth your time. Maybe even a Great Gift Idea™. Happy holidays! Coco

Album Review: Zoe & Cloyd — I Am Your Neighbor

The student and feminism movements that came to prominence in the late 20th century both made use of the slogan, “the personal is political.” And whatever side of an issue one might come down upon, there’s little disagreement regarding the truth in the phrase. In today’s interconnected world, our actions take on a political dimension.

Penny and Sparrow: Rosé Rock vs. Emo-country

The crystalline instrumentation and emotionally resonant vocal harmonies of Penny and Sparrow have earned the Austin, Texas folk duo both critical plaudits and a dedicated following. But Penny and Sparrow are about much more than indie-folk: their latest album, Finch, draws from a wide (and perhaps unexpected) array of styles, most notably rhythm and blues.

Alexa Rose: No Contest

Though she can attribute at least some of her success to doing well in songwriting contests, Asheville-based singer-songwriter Alexa Rose has mixed feelings about competition. But as she put the finishing touches on Medicine for Living, her album due in this month, Rose teamed up with a recent fellow competitor for a songwriter-focused show at

Backline’s Traditional Roots Meet a Modern Sound

Five-piece bluegrass band Backline came together in 2016, playing a style of the mountain music that bridges the gap between traditional and modern. The group’s rich vocal harmonies are a highlight; all five members sing. Based in Spartanburg, S.C., Backline has released two album: 2016’s Carolina and a brand-new collection, A Thousand Wishes. What’s your

Hello Stranger: RiddleFest Celebrates Life and Work of Overlooked Musician and Song Collector

Lesley Riddle is an important yet mostly overlooked figure in the history of American music. A musician and folklorist, he collaborated with –and greatly influenced the Carter Family. As an African American who as key in the development of country music, he deserves honor and recognition. Now in its 12th year, the annual RiddleFest celebrates

For Nikki Talley, Home is Where the Muse Lives

Based since 1996 in Western North Carolina, singer-songwriter-guitarist Nikki Talley took to the road about six years ago. With husband and multi-instrumentalist Jason Sharp, she toured constantly, traveling across the United States in a converted passenger van named Bluebell. For many years, that nomadic existence defined her musical persona; most every story about Talley—including this

Amanda Anne Platt & the Honeycutters: Get What You Need

Amanda Anne Platt launched her recording career with 2009’s Irene. A decade later – after countless live shows and three more albums of original material – she’s ready to revisit some of the songs on her debut release. “I wanted [Live at the Grey Eagle] to be kind of a career survey,” she says. “I

What is Drunken Prayer? Leader Morgan Geer is Open to Suggestions

With one foot in honky-tonk and the other in straight-ahead rock ‘n’ roll, Morgan Geer’s Drunken Prayer is Americana for people who don’t like Americana, rock for those who don’t mind a bit of singer-songwriter introspection. But there’s music more to the man who writes the songs than simply penning crying-in-your-beer laments. Cordelia Elsewhere, the

Unspoken Tradition: Bluegrass Speaks to Today

It’s something of a tightrope walk to move forward musically within the confines of bluegrass; there’s a subset of the genre’s fan base that resists change. But Unspoken Tradition confidently masters that path, with a sound that’s firmly rooted in history yet forward-looking. The group recently released its third album, Myths We Tell Our Young.