Americana Archive

Jason Isbell on Muscle Shoals, Politics, Religion and Sobriety

If he were so inclined, Jason Isbell could fill his time dusting and polishing the many awards he’s earned as a songwriter and musician. He has won four Grammys, nine awards from the Americana Music Association (including three this year), as well as several other honors and nominations. But instead Isbell focuses on songwriting and

Jason Isbell: High Road Leads Him Home

Though he’s been a musician for most of his life, Alabama-born guitarist-singer-songwriter Jason Isbell didn’t launch his career as a solo artist until 2007. But in little more than a decade, he has racked up numerous awards (artist of the year, song of the year, album of the year) from the Americana Music Association, earned

Ranky Tanky: Preserving Gullah Culture Through Music

Gullah is a Creole language spoken in a concentrated geographical area, the low-country region along the Atlantic coastal islands in Georgia and the Carolinas. The Gullah people are descendants of 19th century slaves, and in addition to their language, they’ve manged to hold onto many of their cultural characteristics to present day. The band Ranky

Notable Vinyl Releases, Part Two

Today’s three are all new, indie releases. David Duchovny – Every Third Thought A confession, right up front: when this album landed on my desk, my first thought was, “Uh-oh. Another vanity project from an actor who maybe played some guitar back in college.” A bit of belated investigation demonstrated that my attitude was wholly

Carol Rifkin: What is Mountain Music?

Carol Rifkin is an expert on mountain music. She sings and plays it, she writes about it, and she’s the host of the popular This Old Porch radio program. But when asked to define mountain music, she’s uncharacteristically caught off guard. “There really isn’t a real straight answer,” she says with a good-natured laugh. “I

A Few Moments with Taj Mahal

Taj Mahal (born Henry Saint Clair Fredericks) is equal parts musician, songwriter, folklorist and musicologist. But despite his impeccable credentials, the man has never taken an academic approach to music. With more than 30 albums to his name — solo records, collaborations, live sets — Taj Mahal has created a virtual audio travelogue, exploring the

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