That Wasn’t Me, Brandi Carlile (from the Columbia Records release Bear Creek)
Any Carlile discussion begins and ends with her voice, an instrument of power and beauty. While her latest is more relaxed than her earlier efforts, it retains the inspirational tone that is a hallmark of her songwriting. Many of the songs have a great back porch feel to them and fit well into any Twangville playlist. The stand-out for me, however, is this exquisite gospel-infused track.
Audio Stream: Brandi Carlile, “That Wasn’t Me”
Love Don’t Leave Me Waiting, Glen Hansard (from the Anti/Epitaph release Rhythm And Repose)
It is hard to believe that Hansard has been writing and performing music for more than 20 years. Happily his raw talent and commitment to craft are garnering the praise that it deserves. Hansard’s first solo album arrives just days after Once, the movie turned musical that features his songs, won big at the Tony Awards. The entire release sways with the blue-eyed soul of his native Ireland, recalling the best of Van Morrison. In that vein, it’s hard not to close one’s eyes and get lost in the majesty of this track.
Audio Download: Glen Hansard, “Love Don’t Leave Me Waiting”
If Not Now When, The Bluefields (from the self-released album Pure)
With a musical pedigree that includes the Georgia Satellites and Jason & the Scorchers, this should be a can’t miss release for Southern rock fans, right? Damn right. The duo of Dan Baird and Warner Hodges find a true compatriot in vocalist and guitarist Joe Blanton. The trio serve up a platter full of great classic rock songs built around chugging guitars and Blanton’s impassioned vocals. This entire disc is the perfect accompaniment to a glass, er, bottle of whiskey.
Audio Download: The Bluefields, “If Not Now When”
Green Door, The Silver Threads (from the self-released Live at Robert’s Western World)
In advance of my first trip to Nashville last fall, I got multiple recommendations to go check out the Silver Threads, a local honky-tonk band. I put the band high on my agenda and caught them at one of their regular weekly gigs at Robert’s Western World on the Broadway strip in Nashville. Simply put, they didn’t disappoint as they careened through a set of classic country covers. As a bonus, the Bostonian in me was pleased that they are helmed by two former Bostonians, singer Eileen Rose and incendiary guitarist Rich Gilbert. So if you find yourself in Nashville, make sure that the Silver Threads are on your itinerary.
Audio Download: The Silver Threads, “Green Door”
My Best Friend, Reto Burrell (from the Echopark Musik release Sunshine & Snow)
Swiss singer-songwriter Burrell visited Nashville, gathered a group of talented local musicians and set about recording his latest release over the course of two days last summer. Although many an artist would have been overcome with the surroundings and emerged with a heavily-produced country-flavored collection, Burrell smartly went in the other direction. The arrangements are stunningly simple, focusing full attention on the inherent beauty of Burrell’s songwriting.
Audio Download: Reto Burrell, “My Best Friend”
Yes, Yes John Dee Graham (from the self-released Garage Sale)
Austin singer-songwriter and guitarist is a must see during my annual SXSW jaunts. His shows at the legendary Continental Club are always incendiary affairs as he wails on his electric guitar. Imagine my surprise, then, to hear a more mellow side of Graham emerge on his latest release. Lest anyone be concerned, however, Graham’s ragged vocals and wry lyrical perspectives are as strong as ever.
Audio Download: Jon Dee Graham, “Yes Yes”
Man of the World, Alejandro Escovedo (from the Fantasy Records release Big Station)
Escovedo is on a roll with co-conspirators Chuck Prophet (songwriting partner) and Tony Visconti (producer). Big Station is their third collaboration and finds Escovedo alternating between unbridled retro-rockers and moody but thoughtful ballads. Escovedo has always been known for directness in his songs and lyrics and he doesn’t pull any punches on songs like “Sally Was a Cop,” which chronicles the Mexican drug wars or the Sonny Liston-inspired “Can’t Make Me Run.” And then there’s this track, with Escovedo and crew romping through a happy-go-lucky 1960’s style rocker. “I’m a man of the world, it ain’t no thing, I can take a punch, I can take a swing!”
Audio Download: Alejandro Escovedo, “Man of the World”
We Just Want to Be Loved, The Parlotones (from the Sovereign Entertainment release Journey Through The Shadows)
This isn’t your typical Twangville fare but we at Twangville are fans of good music regardless of genre, right? This South Africa quartet serve up bombastic rock anthems that are ripe for arena sing-alongs. Already a success in their home country, they are well on their way to establishing a global presence.
Audio Download: The Parlotones, “We Just Want to Be Loved”
Spirit Hands, Steve Poltz (from the Arrival Records release Noineen Noiny Noin)
There are two types of Steve Poltz songs, the viciously funny and the strikingly poignant. Poltz is one of the few artists who can do both with equal aplomb. This track strikes the middle ground, well sort of, as a boisterous arrangement fuels Poltz’s engaging lyrics. “Lay me down in a field of daisies, let me dance in a room full of crazies.”
Audio Download: Steve Poltz, “Spirit Hands”
We’ll Be Here When You Need Us, Beaver Nelson (from the self-released Macro/Micro)
It’s been five years since Austin, Texas singer-songwriter Nelson has shared new music with us. In fact, I’d begun to wonder if he had hung up the guitar. Well, Beaver is back to prove me wrong with a sprawling 19-track opus and accompanying film. Although the film was created after the album, one listen suggests that it was part of Beaver’s plan all along. The songs range from straight-forward lyrical rock songs to somber ballads to short yet expansive instrumentals.
Audio Download: Beaver Nelson, “We’ll Be Here When You Need Us”
About the author: Mild-mannered corporate executive by day, excitable Twangville denizen by night.