There has been a lot of good music cross my desk in the last couple of months, and I’ve finally internalized I’m not going to get to all of it. Summer’s here, though, and it’s important to have some new music in your player. So here are some short takes on albums I’m really enjoying, but just not going to get a full review done.
Chubby Knuckle Choir – Reveille What do you get when you combine Delta blues, fiddle & banjo, and 70’s soul? The Chubby Knuckle Choir. They’re certainly not the first group to mix blues and bluegrass, nor are they blazing new ground putting sweet soul harmonies on top of old timey instrumentation. But I can’t tell you anyone I’ve heard do a better job of all of those together. Gone lays an all-too-familiar story of loss on top of a smooth LA rhythm. Trouble mixes plain-spoken vocal delivery with a blues beat to tell you, “that storm has a mind of her own.” Always Something has a catchy Wood Brothers-style syncopation with, again, vocals incredibly full of soul. And speaking of soul, Soul On Fire took me back to the Plant vocals and Page guitar of the best Zeppelin acoustic ballads. Reveille will, indeed, wake you up to some excellent music.
Jami Lynn – Fall Is A Good Time To Die With the title track, The North Wind, Wolf, and Sturm & Drang among the tracks on this album, you’d be tempted to think this was music for the suicidal. Not much could be further from the truth. That’s because the instrumentation keeps the melancholy at bay, especially the dobro and mandolin playing of co-producer Dalton Coffey. Lynn herself steps from the guitar and takes a couple of nice turns on banjo, particularly on Polywags where she bends the strings like an old Delta bluesman. This is modern folk music at its best.
The Honey Dewdrops – Tangled Country It’s hard to listen to Laura Wortman and Kagey Parrish, the duo known as The Honey Dewdrops, and not compare them to Gillian Welch and David Rawlings. That’s not fair to Wortman and Parrish, who are certainly setting their own agenda. On the other hand, if that’s the bar you’re measured with, it’s a high quality problem. The Dewdrops latest album hews close to their signature sound of updated Appalachian folk music. It’s the song topics that really suck you into this album. Young is the best song about becoming an adult since The Pursuit of Happiness did I’m An Adult Now back in the 80’s. Numb tells the tale of the everyday practice of just coping. Remington is an instrumental piece that’s the band’s interpretation of the joy of quiet in an otherwise chaotic world. This album really gets under your skin.
About the author: I've actually driven from Tehatchapee to Tonopah. And I've seen Dallas from a DC-9 at night.