Monday, 24 March 2014

Country & Americana Music in 2014

As we approach the end of the third month of 2014, I take a look at some of the best Country and Americana albums released so far this year and look forward to the most anticipated releases of the coming months.

Rosanne Cash - The River & The Thread (Released January 14th)

This year began in some style with Rosanne Cash's first release of new material since 2006. The River & The Thread is steeped in the southern soil as Cash journeys back to her roots. If you're looking for truth and sincerity, this is the record for you. 

Hiss Golden Messenger - Bad Debt (Re-released January 14th)

Originally released in 2010 and now re-released with three additional tracks, Bad Debt is the work of Hiss Golden Messenger's M.C. Taylor. Recorded in the dead of the North Carolina winter on a cassette recorder, Taylor explores issues of faith and freedom in the most raw and natural album you are ever likely to come across. 

Jason Eady - Daylight & Dark (Released January 21st)

Following the release of 2013's AM Country Heaven, Jason Eady has returned with a new depth of emotion in Daylight & Dark. Thoroughly immersed in the true tradition of country music, this album really hits home with its painful honesty.

Hard Working Americans - Hard Working Americans (Released January 21st)

Formed in 2013 by singer-songwriter Todd Snider, this is the first release from Hard Working Americans. Comprised entirely of cover songs, the rootsy and bluesy approach taken makes this perhaps the perfect alt-country album.

Charlie Parr - Hollandale (Released January 21st)

Charlie Parr's most bold and ambitious work to date, Hollandale is an instrumental masterpiece. Through the medium of a resonator guitar, Parr takes us on a journey into the unknown - into a land which will, no doubt, absorb you completely.

Robert Ellis - The Lights From The Chemical Plant (Released February 11th) 

The Lights From The Chemical Plant is not really a country album, nor can it be labelled as Americana but like a lot of great albums, it transcends the confines of genre. As a songwriter, Robert Ellis has set the standard with this album; one which all others will be judged by. 

Don Williams - Reflections (Released March 11th)

Don Williams' Reflections is an album with a message; take a step back and appreciate the simple things in life. With his smooth Baritone voice, which exudes experience, Williams invites the listener to reflect on a life lived and loved. With the fast paced nature of modern life, Reflections is exactly what every single person needs to remember the true value of life. 

Johnny Cash - Out Among The Stars (Released March 25th - today)

A truly lost album! Recorded in 1984 with Countrypolitan producer, Billy Sherrill, Out Among The Stars was Cash's attempt to relaunch his recording career but the album was shelved by Columbia Records who later dropped him in 1986. It was rediscovered amongst the family collection by Cash's son, John Carter Cash, and has now been released for the first time. Although we do not find Cash at the peak of his career or his creative abilities, Out Among The Stars will offer us a great deal in re-interpreting his musical contribution at this stage of his life. 

Nickel Creek - A Dotted Line (To be released April 1st)

Their first album since 2005's Why Should The Fire Die?, A Dotted Line will bring their unique style of progressive bluegrass back to our ears. 

Rodney Crowell - Tarpaper Sky (To be released April 15th) 

Having collaborated with Emmylou Harris on Grammy Award Winning Old Yellow Moon in 2013, Rodney Crowell is back with a new album entitled Tarpaper Sky which marks almost 40 years in the music industry.

Sturgill Simpson - Metamodern Sounds In Country Music (To be released May 13th)

Following his critically acclaimed 2013 album High Top Mountain, Kentuckian Sturgill Simpson returns with Metamodern Sounds In Country Music, an album which he says takes a different direction from the twang-filled nature of High Top Mountain. Having seen Sturgill play live at St. Bonaventure's Parish Social Club in Bristol earlier this year, I have no doubt that no matter what type of album he releases, we will not be disappointed.

Dolly Parton - Blue Smoke (To be released May 13th)

Country music legend Dolly Parton is still going strong and will release her new album, Blue Smoke, on May 13th having already begun her Blue Smoke World Tour. This album includes duets with Willie Nelson and Kenny Rogers as well as a cover of Dylan's 'Don't Think Twice, It's Alright'. 

More albums of interest:

Blue Highway – The Game (Released January 21st)   
Ray Benson – A Little Piece (Released January 21st)  
Amy Ray - Goodnight Tender (Released January 28th)    
Scott H Biram - Nothin' But Blood (Released February 4th) 
Lydia Loveless – Somewhere Else (Released February 18th) 
Red Eye Gravy – Dust Bowl Hangover (Released March 4th)
Drive-by Truckers - English Oceans (Released March 4th)
Chuck Mead – Free State Serenade (Released March 4th)
Chuck Ragan - Till Midnight (To be released March 25th)
Ray LaMontagne – Supernova (To be released May 6th) 

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