- - Monday, December 22, 2014

ANALYSIS/OPINION:

Let’s be honest: Our indulgence in sweets and treats isn’t the only thing that has left us feeling bloated but unsatisfied this season. This year’s tsunami of music award shows and mega-concerts overloaded us on big-name artists — Miranda, Blake, Brad, Kenny — but left us longing for something different. That’s not to say we’re haters; we just crave variety. Try some of these savory sonic treats.

Benjamin Folke Thomas is a Swedish-born, London-based alt-country Americana artist whose spirited, energetic and heartfelt songwriting and performances are reminiscent of Bob Dylan’s sound when he first burst onto the ‘60s music scene. While Mr. Dylan’s songs offered commentary on the era’s social unrest, Mr. Folke Thomas’ folk-flavored tunes are often more reflective of personal turmoil and challenges (think Pearl Jam’s Eddie Vedder) than global commentary. Yet Mr. Folke Thomas writes and performs with such sophistication and imagery that his songs take on a depth not often heard in contemporary music. Latest album: “Too Close to Hear.” Where to hear a sample: www.benjaminfolkethomas.com.

The Bros. Landreth knocked a cadre of weary music critics off their jaded feet with their killer set at this year’s Americana Music Festival in Nashville. As we told you in September, brothers David and Joey traveled different musical paths before joining forces and adding longtime friends Ariel Posen on guitar and Ryan Voth on drums. The result is a musical mix of Bonnie Raitt and Little Feat flavored with Sonny Landreth-style slide guitar. One need only listen to the song “I Am the Fool,” written by their father, renowned Winnipeg musician Wally Landreth, to understand the Landreths were born to musical mastery. Latest album: “Let It Lie,” available Jan. 27. Where to hear a sample: http://www.thebroslandreth.com.

Songs of the Fall seemingly came out of nowhere to release one of the most notable albums of 2014. Singer-songwriters Stetson Adkisson and Cia Cherryholmes (of the much-lauded five-time Grammy-nominated bluegrass band Cherryholmes) combine their artistic talents on their self-titled album filled with songs that move from a bluegrass jig (“Celtic Song”) to gentle ballads (“Waves”) to heartbreaking songs of lost love (“Wind Blow My Love Back”). The only downside to Songs of the Fall is that the couple divides its time between music and supporting Mr. Adkisson’s work as a professional outdoor guide. Word, though, is the married couple is deep into work on a new album for a 2015 release. Latest album: “Songs of the Fall.” Where to hear a sample: www.songsofthefall.com.

Valerie June truly came to nationwide attention when Luther Dickinson (North Mississippi Allstars, The Black Crowes) selected her for his five-piece side project The Wandering, which toured extensively behind its album “Go on Now, You Can’t Stay Here: Mississippi Folk Music Volume III.” It’s little surprise that Miss June, who grew up in Humboldt, Tennessee, before moving to Memphis, quickly developed a solid fan base. Her Billie Holiday-meets-Erykah Badu musical style quickly won her major critical kudos. Producers Kevin Augunas, Dan Auerbach and Peter Sabak teamed up for her debut album “Pushin’ Against A Stone,” which takes Miss June from the heartbreaking “Somebody to Love” to the gritty “Workin’ Woman Blues.” Watch for a new album in 2015. Latest album: “Pushin’ Against A Stone.” Where to hear a sample: http://valeriejune.com/music.

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