- - Monday, July 14, 2014


The new country, folk, bluegrass and Americana music is better than you think.

I’ve had occasion to listen to a lot of country radio stations this season, and have concluded that those who are not fond of Blake Shelton’s “My Eyes” or similar rock-infused country singles may give up hope that they’ll ever again add a new song to their personal playlists.

But you can find great music if you know where to look. Try some of these new and soon-to-be-released offerings for starters:

Artist: Brigitte DeMeyer

Album: “Savannah Road”

Release date: April

You’ll like it if you enjoy: Acoustic Americana

It’s difficult to decide if the 13 songs on this album, 10 of which Ms. DeMeyer co-wrote with guitarist Will Kimbrough, are magical because of her soulful voice, the elegantly sparse acoustic instrumentation or the bare-bones production.

Suffice it to say that listeners will hear a naturally elegant swirl of country, folk and blues played with the passion of those who gather in Nashville songwriters’ circles.

Artist: Chris Leslie

Album: “Origins”

Release: January

You’ll like it if you like: English folk, Native American, Americana

It’s no secret that many musicians consider Chris Leslie, who for the past 18 years has been Fairport Convention’s chief songwriter and multi-instrumentalist, a virtuoso. What is surprising is that Mr. Leslie’s contributions to the British folk rock band only display a portion of his artistry.

“Origins,” Mr. Leslie’s first solo release in years, finds him moving from folk (Sandy Denny’s “Sweet Rosemary”) to Americana (Michael Martin Murphey’s “Geronimo’s Cadillac”) to his own work, including Native American-influenced (“Tipis in the Snow”) and fiddle-filled folk “The New Fiddle.” A must hear.

Artist: Goodnight, Texas

Album: “Uncle John Farquhar”

Release date: August

You’ll like it if you enjoy: Old-time country

Some say Goodnight, Texas puts them in mind of the Avett Brothers, but I’d offer they sound more like the sonic offspring of western swing masters Asleep at the Wheel and bluegrass favorites Chatham County Line, with plenty of traditional Carter Family country whipped in.

Goodnight, Texas fills its songs with masterful banjo picking, and the heartfelt vocals make this a must for anyone who longs for old-time country.

Artist: Sammy Kershaw

Album: “Do You Know Me? A Tribute to George Jones”

Release date: July

You’ll like it if you enjoy: Traditional country

Georgette Jones knows her dad’s music, so when she writes in the linear notes that Mr. Kershaw “has the closest voice I know to my dad’s,” believe her.

The 14 tunes on this disc range from Jones’ “Window up Above,” “Why Baby Why,” and “The Race is On,” to “Near You” — a charming duet by Mr. Kershaw and Ms. Jones.

Artist: Missy Werner

Album: “Turn This Heart Around”

Release date: July

You’ll like it if you enjoy: Bluegrass

Ms. Werner’s music reminds me of Cherryholmes’ bluegrass — with mandolin, fiddle, banjo, bass and guitar woven together like a carefully crafted quilt.

Fiddler Maggie Estes White, banjoist Thomas Wywrot and incredibly versatile guitarist Megan McCormick are among the Nashville musical elite who add sonic seasoning to Ms. Werner’s lovely and loving renditions.

Artist: Raffi

Album: Love Bug

Release Date: July

You’ll like it if you like: A joyful mix of genres

The Cairo-born, Toronto-raised folk-Americana artist — often called “the Springsteen of kids’ music” — is back with a release that moves from Dixieland to folk to jazz and beyond.

True, this album has plenty of kid-friendly instrumentation — accordion, softly elegant guitar, and what sounds like a penny whistle — but it’s no stroll to nursery rhyme heaven. Raffi presents music as delightful as children’s laughter.



Click to Read More

Click to Hide