This week we have new releases from Grammy and Oscar-winner Ryan Bingham, IBMA winners and icons Ralph Stanley and Doyle Lawson, the Voice’s Nicholas David, Jim Ed Brown and Elenowen. All of these artists represent different spectrums of roots music, be it a soulful variety, contemporary mainstream variety, a folksy Americana variety or a bluegrass or traditional style. It’s all represented in the Weekly New Release Report For January 20, 2015.
Jim Ed Brown - In Style Again (Plowboy Records):
Much like Glen Campbell, Jim Ed Brown is very much still a fantastic interpreter of songs as he proves on In Style Again, his first album of new music in decades. The opener “When The Sun Says Hello To The Mountain” immediately proves that Jim Ed still is without doubt a stunning singer. His sister Bonnie Brown helps Jim Ed recreate the iconic The Browns sound on the ballad while “In Style Again” deals with aging (like much of the record) and it’s amazing to hear him sing about the changing tides in country music on “Am I Still Country?” The waltz “Older Guy” is a classic country ballad with delightful instrumentation while “Lucky Enough” is amongst the best tracks on here. The Whites guest on “You Again” while Vince Gill guests on “Tried & True” and his onetime duet partner Helen Cornelius guests on “Don’t Let Me Cross Over.”
Doyle Lawson & Quicksilver - In Session (Mountain Home Music Company)
Yes, they’re Bluegrass but they do traditional country just as well. The dozen tracks found on In Session are a delight with standouts like “I’d Just Be Fool Enough” showcasing off the band’s fantastic harmonies and gift of melody. The Carl Jackson-penned “Calling Her Children Home” is brilliant as is the waltz “You, You, You” and the smokin’ “Evening Prayer Blues.” The Patti A. Ryan, Richard Fagen and Larry Dean Alderman-penned closer “Americana” is about as perfect a closer as a song can get. Lawson and band are tight (as most bluegrass bands are) throughout and the vocals and harmonies found on In Session are a pure delight.
Elenowen For The Taking (Ready Set Records)
The duo of Josh and Nicole Johnson blends folk-rock, Americana and country into an interesting and intoxicating blend of musicality on For The Taking. The duo appeared on The Voice but has had a successful career before the program. But exposure is exposure and it has helped give the duo the ability to continue to make records they wanna make. For The Taking is that record. “Desert Days” opens the 10 song album and delivers the kind of opener any artist would dream of. “Place Where I Fall” is delightfully melancholic while “Turnstile” has a unique melody and lyric that begs for repeated listens. Fans of bands like Fleet Foxes will surely dig radio-ready “Creatures of Habit” while funky rocker “Half A Mile” could be an AC/Pop radio single if only given the change (it has the retro groove to it).
Ryan Bingham - Fear And Saturday Night (Axter Bingham Records)
The man behind “The Weary Kind” is back with his fifth album Fear And Saturday Night and it’s as good a collection as Mescalito, Junky Star, Roadhouse Sun or Tomorrowland were for the singer/songwriter with the gravelly voice. Standouts include “Broken Heart Tattoos,” “Island In The Sky” and “Adventures of You And Me” along with melodically funky ballad “Radio.” The waltz-y “Darlin’” will likely strike the fancy of many. Some may not agree by the raspy-voiced singer is among the best in the music business and if you’re looking for something real amongst the pop/country and rock fluff, give Fear and Saturday Night a shot.
Nicholas David - Make Hope (Wake The World Records)
Perhaps the most ‘out there’ inclusion on this week’s page, Make Hope is a six track EP that showcases the unclassifiable David as one of the best vocalists to have come out of The Voice. The quirky singer/songwriter may be funky on “Monsters Sleep” but “Cool” recalls the classic sounds of Ronnie Milsap’s 1970s country/soul records. “Lonely” is a haunting and powerful steel and piano-drenched ballad while “Never Give Up” is laced with accordian and mandolins and acoustic guitars and showcases a singer worthy of paying attention to, even if he’s perhaps the most unconventionally conventional singer/songwriter working today.
Dr. Ralph Stanley - Ralph Stanley & Friends (Cracker Barrel/Red River/BFD Entertainment)
Ralph Stanley’s new album — available via Cracker Barrel and iTunes — is a delightful collection of Gospel tunes. Produced by Buddy Miller and Jim Lauderdale, the album features guests like Old Crow Medicine Show, Dierks Bentley, Elvis Costello, Lee Ann Womack, Ricky Skaggs and Robert Plant. Josh Turner’s “We Shall Rise” opens up the album and showcases The Clinch Mountain Boys as mighty-fine singers and pickers as they back Turner on the traditional hymn. Skaggs’ “Sweethearts In Heaven” is stunning as is Dierks Bentley’s “I Only Exist,” Womack’s “White Dove” (which also features Womack’s daughter Aubrie Sellers) and Stanley’s won “Man Of Constant Sorrow” is a delight. Buddy & Jim’s contribution “I Am The Man, Thomas” stands out as well. Fans of Bluegrass, gospel or southern gospel will find something delightful about Ralph Stanley & Friends.