Album Reviews

  • Album Review: 10 String Symphony, 'Generation Frustration'

    • 2018-09-18
    • Kelly McCartney

    Recorded in Edinburgh with producer Kris Drever, Generation Frustration leans into the tension it exudes, both lyrically and musically — rather like someone who looks directly into your eyes and refuses to shift their gaze even as you shift your own under the weight of your own discomfort. Don't turn away from this one. Keep looking. Keep listening.

  • Album Review: Courtney Hartman & Taylor Ashton, 'Been On Your Side'

    • 2018-08-30
    • Kim Ruehl

    On their collaborative debut, Been on Your Side (Free Dirt Records), the duo rests easily on its dexterous instrumentalism, but at the fore are their perceptive, emotive lyrics that flow like a river with cool, smooth harmonies floating atop. The whole thing feels like walking through the woods just after dawn—you can almost hear the distant chirp of a bird, feel the brush of a weed against your ankle.

  • Album Review: Kathy Mattea, 'Pretty Bird'

    • 2018-08-30
    • Kelly McCartney

    All through Pretty Bird, Kathy Mattea reaffirms her standing alongside artists likes Judy Collins and Joan Baez who have a way of recasting and reconstructing songs in their own image by smoothing the edges and buffing the shine so that a wider audience might more easily find their way into them.

  • Album Review: River Whyless, 'Kindness, A Rebel'

    • 2018-08-30
    • Kelly McCartney

    As the album title suggests, true kindness requires intention and effort, compassion and courage. It is not a passive “live and let live” state of being. Rather, kindness is an active rebellion in times of fear, anger, and divide. And making music with that message is a wildly generous undertaking, especially when it's as globally inspired as this one is.

  • Album Review: Lori McKenna, 'The Tree'

    • 2018-07-31
    • Kelly McCartney

    There's a universality, a familiarity to the truths McKenna writes. Like the well-worn boards of a kitchen floor, you can hear the strained creaks from years of use, yet still feel the unwavering support of their inherent puissance and see the natural beauty in the details of their grain. Lifetimes have passed through these songs, as over those floors.

  • Album Review: Birdtalker, 'One'

    • 2018-07-24
    • Kelly McCartney

    Read what Kelly McCartney has to say about One, the debut album from Nashville-based quintet, Birdtalker.

  • Album Review: Lera Lynn, 'Plays Well With Others'

    • 2018-07-24
    • Kelly McCartney

    For her new release, Plays Well with Others, Lera Lynn takes an entirely different musical tack — writing and recording a set of duets featuring Rodney Crowell, John Paul White, Andrew Combs, Dylan LeBlanc, Nicole Atkins, Shovels & Rope, JD McPherson and Peter Bradley Adams.

  • Album Review: Erin Rae, 'Putting On Airs'

    • 2018-07-06
    • Kelly McCartney

    The themes Erin Rae unravels and weaves throughout Putting on Airs are as universal and timeless as the production that frames them. Read Kelly McCartney's full album review.

  • Album Review: Laura Veirs, 'The Lookout'

    • 2018-06-22
    • Kim Ruehl

    As much as music can provide a chance to unplug and focus on the exceptional beauty and lessons of the natural world, The Lookout takes us there, offering some much needed perspective, and impeccable guitar work to boot.