Album Reviews

  • Album Review: JP Harris, 'Sometimes Dogs Bark at Nothing'

    • November 12, 2018
    • Kelly McCartney

    Few songwriters in Nashville have had as many lived experiences as JP Harris. He's been a runaway, a train-hopper, a hitch-hiker, a farm worker, a carpenter, and more. Heck, the guy spent 12 years living in a remote Vermont cabin with no plumbing or electricity. JP Harris is a dadgum country song come to life. On his new Sometimes Dogs Bark at Nothing album, he brings many of those experiences to bear.

  • Album Review: The Watson Twins, 'Duo'

    • November 12, 2018
    • Kelly McCartney

    On their latest release, Duo, the Watson Twins are as harmonically synced as two separate bodies can be. For the first time in their career, they wrote the songs together, which led to the inclusion of unison vocal parts rather than their standard harmonies. The result, of course, is awfully cool. The way Chandra and Leigh bob and weave their voices together, effortlessly anticipating where the other will go, is really something to behold.

  • Album Review: Jason Isbell, 'Live from the Ryman'

    • October 31, 2018
    • Kelly McCartney

    Recorded during his 2017 Ryman run, the set culls songs from Isbell's last three records: Southeastern, Something More Than Free, and The Nashville Sound. If someone needed a Jason Isbell primer, this collection would be a pretty great entry point, as it works through rockers and weepers, alike, to offer up the full breadth of his songwriting talent.

  • Album Review: Kaia Kater, 'Grenades'

    • October 26, 2018
    • Kim Ruehl

    Kaia Kater’s latest, Grenades, is both concept album and deep dive into her own personal world. Focused on a search for identity, Kater spent several months in Granada—a tiny Caribbean island nation from where her father fled for Canada at the age of 14. How and why he landed in Montreal, where Kater was then born and raised, has always been a pressing question. Her musical answer is peppered with her father’s voice recalling scenes from the war and his migration with some mix of trauma, relief, and good humor.

  • Album Review: Gregory Alan Isakov, 'Evening Machines'

    • October 03, 2018
    • Folk Alley staff

    On his first LP in five years, Isakov’s Evening Machines was self-produced in his converted barn studio in Boulder County, Colorado. The music is a more serious form of whimsy; it takes you away to a fantastical place, but it’s extremely deep, very sincere and quite striking.

  • Album Review: Rodney Crowell, 'Acoustic Classics'

    • September 19, 2018
    • Kelly McCartney

    As with Mary Chapin Carpenter's captivating Sometimes Just the Sky album that dropped earlier this year, Rodney Crowell has now retraced a dozen songs from across his 40-year discography in a different setting. Dubbed Acoustic Classics, the set touches down in different decades to look back at these pieces through the lens of now.

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

    • September 18, 2018
    • 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'

    • August 30, 2018
    • 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.