Album Reviews

  • Album Review: Roo Panes, 'Quiet Man' (Deluxe Edition)

    • June 19, 2019
    • Kelly McCartney

    Quiet Man is one of those records that can be enjoyed on its vibe, alone, such is the warmth and comfort in which it swaddles those who listen. But a closer listen, in order to hear the thoughtful touches layered into the work, is well worth the effort.

  • Album Review: Ani DiFranco, 'No Walls Mixtape'

    • June 19, 2019
    • Kelly McCartney

    In tandem with her new memoir, No Walls and the Recurring Dream, DiFranco has revisited 16 songs from across her 30-year discography on No Walls Mixtape. It's fascinating to hear these compositions rendered with hard-earned, middle-aged calm rather than the fearless, youthful rage of decades past. (Good grief. Ani DiFranco is middle-aged!)

  • Album Review: Mavis Staples, "We Get By'

    • June 19, 2019
    • Kelly McCartney

    On her new album, We Get By, Mavis continues the work she's been doing for nearly 70 years — the work of reminding us who we are or, perhaps, who we can and should be if we stand on the right side of history and live with love for our neighbors. Much like with Livin' on a High Note, these songs were clearly written explicitly for Mavis and she, of course, is more than up to the task of delivering them with equal parts punch and poise. There's just no one else like Mavis.

  • Album Review: Rhiannon Giddens with Francesco Turrisi, 'there is no Other'

    • May 22, 2019
    • Kelly McCartney

    Where humans travel, so go their customs and cultures, including music. Nothing is pure. Not this far into an ever-evolving world. And, because no thing is just one thing, all things share some things. That is the idea, on both the personal and musical fronts, at the heart of there is no Other, the new album by Rhiannon Giddens in partnership with Francesco Turrisi.

  • Album Review: Joy Williams, 'Front Porch'

    • May 20, 2019
    • Kelly McCartney

    On Front Porch, Joy Williams deploys her crystalline voice and well-crafted songs wrapped in simple, timeless production to get all her points across. And she succeeds — greatly — proving that less isn't always more, but it is very often quite enough.

  • Album Review: Molly Tuttle, 'When You're Ready'

    • May 19, 2019
    • Kelly McCartney

    Having previously been named the Americana Music Awards Instrumentalist of the Year, the Folk Alliance International Song of the Year, and, twice, the International Bluegrass Music Association Guitar Player of the Year, Molly Tuttle already has a shelf full of trophies, despite having only released 2017's Rise EP. Now that her debut album, When You're Ready, is out, she's more than probably going to need extra shelves.

  • Album Review: Caroline Spence, 'Mint Condition'

    • May 19, 2019
    • Kelly McCartney

    Turning ordinary moments into extraordinary poetry has always been singer/songwriter Caroline Spence's bread and butter, a trend she continues on her latest effort, Mint Condition. Produced by Dan Knobler and released by Rounder Records, the captivating collection picks up the pace set by Spence's previous albums by injecting a touch more pluck... but don't worry, frens, it's just a touch.

  • Album Review: John Paul White, 'The Hurting Kind'

    • April 20, 2019
    • Kelly McCartney

    On his new album, The Hurting Kind, John Paul White harkens back to Nashville's days of yore, when guys like Owen Bradley and Chet Atkins ruled the Row by making beautiful, heartfelt records that were both organically earthy and lushly sublime, all at once.

  • Album Review, Jade Bird, 'Jade Bird'

    • April 20, 2019
    • Kelly McCartney

    Like most everything else in life, folk singers come in cycles, riding whichever traditions and trends suit the moment. Do you need a new Paul Simon? Check out Robby Hecht. Would you want a contemporary Carole King? Listen to Sara Bareilles. Might you love a modern-day Ani DiFranco? Pick up Jade Bird.

  • Album Review: Anna Tivel, 'The Question'

    • April 05, 2019
    • Kelly McCartney

    Songwriters do something really special: They take details of the world around and within us, and express them in words and music in order to connect us not only to them and their work, but to each other, if not ourselves, as well. It's an infinitely generous gift they have. And the ones who can turn plain spoken language into breath-taking poetry are the rarest of the breed. Anna Tivel has that talent. On her new album, The Question, she wanders through various lives and stories, noticing and recounting the tiniest of moments that carry the heaviest of weights.