Hear It First

  • Hear It First: Kris Delmhorst, 'Light Breaks Through'

    • March 24, 2021
    • Henry Carrigan

    Light Breaks Through comes as a gift to us. Kris Delmhorst had written these three songs and wanted to include them on her recent album Long Day in the Milky Way, but she couldn’t find a place for them on the album. She decided that the time was right—after all the darkness we’ve been through in the past year—to release the songs. “Back when we were sequencing the album, it absolutely killed me to have to leave out these tracks,” Delmhorst recalls. “But as it turns out, this feels like the right moment in time for them. The songs from the album were all delivered from within darkness, wrestling with it in real-time. These three are written from a place just outside it. It’s as if the album was saying ‘you’re gonna make it through,’ and the EP says ‘whew, I think we made it through’ - not as simplistic as that, but when I step back from these two groups of songs that’s the general trajectory I see.”

  • Hear It First: Melissa Carper, 'Daddy's Country Gold'

    • March 18, 2021
    • Henry Carrigan

    We don’t have to dig very deep into Melissa Carper’s rich vein of songwriting and sing before we hit gold, for from the opening note on her new album her shimmering and pure vocals and the lush instrumental carpet on which her voice floats glimmer with a vibrant sheen that tells us we’ve struck it rich here. Daddy’s Country Gold showcases Carper’s ability to stretch out a note or a phrase to pull at our hearts, and her artful way of delivering a lyric with the just-right emotional power imbues these songs with a power that stays with us long after the final notes fade.

  • Hear It First: Mike Barnett, '+1'

    • March 16, 2021
    • Henry Carrigan

    Mike Barnett’s brilliant tune writing and songwriting shine through on the album, but his canny inventiveness on his fiddling, his ability to follow a central musical theme in a tune while at the same time effortlessly exploring musical paths that branch off from the main path showcases his inventiveness. His playing is revelatory, and his musical compositions often peel away the layers of traditional music to disclose sonic structures that have lain hidden in the tunes.

  • Hear It First: Tony Trischka, 'Shall We Hope'

    • January 07, 2021
    • Henry Carrigan

    When banjo innovator Tony Trischka embarked on this 18-track story cycle, Shall We Hope, 12 years ago, he could not have envisioned a group of right-wing protestors breaching the U.S. Capitol building in Washington, DC, as part of thrumming movement to reverse the results of a democratically held election.

  • Hear It First: Suzzy Roche & Lucy Wainwright Roche, ‘I Can Still Hear You’

    • October 26, 2020
    • Henry Carrigan

    From the guitar strums and exalted vocals of the title track—which opens the album—to the fading notes of the closer, I Can Still Hear You by Suzzy Roche and Lucy Wainwright Roche wraps us warmly in its lush vocal harmonies, its magical lyrics, and its ethereal musical atmosphere. Listening to this album is a bit like walking into a forest and being surrounded by sounds that beckon us with their beauty, leading us deeper and deeper into our soul’s dwelling place. The sonic structure of each song both comforts us and carries us out of ourselves, at least momentarily, flowing along cascading rivers of sound.

  • Hear It First: Bronwyn Keith-Hynes, 'Fiddler's Pastime'

    • September 01, 2020
    • Henry Carrigan

    Fiddler’s Pastime delivers a good time and illustrates Bronwyn Keith-Hynes’ ability to stretch out and follow her fiddle where it leads her as she travels brilliantly down various creative paths, illuminating our ways as we accompany her.

  • Hear It First: The Texicana Mamas, 'The Texicana Mamas'

    • August 18, 2020
    • Henry Carrigan

    The Texicana Mamas’ vision for their self-titled, debut album is clear: to celebrate their heritage and to bring the beauty of the music to others. Stephanie Urbina Jones says, “we wanted to be a voice for our people and our country; to follow the threads of love.” The Texicana Mamas is an album for our time, for it captures brilliantly the enduring beauty of small moments of our lives woven into a fraying social fabric in which love is the thread that holds the promise for unity and hope.

  • Hear It First: Laura Cortese & the Dance Cards, 'Bitter Better'

    • July 10, 2020
    • Devon Léger

    Effortlessly complex string arrangements that sound simple and natural? Check. Powerfully astute songwriting that touches on the waxing and waning of love across time? Check. Seamlessly integrated electronic music components pushing the album further towards indie pop than you might think? Check. Laura Cortese’s strength has always been as a bandleader, shepherding an eclectic and interesting vision for folk, and the new album finds her even more at the fore.

  • Hear It First: Mile Twelve, 'Roll the Tapes All Night Long'

    • June 25, 2020
    • Henry Carrigan

    Roll the Tapes All Night Long showcases Mile Twelve’s restless creativity, their ability to inhabit a song and turn it inside out to make it their own, even as they preserve the spirit of the original. Mile Twelve embraces every twist and turn in the musical terrain, showing us around the nooks and crannies of bluegrass, folk, jazz, and even rock, revealing the glimmering facets of each style.