Folk, country, bluegrass, blues : it’s all here.
Alice Gerrard – Teardrops Falling In The Snow (Follow the Music)
Pure gold from an icon of American roots music. 2014 was the year of the octogenarian, with Willie Nelson and Leonard Cohen also coming out with strong releases.
Ben Harper & Ellen Harper – How could we not believe (Childhood Home)
“My mom and I making a record together is something we have talked about doing for a very long time,” Harper tells Rolling Stone. “I guess you could say a lifetime.”
Brian Payne – Coffin Song (Brian Payne EP)
After the release of his first self-titled EP in February, Brian was awarded a top 10 finalist position in both the 2014 Telluride Bluegrass Festival and 2014 Rocky Mountain Folks Festival songwriting competitions.
Cahalen Morrison & Eli West – Natural Thing to Do (I’ll Swing My Hammer With Both My Hands)
Seattle duo who’ve given old-time American roots music a new lease of life.
Dave & Phil Alvin – Just A Dream (Common Ground)
The two brothers may have had their fallings out, but a shared love of bluesman Bill Broonzy brought them back together to record 12 of his songs. “We argue sometimes, but we never argue about Big Bill Broonzy,” Dave Alvin explains.
Dawn Landes – Try to Make a Fire Burn Again (Bluebird)
After her divorce from Josh Ritter, “I suffered and I cried and after the crying stopped the songs started to come. This album is the rainbow after the storm. When a relationship ends, both people walk away hurt. It just so happens that both of us wrote albums in the aftermath. I am stronger now and I can only hope that these songs might bring strength to anyone going through the kind of heartache that I did.”
Eric Bibb – I Heard the Angels Singin’ (Blues People)
Cover version of a gospel number by blues legend Reverend Gary Davis by Finnish resident Eric Bibb with guest vocals by the Blind Boys of Alabama.
The Howlin’ Brothers – World Spinning Round (Trouble)
Ian Craft : “I just love being able to play a quieter show and still have 100 people dancing and rocking just as hard as if we were playing with twin amps and two drum sets … I love that about Southern music, it’s subtle. It doesn’t have to be like loud thrasher rock ‘n’ roll. That stuff’s cool too, but I think we’ve just kind of developed an appreciation for the subtleties as we’ve grown up. Folks like Doc Watson and John Hartford just changed our world as far as we see music. There’s just so much beauty in simple acoustic music.”
Jamestown Revival – Headhunters (Utah)
“We recorded the whole album in a log cabin in Utah and we took it a step further and got a tape machine – an old tape machine with 16 tracks – and used all ribbon mics and recorded live in the living room. That’s how we recorded the album – all live tape. There were no headphones, no overdubs, it just was what it was.”
John Hammond – Jockey Full of Bourbon (Timeless)
“When I was 7 years old my father took me to see Big Bill Broonzy.” It was the start of a lifelong love affair with the blues. Hammond’s latest release marks his 50th year as a recording artist. This is a Tom Waits cover.
Mary Gauthier – How You Learn to Live Alone (Trouble & Love)
Probably my favourite song of the year. “I wrote this with my friend Gretchen Peters … all in all, it’s been a magical little song. We wrote it in a very short period of time, I’d say less than 2 hours. It came fast, and I am not sure how we did it … I remember Gretchen sitting at her little red piano working on a melody. I remember her saying maybe we should do a list, ‘First you fall, then you’ and so on, and the rest is a blur. Lines came to me, lines came to her, and we rode the flow.”
Old Crow Medicine Show – Tennessee Bound (Remedy)
One-time buskers; now festival headliners, chart toppers, and members of the Grand Ole Opry. And they’ve achieved all this without compromising their music or who they are.
Otis Gibbs – It Was a Train (Souvenirs of a Misspent Youth)
He has a big beard. He tells great stories. And he gives a damn. Thanks for coming to Liverpool, Otis !
Sunny Sweeney – Everybody Else Can Just Kiss My Ass (Provoked)
“It was hard being a girl in the male-driven Texas scene, but when I found a little crack to slip into, I wanted to make sure I didn’t let any of the fans I was gaining or myself down. I wasn’t singing the kind of bullshit songs that I think a lot of people sometimes expect from a girl. I was singing about real things: marriage, divorce, dying, and most importantly, living. My biggest compliment is when someone says, ‘Man, I hate chick singers, but I love me some Sunny Sweeney.’”
Willie Watson – Stewball (Folk Singer, Vol 1)
He’s a singer, guitarist and banjo player and longtime member of Old Crow Medicine Show. The album’s an exploration of old time roots music. This is a song about a British racehorse which has become part of the American folk canon.