Jim Lauderdale Goes Hardcore Country

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As prolific a music maker as Jim Lauderdale is, it’s not inconceivable that he could have forgotten about writing a song for Conway Twitty three decades ago with Melba Montgomery (George Jones’s duet partner before Tammy Wynette) and a couple other country tunesmiths – a song to which his name is attached in a purportedly […]

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Nickel Creek: Three-Part Harmony

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*** As morning-after scenes go, the one depicted in “Rest Of My Life,” the opening track of the new Nickel Creek album, is pretty tame. Our protagonist has awakened to a trail of empty Solo cups, a splitting headache and a heightened sensitivity to sunlight. Sounds like your run-of-the-mill hangover. But there’s one truly noteworthy […]

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Brandy Clark: Second Chances

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Brandy Clark looked to be right on trend when the video for her rockabilly-goosed track “Stripes” premiered on July 4. There were scenes of her pistol-cocked confrontation with a cheater in the act, mussed-hair mug shot poses and attempts to cope with life in lock-up, including an insultingly orange prison suit. Exactly a week later, […]

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That Old Time Rock And Roll: Inside The 2013 Americana Honors And Awards

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The idea of taking one part twang and folding in the edgier sensibilities of the times has been around for half a century or more, from hippie-fied country-rock to riff-driven roots rock and the heated-up hillbilly fare that Dwight Yoakam—the 2013 Americana Artist of the Year winner, in absentia—took from L.A. rock clubs to the […]

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Going All The Way: A Q&A With The McCrary Sisters

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Deborah, what it like for you to be coaxed back into singing and songwriting after so much time away? The only guests that Bob Dylan invited to join him on stage at the Nashville stop of the AmericanaramA tour were the McCrary Sisters: Ann, Regina, Alfreda and Deborah. Regina used to sing with him during […]

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Tweaking Tradition: A Q&A With Valerie June

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You may know Valerie June as the siren in red who accompanied Eric Church at the most recent ACM Awards. Or you might’ve heard her conjuring Nina Simone on Meshell Ndegeocello’s album last year, or pulling her weight in a roots revivalist string band alongside Luther Dickinson, Amy LaVere, Shannon McNally and Sharde Thomas before […]

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Rodney Crowell and Emmylou Harris Rekindle The Spirit

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This article appears in our May/June issue. Subscribe here. As Emmylou Harris answers the door of her Nashville home and ushers her duet partner Rodney Crowell into the kitchen, their conversation skips from lighthearted greetings to official matters. He’s offered to host the rehearsals for their upcoming tour at his house, and she’s inquiring as […]

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Mary Gauthier: Live At Blue Rock

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Mary Gauthier Live At Blue Rock (In The Black) Rating: 4 out of 5 stars This may seem like a counter-intuitive thing to say, but it’s good for Mary Gauthier’s audience that she has real limitations as a singer. Her awareness that her vocal instrument isn’t the most supple one in the world has compelled […]

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Toby Keith: Hope On The Rocks

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Toby Keith Hope On The Rocks (Show Dog/Universal) Rating: 3 out of 5 stars It’s a fairly well-kept secret that Toby Keith’s singing and songwriting abilities rival those of just about any act in contemporary country music. The perplexing thing is that Keith himself is the one most responsible for keeping the secret. For at […]

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Taylor Swift: Red

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Taylor Swift Red (Big Machine) Rating: Four stars When Big Machine released the Max Martin-produced lead single from Red, “We Are Never Getting Back Together,” a big topic of conversation was how decidedly un-country the track was. Around that time, Big Machine label head Scott Borchetta did an interview with NPR’s Marketplace and gave the […]

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Amy Cook: Nourishing The Soul

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Things could have gone very differently for Amy Cook. We’re talking about the difference between glossily produced, mass appeal pop-rock and the stripped-down, under-the-radar, roots-pop singer-songwriter scene Cook finds herself in today. Hanging out and writing songs in L.A. right after college, without her heart set on any particular music trajectory, she walked into a […]

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Jason Aldean: Night Train

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Jason Aldean Night Train (Broken Bow) Rating: Three stars As performed by James Brown and band in the early ‘60s, “Night Train” was a horn-heated instrumental boogie chugging its way toward a funky, new kind of groove. The title track of fellow Georgia native Jason Aldean’s fifth album is, of course, an entirely different “Night […]

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