“Mojave” by Donald McCrea, from the album “Migration”

DONALD McCREA is a San Francisco songwriter, photographer, and author.

 

 

“Fallen Again” by Vandoliers, from the album “Forever”

Today Country Punky Vandoliers style Americana with “Fallen Again”

The two genres’ incongruity stems from punk’s belief in community and country’s reliance on solitude. Yet Vandoliers mediate the two dissimilarities in “Fallen Again”. Vandoliers’ figurative country character is lone and itinerant, detached from any semblance of community. Their misanthrope is one who has

“been reckless, careless and selfish

Foolish in the ways of love

I woke up downtown, concrete face down

Last night I fucked it all up.”

But unlike standard country, Vandoliers see a community as necessary for recuperation, a clear punk tenet. As Fleming sings,

“I’m still breathing

Barely holding on to the end of my rope…Can you spare some water, brother, I am dry

Can you give me a hand, I’ve fallen again

Teach me to breathe

Give me release

I can’t do this alone.”

Vandoliers imbue the classic country figure with punk’s emphasis on community thereby establishing an individualized take on the two genres.

“Buddha Blues” by Will Kimbrough, from the album “I Like It Down Here”

Delta Blues from Will,  the rest of the album is an eclectic mix of Folk and Americana.

Well worth the wait of five years for this song.

“Superlover” by Luther Dickinson & Sisters of the Strawberry Moon, from the album “Solstice”

Luther Dickinson has always played nice with others, but the North Mississippi Allstars mainstay has never played with so many others as he does on Solstice, the first outing by Luther Dickinson and Sisters of the Strawberry Moon, an all-star collective that includes Amy Helm, Amy LaVere, Sharde Thomas, Birds of Chicago and the Como Mamas.

“I never intended to have my name on it,” Dickinson tells Billboard. “I just wanted to curate and produce it, and New West [Records] agreed to it. But when it came time to realize it, they wanted to put my name on it, and that’s just fine. I just wanted to get the artists together.” The album, out Friday, premieres below a day early.

The idea for Sisters of the Strawberry Moon hatched about three years ago in Chicago, when Dickinson was playing a show with LaVere, Thomas and Birds of Chicago — “a fortuitous meeting” during which the acts “became friends and started scheming and dreaming and make the plan to record everybody at my place in Mississippi,” he says. The eventual session was held over four days during the actual Strawberry Moon of the summer solstice at the Dickinson family’s Zebra Ranch Studio in Independence, Miss., and Dickinson likens it to “a musical potluck dinner — a group of interesting new friends that just brought different things to the table, anything and everything.”

 

Superlover starts the album with Birds of Chicago taking the lead in magnificant style using electric piano, fiddle and acoustic guitars.

 

“Storms” by Adam Carroll, from the album “I Walked In Them Shoes”

“Adam Carroll is like a very young Kris Kristofferson. He writes about things that are older than me.” – James McMurtry (in Rolling Stone)

“Influences? Adam Carroll. I used to skip my own gigs to go watch him…by far my favorite, somebody whose writing style I emulated in some ways.” Hayes Carll (in No Depression)

 

Now listen why

 

“Moonsmoke” by Caamp, from the album “By and By”

 

Brilliant album full of surprises, this track comes with horns and more

“Old Friends” by Steve Earle & The Dukes, from the album “Guy”

When Guy Clark recorded his 1988 album Old Friends, he enlisted a bevy of musician buds to fulfill the title, from Rosanne Cash and Vince Gill to Emmylou Harris and Rodney Crowell. Those last two appear on Steve Earle’s new version of the LP’s title track,  from his tribute to Clark, Guy.

In the hands of Earle and his band the Dukes, “Old Friends” is a solemn prayer, with Harris harmonizing with Earle on the opening verse. She did likewise on Clark’s original recording of the song, written by Clark and his wife Susanna Clark with Richard Dobson. Crowell, Jerry Jeff Walker, Terry Allen and Jo Harvey Allen also join in here, offering various spoken-word lines that underscore the timeless camaraderie of the songwriters.

“Lady in the Spotlight” by JP Harris, from the album “Sometimes Dogs Bark at Nothing”

‘Lady in the Spotlight’ a very relevant tale with the #MeToo movement in the news as it addresses the darker side of the music industry. Released in 2018 songs from the album keep popping up on everyones playlists here ar TMEfm.

 

 

“The Day We Learn Why” by Rob Heath, from the album Ticket to Everywhere.

 

Canadian Rob wrote a profound song, a sad song, a song not to enjoy but to savor.

 

 

She invites me to her room; One that she’ll be leaving soon
Eyes that tell with no regret; Secrets I’m too young to get
Maybe I’m not ready yet

I start to play she sings along almost like she wrote the song
She remembers how it goes all those words and all those notes
That I’d forgotten why I wrote

Heaven knows that the most important days of our lives
Are the day we were born and the day we learn why

Laid bare in her hospital gown and all the ways it strips you down
Its such a humbling sight to see her finding in that melody
A part of who she used to be

Though I came here to entertain she seems to have forgot her pain
I tell myself “She’s showing you the purpose in this thing you do
I wonder who is helping who.”

Edmonton-based singer/songwriter Rob Heath is first and foremost a storyteller. Nothing human is alien to Heath; hence he has a keen eye for observance of the human condition and an ardent ear for putting it all to music.

Heath’s songs speak of the lessons- good and bad- he has obviously learned during his life. Emotionally, he resides in a borderless world. His songs run the gamut from: whimsical, skeptical, explosive, introspective, hopeful, heart-rending, brooding, clever, and at times simply about true love and all of them brutally honest.

The concept of being concise does not escape him, and he presents astute assessments of life in a three to four minute format. The delivery is succinct, and his approach is what makes Heath’s vocals noteworthy. His phrasing allows the lyric to shine.

There’s myriad subject matter and musical styles, yet there is a tie that binds. It’s that Heath’s music is relatable poetry, supported by listener-stickable melodies.

The quality of Heath’s songwriting has been widely recognized. Over the years accolades for his songs have been many: won first place in the Calgary Folk Music Festival “Songwriting Contest”, won the New Folk competition at the prestigious Kerrville Folk Festival, and won a Canadian Radio Music Award for “Songwriter of the Year”, nominated for Canadian Folk Music Award’s “Songwriter of the Year”. Over 200 radio stations on six continents have played his music, and he’s been on songwriting panels for AMIA, WCMA and SAC. He has had publishing deals with Glen Campbell Music, Don Goodman Music and Criterion/Atlantic Music.