• Donna Ulisse: Hard Cry Moon

    Donna Ulisse: Hard Cry Moon

    Though not touted as a concept album, bluegrass singer-songwriter Donna Ulisse’s latest gem, Hard Cry Moon, could pass for one. Start with the hard-charging album opener, “Black Train,” fiddle- and banjo-fired with a red-hot mandolin ...
  • Melody Gardot: Currency of Man

    Melody Gardot: Currency of Man

    It takes Melody Gardot almost a minute and a half to appear on “Don’t Misunderstand,” the introduction to her provocative new album. Upon arrival, her voice ascends from a low moan amidst jabs of strings, ...
  • Ralph Stanley & Friends: Man of Constant Sorrow

    Ralph Stanley & Friends: Man of Constant Sorrow

    The rubber meets the road immediately on this alternately rousing and stirring collection of duets pairing 87-year- old bluegrass giant Ralph Stanley with various roots-centric partners. A Resurrection celebration, “We Shall Rise,” jets into Gloryland ...
  • Buddy Guy: Born to Play Guitar

    Buddy Guy: Born to Play Guitar

    Make no mistake: on his new album Buddy Guy gets some high-profile help, but the story is always Buddy Guy. While Billy Gibbons storms through “Wear You Out” with gruff authority and fiery six- string ...
  • Junior Wells: Southside Blues Jam

    Junior Wells: Southside Blues Jam

    It was Junior Wells’ return to the Delmark fold; it was the titan Otis Spann’s last recording session. Junior’s regular band—Buddy Guy, guitarist Louis Myers, drummer Fred Below, bassist Earnest Johnson—filled the studio with blues ...
  • Sean Costello: In the Magic Shop

    Sean Costello: In the Magic Shop

    A couple pertinent details about the astonishing “new” Sean Costello album: recorded in 2005 at The Magic Shop in New York City, its dozen mostly original tracks were only recently dusted off and polished to ...
  • Hot Rize: When I’m Free

    Hot Rize: When I’m Free

    It starts with a jaunty curlicue riff from “Mr. Banjo” (Pete Wernick) before Tim O’Brien’s plaintive vocal announces “Western Skies,” a tune born of heartbreak and centered on incipient wanderlust and its attendant anxieties. Hot ...
  • Keb' Mo': Bluesamericana

    Keb' Mo': Bluesamericana

    Three-time Grammy winner Keb' Mo’ returns with another trophy-worthy exploration of the human condition (notably his own) in various iterations of the blues as only he seems to imagine them. Consider the deftly executed archetypal ...
  • The Infamous Stringdusters: Let It Go

    The Infamous Stringdusters: Let It Go

    The Infamous Stringdusters have never had anything to prove as forward-thinking instrumentalists, but over time the quintet’s songwriters have become more daring too, perhaps taking a cue from the Steep Canyon Rangers in exploring existential ...
  • The Roys: New Day Dawning

    The Roys: New Day Dawning

    Following their 2011 breakout bluegrass hit Lonesome Whistle, the sibling duo of Lee and Elaine Roy probe deeper into their songs on New Day Dawning, and that’s saying something. Bridging country and bluegrass, The Roys ...
  • Rosanne Cash: The List

    Rosanne Cash: The List

    The List is a collection of country music classics bequeathed to Rosanne Cash shortly after her high school graduation by her father, Johnny Cash, who feared his daughter was lacking basic education in roots Americana. ...

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