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Hillman has released a
strong new album
featuring remakes of a
few Byrds’ tunes from
their earliest years.






Lauderdale, a Nashville
veteran, teams up here
with Nick Lowe’s band.




Earle has a way of being
both of the country and
comfortably urban,
thoroughly modern and
somewhat old-timey, a
serious social commentator
and a good-humored
balladeer.


New Americana

by Andrew Elias

Chris Hillman
Bidin’ My Time
Rounder Records

Chris Hillman is one of those artists that you probably haven’t heard of but you’ve been enjoying his music for years. As a crucial member of The Byrds (with Roger McGuinn and David Crosby, Flying Burrito Brothers (with Gram Parsons), Manassas (with Stephen Stills), and Souther-Hillman-Furay Band (with JD Souther), Hillman was one of the founding fathers of what we now call Americana music, music that melds various strains of American music from country & western, folk, bluegrass, and southern rock & roll.

In recent years he has continued to make excellent music, partnering with Herb Pedersen in the Desert Rose Band, keeping true to his C&W and bluegrass roots. Hillman’s new release is a bit of a departure, revisiting the folk rock sound of The Byrds. And who better to produce the record than Tom Petty, whose own sound owes so much to that seminal rock band of the 60s?

With the aid of old pals David Crosby and Roger McGuinn, and long-time fans Petty and Heartbreakers Mike Campbell and Benmont Tench, as well as Pedersen and Desert Rose Band members, Hillman has released a strong new album featuring remakes of a few Byrds’ tunes from their earliest years (‘The Bells of Rhymney,’ ‘Here She Comes,’ ‘She Don’t Care About Me,’ ‘Old John Robertson’), Tom Petty’s hit ‘Wildflowers’ and The Everly Brothers’ classic, ‘Walk Right Back.’

Few artists in the rock & roll pantheon have had a more storied, successful or influential career as Hillman, who continues to forge ahead making new music as classy and comfortable as any of his past work.


Shelby Lynne & Allison Moorer
Not Dark Yet
Silver Cross Records

To have Lynne and her sister Moorer join forces for an entire album is a dream come true for fans of either, and they will not be disappointed by their new collaboration. Each has a distinctive voice, yet both convey a combination of feminist strength and personal vulnerability, with Shelby tending to channel the bluesy sounds of Memphis a bit more and Allison leaning more towards the classic country music of Nashville.

In a collection of outstanding songs by the likes of Merle Haggard (‘Silver Wings’), Townes Van Zandt (‘Lungs’), Jason Isbell (‘The Color of a Cloudy Day’), Nick Cave (Into My Arms), and Bob Dylan (the title track), their cover of Kurt Cobain’s ‘Lithium’ may be the best of the bunch as well as the most surprising choice. Their emotional take on Jessi Colter’s ‘I’m Looking For Blue Eyes’ is another standout.


Jim Lauderdale
London Southern
Sky Crunch Records

Oh, that velvety voice! Lauderdale’s soulful vocals and easygoing style are hard to resist, and coupled with some of the strongest songwriting of his long career (it’s his 29th album), London Southern is some of his best work to date. The Nashville veteran teams up here with British rock legend, Nick Lowe’s band, and whether it be the horn-enhanced soul of ‘I Can’t Do Without You,’ the gospel influenced ‘What Do You Have to Lose?,’ the jazzy blues of ‘If I Can Resist,’ the honky tonk fun of ‘Don’t Shut Me Down,’ or the melancholy ballad, ‘I Love You More,’ Lauderdale has put together a collection of original songs with a groove that’s as easy to enjoy as listening to his distinctively gorgeous singing.


Justin Townes Earle
Kids In The Street
New West Records

Things have recently gotten very real for Earle, and if this album is any indication of how he hopes to meet his new life’s demands — sobriety, marriage, impending fatherhood — he should have nothing to worry about. At the very least, he’s making the best music of his life.

With the experience and confidence of six albums behind him, Earle tackles rockin’ rockabilly (‘Champagne Corolla’), heartbreaking honky tonk (‘What’s She Crying For?’), jazzy swing (‘What’s Goin’ On’), New Orleans’ R&B (‘15-25’), and bluesy soul (‘There Goes A Fool’) with the same songwriting prowess and sense of fun.

Earle has a way of being both of the country and comfortably urban, thoroughly modern and somewhat old-timey, a serious social commentator and a good-humored balladeer. Perhaps that is why he can embrace so many and varied musical genres to convey his maturing personal angst and world view. His best album to date and a foreshadowing of better things to come. •


September-October 2017