On Ghosts of West Virginia, Steve Earle chronicles the lives, hopes, dreams, and regrets of families who've lived for generations in coal country with a masterful song cycle that's long on empathy and short on judgment.
On Lamentations, Americana band American Aquarium address these hard times, the sins of the South, and those that want the band to just shut up and sing.
If 2007 didn't invite any gripping controversies, it was certainly filled with competitive comparisons -- between young and old, past and present, and among splintered factions -- and both surprising hits and disappointing misses. All in all, a dynamic and at times resurgent year for the broad scope of Americana.
Able to write and sing the blues, gospel, folk, rock and alt-country with the same amount of true grit and passion, Lucinda Williams comes out swinging while discussing her explosive new album during these troubled times.
On her new searing album, Good Souls Better Angels, Lucinda Williams rages against the darkness of our era and seeks the strength to get through it.
Hiss Golden Messenger offer up a welcome serving of musical communion, and in the service of others, during a time when we all need consolation and reassurance. Forward, Children is a PopMatters Pick and aids a worthy cause: education.
Daniel Romano's Outfit would be the perfect act for a club outside the industrial park on a Friday night when paychecks are cashed, hard drinks flow, and all one wants to do is get lost in the loud music.
Returning with his first album under his own name since 2011, Teddy Thompson remains the king of heartbreak. "I just don't know how to write about anything else. I don't see that there is anything else really impactful to write about."
The Waco Brothers' Jon Langford talks about politics, the social climate, and being a musician in the wake of COVID-19. "It's the political equivalent of prog rock!"
Although M. Ward didn't plan the songs on Migration Stories for this pandemic, they're still capable of acting as a balm in these dark hours.
Lilly Hiatt sings about a different kind of love on "Some Kind of Drug". Hers is for a city and the impact gentrification has had its soul.
Ruthie Collins' Cold Comfort is devoid of glittery instrumentation and mellifluous lyrics. Instead, the music is raw, sometimes bitter yet earning for optimism. Collins' grittiness is measured and her anguish certain.
Every track on Lilly Hiatt's Walking Proof shines with imaginative playing, spirited vocals, and sensitive, literate lyrics. It's truly a kick ass record.
Katie Crutchfield's latest as Waxahatchee is a high point in an already impressive career. Saint Cloud finds an artist operating at the top of her game to produce a thrilling and inspirational work.
"Gaslighter" works as an enthusiastic anthem to mark Dixie Chicks' return. The song is full of infectious pop hooks delivered loudly with a smile and a sneer.
A down-to-earth roots musician who doesn't care if you call her instrument a violin or fiddle, Amanda Shires played it incredibly well while impressing Mile Highwomen, millennial men, and golden oldies alike during a hot winter night in Colorado.
The world is unraveling around us. But Americana duo the Mastersons know better. It's human feelings that make living worthwhile, as they show on their new album, No Time for Love Songs.
With "The Rain", Americana's Les Gruff and the Billy Goat bring a hearty and nostalgic jam to the table that features steel guitar from Mike and the Moonpies' Zachary Moulton.
On her new single, "Thunder", Nashville's Chloe Kimes shares her musings on reinforcing one's inner strengths and reclaiming their personal narrative.
The writing on the Lone Bellow's Half Moon Light strives towards the essence of a thing – emotional conflict and tension, inward or interpersonal – and resolution.
Rockabilly singer Tami Neilson hosts a brief but potent party straight from New Zealand on her new album, Chickaboom!
Kingdom in My Mind captures the energy of the Wood Brothers' live performances, and it invites listeners to come jam-out, as long as the lyrics aren't carefully scrutinized.
"Bad Luck" spotlights Answering Machine's tough-minded brand of rock 'n' roll with touchstones that range from Tom Petty and the Replacements to Jenny Lewis.
Americana's John Moreland has a deep voice and sings without affectation. There's an honesty in his straightforward delivery and something down-to-earth even in his most lofty sentiments.
Once Drive-By Truckers' The Unraveling hits the fourth song, "Thoughts and Prayers", the album dives headlong into the nightmares of the United States in 2020.
Texas country artist Terry Allen has a sinister sense of humor that he uses to lighten up Just Like Moby Dick and add emotional depth to seemingly innocent situations.
Traversing the distance between Nick Drake and Muscle Shoals, Bart Budwig delivers a haunting vocal line on "Four Leaf Clover".
Todd Snider's 2004 album, East Nashville Skyline, is getting a new lease on life with a new vinyl edition, but the veteran troubadour remains creatively restless and committed to his musical future. "I might sound like I know how life works but I don't. I know less about it all the time."
Americana's Allison Moorer has traveled the world, but revisits the early years of her small-town past — and the horrific moment that changed two sisters' lives — with an album and memoir that go to hell and back.
Old Crow Medicine Show honor history on Live at the Ryman, while continuing to show more interest in new, charged versions of tradition.
The opening cut from Texas roots rockers Micky and the Motorcars' upcoming album is the classic Americana jam of "Road to You".
Ketch Secor looks back on Old Crow Medicine Show's relationship with country music, discusses addiction, the importance of the Ryman, and music's ability to carry important messages.