Another week has gone by and another really cool music week to enjoy. A feast for the ears for sure.
Hank Williams Jr. has signed on with Easy Eye Sound releasing “.44 Special Blues” in advance of a new record to be released later in the year.
Rockers Sweet Crisis is out with a stellar version of Free’s classic “I’ll Be Creepin”.
And, proving again that Easy Eye sound can do no wrong, Velveteers make their presence known in advance of a proper full-length later in the year.
And, why wait until record store day, here are five more ear-tickling nuggets to tingle the ears and soothe the soul.
Blackberry Smoke – Stoned
A digital drop of the 2021 Record store day release, this Blackberry Smoke Rolling Stones tribute was recorded, mixed, and mastered live in one take on November 6, 2020.
Featuring songs from the ‘70s pulling heavily from Exile on Main Street and Sticky Fingers, the less is more approach that super-producer Dave Cobb gives to the project gives it the loose feel magic that many of those mid-era stones carried back in the day.
Charlie Starr and Blackberry Smoke were born to inhabit the soul of “Sway,” and “Street Fighting Man” stays a bit too close to the vest to be actually cool.
But, you have a right to be pissed if you bought the vinyl because you were a Blackberry Smoke fan and you never thought this record would see the light of ear on your favorite digital platform.
Kurt Vile – (watch my moves)
Always flirting with the fringes of pop, adding a fuzz guitar there, a psychedelic interlude there, Kurt Vile consistently delivers a unique brand of Rock and Roll that while it can be a bit fried and sizzled at times, is always eclectically cool. And his latest, (watch my moves), is certainly no exception.
From the opener, “Going on a Plane Today,” Vile has plans to chug a beer, listen to Neil Young Young, and reflect on his younger self, setting the stage for a set of songs that wander stealthily through the garden as a perfect accompaniment for chilling on a bench reading Raymond Carver short stories.
The Lou Reed speak-sing lilt of “Flyin (like a fast train)” has a way of washing over you at first listen and completely enveloping you with multiple spins. And, the single “Like Exploding Stones” will have you going woo woo for the rest of the day.
This is a winner of a record that will require multiple spins on the turntable for the hook to set. But when it does, you will be a better person for listening to it. Certainly, a more advanced one.
Edgar Winter – Brother Johnny
Ultimately dying from fierce heroin addiction in 2014, Johnny Winter was one of the first white Blues-Rock virtuosos, a trailblazing precursor to Jonny Lang, Joe Bonamassa, Kenny Wayne Sheppard, and many more. And here, on Brother Johnny, his brother Edgar has gathered a who’s who of guitar slingers to pay tribute covering many of the songs that are part of the Johnny Winter canon over the years.
The list of artists that contributed here is ridiculously cool including Billy Gibbons, Joe Bonamassa, Kenny Wayne Shepherd, Keb’ Mo’, Derek Trucks, Joe Walsh, David Grissom, Steve Lukather, Doyle Bramhall II, Warren Haynes, Bobby Rush, and Robben Ford. Can I get an Amen?
With each song uniquely produced to match the style of the guest artist, each song, while having been heard thousands of times the tunes come out of the speakers as a wholly new entity. Highlights are many including the scorching “I’m Yours and I’m Hers” with Billy Gibbons and Derek Trucks going fret for fret, and “Highway 61 Revisited” featuring Kenny Wayne Shepherd.
As ringleader, Edgar Winter does a masterful job of playing and producing this record with the notable exception of adding Michael McDonald to the cast of cronies on “Stranger.”
And, on what was one of his last non-Foo Fighter appearances, Taylor Hawkins provides the drumming and backing vocals on the prescient “Guess I’ll Go Away.”
Kaitlin Butts – What Else Can She Do
Put a pin in this date of your musical listening history as you will likely want to remember the first time that up-and-coming Americana singer Kaitlin Butts hit your ear waves. With a voice that floats somewhere between Kacey Musgraves and Margo Price and a cowgirl rebel attitude that could rival Nikki Lane, there is a certain Lydia Loveless aura sounding her latest record, “What Else Can She Do.”
From the opening night-noir refrains from “It Won’t Always Be This Way,” the pure class of the songwriting demonstrated here is readily apparent.
“Speak of the devil, in he walks. It’s like his ears burn when I talk. Pushed in a gutter, stuck in a rut, waiting for the next turn of the knife in my gut.”
And it only gets better than there. “What Else Can She Do” has a definite Tanya Tucker by way of Shelby Lynne vibe, while “Jackson” is a dangerous spin on the original that namechecks Johnny and June. Spoiler alert, they never make it to Jackson.
At a tidy 7 songs in just under 32 minutes in length, this record should be digested in one bourbon-filled sitting not stopping until the closing Leadbelly staple “In The Pines” completes its mournful wail and floats away from your speakers.
A riveting turn from an artist that knows what it’s like to live on the knife’s edge without cutting herself and wants to tell us all about it.
Jewel – Freewheelin’ Woman
Seven years removed from her last attempt to reinvent herself, Picking Up The Pieces, Jewel has returned to the scene of the scene with the Pop-Soul centric Freewheelin’ Woman.
“Living With Your Memory” is pure Muscle Shoals bombast, “No More Tears” is a dramatic turn with an assist from Darius Rucker, and “Half-Life” could have been a hit song in the ‘70s by any number of the female country crooners.
You would be hard-pressed to find a more life-affirming song recorded this year than “Dance Sing Laugh Love,” the centerpiece of a record that might not put Jewel firmly back on the radar, but a visit from an old friend you haven’t heard from in a while is always welcome.