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    With On to Something Good, Ashley Monroe puts her beguiling voice through its paces, delivering toe-tapping boogies, soul-tinged ballads, and summer-loving boppers.

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    Having set the artistic bar so immeasurably high with Southeastern, Jason Isbell challenged himself to best that effort with his new LP, Something More Than Free, and both he and producer Dave Cobb believe he did.

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    Alabama has a lot to be proud of when it comes to musical heritage, from both then and now. One of the Cotton State's newest treasures is soul-based singer/songwriter Anderson East.

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    Witnessing country singer/songwriter Ashley Monroe's career unfold feels very much like watching some of the greats in their prime, with her voice, songs, and style coming together in perfect harmony.

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    For 12 years now, various incarnations of this great American rock 'n' roll band have been churning out soulful, bluesy, rootsy records in an era of cookie-cutter records made by assembly-line bands.

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    Politically outspoken, in his life and his art, Steve Earle learned his craft from the masters -- guys like Townes Van Zandt, Kris Kristofferson, and Bob Dylan -- who often ran toward a challenge rather than away from it.

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    For over 30 years now, the Indigo Girls have continually pushed their music forward, switching up styles and sounds as their muses demand -- because, despite their activist and acoustic leanings, they've never been mere folk singers.

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    Chris Stapleton's soulfully rocking take on country music sidles up alongside Tim McGraw as naturally as it does Sturgill Simpson and Willie Nelson, carving out a middle ground that may well suit the mainstreamers, the upstarts, and the outlaws, alike.

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    Maybe not quite to the level of Johnny and June or Sonny and Cher, but the Weepies' Steve Tannen and Deb Talan are a much-beloved husband-wife duo who have been making delightful folk-pop records for the past dozen years or so.

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    It's a little bit crazy to think that John Linnell and John Flansburgh have been making music as They Might Be Giants for more than 30 years now. And, in some ways, they are just getting started.

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    No one has ever been able to pin Buffy Sainte-Marie down, and her new album continues that tradition. With more fire and less folk, it brings her music and mindset all the way into the 21st century.

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    From the opening strains of the title track through all the howls and hollers that follow, Alabama Shakes' new album is a huge step forward, artistically… though not a surprising one to anybody who knows their work and certainly not to the band.

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    Ben Gibbard has long been considered one of the most literate and compelling voices on the rock scene, indie or otherwise, and on his eighth Death Cab for Cutie album, Kintsugi, he has staged a return to form that even he acknowledges.

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    Lee Ann Womack makes the kind of country music that country used to be -- the kind of country that sings about heartaches, not tailgates. And it's the kind of country that proves how much she still has to offer and how ready she is to offer it.

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    For Brandi Carlile, her voice is the instrument through which she pays respect to life and love, to icons and idols. And, 10 years on, her story is a part of musical history still in the making.

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    Filled with confessions and communiqués in the guise of pop songs, Mary Lambert's Heart on My Sleeve finds the singer wearing her heart and, indeed, everything else on her sleeve.

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    While Ani DiFranco's latest release, Allergic to Water, may seem more peaceful than a lot of her works, it's no less puissant. No longer someone who is living in clip, DiFranco offers a languid meditation on life as she knows it, in this moment... not the next.

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    Antony and the Johnsons partnered with Charles Atlas for a remarkable performance piece called Turning. Now, the piece is being released as a DVD and CD in hopes that it finds a broader audience... and that's all Antony has ever dreamed of for this magical and transformative project.

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    For 25 years now, Lenny Kravitz has maintained a level of cool and creativity that few others have been able to match. How does he do it? He just feels and follows.

Five Questions: Iris DeMent

Posted on Aug 3, 2015 in Artist Interviews
Five Questions: Iris DeMent

Some 23 years ago, Iris DeMent appeared on the singer/songwriter scene with her Infamous Angel debut. With that set, she set her own artistic bar remarkably high, particularly with the folk perfection that is “Our Town.” Since then, DeMent has built an impressive catalog of albums and collaborations, all filled with her personal blend of […]

12 Best Quips from Dolly’s Return to the Ryman

Posted on Aug 1, 2015 in Concert Reviews
12 Best Quips from Dolly’s Return to the Ryman

After more than a decade away, Dolly Parton returned to Nashville’s Ryman Auditorium last night for the first of two sold-out benefit shows. Greeted by a standing ovation, she got things started by saying, “For those who don’t know me, I’ll fill you in,” before heading into “Backwoods Barbie.” As she worked through an evening […]

Keeping Calm and Carrying On: An Interview with Ashley Monroe

Posted on Jul 31, 2015 in Artist Interviews
Keeping Calm and Carrying On: An Interview with Ashley Monroe

When legends like Guy Clark and Vince Gill sign on to work with a young artist, you know there’s something there. Such is the case with country singer/songwriter Ashley Monroe. While Clark has co-written with the wonderfully talented songstress, Gill — along with Nashville A-lister Justin Niebank — has produced two of her three records, […]

Between the Lines: “Along the Way”

Posted on Jul 29, 2015 in Short Stories
Between the Lines: “Along the Way”

God. How’d I get here? I had a life way back in Tennessee. It wasn’t much of a life, but it was mine. And it was good. Well … good enough. The only reminder of it left, I still got a picture of my bride-to-be. Man, she’s beautiful. I loved her from the moment I […]

Jerry Was There: Neal Casal and the Grateful Dead’s Swan Song

Posted on Jul 27, 2015 in Feature Pieces
Jerry Was There: Neal Casal and the Grateful Dead’s Swan Song

Recently, the Grateful Dead celebrated its 50th anniversary and bid the world adieu with five Fare Thee Well performances split between Santa Clara, California, and Chicago, Illinois. The lineup onstage featured Bob Weir, Phil Lesh, Mickey Hart and Bill Kreutzmann along with Trey Anastasio, Bruce Hornsby and Jeff Chimenti. Offstage, another band came together to […]