• Two songwriters who have perfected the art of weepers are Lori McKenna and Lucy Wainwright Roche, though they employ completely different means to reach the same end. Wainwright Roche is the Kupka to McKenna's Gauguin, with both coaxing beauty out of sadness.

  • "By the Way, I Forgive You" is the album many of Carlile’s fans and critics — as well as Carlile, herself — have been waiting for her to make, as it captures both the expansive power and vulnerable intimacy that make her live shows so indelible and affecting.

  • Every now and then, a voice comes along that is so thoroughly in tune with the times that it can't -- and shouldn't -- be ignored. This year, that voice belongs to Rhiannon Giddens.

  • On what is, perhaps, her finest release of the past 15 years, Aimee Mann wanders in and out of stories that revolve around the hub of dysfunction that is the experience of being human.

  • It wasn't the first time I heard k.d. lang's voice that carved out a forever place for her in my heart. It was the first time I saw a photo of her for, in it, I saw a reflection of who I was or, more likely, who I wanted to be.

  • It's hard to describe Amanda Shires, as a person or an artist. There's just something about her that floats above and beyond categorization and calculation. Perhaps it's the poet in her that tilts and colors her worldview.

  • Kenny Rogers has sold more than 120 million albums worldwide, and made in onto the charts every decade for the last seven. He's had 24 number one hits, 12 number one albums, and racked up more accolades, awards, and accomplishments than he can keep track of.

  • Mavis Staples' need to do what she does seems unattached to anything other than the pure pleasure and emotional expression of the music itself. If she weren't “Mavis Staples, the much-lauded gospel singer,” no doubt she'd still be “Mavis, that lady with the amazing voice in the church choir.”

  • Mere mention of Steve Martin's name instantly evokes a multitude of references to his iconic comedic work over the past five decades. But there's so much more to the man than just a wild and crazy guy.

  • Singer/songwriter Jason Isbell grew up in Greenhill, Alabama, with a head full of poetry and a heart full of soul. He's come a long way since then ... without going all that far.

  • 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.

  • 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.

  • 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.

  • 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.

Black Women’s Stories Front and Centered on Our Native Daughters Album

Posted on Feb 21, 2019 in Features
Black Women’s Stories Front and Centered on Our Native Daughters Album

In a world founded on patriarchy and ruled by white men, the black woman lands at the bottom of the power structure, her voice muted and mangled, decade after decade, century upon century. But the bottom of any kind of structure is also its base, making the black woman the foundation upon which all else […]

The War and Treaty: “If It’s in Your Heart”

Posted on Feb 15, 2019 in Premieres
The War and Treaty: “If It’s in Your Heart”

There are a lot of things about being human that are hard and scary. On the inestimably long list, being vulnerable with another person is most certainly near the top. It requires immense courage to share something of yourself with another, when their response isn’t sufficiently pre-determined to be positive. Whether it’s saying “I love […]

J.S. Ondara: Tales of America

Posted on Feb 4, 2019 in Reviews
J.S. Ondara: Tales of America

The idea — or, more rightly so, the myth — of the American dream is something that reverberates the world over. Though the specific details are likely different for everyone, the overarching vision is certainly the same, summed up pretty well in the iconic “life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness” phrase. In the world’s […]