• 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.

  • Though singer/songwriter Chely Wright made her name on the country charts back in the '90s, her new album's quiet confidence showcases what is probably the truest side of her: a conscious and caring, creative and compassionate soul rooted in faith and family above all else.

  • 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.”

  • When you grow up in a small town, oftentimes, your dreams are all you have. The dream Brandy Clark harbored was to be a country singer... a dream that has come true.

  • 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.

  • When Natalie Merchant departed 10,000 Maniacs in 1993, it was to find her voice … which also happened to be the voice of her generation. Finding it, becoming it was something she accomplished right out of the gate.

  • In the two decades since her debut, Patty Griffin has blown her music wide open, time and again. This year, she brought all of her influences and inspirations to bear in Servant of Love, a masterful and mesmerizing work.

  • 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.

  • 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.

Valerie June: The Order of Time

Posted on Apr 7, 2017 in Album Reviews
Valerie June: The Order of Time

One of the best things about modern roots music is its conflation and innovation, of traditions and of visions. And many of the artists making the greatest strides in that regard are Black artists, including Alabama Shakes, Rhiannon Giddens, Son Little, and Valerie June. Each brings an inimitable style and an indelible spirit to their […]

The Turns of Humor and Terms of Happy: A Conversation with Aimee Mann

Posted on Mar 31, 2017 in Artist Interviews
The Turns of Humor and Terms of Happy: A Conversation with Aimee Mann

In an age of rampant anti-intellectualism, it’s imperative that we cling to the brainiacs among us, be they scholars or scientists, pundits or poets. One of the smartest of the songwriter smarty pants has long been Aimee Mann and, thankfully, she’s back with a new album to get us through 2017, the more-than-aptly titled Mental […]

Infinite and Unforeseen: A Conversation with Sera Cahoone

Posted on Mar 24, 2017 in Artist Interviews
Infinite and Unforeseen: A Conversation with Sera Cahoone

There often seem to be seasons in life, when one thing after another takes our breath away — and not always in a pleasant way. Singer/songwriter Sera Cahoone has been experiencing just such a time for the past few years. From losing her cousin in 2014 to getting engaged in 2015 to breaking that off […]

Caroline Spence: Spades & Roses

Posted on Mar 17, 2017 in Album Reviews
Caroline Spence: Spades & Roses

When you think about it, songwriters do an amazing thing. Taking a limited number of notes and a limited number of words, they craft infinite expressions of emotion. They turn the mundane into the sacred, the personal into the universal. It’s a wonder, really, that there are so many different ways to say — or […]

Squared Roots: Tift Merritt x Linda Ronstadt

Posted on Mar 8, 2017 in Artist Interviews
Squared Roots: Tift Merritt x Linda Ronstadt

In the world of folk-rock, a few artists reap the lion’s share of mentions, with Joni Mitchell, Bob Dylan, and Jackson Browne, among them. One of the great voices of the genre, though, is Linda Ronstadt. As a singer and song collector, she is all but unrivaled — a point most of her peers would […]