Album Review: Ashley Ray – Ashley Ray EP

Ashley Ray

Originally published at The 9513 in May 2010. As best I can tell, Ray is now without a record deal but still playing around town. She has yet to release a full album. Someday, someone will let Ashley Ray release a full album. The Kansas-bred singer-songwriter first appeared with a four-song digital EP on Capitol Nashville in 2007. At some point, she moved over to Universal South, then survived the merger with Show Dog to release this new five-song EP on Show Dog Universal. Soundwise, it's … [Read more...]

Album Review: Bastard Sons of Johnny Cash – New Old Story

Bastard Sons New Old Story

Mark Stuart and his Bastard Sons of Johnny Cash cannot be accused of false advertising. New Old Story abounds with likable new approaches to well-trod subject matter. The main 'story' here seems to be the allure and excitement of the rambling musical life on one hand and its costs back at home on the other. If you're not familiar with the band (formed in 1995) yet, their name might deceive you. They don't sound much like Cash, nor do they have the punk or Americana leanings suggested by the … [Read more...]

Album Review: Kelsey Waldon – The Goldmine

Kelsey Waldon Goldmine

The first full-length collection from Kelsey Waldon (who hails from Monkey's Eyebrow, Kentucky) blisters with the realities of working-class twentysomething life: Full of lessons in heartbreak and resilience learned in the oppressive glare of small-town gossips and fellow barflies. This is the sort of hard country album where Mama appears as a touchstone of strength and good sense on at least five tracks; Daddy's either kind of a jerk or - more likely, in Waldon's gray-shaded world - simply too … [Read more...]

Album Review: Corb Lund – Counterfeit Blues

Corb Lund Counterfeit Blues

Not just a stopgap release between albums of new material, Counterfeit Blues is an ideal American introduction to the work of Corb Lund. For one thing, it's recorded live on the floor at Sun Studio in Memphis, the singer and his three-piece ensemble crackling with the spirit of rockabilly heroes past and daring to get as low down and dirty as anything you'll hear this year. For another, the track list is pulled entirely from what might be called Lund's breakout albums in Canada, Five Dollar Bill … [Read more...]

Album Review: Jim Lauderdale – I’m a Song

Lauderdale album cover

Jim Lauderdale is the very picture of a restless creative: In the past 25 years, he has released 26 albums ranging in style from modern and traditional country to pop, rock, folk, and bluegrass, often mashing and distilling it all into something that can only really be called Americana, Lauderdale style. I'm a Song joins The Other Sessions (2001) and Country Super Hits Vol. 1 (2006) as one of the prolific singer-songwriter's richest new millennium offerings for down-the-middle traditional … [Read more...]

Album Review: Eric Church – Carolina

eric church carolina

Originally published at The 9513 in the days preceding the March 2009 album release. The radio release of "Smoke a Little Smoke" - named here as a highlight - in 2010 would give Church his first platinum-selling single and catapult him to new levels of recognition. Now a curious historical artifact, the ranking of least favorite country artists referred to in the opening is here. With three Top 20 singles to his name, Eric Church still managed to score a spot between The Lost Trailers and Kid … [Read more...]

Backtrack: Billy Ray Cyrus and Friends, “Some Gave All”

billy ray cyrus

Review originally published at The 9513 in November 2010. Although this track seemed in the early stages of being released as a single at the time, it is not now classified as one - whether because that was never the intention or because it garnered so little interest that it was quickly withdrawn, I don't know. Anyway, thought this might be a fitting repost for Memorial Day. Songwriters: Billy Ray Cyrus and Cindy Cyrus No, you didn't just fall through a crack in the space-time … [Read more...]