Gillian Welch

Sarah Jarosz, Song Up in Her Head

June 16, 2009 // 9 Comments

Interview emerging country music stars today and it may surprise you—especially if you listen to the radio—that they are all influenced by Hank Williams, Patsy Cline, Loretta Lynn and (if they play mandolin) Bill Monroe. When you find that they also claim to emulate artists such as Garth Brooks, George Strait, Alan Jackson or whoever else has recently gone platinum (with the exception of the Dixie Chicks), it can be almost discouraging to consider that few are even that traditional.

This brings us to Sarah Jarosz, whose debut with Sugar Hill Records, Song Up in Her Head, presents a very different view of influences and a noticeably different performer in its eighteen year old co-producer.

Seven years ago, while requesting an autograph from Chris Thile, Sarah Jarosz, not yet a teenager, expressed interest in, someday, playing music with Chris Thile. Since then, she has added Darrell Scott, Tim O’Brien, Jerry Douglas, Aofie O’Donavan, and Abigail Washburn—all who appear on her album—to her most often quoted list of influences. As a result, we are presented with an impressive, but much less calculated list than one might expect from a newcomer. Given that these are some of my favorite artists, it also sets a high bar with this particular reviewer. Fortunately for this recent high school graduate who plays mandolin, guitar, clawhammer banjo, octave mandolin, piano, and toy piano (we will get to that) on her debut album, these lofty expectations are not beyond her ability.

Sara Watkins, Sara Watkins

April 7, 2009 // 15 Comments

Since the “indefinite hiatus” of progressive acoustic darlings Nickel Creek, despite a history of diverging solo work, releases from Chris Thile and Sean Watkins have been shackled by expectations of a Creek-like sound. Much like releases from her former band mates, Sara Watkins self-titled debut is not a surrogate Nickel creek album. Instead, it is an album that is purely individual, combining the talent that we have already witnessed with more than a few surprises.

Say What? – Kristian Bush

March 15, 2009 // 47 Comments

I ran across the following quote attributed to Kristian Bush (of Sugarland) in an article in the U.K. newspaper The Independent, frankly titled: “Far from the old country music: Nashville is making yet another attempt to conquer the UK charts with artists who have crossed over so far they are virtually mainstream.” Bush can barely hide his impatience at’s arrogance. “The songs that will survive 40 years from now will have to do, not with their excellence at how they interpreted post-modern Appalachia, but how they interpreted the human condition. And in the end, as much as I’m a huge Wilco fan, no one’s going to remember them. They’re going to remember Katy Perry’s “I Kissed A Girl” – because that story is true. There’ll be another girl sitting at a window who’s kissed someone and that song speaks to her. And really, [Wilco and ex-Uncle Tupelo singer-songwriter] Jeff Tweedy Read More

Iconic Songs of the Last Decade

March 6, 2009 // 33 Comments

I was listening to The Band’s album Music From Big Pink earlier this week, and something struck me about the song “The Weight.” Trust me, you know the song. It goes a little like this: “I pulled into Nazareth / Was feelin’ about half past dead / I just need some place / where I can lay my head.”  Ring a bell yet? No? Try this: httpv:// In the song, The Band, originally consisting of Robbie Robertson, Richard Manuel, Garth Hudson, Rick Danko and Levon Helm, draws from a familiar cast of characters and American mythology to tell a universal story set in the town of Nazareth, PA. First released in 1968, “The Weight” only reached #63 on the U.S. charts, but has since achieved iconic status. It has become an American standard in a way few songs have accomplished. Indeed, Rolling Stone lists it as the 41st greatest song Read More

Bargain Hunter: Gillian Welch (Today Only!)

February 16, 2009 // 4 Comments

Gillian Welch, Revival – $1.99 Folks, don’t even think twice about this one. If you are a country fan and don’t own Gillian Welch’s wonderful, rootsy debut album, you have no excuse for not clicking the box below and dropping 2 bucks on it. Don’t just take my word for it: listen to the clips and hear for yourself. Entertainment Weekly writer Chris Willman recently named Revival one of the “25 Country Albums You Need to Hear (Even if You Hate Country Music)”, if you need yet another opinion. Unless you’re worried about your little expenses adding up or you don’t like MP3s, you really have nothing to lose and much to potentially gain at this price. But the deal is only good today, so get going! Buying instructions: click on the big “Play” symbol to play the clips. When they start playing, a little box with information about the Read More

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