Sunday Selections: November 29, 2015


Despite the fact that it’s the year’s biggest shopping weekend, this week offers a fairly paltry slate of new releases to get excited about. Fortunately, there are still plenty of newsworthy items to discuss after the tryptophan stupor wears off!

New Album Releases and Reissues, 11/27/2015


Billy Joe Royal, The Complete Early Recordings 1961 – 1966 (Dynamic Voice)
Various Artists, Bobby Gillespie Presents: Sunday Mornin’ Comin’ Down (Ace)
Stephen Young & The Union, Eagle Fort Rumble (Ragged Company Recordings)

News and Notes

Jason Isbell Something More Than Free

It’s the week of Thanksgiving, which means that year-end lists have begun to turn up from a handful of music magazines, including Mojo, Resident Music, and Uncut. Country and Americana albums that have already been cropping up on these countdowns include Jason Isbell’s Something More Than Free, Father John Misty’s I Love You, Honeybear, Alabama Shakes’ Sound & Color, and Nathaniel Rateliff & The Night Sweats. (JK)

“The murderer was a man named Francis Cooper and his victim was Anne Nichols. The crime occurred on Sunday, Feb. 10, 1683, in Shopshire, England. The crime was first immortalized in the British murder ballad ‘The Bloody Miller’ and took several twists and turns before ending up in Knoxville. Somewhere before crossing the ocean it was adapted into ‘The Berkshire Tragedy’ and, in Ireland, ‘The Wexford Girl.'”
From “Killer of the ‘Knoxville Girl‘ Finally Found 300 Years Later,” an interview and article by Wayne Bledsoe about British author Paul Slade’s Unprepared to Die: America’s Greatest Murder Ballads And The True Crime Stories That Inspired Them. Lest anyone still believed that crazy-eyed Ira Louvin was actually confessing to one of country music’s most heinous crimes, Bledsoe speaks with Slade about his research into the song’s origins and eventual transatlantic leap. (JK)

“MARTINA MEMORIES: When Jason Aldean barely acknowledged, and did not apologize for, wearing blackface. Because he sucks at being a person.”
— Drunken Martina, who we can always count on to be a voice of reason in times of hardship and confusion. (JK)

NPR’s Ann Powers, one of our favorite music writers, features Paul Burch in Songs We Love. Burch’s new project, Meridian Rising,  is an imagined musical autobiography of Jimmie Rodgers. If you’re wondering who Paul Burch is, check out this interview that our very own Sam Gazdziak did with him for Country Universe back in 2011 and you’ll see that Burch is  no stranger to fun concept albums. (LMW)


Since ’tis the season for gluttony and overdosing on carbs, Jennifer Nettles, who performed during the annual Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade, finally released the video for her single “Sugar.” It’s another video from her (following Sugarland’s creepy and not-at-all funny “Stuck Like Glue” clip) that seems to hinge on a bit of kidnapping and awkward dancing, but we love her anyway. (JK)

“Your music has enriched the lives of people far and wide for decades, and it is only fitting that your life’s work be honored in this way… Your music has become the soundtrack of our lives, and we are pleased to see your tremendous talent recognized today.”
— Former President Jimmy Carter, in a letter to Willie Nelson, congratulating him on earning the Library Of Congress Gershwin Prize. (JK)

“… When he sang his slow, beautiful cover of the “This Land Is Your Land,” INCLUDING the verse against private property, the crowd just chanted “USA! USA! USA!” like we were at the Olympics. No respect for the song’s true nature at all. Now, I can understand why everyone saw the song that way, given the way elementary schools sing the tune as one more patriotic ditty alongside God Bless America and America the Beautiful. It’s easy to not know the true backstory. But the way Johnson sings it – slow, solemn, minor chords – should be a clue that something special and different is happening.”
Nathan Empsall of Hard Times No More, observing a disconnect between Jamey Johnson’s delivery of “This Land Is Your Land” in a recent show and the crowd’s point-missing, oblivious reactions to the performance. (JK)


“I’m proud to be up here representing country music.”
— Sam Hunt, accepting his award for Best New Artist at the 2015 American Music Awards. The whole of country music was unavailable to comment on Hunt’s representation. Other winners at the AMAs, which has long been an awards show that doesn’t believe that massive sales, ubiquitous radio airplay, and a mobilized fanbase are their own rewards, included Luke Bryan, Carrie Underwood, and Florida Georgia Line. (JK)

“The perspective of everything in town certainly changed… In a way, it was almost like ‘you know what? Yes, the ratio of females to males is a little off.’ People may have always noticed it, but it just got more people talking about it. Any time people are talking about it, it raises questions and is a really good thing. It helps us work toward balancing it out and wanting to listen to new music. New females, right now, are writing really great material. You’re hearing the best music you’ve ever heard from females. I’m really excited about the opportunity. It’s a girl power moment.”
— Lindsay Ell discusses the ramifications of #SaladGate during an in-depth interview with TheRowdy‘s Jason Scott. She may overreach with her statement about hearing the best-ever music from women– though we appreciate her enthusiasm and her support of her contemporaries’ work– but she gives some thoughtful responses about her creative process. That she refers to herself as a “guitar nerd” and talks about using traditional country instruments to complete her voice as an artist both certainly bode well. (JK)


Amidst all the turmoil that Joey and Rory are experiencing with Joey’s terminal cancer diagnosis, in another heart-wrenching blog post, Rory reveals a taste of what’s to come on the gospel album that they recorded in October between Joey’s treatments. The album will be released in February. (LMW)


That will do it for this week’s post! Let us know in the comments if there is something we missed or if there are other types of content you’d like to see in this feature in the coming weeks! The crew here are hard at work on our year-end lists, and watch for more new reviews between now and the holidays!


  1. “This Land is Your Land” is socialist claptrap that completely violates the American spirit of independence and self-reliance. There is nothing wrong with private property. I’m sure many of the singers of the song have their own houses with private property signs.

    I do agree that people misunderstand its meaning, but in every rendition that I have heard, people cut out the private property sign and relief office part. Guthrie himself changed the verses depending on the audience. SO I can see why the average listener doesn’t know the song’s roots.

  2. @Jess

    I had bookmarked that article for this coming week’s round-up! It’s definitely a fascinating read– I can’t even decide what I want to use for the pull-quote for discussion purposes because there are so many choice statements.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.