A slightly abbreviated post for this Easter holiday weekend builds even more hype for the upcoming Sturgill Simpson album.
Simpson leads the way this week with a new music video and an absolutely essential joint interview with Merle Haggard. High-profile new albums from Margo Price and Parker Millsap are absolutely worth picking up, especially in a week that’s light on reissues.
Elsewhere, there are insightful interviews with Heather McEntire of Mount Moriah and Ketch Secor of Old Crow Medicine Show and kind-of maddening interviews with radio insiders and the still-reeling The Band Perry. Dierks Bentley gets nekkid for some ACM promotion, while Loretta Lynn, Willie Nelson, and Cyndi Lauper unveiled new videos.
New Releases & Reissues, 3/25/2016
RJ Comer, Nightly Suicide. (Growling Moon)
The Currys, West of Here. (The Currys)
Parker Millsap, The Very Last Day. (Thirty Tigers)
Jason Paulson, Crow River Ramble. (Campervan)
Margo Price, Midwest Farmer’s Daughter. (Third Man)
Various Artists, I Saw The Light: Music From The Motion Picture. (Legacy)
News and Notes
Loretta Lynn and Willie Nelson premiered the music video for “Lay Me Down,” their lovely duet from Lynn’s latest album, Full Circle. (JK)
“I really approach lyric writing from a poet’s perspective — ‘What is like tangible for me?’ — connect to that experience. A lot with this record, I just looked around at what was right in front of me. A lot of the places and the imagery, probably half of it is what I can see from my front porch and into the woods and the pond and stuff. Nature, it played a very instrumental part. What’s so weird is if you don’t know what Carteret County line is or Fishtown Road — but I feel like maybe the spirit is there, the essence. Maybe it’s the way I sing it. I hope people can see that.”
— Heather McEntire, frontwoman of Mount Moriah, spoke about her sources of inspiration for the lyrics on the band’s terrific new album, How To Dance, in an in-depth interview with Jordan Lawrence of Nashville Scene. (JK)
For those of us who thought Dierks Bentley might be a little too modest to make for a good host for the ACM Awards, he posted a video to his Twitter account to suggest otherwise… (JK)
“Lyrically, I feel [Zac Brown Band’s “Beautiful Drug”] is deeper, so it just took a little longer to kick in. Eventually it did and is now testing power for us.”
— Tim Roberts, Programming Director for Detroit’s WYCD, offers a glimpse behind the curtain of what PDs at country radio think qualifies as lyrical depth these days. Which says so much about the state of radio. (JK)
Brandy Clark announced that she will release her highly anticipated sophomore album, Big Day in a Small Town, on June 10th. Kacey Musgraves is featured on the track, “Daughter.” (JK)
“We might call ourselves hip-hop heads, or punks, or jazz aficionados, but at the end of the day we just want to feel something from music, regardless of the genre. We want to connect. Music is a relationship and that’s where Musgraves wins big; she’s in her music. Her medium may be different, but her message, her authenticity, and her battle to challenge the system resembles that of your favorite rapper.”
— Lucas Garrison, a contributor at DJbooth, wrote a must-read essay on his appreciation of Kacey Musgraves’ music to coincide with her recent sell-out show at the famed Apollo Theater. (JK)
American Idol standout Kree Harrison unveiled some new music on Spotify. (TS)
“The fact that we’re living in a town that, 50 years ago — in addition to making all of this great country music — also made this wide-ranging, kaleidoscopic, carnival of an album, it’s something worth noting. Nashville produced pop music’s very first double album, a record that was deeply paid attention to by every rock ‘n’ roll singer in the country, and abroad, too.”
— Ketch Secor, frontman of Old Crow Medicine Show, spoke with friend-of-the-blog Juli Thanki of The Tennesean about OCMS’ tribute to Bob Dylan’s Blonde On Blonde. The old-timey stringband will perform the album in its entirety at the CMA Theater on May 12th and 13th. (JK)
Rolling Stone premiered Tom Hiddleston’s cover of “Move It On Over” from the I Saw The Light soundtrack. (TS)
“I see this gap happening in the market where the only time I hear a girl sing on the radio, it’s a love song — or it’s like a ‘fuck you’ love song. I felt like I live in the middle of those worlds, where I don’t wanna feel extreme in either way. It’s OK to be a young adult in [your] 20s and not have to worry about getting married or getting pregnant, having a baby. I’m in that window right now.”
— Maren Morris, reflecting on the limited POV available to women on country radio based upon what programmers will play, in a must-read interview with Jewly Hight of NPR. Morris’ comments are part of a longer piece by Hight, in which she notes that the current trend in country music is to display authenticity in an “artfully mellow” way. (TS)
Cyndi Lauper premiered the music video for “Funnel Of Love,” the first single from her upcoming country album, Detour. (JK)
“It’s a little better on radio, for sure, but I don’t see anybody -saying, ‘We’re good.’ There’s not a requisite amount [of female successes] where everybody will just shut up. It’s [still] disproportionate what our genre looks like when you compare it to other formats. I’m encouraged. It’s growing, but it does have quite a way to go.”
— Cris Lacy, VP of A&R for Warner Music Nashville, spoke at the Song Suffragettes Summit in Nashville on March 16th. Lacy’s remarks are included in a longer piece by the always reliable Phyllis Stark of Billboard, considering whether or not the tides have turned more in favor of women at country radio. (JK)
Chris Stapleton returned to his hometown of Paintsville, Kentucky, for two concerts this week. As part of the shows, Stapleton donated $57,000 worth of instruments to the Johnson High School band. (JK)
Stoking even further anticipation for his upcoming album, A Sailor’s Guide to Earth, which will be released on April 15th, Sturgill Simpson released a music video for his cover of Nirvana’s “In Bloom.” (JK)
“That’s interesting when you say that it’s what keeps you alive and what destroys your life at the same time. That’s been the biggest thing as far as the transitional aspect of this in my family’s life. It’s been the hardest part for me. Everything coincided around the same time, my son being born and then my record took off, and then I spent the first year of his life on the road, watching him grow through pictures. That was all a little bittersweet and hard to swallow some days.”
— Simpson again, in response to a statement from Merle Haggard about the impact his touring schedule has had on his family. It’s part of a fascinating, must-read conversation between Haggard and Simpson for Garden & Gun magazine. (JK)
“But are we done with country radio? Heck no. I’ll even say hell no.”
— Kimberly Perry, in a rambling and specifics-free interview with KMLE Country, insisted that The Band Perry will continue to pursue success at country radio. She and her brothers also disingenuously claim that they have no idea where the rumors about their moving in a pop direction could have originated. Which is to say that their descent into irrelevance continues full-speed ahead. (JK)
Country Universe favorite Tami Neilson gave a note-perfect performance of her song “Cry Over You” on the CBC’s Q program. (JK)
That will do it for this week. Let us know in the comments if there’s something we missed! And be sure to check out Kevin’s #ThrowBackThursday post about Pam Tillis’ “Maybe It Was Memphis!”
The Garrison essay was interesting. He makes a good point where he writes: “we can become so focused on opening minds to our music that we forget to open our own. For as sick as it makes me to see hip-hop judged based on what’s on the radio, I’ve been doing the same thing to country music for years. I have always made fun of my friends who love the genre. I would sing a fake song about driving down a dirt road in a pickup with a Bud in hand.” From the mid 60’s through the early 70’s I was one of those who mocked country music.
I can’t say that I’ve paid much attention to rap or hip hop. Maybe there’s some of this music I would like. I liked a lot of Motown artists from the 60’s and 70’s and I liked the Ink Spots who were big in the 30’s and 40’s. The songs of the Ink Spots generally featured a talking part, maybe a very mellow predecessor of rap? Per wiki: Their “format called for the tenor (Bill Kenny or Deek Watson) to sing the lead for one chorus followed by a chorus performed by Bass singer Hoppy Jones where he would recite the lyrics rather than sing them. After a chorus of the “talking bass” the lead tenor would carry out the rest of the song until the end.” Wonder if Garrison likes or would like the Ink Spots.