This week,: New albums from Colin Cutler, Grant Gilbert, Joshua Ray Walker, and Josiah and the Bonnevilles, as well as a tribute album to the Judds.
The audacity to say, “inspired by the work of Flannery O’Connor,” and the talent to live up to that statement in both form and content. Another latecomer for the year’s finest album.
Between the Highways
A less sleazy Bailey Zimmerman, with a far better voice. Not great on his own merits here, but I’d for sure do a one-for-one swap between this guy and Zimmerman on radio playlists, at least.
A Tribute to the Judds
Fantastic more often than not, but the three tracks that fail (Gwen Stefani and Blake Shelton, Megan Moroney, Jelly Roll and K Michelle) are absolute horrors. Skip those, and you’ve got a set of some all-time and current greats who get why the Judds’ music endures and who rise to the occasion.
Joshua Ray Walker
I Opened For the Killers and All I Got was Appendicitis
Disappointing mostly for its brevity, some dodgy sound mixing, and lack of songs from the covers album, this is a live set that captures JRW as a star in ascent, rather than capturing a star at peak shine. Worth listening, sure, but his less-essential 2023 record.
Josiah and the Bonnevilles
Lesser iterations of Childers’ Appalachian songwriting and POV, but about the same iterations of Bryan’s low-budget production aesthetic and marginal singing. A couple of the songs really do hit, though, so still an act to watch in the long haul.