This week peaks with four star efforts from Suzy Bogguss, Flatland Cavalry, and Chris Stapleton.
Expands their 2020 album with some solid new tracks, in support of their sure-to-be-banned-in-Texas memoir. “Call Me By My Name” is a whole mood in light of Americanafest, too. As ever, they’re a singer-songwriter with a true mastery of familiar structures.
Zac Brown Band
From the Road, Vol 1: Covers
Phenomenal band who utterly lost the plot a lifetime ago. They once had the taste to cover “Dress Blues.” Now, they cover “Bohemian Rhapsody,” “Use Somebody,” and “Sweet Emotion,” and neither their technical skill nor their stage guests can salvage a set list so aggressively middlebrow.
All I’ve Ever Known
Pity the engineering sounds so cheap and that Kay’s such a limited singer, because the consistent point of view of the songwriting– of the dissolution of a trad-wife marriage that sounds just hellish– is a compelling addition to the recent slate of pop-country divorce albums.
Their jump to a major label pays dividends, as it has clearly bolstered their confidence. This doesn’t entirely shake the Turnpike comparisons– hardly a bad thing, besides– but it’s the sound of a talented outfit figuring out how to be great.
Prayin’ for Sunshine
With so many poor singers in the genre right now, what a reprieve to hear one of its purest, most gifted vocalists again. She remains a singer of nuance and subtlety, and her phrasing on these songs is a wonder. A truly welcome return.
The Other Damn Half
The adage that “You can’t be ‘camp’ on purpose” applies here, but I love that she leans into her most over-the-top impulses without hesitation or apology. I just wish the specific point of view was a little less pandering to current mainstream trends.
Stapleton still desperately needs to break from producer Dave Cobb, but this boasts his most varied production to date, and it’s sure saying something that he’s never sounded better vocally than he does here (“Higher,” “The Bottom,” “Weight of Your World,” especially). His best solo album yet.