BlueSky Bullet Points: November 12, 2023

This week peaks with four star efforts from Suzy Bogguss, Flatland Cavalry, and Chris Stapleton.


Cidny Bullens

Little Pieces

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.


Alexandra Kay

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.


Flatland Cavalry

Wandering Star

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.


Suzy Bogguss

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.


Hannah Dasher

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.


Chris Stapleton


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.


  1. …only reviewed the stapleton album out of this batch so far, but it’s a very good one indeed. particularly, considering what it basically is for the most part: a message of love, devotion and gratitude to his wife morgane. having said that, “higher” makes me cringe when he tries to take his vocals that high up.

    by the way, jonathan/mr. keefe – you seem to miss the trees for the forest, when it comes to (female) singers at present. there is an abundance of mighty fine female vocalists out there at the moment: miranda lambert, ashley mcbryde, ashley monroe, carly pearce, brandy clark, sunny sweeney, lainey wilson, tamy neilson, ella langley, courtney marie andrews, danielle bradbery, lauren alaina, jillian jacqueline, whitney rose, jamie lin wilson, courtney patton, avery anna, kk johnson, emily ann roberts, emily scott robinson, gabby barrett, brit taylor – just to name some from the upper tier of my watchlist. i should even include kylie morgan’s and megan moroney’s sexy voices here as little guilty pleasures. fair enough, they may not exactly match suzie bogguss’s voice and vocals, but how many ever did?

  2. I barely even know where to begin to respond to this, other than to say that you can very easily search for what I’ve written here since 2012 and elsewhere since 2005, and that there’s no one who’s written more frequently or more favorably about Tami Neilson than I have.

    • …i’m fully aware of you introducing tami neilson favorably, jonathan – quite deservedly so, actually.

      however, i was slightly irritated by your generalisation “With so many poor singers in the genre right now,…”, which fell remarkably short of your usual fair standards and was factually plainly wrong. but, perhaps you would like, as a starting point, to elaborate a little what you really meant by that, if it wasn’t just a somewhat careless and unfounded – almost trumpesk – remark that happens to the best, and surely the worst, of us every now and then.

      even in the male department are two of the current four chart dominators fairly outstanding vocalists (stapleton and combs). perhaps, some of the presently most popular male protagonists sound a tad – let’s call it “organic” – but there are still a few pretty decent ones (old and new) around that can sing.

      as another helpful starting point, you might want to give ashley mcbryde’s appearance at the recent cma awards a quick glimpse – not the slightest flickering in that kitchen light there. and jordan davis sounded pretty good to me too with “next thing you know”. randall king doesn’t sound too shabby either and his buddy worthington could almost be mistaken for a younger chesnutt.

      in case you find a moment…

      • randall king

        Recently discovered this guy on Spotify. Both his albums are great, and he has a new one dropping in late January. He channels George Strait like no one else I’ve heard since the man himself.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.

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