The year starts off strong with several four star efforts.
My Stupid Life
A long-time-coming debut that fully meets expectations: We’ve known for a while that Spencer deserves superstardom, and this album makes that case again, many times over. A vocal powerhouse with a knack for clever wordplays that highlight a wholly modern POV.
Colby T. Helms
Tales of Misfortune
If the success of Billy Strings hath wrought opportunities for kids like Helms, I’m sure here for it. An auspicious debut for a young’un who sings a whole lot like Childers and who goes hard at an old-timey vibe without making it sound affected.
Ditch This Town
Armed with a versatile, deep baritone and a terrific ear for melody and song structure, he has the goods for far more than a small cult following. The lyrics occasionally lapse into cliche, but this is a solid, 90s-mainstream-sounding record.
A competently executed album of trad-country covers; nothing less, nothing more. But they’re both good enough vocalists– and they draw from their famous dads’ harmony work in some great ways– that they certainly could do more.
Feminist in the sense that it proves how a woman can make an album indistinguishable from what Music Row’s men are doing right now, but this fails to answer why that’s something anyone would aspire to do. Catchy enough, but wastes a decent voice on vapid radio fodder.
Heavy On the Vine
Not going to feign familiarity but will be rectifying that, stat, based on this, her third album. A thoroughly modern POV draped in a winning blend of bluegrass, trad-country, and folk conventions, and elevated by a sneaky powerful voice.
Long Story Short: Willie Nelson 90 (Live at Hollywood Bowl)
Much like its title, this album needed the hand of a good editor, but there’s a real treasure trove of highlights (Billy Strings, The Chicks, Chris Stapleton, Beck, Norah Jones) to celebrate Willie’s exceptional life and catalogue.