BlueSky Bullet Points: February 11, 2024

Brittany Howard has the best album of the week, followed closely by Missy Raines and Wyatt Ellis.


Missy Raines


Answers condescending questions of, “Why stay there?” about Appalachia with deep senses of pride and personal connections. Simply flawless Bluegrass picking– Raines’ upright bass is highlighted in the mixes– and game guests, including Kathy Mattea. Her best yet.


The Castellows

A Little Goes a Long Way

Fantastic production here, which imagines a timeline wherein The Band Perry fulfilled their early promise of rootsy pop-country. The songs are just all right, though, and the trio, despite some intricate harmony work, sometimes sound bored, strangely affect-less.


Brittany Howard

What Now

Do I miss the last remaining country signifiers from her earlier work? Sure. Am I in slack-jawed awe of the things she does with her voice on every track of this record? Also sure, and that’s more important. A fearless and sprawling triumph.


Wyatt Ellis

Happy Valley

The latest in a long line of Bluegrass wünderkinds, Ellis commands an impressive roster of collaborators (Marty Stuart! Sierra Hull!) on a set of impeccably arranged instrumentals that showcase a strong Celtic influence and a real flair for movement. Impressive.


Chase McDaniel

Blame it All On Country Music

Bro Country should stay dead forever, but 2024 is for sure too damn soon for a revival. Yet here’s another Chase, half-rapping lists of rote rural signifiers and woman-objectifying sleaze over cheap-sounding snap tracks. A poor imitation of mistakes best forgotten.


Old Heavy Hands

Small Fires

Comforting on some level to know that there will always be new bands to make this kind of sturdy, rootsy bar-rock. But on another level, this record sounds just like Seven Mary Three to the point of distraction because it’s such a precise reference.



Hello, I’m Britti

A striking debut from a singer with a wonderfully textured voice and molasses-slow sense of phrasing. Auerbach’s best production in ages highlights the range of her influences and a less-dull vision of what Americana can sound like. A bit unfocused, but that’ll come.


Gabby Barrett

Chapter & Verse

She sings with Miley’s vocal tone and Ariana’s enunciation, which I don’t recall from her debut. More disturbing, though, is the lack of agency in nearly every song, in which her identity is framed in response to someone or something else.

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