Bluesky Bullet Points: February 18, 2024

Béla Fleck leads the pack this week, alongside excellent albums from Blackberry Smoke and The Roseline.


Béla Fleck

Rhapsody in Blue

A towering achievement of arrangement and technique, and a direct challenge to the idea that the various forms of country and folk are neither the purview of deep cultural literacy nor worthy of the kind of study and care that Fleck engages in here.


Blackberry Smoke

Be Right Here

Their tightest and best album to date; surprisingly, it’s the quieter cuts (“Azalea”) and most honky-tonkin’ (“Don’t Mind if I Do”)– and not the more straight-ahead barnburners they’re known for– that hit the hardest.


Frontier Ruckus

On the Northline

Get past the overly-long opener, and this leans harder into their power-pop influences than on their prior albums. Cleverly structured songs in a Matthew Sweet or Fountains of Wayne vein, performed with traditional acoustic instruments: I am not such a hard sell.



The Price Sisters

Between the Lines

An excellent batch of songs, and some ace Bluegrass picking, both of which make the intermittent wobbling on the vocals all the more distracting here. They continue to deepen their talent for traditional arrangements, though, so this is still a good listen.


The Steel Wheels


As ever, their vibe recalls the Avett Brothers’ twangier era. Which is fine: I dug that era well enough. Some tracks here really hit, while some go on a bit of a walkabout, but this is never less than a solid record that’s capably performed and thoughtfully arranged.


The Roseline

Keystone of the Heart

An impressive feat to drop so many 50-cent words into song lyrics without sacrificing tunefulness or coming across tryhard, and these songs are nothing if not melodic and effortless. Intermittently twangy roots-rock that never overstays its welcome.



The Dead South

Chains & Stakes

Their schtickiness continues to hold them back from greatness, but they remain a compelling listen, as if Sigh No More era Mumford & Sons had continued in that vein instead of veering into crushing self-seriousness. These guys are simply a lot more fun and skilled.

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