Bluesky Bullet Points: March 3, 2024

John Craigie and Hurray For the Riff Raff lead the pack this week.


Leslie Stevens

Leslie Stevens

A major talent who pulls off this genre pastiche with a real sense of flair. There are moments when that flair lapses into something that sounds affected, but, far more often, Stevens sings her shrewd songs with power and genre know-how.



John Craigie

Pagan Church

Craigie’s band is so adept at various country forms that their latest could launch a slew of hit singles, if only the songs weren’t alternately so smartassed, horny, irreverent, savage, and blasphemous. Can I get a hallelujah? Can I get an amen?



Shaina Hayes

Kindergarten Heart

The title and cover had me bracing for twee, but what’s here is a moody and often smartly observed collection of what, a generation ago, likely would’ve been tagged as “folktronica.” Hayes shows a real mastery of sustained tone on this, her second album.


Hurray for the Riff Raff

The Past is Still Alive

Their charms have, admittedly, been somewhat lost on me in the past, but the writing on this album cuts like piano wire, and the genre signifiers sound fully of a piece with the songs’ content. A powerful album that finds cause for cautious optimism in grief.



Old No. 7

A handful of surprising traditional flourishes in the production are the only thing going for a collection of songs that wallow in most every negative stereotype about modern country music, but somehow with even worse vocals than Jelly Roll, Zimmerman, or Wallen.


Donny Van Slee


I don’t watch the show to know if this is representative of his run, but I do know it’s the best country album I’ve heard by anyone who got a chair-turn on The Voice. Strong, often clever writing and rough-edged but not affected vocals make for a solid effort.


  1. I really wanted to like Redferrin as I didn’t mind “Jack and Diet Coke” but his voice and writing is just bad

    (I do disagree with Jonathan mentioning Zimmerman as a bad vocalist as I find him really good).

  2. …only had time to listen to ms stevens a bit more so far – very enjoyable! horray for the riff raff must be one of the best band names in the whole wide world and “alibi” is some song to listen to. got to spend more time with their album now. not quite sure yet, whether redferrin’s hair dresser deserves a horray though. then again, i never thought much of alan jackson’s either. redferrin’s “jack and diet coke” makes me cringe too – coming in the same glass. as a song i like its sound quite a bit for some odd reason. ni is potentially as dangerous as ai, i guess.

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