Bluesky Bullet Points: March 17, 2024

Thirteen is a lucky number on this Saint Patrick’s Day, as we get caught up on the last two weeks of new releases.


Brit Taylor

Kentucky Blue Grassed

Daresay an already-brilliant album is improved upon with these alternate, even twangier arrangements. The Bluegrass elements weren’t exactly buried in the original mixes, but they’re the raison d’être here, and they highlight Taylor’s stellar compositions.



Nashville, Tennessee [EP]

Maddening to know that someone central to so much mainstream rot is, apparently, capable of far better than what he’s let on to date and could, instead, be raising the water level in the harbor. But for a John fucking Mayer cover, this is kind of spectacular.


Jonathan Peyton

Nothing Here’s the Same

Sharply observed, melodic singer-songwriter work that answers all of the clichéd questions about why his generation isn’t buying houses or having kids. What’s most impressive is how Peyton keeps his disaffect from becoming repetitive or tiresome at album length.


Evan Nicole Bell

Runaway Girl [EP]

The only substantive complaint here is that, at just 3 tracks, it doesn’t make a fully-formed impression. Beyond that, it’s clear that Bell is an extraordinary talent on the verge of shaking things up with her brand of modern blues. Bring on the full debut record.


Luke Grimes

Luke Grimes

I judged by the cover and assumed Grimes was yet another HARDY knockoff, and that was a mistake. Grimes’ songs demonstrate real genre know-how and sound current without pandering to the worst mainstream trends, and the production compliments his weathered voice. A winning debut.


Tom Rush

Gardens Old, Flowers New

A collection of originals from a country-folk icon who, in a spectacular and unexpected late-career run, continues to demonstrate a true mastery of folk conventions. Revolutionary? No, but this is never less than lovely, introspective work that adds to Rush’s legacy.


Blaine Bailey


The Turnpike influence on this Troubadour looms large, and praise be for that. It’s no shock that the best songs (“T-Shirt,” “Loblolly Pines”) pull most strongly from his Keetoowah heritage, but even the more straightforward songs deliver with a real sense of presence.


Kacey Musgraves

Deeper Well

Scrape off a thin layer of GOOP (“Deeper Well,” “Jade Green”), and what’s here is a marked rebound from the ill-fitting crossover bid of star-crossed. As ever, her vocal tone is just lovely, and few in the country space can match her gifts for melody and structure.


Peytan Porter

Grown [EP]

As Gen Z ascends in the country space, there are some reasons to be optimistic: Porter, for instance, has been learning all the right lessons from the likes of Ashley McBryde, Brothers Osborne, and Maren Morris. The songwriting is strong mainstream fare, and her voice is a wonder.


Glass Hours

Glass Hours

Sometimes the obvious comparison is just: If we’re never getting another album of moody, American(a) Gothic from The Civil Wars, The Glass Hours are here to step in, and they do so quite capably. At its best, this record plays as conversations that linger in the mind.



Sawyer Brown

Desperado Troubadours

Unfortunate. Mark Miller sounds tired but he don’t sound Haggard on a set of terribly-written songs that, in style and content, play like an AI-generated simulacrum of 90s country. They deserved a better comeback than what producer Blake Shelton’s orchestrated for them here.


Trey Lewis


Are you, though? This is straight-down-the-middle Music Row fodder, albeit with Lewis’ slightly less adenoidal voice and the occasional flourish of wit in the songwriting. There’s not much to answer why Lewis should or shouldn’t break out the way lesser talents do.


Shane Smith & The Saints


A heady listen that leans into an overarching theme of displacements both voluntary and otherwise. The arrangements evoke a wide range of settings that always seem on the cusp of menace. Some odd engineering distracts, though.

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