Bluesky Bullet Points: March 31, 2024

Kimmi Bitter, Aoife O’Donovan, and Sam Outlaw lead the pack this week.


Kimmi Bitter

Old School

The endless charms of the title track (which we just reviewed) are carried through at album length. The sincerity of Bitter’s affection for this era of country shines through, and the quality of her singing never wavers. Dismiss her as schticky at your own peril.


Various Artists

Hixtape Vol. 3: Difftape

But for Toby Keith’s reading of “Ships That Don’t Come In,” this is an infuriating collection of examples of how remembering something doesn’t mean you actually understood the first thing about it. Utter hackwork from a lot of people who don’t really know better.


The Black Crowes

Happiness Bastards

They continue. At some point, we’ll all need to reconcile with the pervasiveness of their influence on the Cobb / Carlile aesthetic that has defined “Americana” at its most banal.


Kenny Chesney


An album artist, he’s never been, so it’s the faintest of praise to say this might be his best. If nothing else, the album closer is his finest moment on record, and there are a few other tracks that are better than his usual fare.


Scoot Teasley

Country Back [EP]

Title track still impresses for its provocation, while the remainder demonstrates a real facility for current mainstream tropes, executed and performed better than the mean. Safe enough for a breakout, but with the talent to do so much more.


Aoife O’Donovan

All My Friends

As ever, she remains an absolute treasure, and this set boasts some of the finest singing of her career. There’s movement both subtle and grand throughout these songs, heightening the sense of disconnection and a longing to reconnect. A dense and lovely record.


Sam Outlaw

Terra Cotta

I can’t improve on his own auto-critique; he’s “a pretty good singer for a writer of songs.” The inflections of power-pop and tacky AF 80s yacht rock make for a varied listen that keeps the focus on how solid those songs of his really are.


  1. Look, I don’t really care for Hardy and didn’t particularly enjoy the previous Hixtapes, but calling this one hack work is pretty disingenuous. I actually thought this one was pretty well done overall.

    • I was the resident apologist for “wait in the truck,” so I don’t mind giving HARDY credit when due… But I genuinely found this to be pretty horrid: Poor Loudness War engineering, production that was more “1994” than actual 1994, and phoned-in performances.

      The Keith track was the only one that worked for me at all, and I’m always open to the idea that Diffie has been under-appreciated. I’d love to see him get a proper tribute album (like the recent winners for John Anderson and The Judds). But this didn’t do it for me at all.

      • …an appropriate tribute to joe diffie is quite a tall order as “hixtape vol. 3” proves. he was such a fine vocalist. not only his hits are still terrific – overall, i skip less when binge listening to diffie’s albums than when doing the same with george strait ones – but also album cuts like “i’m willing to try”, “i’m the only thing i’m holding against you” or “twice upon a time”, where he proved how great an great asset he was to pianos. the flaws of this most likely well-meant effort reveals, if nothing else, that joe “ditty” was a carelessly spread insult by ignorants at the time.

        there is, however, a couple of good things coming from this “hixtape vo. 3” too: it is a nice showcase for the remarkable voices and vocals of randall king and jake worthingon, apart from providing some lovely nostalgic moments that do the late great mr. diffie quite some justice in one or two cases. furthermore, it also reminds us, what a great singer (and songwriter) the sometimes controversial toby keith was. and perhaps what an engaging vocalist luke combs is, who made another great choice of song to cover here.

  2. Re. Kimmi Bitter: It might be said that what she means by “Old School” is not just limited to the Nashville Sound of the early 1960’s as personified by Patsy Cline. She also has been influenced by Elvis, and Linda Ronstadt–not too shocking it seems, as she is a San Diego native, and the California country and country-rock stylings of decades past linger in her heart. Watch this space.

  3. Hey Jonathan, wanted to say thank you for this feature. It helps me discover albums that I wouldn’t normally listen too. We have different tastes for sure but still appreciate you sharing what you like and don’t like. Enjoying the Sam Outlaw album and didn’t even know he was coming out with a record.

  4. Utter hackwork from a lot of people who don’t really know better.

    And some people who really should have known better.

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