Bluesky Bullet Points: April 7, 2024

Beyoncé and Sarah Shook & the Disarmers have the best new releases among the fourteen albums and EPs reviewed this week.




A dense, studied provocation that dares the country industry to own its shit while, in form and content, standing as a triumph of “Americana” as it should be. Messy, audacious, funny, and self-aware, it’s an instructive text w plenty of bangers.

[Editor’s Note: You can read Jonathan’s full review for Slant here. It also has plenty of bangers. – KJC]


Liz Hopkins

Growing Brighter [EP]

Powerhouse vocalist from Delta Rae strikes out on her own with a winning set of rough-edged pop-country. “Tough Love” is a massive hit in a better timeline, but all four tracks here show a POV of uneasy transition into adulthood. Could do without the sax, though.


Sam Hunt

Locked Up [EP]

I appreciate that, on this EP, he gets how a country persona can be a form of drag, but the b-boy affectations of his writing and phrasing, appropriation of the most middling of hip-hop influences remain very much not-for-me and not very impressive on their own merits.


Old 97s

American Primitive

Still don’t like the lead single much, but it’s the weakest track here by far. This turns out to be an album full of sharply-observed commentary and lacerating self-assessments, all set to a more polished iteration of their rollicking, ramshackle sound.


Sarah Shook & the Disarmers


About as good an alt-country album as there’s ever been, with a grunge-inspired, distorted brand of twang that’s perfectly matched to the sharpest and most personal writing of Shook’s career– their best singing, too. Another early Album of the Year contender.


Brothers Osborne

Break Mine [EP]

Two solid new songs and two album tracks from last year’s self-titled set. They work together well enough, but it’s odd that this was packaged as an EP at all. The title track would make for another top 30 hit, as would “Back Home.” But why not release a deluxe edition of Brothers Osborne?


Sierra Ferrell

Trail of Flowers

Ferrell revels in excesses and indulgences here; she throws everything at the wall, and a whole mess of it sticks. Few in modern country can match her audacity or raw talent, and both are on full display here. A few lyrical misfires, but she’s just so, so good.


Brother Dege


I love the aesthetic in these arrangements: Masterful guitar work is foregrounded in melodic and moody soundscapes. Pity, then, that some of the lyrics – and not to speak too ill of the dead – are just atrocious, to the extent that they sometimes kill the whole vibe.

Joe Pug

Sketch of a Promised Departure

“Contemporary Folk” has become such a meaningless catch-all that it’s truly refreshing to hear an album that reflects a wholly modern POV in the context of traditional folk conventions the way Pug’s record does. Some country flourishes and catchy hooks make this one shine.

Dylan Scott

Livin’ My Best Life (Still)

That life is one that hints at a world beyond the same tired signifiers of rural white virtue that have defined the genre’s center, so that’s something. Still, recording with Jimmie Allen in 2024 sure is a choice, and Scott’s voice is just very much not for me.


Alejandro Escovedo

Echo Dancing

Under the radar as ever, one of the foundational acts in alt-country / Americana / whatever can still kick up a good fuss when he wants to (“Bury Me”). Still, many of these tracks are a bit too midtempo, a bit overlong to rank among his very best work.


Sheryl Crow


Unfortunate. I’ll always go to bat for her as a vital and important artist, but the songwriting here is her weakest since C’mon C’mon more than 20 years back. The Peter Gabriel cover is right in her wheelhouse, but it highlights how lacking the rest of this is.


Cody Jinks

Change the Game

It ain’t braggin’ if it’s true, and Jinks is one of the only would-be outlaws in the modern game who can back up their posturing. This one is obviously fantastic; easy to imagine that, over times, it stands as (one of) his best. An essential listen.


Sam Williams

The Thaw [EP]

He continues to show an ear for creative arrangements, and he’s a wondrously empathetic vocalist. Still, this EP does little to clarify his overall POV or artistic identity: The bloodline is the throughline to date, but will there be more than that?


  1. …when it comes to not-ready-to-make-nice-statements the template for me still is natalie maines and the chicks. hence, “cowboy carter” could only be second best at best. in order to establish that more profoundly, i still have to listen to it a few more times. toward the end of it, the whole thing drags a little, however. good thing, it lead me to “buckle bunny” tanner ardell, which amused me more than some of the more royal offerings actually.

    sierra ferrell’s “trail of flowers” is simply terrific. i hear and see dolly there somehow – just in a wonderfully captivating, yet not exactly beautiful, raw fashion. an early grammy “album of the year” contender because it’s everything at a very engaging roots level: bluegrass, country, americana and folk. “i could drive you crazy” could also make you very happy. what a fine work of art, this album.

    there’s one verdict on cody jinks i usually end my reviews of his material with: god bless cody jinks! it stands again.

  2. I’m late to the Sierra Ferrell album, but that might be my favorite one so far this year. “Dollar Bill Bar” is catchy as sin, and “Fox Hunt” goes so hard.

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