Bluesky Bullet Points: May 12, 2024

Sarah King has the best of the sixteen albums covered this week.

Kelsey Waldon

There’s Always a Song

As much a testament to Waldon’s deep knowledge of the genre’s history as it is to her tremendous skill as a performer, this collection of covers fully holds its own with her catalog of original material and with the year’s strongest albums. She’s just so, so good.


Orville Peck

Stampede: Vol. 1

Not as thematically or sonically coherent as Pony, but this continues to stake his claim as one of the genre’s most vital current acts. Savvy and effective choices of collaborators (the updated Willie Nelson single is one of the year’s finest), plus his best singing yet.


Mac Cornish

Never Made Much of a Lover

A delightful throwback of a record that is a standout in a year full of delightful throwback records, Cornish’s songs strike an impressive balance between a profound sense of longing and a mile-wide self-deprecating streak. And what a cool, distinctive voice.


Will Hoge

Tenderhearted Boys

A lovely record that avoids Hoge’s recent preaching-to-the-choir political broadsides and, instead, focuses on his gifts for mining a deep sense of empathy from his narratives. This set challenges ugly tropes of toxic masculinity with regard to emotional expression.


Junior Sisk

If There’s a Will There’s a Way

The challenge for modern Bluegrass acts is to find something more than technical skill to distinguish themselves in a genre that’s so bound to its formal conventions. Junior Sisk don’t really find that extra level here, but is the pickin’ ever fantastic.


T. Bone Burnett

The Other Side

A welcome return, and with some ace collaborators in tow. His most fussed-over production to date: Some of it sounds like a natural evolution of his style, and some of it sounds like a mid-period Sufjan record. Which is fine enough by me.


Sarah King

When it All Goes Down

Another album of the year contender. King’s vision of Southern Gothic is a wonder of country, folk, and blues formalism. She sings of the Devil like she’s the final girl in a horror film: She’s tired of running, and she’s ready to fight with everything she has.



Drugstore Candy

A couple of the catchiest pop-country tracks I’ve heard all year (the title track, especially, is a total bop), surrounded by a whole lot of cliché-riddled, middle-of-the-road fare. Unfortunately, the harder they try to rock out, the more strident they sound.


Kitchen Dwellers

Seven Devils

Like I wouldn’t give a glowing endorsement of a prog-Bluegrass concept album based on the seven deadly sins and Dante’s Inferno. Over-indulgent at times, as proggy acts always are, but the musicianship is never less than spectacular.


Nate Smith

Where There’s Smoke

A lifetime ago, he’d have made a pretty solid post-grunge frontman. But with rock DOA as a format, he’s here, trying to pass off a “Heart Shaped Box” cover as country somehow. The War & Treaty collab works fine, but much of this is simply loud for the sake of being loud.


The Brother Brothers

The January Album

As they always do, they sure sing real pretty here, but their arrangements and aesthetic are mellow to the point of monotony. Even the more clever songwriting flourishes are undercut by an aesthetic sleepiness. Lovely as this is, they’re due to do more.


Tenille Arts

to be honest

Wildly uneven. When she turns a great phrase (as on the title track), her melodies and meters falter, and vice versa (as on the Rimes collaboration). She remains a vocalist who makes interesting performance choices, though, and I’m confident she’ll put it all together someday.


Cedric Burnside

Hill Country Love

Burnside quickly settles into a knotty, rambling groove and rarely strays from it. A bit one-note in form and content, perhaps, but when you’re this skilled at one particular thing, who says variety is a virtue?


George Birge

Cowboy Songs

The title, artwork, TX-country pedigree are a bait-and-switch here: I expected something very different than a dead-center 2024 mainstream country record. Birge has a better voice than many acts whose records sound just like this, but that hardly clears any bar.


Elliott BROOD


Maybe not as twangy as the title would imply, but it’s surely as tuneful and sharp as this crew always is. An unassuming set that covers quite an emotional range in its brief runtime: These songs get in, make their points, and get out without overstaying their welcome.


Maggie Rose

No One Gets Out Alive

Last vestiges of her country origin story are long gone here. What’s left is an exquisite, soulful pop album that, a generation ago, would’ve made her a staple of Adult Top 40 playlists and a Grammy darling. She’s never sounded better on record, which is saying something.

Be the first to comment

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.