New Morning Picks, December 6, 2016

We are about to wind down our new music picks for 2016. We will have one more installment before we wrap it up!

These picks reflect much about what we are looking at this time of year: highlighting 2016 favorites and looking forward to releases for the new year. 2017 already looks like it is going to be a good one with promises of album from Alison Krauss, Laura Marling, and Chuck Prophet, lots of local goodness, and concerts a plenty!

Recently, Vandaveer premiered the song and video “Love is Melancholy,” off their just released EP of the same name. This EP is a companion to their full-length, The Wild Mercury. Mark Charles Heidinger and Rose Guerin met through the DC folk scene. While they had that as their home base, they played the WNRN studios and regularly played gigs in the area. Now out of Louisville, Kentucky, their music continues to thrive. WNRN is glad to help them celebrate two releases for 2016 by adding the title track to the new EP.

This past year, WNRN played the Jesca Hoop and Sam Beam project, Love Letter For Fire. It was edgy for Sam Beam and more mainstream for Jesca Hoop. Allmusic says: “Singer/songwriter Jesca Hoop is a nearly unclassifiable talent whose songs range from outsider folk to indie rock.” I say, “yup, and she is good!” Memories are Now will be out on February 10th. WNRN is giving you a preview with “The Lost Sky.” (photo: Frank Ockenfels)



December 6th, 2016|Anne Williams, Featured, Miscellaneous|

Acoustic CD of the Month December 2016

In 2015 on a cold, January night in Washington DC, friends, fans, and some country music royalty came together at DAR Constitution Hall to play the songs of Emmylou Harris. She is known to music lovers as not only a fine songwriter, band leader and singer, but a tastemaker who has covered songwriters like Gillian Welch and Lucinda Williams bringing them to prominence. On display was the love of her fellow musicians of her as a person, but also how she influence them. Rodney Crowell, who as lead guitarist turned successful songwriter and singer came of age as a member of Harris’s Hot Band, sings “You’re Still On My Mind.” In the tribute Alison Krauss sings “Til I Gain Control Again”. This Rodney Crowell song has been covered by many, but it was Harris that first sang it in 1975.

This sense of back and forth between Emmylou Harris, songwriters and musicians, is brought forth over and over during the course of an evening. Buddy Miller and Don Was are part of the house band. Other favorites like Sara Watkins and Sam Bush play on most tracks.

Not only does this tribute cover the early years with Graham Parsons, and the Hot Band, but some of the eras where Emmylou Harris “reinvents” herself. She won a Grammy for her album that she did with Daniel Lanois, Wrecking Ball. She also did an album with Mark Knopfler, “All the Roadrunning.”

Most of the music during this evening is played and sung by others. WNRN has been playing a lesser known song from Wrecking Ball, “Blackhawk,” featuring her along with Daniel Lanois from the tribute, The Life and Songs of Emmylou Harris.

December 1st, 2016|Anne Williams, CD of the Month, Featured, Miscellaneous|

New Morning Picks, November 28, 2016

Singer-Songwriter, and former lead singer of The Bridge, Cris Jacobs has joined forces with two Richmond natives,  Todd Herrington on bass and Dusty Ray Simmons on drums, to release the new album, Dust to Gold. They blend together their Americana influences of blues, country and gospel along with rock and roll to reflect on love, salvation, and hope. “Shine Your Weary Light” brings some illumination to this dark time of year.

Jamestown Revival remains a favorite of the morning at WNRN. Their last CD, Utah, was an Acoustic CD of the Month. This new one, The Education of a Wandering Man, has less of a demo feel and is more polished on all levels: production, songwriting, and playing. Zach and Jonathan have been friends since high school. They are able to write for and about their collective and individual experiences. “Journeyman” keeps in the spirit of two friends on this musical journey together.

Adam Carroll is a vivid songwriter’s songwriter who has been inspiring many Texas songwriters, new and old, for decades. The tribute called Highway Prayer: A Tribute to Adam Carroll has many Texas favorites covering Carroll’s songs. We thought this was so good that we added both James McMurtry’s version of “Screen Door” and Slaid Cleaves singing “South of Town”, but there are so many to enjoy. We encourage you to dig in and find some more gems.

November 28th, 2016|Anne Williams, Featured, Miscellaneous|

Acoustic CD of the Month for November 2016

John Prine‘s For Better For Worse is the November 2016 Acoustic CD of the Month.

John Prine has released another album of country duets called For Better, Or Worse. Prine teams up with an all-star array of female singers to cover vintage country tunes. In a sense, it is a follow up to 1999’s In Spite Of Ourselves. This album is Prine’s first album since emerging victorious from his second struggle with the cancer. His voice is rougher with time and treatment for the illness, but in this context it serves to make him more like the guy next door.

While other artists use duets or cover albums to a strategically attempt to make themselves commercially relevant again, Prine has been recording for his own label since the 1980s and answers to no one. The cast on this new CD includes a ‘re’-pairing of Prine along with Iris DeMent and Fiona Prine. The talent also includes Alison Krauss, Kacey Musgraves, Susan Tedeschi, Amanda Shires, as well as Miranda Lambert, Lee Ann Womack and Kathy Mattea.

Prine sings one of the three Hank Williams songs with Hank’s granddaughter Holly Williams in “I’m Telling You.” He also takes on the Ernest Tubb/Loretta honky-tonk classic “Who’s Gonna Take Your Garbage Out.” On a happier note, the pairing of Morgane Stapleton and Prine on “Look At Us” reassures us that there can be songs about domestic bliss that fit into this profile of partnership.

Although some fans may miss hearing new songs from Prine, he does use his voice and delivery to bring these songs to life as if they were his own. This fan is grateful for the new role John Prine is playing: curator of classic country music at its best. (Photo: Josh Britt)

November 1st, 2016|Anne Williams, CD of the Month, Featured, Miscellaneous|

Acoustic CD of the Month October 2016

Hiss Golden Messenger’s Heart Like a Levee is the Acoustic CD of the Month for October 2016.

Hiss Golden Messenger return on October 7 with Heart Like a Levee, their 7th studio album, the first in two years. WNRN added “Biloxi” this summer and has been anxiously awaiting the whole album.

M.C. Taylor says about Heart Like a Levee, “I wrote these songs during a time of transition and doubt. The process was raw, but also joyous. I spent a lot of time with these words and chords in all types of weather. In the end I learned more about myself making this record than any in the past, and that’s one important way for me to gauge whether an album was worth making.”

The new release was self-produced by Taylor and Bradley Cook and recorded in Durham, NC, with Taylor’s close-knit North Carolina collaborators: brothers Phil and Bradley Cook on piano and bass, respectively; Matt McCaughan on drums; Tift Merritt and Alexandra Sauser-Monnig on backing vocals; and Matt Douglas and Michael Lewis on horns.

There is so much to dig into on Heart Like a Levee. The songs deal with leaving and returning, belief and trust, guilt, honesty, and life on the road. “Say It Like You Mean It” sounds like the next radio single.

October 1st, 2016|Anne Williams, CD of the Month, Featured|

New Morning Picks, September 20, 2016

No matter if you call him Modern Bakersfield Country or New Traditionalist, Dwight Yoakam has been releasing good music from LA since 1986. (He has also been on the big screen in Sling Blade and Panic Room.) The newest is a new bluegrass record, Swimmin’ Pools, Movie Stars…. There is a country ballad version of “Purple Rain.” Who knew Prince could write a country song? Dwight turns it into one. We play his bluegrass version of the classic “These Arms” that was originally released on A Long Way Home in 1989.

A year after the birth of her first child, Amanda Shires is out with a new release, My Piece of Land. Known as a fiddler and singer, she does a majority of the songwriting on this new release. Some on her own as well as with her husband, Jason Isbell. She gets help from Isbell’s producer, Dave Cobb, who seems to bring out the best in her voice and songs. Mornings will features “The Way It Dimmed.”

Los Lobos’ Steve Berlin is the producer of the new (pronounced green sky) Greensky  Bluegrass CD, Shouted, Written Down & Quoted. Trying to straddle the line between the highly disciplined bluegrass genre and the long form jam world has been hard to translate onto a record. Steve Berlin made that happen. WNRN plays “Merely Avoiding.” You can catch them at the National in Richmond on September 28.

Stand out live folk band of the 1960s, the Jim Kweskin Jug Band blended country, ragtime, jazz, and rock ‘n’ roll. Geoff Muldaur got his start there as a singer and guitarist. Kweskin and Muldaur reunited the jug band for a tour in 2015. They follow up with their own CD and tour this year. Listening to the new CD, Penny’s Farm, is trip through folk classics with their signature playing style. I hope you dig into this one and hear their version of traditional ‘Down On Penny’s Farm’ and Vera Hall’s ‘The Boll Weevil.’ (Vera Hall is the voice that is sampled on Moby’s Play CD singing ‘Natural Blues.’) “Sweet to Mama” is a bluesy number that captures the exquisite playing and singing of Muldaur.



September 20th, 2016|Anne Williams, Miscellaneous|

New Morning Picks September 13, 2016

A Nashville songwriter and distant cousin of producer extraordinaire, Dave Cobb, makes his debut with Shine on Rainy Day. Initially, Brent Cobb resisted coming to Nashville. It took Luke Bryan calling him and asking him to come in 2008. Brent Cobb debuts on WNRN with “Solvin’ Problems” from his October 7th release. In this song, Cobb takes an ordinary moment and allows transcendence and truth to shine from a balcony on Music Row.

The Walcotts are an Americana Roots band of nine members from LA. They take their two singers, a horn section, a fiddle player, a pedal steel guitarist, a pianist, and a rhythm section and not only pay tribute to their influences like Little Feat and The Band but create songs for their dynamic live shows. They received praise for opening for Chris Stapleton in 2015. The debut CD, Let the Devil Win, gives us “Should’ve Been Me.”

September 13th, 2016|Anne Williams, Miscellaneous|

New Morning Music for September 6, 2016

The new Devil Makes Three is half “darker” gospel songs and half songs of vice called Redemption and Ruin. WNRN grabbed a gospel number, “There’ll Be A Jubilee.”  We look forward to their show at the Jefferson Theater in January 2017.

John Prine put out his first coed country duets CD, In Spite of Ourselves, in 1999. For Better, Or Worse (out Sept. 30) could be called In Spite of Ourselves Volume 2. Prine jokes that he was “kinda tricked” into recording it. Alison Krauss, Amanda Shires, Lee Ann Womack, Iris DeMent and other female country singers lovingly add their voices to this project. On “Color of the Blues” Prine is joined by Susan Tedeschi.

North Carolina’s Americana/bluegrass band, Chatham County Line, has release their seventh studio album, Autumn. Dave Wilson produced and wrote the 11 songs. “Show Me The Door” highlights the songwriting, arrangements, and trademark harmonies.

Claire Lynch pays homage to her favorite Canadian songwriters on North by South. After her recent marriage to a Canadian, Lynch dug into the catalog of songs written by Canadian songwriters. Lynch’s cover of Gordon Lightfoot’s “It’s Worth Believin'” featuring Jerry Douglas on dobro and Brian McDowell on vocals.


September 9th, 2016|Anne Williams, Miscellaneous|

September 2016 Acoustic CD of the Month

The Head and the Heart’s third album, Signs of Light, is the Acoustic CD of the Month for September 2016.

The story of The Head and The Heart maybe familiar to you. Richmond, Virginia’s Jonathan Russell and Tyler Williams met some fine Seattle musicians there and form this band. They have put out two albums on Sub Pop (one’s cover art features a WNRN tee shirt). They have stepped up musically and joined Warner Brothers for this new one, Signs of Light.

All the key ingredients are there in the new album: excellent songwriting, their own unique sound that shows the influence of the Beatles, Americana and country rock, harmonies and the showcasing of each member’s talents. In a note to fans, THATH shares, “during the writing in Stinson Beach, … we were able to explore new sounds and indulge each other’s ideas. It’s the latest step in our band’s evolution.”

What is clear to this fan’s ears is the gigantic step forward they took in the production of the songs and ideas. From the first notes of “All We Ever Knew” you can hear the difference. The first half of the album is a stream of “hit after hit,” guaranteeing its place in this years “best of” list for me. This string of potential radio songs tells of its longevity in fans and newcomers playlists from this point forward. The latter half of the album lets us hear the band’s more experimental side providing songs that need more attentive listening. We will get more from them each time we listen.

Right now, the closest The Head and The Heart will play is DAR Constitution Hall in Washington, DC on October 22.

September 1st, 2016|Anne Williams, Featured, Miscellaneous|

August 2016 Acoustic CD of the Month

The Acoustic CD of the Month for August 2016 is Caveman’s third album, Otero War.

This five piece indie rock band from Brooklyn came together in 2010 after the dissolution of the members’ former bands. Caveman has been compared to Wilco, the Shins, and Tears for Fears because of its use of synths and rhythmic guitars to create cinematic, heady, melodic indie folk-rock. The reviews of the first two albums praise the quintet with creating complex musical ideas with grabbing melodies and atmospheric warmth.

The cover art of Otero War looking like soundtrack to a sci-fi movie just adds to the idea of the cinematic quality of Caveman’s bright melodies and dystopian lyrics. Any of the songs would easily fit behind movie or tv scenes. “Never Going Back” has a great hook and shows that talent for writing songs that stay with you. Matthew Iwanusa vocals are one of the highlights throughout the album, including “Life Or Just Living”, “Human,” “80 West,” and “All My Life.”

You can check out the recent interview that WNRN’s Melissa Goode did with Caveman at:

August 1st, 2016|Anne Williams, CD of the Month, Miscellaneous|