New Morning Picks, June 27, 2017

Jim Lauderdale has a new album. One of Nashville’s most prolific songwriters is releasing London Southern on Friday, June 30. This is his nod to the Brit Pop/British Invasion sound that he enjoyed as a child. “Sweet Time” is the first track out of 12 fine tunes.

Jeff Tweedy has quietly released Together At Last digitally. It is a career retrospective. If you want to hear some of Wilco’s “Greatest Hits” done solo style with a few covers, this release is for you! WNRN features a cover of Golden Smog from the new release, “Lost Love.”

Sonny Landreth makes his home Lafayette, Louisiana. Earlier this year in front of a live audience in Lafayette for two nights, Landreth played some of this finest. The result is a two disc set: one acoustic and one electric. WNRN gives us a live version of “Bound By the Blues” from the acoustic disc.

Anne is in love with John Moreland’s singing and songwriting. Big Bad Luv is already a 2017 favorite. Many of the tunes are quiet. WNRN now features a second song from the new album, “Amen So Be It.”

June 27th, 2017|Anne Williams, Featured, Miscellaneous|

June Acoustic CD of the Month: Chris Stapleton’s From A Room: Vol. 1

Chris Stapleton will release two CDs this year. The first installment is From A Room, Volume 1, and is WNRN’s June 2017 Acoustic CD of the Month.

“A Room” refers to the classic recording studio in Nashville, RCA Studio A where Waylon Jennings and Willie Nelson recorded some of their classic recordings. Traveller’s producer, Dave Cobb,  is back helping Stapleton create the sound of this masterpiece.

At no point during this new recording by Chris Stapleton do I have any other thought but to listen and enjoy. Why? First, his voice. To quote my favorite country music blogger on Saving Country Music, “One of the biggest challenges for any singer is to write songs in a way that showcases their vocal talent and challenges their range. For Stapleton, this is his greatest asset…. you may never hear a more better sung record in all of country music than From A Room: Volume 1.”

Second, the songs. One of the reasons I became an instant fan of the Steeldrivers bluegrass band was the songs. Former bandmates of the Steeldrivers, Mike Henderson and Chris Stapleton, still write songs together. Two of these co-writes ended up on the new CD, “Broken Halos” and the single, “Second One to Know.”  The lyrics on the whole album are easy to quote, fun, and embody the dry ironic humor that draws me back to country music, including the one cover, “Last Thing I Needed, First Thing in the Morning.” “Up To No Good Livin’” will be a song that critics and songwriters will look to as an iconic country song for years to come. Just brilliant. You may not instantly fall in love with “Death Row” but with each listen you will plumb the depths of the lyrics and performance.  Other stand outs include “Either Way,” and “Them Stems.”

April 2017 Acoustic CD of the Month

Drew Holcomb and the Neighbor’s newest, Souvenir, is WNRN’s April 2017 Acoustic CD of the Month.

After returning from University of St. Andrew in Scotland with a Masters in Divinity, with a thesis titled “Bruce Springsteen and the American Redemptive Imagination,” Drew Holcomb settled in Nashville, recruited folks from his zip code to form the Neighbors, and started releasing music along with providing tour support to folks like Ryan Adams and the Avett Brothers.  Since 2005, they have released a series of full length CDs.

WNRN has championed Holcomb’s music including the recent Medicine, welcomed him to the Red Wing Roots Music Festival, hosted him in the WNRN studio, and placed a version of “Here We Go” on In Studio at WNRN Volume 4.

Souvenir shows Holcomb’s knack for melody, including the sweet “Mama’s Sunshine, Daddy’s Rain” as well as the stompers, “California,” and “Fight for Love.” This recording’s theme is live your life with love and depth through intimate ballads, stadium size anthems, or more conversational songs asking you to love your neighbors. The urgency and exhilaration of the whole album are worth treasuring and will probably end up on many critics “Best of 2017.”

April 1st, 2017|Anne Williams, CD of the Month, Miscellaneous|

Acoustic CD of the Month, March 2017

Ryan Adams new release, Prisoner, is WNRN’s March 2017 Acoustic CD of the Month.

Ryan Adams’ Prisoner is a break up record. It is his first album since his divorce from actress/singer, Mandy Moore. Adams described the separation as “humiliating and just a f*$%ing horrible thing to go through.” Adams channels his loss and crafts a complete work with snapshots and many moods. Prisoner’s sound is reminiscent of his classics, Gold and Cold Roses. This universally praised release is his 16th album since Whiskeytown disbanded.

Prisoner opens with  “Do You Still Love Me?” With its full sound and crashing guitars, this song is the set up for our journey through the breakup. The song titles read like chapters of a ‘how I got through my divorce’ book, not like Eat Pray Love but ones from Adams’ point of view through the rising action: “Prisoner,” “Doomsday,” “Haunted House,” and “Shiver and Shake.” These lead us up to the climax with “Outbound Train” then on to the denouement  with “Broke Anyway” and “Tightrope.” All this packed into 43 minutes!

March 1st, 2017|Anne Williams, CD of the Month, Miscellaneous|

Acoustic CD of the Month, February 2017

Tift Merritt‘s newest, Stitch of the World, is the February 2017 Acoustic CD of the Month.

Written between a divorce and the birth of her daughter, Tift Merritt, recorded this new CD with Sam Beam of Iron and Wine. Before releasing it, she took the time to move back to Raleigh, NC, settle into a new life as a mom near her parents and long-time friends, then Merritt planned the released Stitch of the World for the end of January 2017. It was worth the wait.

“What strikes me most when I am writing these days is the changing nature of things,” Merritt states in her bio for the new album. She sees the doubled nature of being alone as refuge and lonely, hometowns as constricting and balm for the soul, and intimacy with lovers as well as what comes with family. These feelings and images are wrapped into the narratives of the songs. The sounds range on the new effort from the jangly “Dusty Old Man”  to the more contemplative, “Icarus.” She was inspired to set parts of Raymond Carver’s poem, “My Boat”, to music after hearing news reports about Syrian refugees making sea crossings to Europe.

Throughout Stitch of the World, you can hear the influence of producer, Sam Beam. He is heard directly on some background vocals as well as in the general sweetness and openness of the project. This all lends itself to Tift Merritt’s fine songwriting. There are some great players including Marc Ribot on guitar as well as Eric Heywood on pedal-steel.


February 6th, 2017|Anne Williams, CD of the Month, Miscellaneous|

January 2017 Acoustic CD of the Month

The new album from Charlottesville’s own The Hill and Wood, When You Go, is the January 2017 Acoustic CD of the Month.

The music scene in Charlottesville has benefitted from the energy and care of Sam Bush. He came to Charlottesville as a UVA undergratuate majoring in English and Religious Studies. He graduated in 2009. Bush became active at Christ Episcopal Church as a student.  After university,  he joined the music ministry staff as well as curating The Garage, the church’s art space / music venue on 1st Street.  This venue has given hundreds of artists the chance to play. As an example, The Garage gave the Lumineers their first chance to play in Charlottesville.

Outside of Christ Church, Bush has made his mark on the Charlottesville music scene as the frontman and songwriter  for the local band, The Hill and Wood. This band’s sound easily fits with other “soft is the new loud” musicians such as Sufjan Stevens and Damien Rice. It has had several incarnations which can be a whole emsemble or be paired down to Bush by himself or just with Juliana Daughtery. This new album features long time collaborator, Daughtery, as well as other members on bass, drums, guitars, keyboards and pedal steel. The songs do integrate bible imagery including the catchy “Jericho”, but most are about life choices, and consequences.

WNRN presents The Hill and Wood CD release show for When You Go at the Southern Cafe and Music Hall on January 28th. Hope to see you there!

January 4th, 2017|Anne Williams, CD of the Month, Miscellaneous|

New Morning Picks, December 13, 2016

‘Twas right before the holidays, when all through the station
Not a promoter was calling, not even a tour manager;
The top ten lists were hung by the mixing board with care,
In hopes that new year’s music soon would be there;

Apologies for the parody of the old Christmas rhyme, but this is the last installment of the new morning picks until the new year. Blessed holidays to all!

A favorite Austin band, Band of Heathens, will release Duende on January 13! If this new one is anything like their catalog, high energy, excellent harmonies and great songs are on the way with the new release, but we will have to wait and listen to just this one new song from them, “All I’m Asking” in the meantime. They will be at Gypsy Sally’s in DC on January 21.

Girls, Guns, & Glory released Love and Protest in November. No Depression states this is their best effort to date. Ward Hayden, lead singer and songwriter, says each song on the album is journey that explores love and what comes next, including the Graham Parsons cover, “Hot Burrito #1.” The band asked Duke Levine to sit in on live sessions that created this album. 🙂 We are playing one of Hayden’s songs, “Memories Don’t Die.”


December 13th, 2016|Anne Williams, Miscellaneous|

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|