CD of the Month Club
Every month, WNRN picks the best of what’s new. You can join WNRN’s Acoustic or Electric CD of the month. All CD of the Month Club members will receive a new CD in the mail every month. Everyone else can download them here!
CD of the Month Club News & Updates
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.
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)
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.
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: http://www.wnrn.org/?s=caveman
The Acoustic CD of the Month for July 2016 is the 13th studio album from Paul Simon, Stranger to Stranger.
Paul Simon does not believe in writers block. Good work takes time. Stranger to Stranger is his first release in five years. Featuring musical experimentation infused with custom made instruments, collaboration with many musicians including Italian electronic artist, Clap! Clap!, background vocals from Bobby McFerrin and samples of the Golden Gate Quartet, these songs shows Simon’s desire to tell good stories and place them in the perfect environment.
The first three songs on the album use the custom-made instruments created by music theorist, Harry Partch, in the mid-twentieth century. These instruments allow 43 tones to an octave giving a different approach and sound to “The Werewolf,” “Wristband,” and “The Clock.” A teacher who was in the Sandy Hook Elementary School shooting that Simon knew inspired “The Riverbank.” “Proof of Love” and “In the Garden of Edie” are tributes to Simon’s wife, musician Edie Brickell. Tying it all together, characters and a variety of instruments make appearances through out Stranger to Stranger.
The Acoustic CD of the Month for June 2016 is the Darrell Scott’s album, Couchville Sessions.
Darrell Scott is a successful country songwriter, placing songs with the biggest names in country music, including several major chart hits. Travis Tritt made “It’s a Great Day to Be Alive” a hit. The second single from the Dixie Chicks’ Home was Darrell Scott’s “Long Time Gone”. For over 20 years, Scott has worked consistently as a studio musician and released a series of his own solo albums. He also performed as part of Robert Plant’s Band of Joy tour.
For this new career spanning release, Darrell Scott recorded 5 covers and 9 originals. Some of these new songs were recorded back in 2001 and others as recent as last year. The album version of “Down to the River” includes a story made up and told by the late Guy Clark. One covers is Peter Rowan’s “Midnight Moonlight.” Through out the whole disc, you get the sense of his range as a singer, master musician and performer.