CD of the Month

June 2018 Acoustic CD of the Month: Ray LaMontagne, Part of the Light

The seventh studio album from Ray LaMontagne, Part of the Light, is WNRN’s June 2018 Acoustic CD of the Month.

After working with a variety producers including Jim James, Dan Auerbach and Ethan Johns, Ray LaMontagne produces this one and blends what gave him the Grammy for God Willin’ and the Creek Don’t Rise with inspiration from the Pink Floyd-like Ouroboros.

It should not come as a surprise for the fan that has listened to everything that LaMontagne has done (including the rocking Til the Sun Turns Black) that he would have an electric blues number like “As Black As Blood is Blue” included.

The centerpieces of the album are the single, “Such a Simple Thing” and “Let’s Make It Last.” Here you get to hear more of the vibe of Trouble and his Grammy awarding winning sound. Other standouts include “Paper Man” that has more of the sound and lyrical quality of something of Good-bye Yellow Brick Road era Elton John and shanty-ish “To the Sea.”

2018-07-01T17:04:51-04:00June 1st, 2018|

Electric CD of the Month, March 2018

WNRN’s March Electric CD of the Month is from Richmond native Lucy Dacus. Historian, her second full-length album picks up where the 22 year-old musician left off with her debut from 2 years ago, No Burden, open and attuned to her feelings and bringing the details of life into full focus.

As noted by the title Dacus is looking back. The album begins with “Night Shift” penned to tell the story of dealing with the dissolution of her 5 year relationship with her former bassist. The song begins as a heartfelt ballad and as the 6:30 minute story unfolds it gains strength and tempo. “Pillar of Truth” finds Dacus remembering her grandmother who recently passed away. A tender song that has an uplifting quality, no small feat for a songwriter.

Some other standout songs on Historian include “Addictions”, the single you have likely heard on WNRN. “Non-Believer” that features Richmond mainstays No BS Brass Band and finds Dacus talking to her Mother about her faith. “Body To Flame” where a string section gives warmth and teeth to a tight pop song. It is followed by the slinkiest, blues rock song to come from Dacus, “Timefighter”.

Recently immortalized in articles for The New York Times, Rolling Stone and People Magazine, plus, you can find Lucy Dacus discussing a bit about each song in the latest edition of Newsweek. It is such a pleasure to watch people take note of such a talented musician. We were so happy to host Lucy and her band at WNRN right before her Sold Out show in Charlottesville at The Southern Café and Music Hall. I asked her about community and collaborating with her fellow Richmond musicians. Dacus said that without the Richmond music scene she never would have gotten started. Her friends, like My Darling Fury, would put her on a show to make her perform.

I can’t imagine not having Lucy Dacus expressing herself as a musician and being an ambassador for Richmond and Virginia talent. Enjoy Historian as the Electric CD of the Month.

2019-10-08T15:39:43-04:00March 15th, 2018|

Acoustic CD of the Month, March 2018

The ninth album from Tuscon, Arizona based Calexico, The Thread That Keeps Us, is WNRN’s March 2018 Acoustic CD of the Month.

One reviewer called the new album from Calexico mistakenly “The Threat That Keeps Us” instead of Thread. The likely source of this slip came from listening to the lyrics of smoky scenes, disenfranchised running across fields and the general look at border politics. There is the apocalyptic “End of the World With You,” and built in concern about wildfires in “Voices in the Field” and “Bridge to Nowhere.”

On the second half of The Thread That Keeps Us, there are songs with Calexico’s signature cross border sound and lighter lyrical content. Fans of Joey Burns and John Convertino 22 year collaboration will be delighted with “Flores y Tamales” that includes mariachi horns over a cumbia rhythm. “Under the Wheels” fuses reggae rhythms with 80s flare. “Another Space” includes Miles Davis sounding trumpet.

2018-04-03T08:15:20-04:00March 1st, 2018|

Electric CD of the Month – February

WNRN’s Electric CD of the Month is One Drop of Truth by The Wood Brothers.  The trio started their tour with a sold out show at the Jefferson Theater in Charlottesville.

Video from WNRN’S In Studio session is at our YouTube page. Along with playing “River Takes the Town”, the infectious song that introduced us to this new album, The Wood Brothers also performed “Happiness Jones”. A song about getting your fix of positivity in every form that you can.

It was thirteen years ago that The Wood Brothers came together to make their first collaboration. Oliver had moved to Atlanta to be in Tinsley Ellis’ band, that lead to the blues band King Johnson where Oliver was singer, guitarist and songwriter. Chris studied Jazz bass at the New England Conservatory of Music before moving to New York City where he formed Medeski Martin and Wood. Each brother had been hugely successful, but as the two playoff of each other with Jano as The Wood Brothers they create a joyful and unique sound that is unmistakably their own.

Highlights abound on this album, but along with the songs the band performed at WNRN check out “This Is It” a bright, yet introspective song that plays up the percussion in surprising ways and the booze soaked fun of “Sparkling Wine”. “Laughin’ or Crying”, with its slinky guitar line that evokes a world fitting for the main character that might have lived in the Broadway show Chicago.

If you didn’t get to see The Wood Brothers in January in Virginia they will be playing on Saturday, May 26 in Martinsville, VA for Rooster Walk 10.

2018-03-13T16:13:17-04:00February 1st, 2018|

Acoustic CD of the Month, February 2018

Ruins, the fourth release from Swedish sisters, Klara and Johanna Söderberg, better known as First Aid Kit, is our Acoustic CD of the Month for February 2018.

During the month that features Valentine’s Day, WNRN looks at an album of heartbreak. This emphasis comes after the sisters took time off from the group, only coming back together after the end of Klara’s first serious relationship. The single, “It’s a Shame,” sets the mood with mixing the gravity of a break up and lyrics like “no point in wasting sorrow on things that won’t be here tomorrow” with their beautiful harmonies. On other Americana sounding songs on Ruins, First Aid Kits’ “Postcard” appeal to an ex-lover to “send me a line” while “Fireworks” examines the night sky and the end of a relationship.

Some new sounds on Ruins is work of a new producer, Tucker Martine, who worked with case/lang/viers and the Decemberists. Martine assembled R.E.M.’s Peter Buck on guitar, Midlake’s McKenzie Smith and Wilco’s Glen Kotche play drums, along with their dad, Benkt Söderberg on bass. This reconvening of First Aid Kit shows us again the sister’s talent for combining Country/Americana sounds with harmony and fine lyrics then gives us a look at their growth as artists. Vocals in “Hem of Her Dress” show more versatility with moments that bordering on a howl, moving quickly to crowd sing-a long.

Photo: Album cover

2018-03-01T09:24:08-05:00February 1st, 2018|

Electric CD of the Month, January 2018

WNRN’s Electric CD of the Month for January is U2’s Songs of Experience. After five months of touring to celebrate the 30th anniversary of The Joshua Tree the band released their 14th studio album. It was meant to be a counterpoint to Songs of Innocence that was released three years earlier, but whose songs came out of the same sessions. While talking with The Irish Times Bono discussed why it took so long to get Songs of Experience out saying, ”When the world changes, you change with it.  We didn’t want to release an album where it seemed we were singing about the equivalent of the Y2K bug.”

Along with finding a current prospective for the album some re-writes went into the tracks as Bono faced what The Edge called “… a brush with mortality” at the beginning of 2016. The bandleader has refused to discuss what that brush was, but has said, “The songs on this album can best be understood as me thinking what do I want to say to the people that I most love…” That heart-on-his-sleeve sentimentality can be felt throughout Songs of Experience, like on the opener “Love Is All We Have Left” and “Love Is Bigger Than Anything In Its Way”. “The Little Things That You Give Away” finds Bono talking to his younger self.

With this album U2 has had a Number 1 album in each of the past four decades. They worked hard to make this album feel fresh. After working on material while they were on tour with Songs of Innocence U2 re-recorded the entire album live at Electric Lady Studio in NYC with Steve Lillywhite. I was struck by “Red Flag Day” and its overtones of “New Year’s Day” recorded 34 years before by Lillywhite for the War album.


There are flashes throughout the album of U2 from their past 41 years, see “American Soul” with Zooropa styling, and when thinking about their future the band is likely on stage. On June 17 and 18 U2 will play Capital One Arena in Washington, DC.

2018-02-01T09:11:33-05:00January 4th, 2018|

Acoustic CD of the Month, January 2018

Here at WNRN, we were first introduced to Becca Mancari as a former Lynchburg resident who had moved to Nashville and was working on some new songs. We fell in love with her song, “Summertime Mama,” and started playing her music. What a thrill it was to see critics, including NPR and Rolling Stone, state their love for this new album, Good Woman. WNRN joins with them in praising the new album by making it a CD of the Month.

We invite you to dig into this album to help kick off the new year. Not only is there a version of “Summertime Mama” to enjoy along the other radio single, “Arizona Fire.” Many songs on this album have that atmospheric sound of WNRN favorites: Hiss Golden Messenger, The War on Drugs, and Big Thief. Becca Mancari uses relationships as the subject of most of her songs. The metaphor,“Dirty Dishes,” allows the discussion the difficulties of letting go of an ex-lover. “Waiting So Long” could be seen as a coming out declaration. A personal favorite is the “Kitchen Dancing” a folkier number, lamenting the loss of love.

Photo: Andrea Bernhards

2019-10-08T15:39:56-04:00January 1st, 2018|

December 2017 Acoustic CD of the Month

WNRN is featuring the second release of 2017 by Chris Stapleton as its December 2017 Acoustic CD of the Month. The album was recorded during the same session as From A Room: Vol. 1, so it is aptly named, From A Room: Vol. 2.

Recently, I reviewed a January 2016 post on the morning show’s Facebook page where I displayed an article waxing philosophically about the impending impact of Sturgill Simpson, Jason Isbell and Chris Stapleton on the world of Country Music. A comment in response stated they had “tried” to listen to country music but did not like the “good old boy” antics of driving trucks and excessive consumption of alcohol. This stereotype may describe some commercial Country, but not the work of these three gentlemen. A better description was a David Dye’s comment made on a recent World Cafe episode, stating that Chris Stapleton’s songs are “heart music.”

Stapleton does talk about drinking on the new album.“Tryin’ to Untangle My Mind” and “Drunkard’s Prayer” spelunk into those soul awakening moments of reconciliation between  how one lives life with consequences and uses drinking as a lens.

Country music’s sense of humor and ability to get to the “heart” of the matter is its biggest selling point for me. Flaunting Country Music songwriting’s “super-power” to get at the value of relationships, “Millionaire,” “A Simple Song” and “Friendship” soar.

This new album continues to showcase Chris Stapleton as one of the best singers alive today. The rolicking “Midnight Train to Memphis” is the loudest song on the album. His soulful singing is present there, and even more in the quieter moments of this recording.


If you want more information about the CD of the Month clubs at WNRN, go to wnrn.org

2018-01-01T12:05:20-05:00December 1st, 2017|

Acoustic CD of the Month, October 2017

The Acoustic CD of the Month for October is the newest from North Carolina’s Hiss Golden Messenger, Hallelujah Anyhow.

This album is about darkness and light, good and bad, all set to this band infectious groove. In a recent conversation that I had with MC Taylor he stated his relationship with the Cook Brothers, and Phil Cook in particular allows his songwriting to come alive because of Cook’s ability to translate Taylor’s ideas into reality. Taylor notes that the musicians he admires are people that have this same sense of musicality.

Lyrically that are pictures of the difficulties of life with the recommendation of “Hallelujah Anyhow.” There are the images of war in “Jenny of the Roses.” The song that captures the songwriter zeitgeist of the day “When The Wall Comes Down” as well as the love song “Caledonia My Love.” You are already familiar with the first single, “Domino (Time Will Tell)” that reminds us that being surrounded by good people can turn your luck around.

2019-10-08T15:40:03-04:00October 1st, 2017|