“The music I play, I call ‘SoCal country, It’s country music but with a Southern California spirit to it.What is it about Southern California that gives it that spirit, I don’t exactly know. But there’s an idea that I like that says – every song, even happy songs, are written from a place of sadness. If there’s a special sadness to Southern California it’s that there’s an abiding shadow of loss of what used to be. But then, like with any place, you have a resilient optimism as well.”
– Sam Outlaw
Sam Outlaw had a successful advertising career in California; however, on his thirtieth birthday he experienced what he calls “an existential crisis moment” and realised that only music has ever made him feel anything.
Sam Outlaw self-released an EP in 2014. It immediately created attention, he also landed his music video on CMT.
With Angeleno he has made one of the best debut albums of 2015.
“Hell, everybody’s sick of all my fucking happy songs anyway”
– Steve Earle
Terraplane is the sixteenth studio album by Steve Earle. It was released on February 17, 2015 via New West Records. Terraplane – the title is a nod to Robert Johnson’s “Terraplane Blues” (and from the 1930s Hudson Motor Car Company of Detroit model) and it is Earle’s blues album. This is something he does with honor, and it’s a hell of an album, no matter what genre.
Steve Earle and The Dukes – King of the Blues /Hey Joe (House of Rock, Corpus Christi, TX on 5/10/2015):
..Either way, Church’s songs are anchored with an authoritative sense of sentiment and place, and they’re brought to life by the precise roar of the Eric Church Band. No longer overwhelming with sheer volume, they dig into the funk of “Chattanooga Lucy” and race their leader to the conclusion of “Mr. Misunderstood,” but they shine by maintaining the mournful soul of “Round Here Buzz” or by building the tension of “Knives of New Orleans” or by keeping the Susan Tedeschi duet “Mixed Drinks About Feelings” at a sweet, sad simmer. Where The Outsiders was designed to dazzle, Mr. Misunderstood is built for the long haul: it settles into the soul, its pleasures immediate but also sustained.
~Stephen Thomas Erlewine (allmusic.com)
Q: Why did you make this record now?
A: Now is the right time. I’ve been thinking about it ever since I heard Willie [Nelson]’s Stardust record in the late 1970s. All through the years, I’ve heard these songs being recorded by other people and I’ve always wanted to do that. And I wondered if anybody else saw it the way I did.
~Bob Dylan (AARP interview – Feb 2015)
I love these songs, and I’m not going to bring any disrespect to them. To trash those songs would be sacrilegious. And we’ve all heard those songs being trashed, and we’re used to it. In some kind of ways you want to right the wrong.
~Bob Dylan (AARP interview – Feb 2015)
The great shock here, then, is Dylan’s singing. Dylan’s focus and his diction, after years of drowning in sandpaper, evoke his late-Sixties poise and clarity on John Wesley Harding and Nashville Skyline — also records of deceptive restraint and retrospect — with an eccentric rhythmic patience in the way he holds words and notes across the faint suggestions of tempo. It is not crooning. It is suspense: Dylan, at 73, keeping fate at arm’s length as he looks for new lessons, nuance and solace in well-told tales.
~David Fricke (rollingstone.com – Feb 2015)
..But while Shadows In The Night is nostalgic, it is not sentimental. As a celebration of classic songcraft, it is as sincere as any of Dylan’s many forays into traditional American roots idioms. But how does Sinatra measure up to Dylan’s other early heroes? “Right from the beginning he was there with the truth of things in his voice,” Dylan wrote in the days after Sinatra’s death. “His music had a profound influence on me, whether I knew it or not. He was one of the very few singers who sang without a mask.” Shadows In The Night, then, is Dylan’s way of saying thank you.
~Michael Bonner (uncut.co.uk – Jan 2015)
I Love You, Honeybear is the second studio album released by American folk musician Josh Tillman under his pseudonym Father John Misty. It was released on February 9, 2015 in the UK and Europe on Bella Union, and in the rest of the world on February 10, 2015 on Sub Pop. Produced by both Tillman and Jonathan Wilson, this is Tillman’s second studio album since his departure from Fleet Foxes. The album was also mixed by Phil Ek, and mastered by Greg Calbi at Sterling Sound. According to Tillman, the release is a concept album.
“It achieves beauty without ever forgetting the complications that come with that beauty. Tillman can sing about sex and anxiety and death-fear with sweeping cinematic panache. He can make low feelings sound high, and he can make high feelings sound like grand romantic visions. “ – Stereogum
Ok, so it is a performance, a theatrical act, but that doesn’t make it less honest. Sometimes we see truth through art and make belive, and the melodies, man, the melodies are wonderful!
“There’s a paper clip resting on my countertop/Sunday morning, I forgot what it’s like to lose a friend,”
– Yellow Eyes
Rayland Baxter released his second album, Imaginary Man, in August 2015. It’s a melancholic journey into sun-drenched stories, stories that are often sad, but feels comforting at the same time. Sometimes it’s ok to embrace the sadness. I saw him in Oslo last summer, he did a very fine set and the photos in this post are from that event.
This album is a big step forward for Rayland Baxter, we look forward following him in the future. He stays true to his roots but finds a way to remain relevant. A very fine record.