On April 24th, three-time Grammy Award winner Lucinda Williams unabashedly takes on some of the human, social and political issues of our day with her boldest and most direct album to date, Good Souls Better Angels. During the course of her celebrated four-decade, pioneering career Williams has never rested on her laurels as she continues to push herself as a songwriter. On Good Souls Better Angels, she has much she needs to get out.
In 2014 and 2015, Williams released two critically acclaimed double albums back to back with Down Where The Spirit Meets The Bone and The Ghosts Of Highway 20, respectively. Both releases found her experimenting with arrangements, vocals, song structure and personal subject matter. On Good Souls Better Angels, Williams changes course and chooses to forgo the personal and narrative-based songcraft that has become synonymous with her name and instead speaks to some of the injustices permeating our society. The new songs cut straight to the core with frank and honest commentary on domestic abuse (“Wakin’ Up”), the constant barrage of news (“Bad News Blues”) the dangerous, quick to judge and convict aspects of social media (“Shadows & Doubts”) and the haunting reality of the “Man Without A Soul”.
Williams recorded Good Souls Better Angels backed by her remarkable, long time band, featuring Butch Norton (drums), Stuart Mathis (guitar) and David Sutton (bass). The rock-solid unit propels the music with both fire and finesse, particularly on the raw blues number “You Can’t Rule Me”, which kicks off the album with equal parts attitude and swing.
Good Souls Better Angels also features some of Williams’ most intimate and up front vocals on record. She addresses the pain of depression on the achingly beautiful “Big Black Train” and tenderly delivers a poignant song of hope with “When The Way Gets Dark”. She encourages us to push forward on the path of promise and perseverance on the deeply soulful and moving album closer “Good Souls”.
If Dinosaur Jr. wrote an album with Wilco, you’d get the alt-rock, americana, shoegaze cocktail that is Boston’s own, The Big Lonesome. The Gosselin brothers, Chad (guitar/vocals) and Luke (guitar/lap steel/vocals) along with bassist Seth Kellogg, and drummer Linecker de Silva team up again with New England Music Award Producer of the year, Sean McLaughlin, (Rush, Elliott Smith, Death Row Records) to release their third album – Payphones and Ashtrays. After a national tour in the spring of 2019 with San Antonio’s Ila Minori to celebrate the launch of their new music collective, Dream Coast, along with Jack Oats (Detroit) and Jesse W. Johnson (Chicago), The Big Lonesome continues their upward momentum with the release of this new full length album in the summer of 2020.
On April 3, 2020 acclaimed folk-rock quartet Parsonsfield will release their highly anticipated fifth release, Happy Hour On The Floor on Signature Sounds. Produced by multi-instrumentalist Benjamin Lazar Davis (Joan As A Police Woman, Okkervil River), Happy Hour On The Floor was recorded in a small barn over three weeks. It is both subdued and danceable, exploring the in-between moments in life.
Chris Freeman reflects, “We took some time off the road to analyze where we’ve been over the last five years of touring. We made ourselves fresh again, but with a whole new depth of experience in our pockets. We tracked almost the whole album on one microphone, one instrument at a time. We didn’t see ourselves as a folk band, an indie band or by any other label. In a bigger sense, this album is a story diving deep into ourselves and leaning on each other.”
Kyle Sowash has been toiling in the fields of Everyman Indie Rock since a period the archeologists now describe as “the 90s”. Singing songs about the highs and lows of the day-to-day, Mr. Sowash and his band of namesakes have put a melody to the mundane. Backed by a who’s-who of stalwarts from the Columbus, OH indie scene, his newest album “I Don’t Know What To Tell You”, unapologetically rocks.
Sorry, the caps lock wasn’t on. I said it ROCKS. With ringing power chords that would make Mitch Mitchell (from GBV, not the Experience) shit a brick* and a rhythm section that cracks like thunder off the Great Plains, The Kyle Sowashes have delivered another polyvinyl chloride testimony to the healing power of fist-pumping. -Mike Postalakis
“It’s moody—as in low, subdued,” says David Kilgour of his new album.
The atmosphere of Bobbie’s a girl does feel a bit mysterious. Largely missing the jangly distortion of Kilgour’s other work, the album’s ten songs exude a hazy warmth, with a light psychedelia that recalls ’60s outfits like The Byrds and The Velvet Underground.
Four decades into his career, Kilgour remains as creatively restless as ever. Wherever that drive takes him next, you’ll want to follow.
Chance has been good to Betsy Hershey, who performs her lush, abstracted pop under the name Bets. After all, it wasn’t the plan for the Los Angeles native, fresh out of music school, to play her first ever live shows at South by Southwest nor did she intend a personal project—last year’s lauded project violent femmes, a shoegaze-tinged cover album of the titular band’s 1983 debut—recorded on a whim to garner international attention. It’s just that when Bets puts her ethereal, exhilarating songs out into the world, people can’t seem to help responding.
And while a significant amount of thought and care has gone into her latest album, Future Color, anyone who’s previously fallen for her driving melodies and witty, catchy lyrics, will no doubt find something here to love. It’s a call to the creative side in everyone; the songs express themes of the uphill battle of isolation, frustration, and longing that can occur being an artist. These are not love songs but songs of longing, songs about need, and songs about trying to be something that’s never fully attainable. And while some of the tracks have the emotional resonance of great love songs, Bets says it’s a different kind of emotion that was actually driving her songwriting.