John Hiatt – Terms Of My Surrender
For his 22nd studio album, Americana kingpin John Hiatt turns out another dusty set of emotionally driven songs. The singer-songwriter – a legend among fellow muse chasers who has had songs recorded by the likes of Bonnie Raitt, B.B. King, Eric Clapton and Jimmy Buffett – is in fine form as he digs deep in the musical soil for eleven tracks that cut close to the bone. Songs like the rattling blues romp “The Face Of God” and “Old People,” a comical narration on the aged, are simple and beautiful.
Corb Lund – Counterfeit Blues
He may be Canadian, but song-slinger Corb Lund’s music fits nicely alongside Americana acts like Robert Earl Keen and Ryan Bingham. In fact, after one listen to his 2014 offering Counterfeit Blues, it’s hard to tell if Lund is from Alberta, Mississippi or Texas. The twelve track collection, recorded live at legendary Sun Studios in Memphis, TN, features re-worked versions of earlier Lund compositions alongside a few new songs. Highlights include the title cut and “Truck Got Stuck.”
Kevin Fowler – How Country Are Ya?
Kevin Fowler is too country for rock and too rock for country. Where does that leave the singer (who once played with metal act Dangerous Toys)? In the Americana genre, of course. Fowler’s latest release How Country Are Ya? is bursting with Stonesy electric guitars, sawing fiddles and liquid steel licks. Meat and potatoes country and rock with a side of blues tracks like the honky tonk “If I Could Make A Livin’ Drinkin’” and the comical “Chicken Wing” are some of the best Fowler has recorded to date.
Rodney Crowell – Tarpaper Sky
Between 2001-2008, singer-songwriter Rodney Crowell released a quartet of albums that shook the foundations of Americana. The Houston Kid, Fate’s Right Hand, The Outsider and Sex & Gasoline are towering collections that stand out in an already impressive Crowell catalog. The Texas native’s 2014 release TarPaper Sky, while not as monumental, is brimming with soul-piercing songs, including the heartsore “God I’m Missing You” and the equally emotive, “I Wouldn’t Be Me Without You.”
Steve Earle – Live In Nashville 1995
In 1995 Steve Earle was back from the brink, with a new acoustic album Train A Comin’ on the racks and a new lease on life. Clean and sober after years of addiction that had left him missing in action, Earle hit the road. A stop in Nashville in the fall of ’95, a ‘comeback’ show of sorts, was recorded for posterity and is finally seeing the light of day as a stand alone release. Earle shines on spirited renditions of “Hometown Blues” and “Copperhead Road,” bit no more so than on the poignant “Goodbye,” a duet with Emmylou Harris.