Album Reviews

  • Album Review: Katie Pruitt, 'Expectations'

    • February 23, 2020
    • Kelly McCartney

    Singer/songwriter Katie Pruitt was born smack dab in the middle of the '90s, apparently soaking up the decade's musical ethos in utero and after, as made apparent on her debut album, Expectations. Rare are first-album lyrical voices so fully formed and fully engaging as Pruitt's. Rarer still are they embedded within the kind of hooks and arrangements that songwriters hope to someday catch an earful of. Yet, song after song, Pruitt delivers on every level — writing, performance, and production (with help from producer Michael Robinson).

  • Album Review: Rose Cousins, 'Bravado'

    • February 21, 2020
    • Kim Ruehl

    Rose Cousins has, over the course of eight albums, developed a consistent track record of deeply emotional, often painfully honest, catchy songs. Though she has toyed with theme and concept, her recordings have followed a certain formula that will make them recognizable to fans as standard singer-songwriter fare: Songs the artist wrote over a specific period of time, occasionally thematically linked, hopefully depicting some kind of creative and/or personal growth since the last time they entered the studio.

  • Album Review: John Moreland, 'LP5'

    • February 18, 2020
    • Kelly McCartney

    Dubbed LP5, the album is a gloriously fulsome piece of art, with textures and soundscapes we hadn't previously associated with the Tulsa artist. The opening cut, “Harder Dreams,” is punctuated by a sonic structure that wouldn't be out of place on an album from the National as it details the reaching for something higher in life, rather than simply settling for the beliefs passed down through churches, culture, and consumerism for whom the cruelty is the point.

  • Album Review: Della Mae, 'Headlight'

    • February 06, 2020
    • Kim Ruehl

    With their latest release, Headlight (Rounder Records), Della Mae chooses not to provide release from the dominant culture of the past few years, but rather to dig deeply into the reality of being female in America. Whether musing about a missing lover (“I Like It When You’re Home”) or paying tribute to brave women like Christine Blasey Ford (“Headlight”), they explore womanhood with integrity and grace, warts and all.

  • Album Review: Tré Burt, 'Caught It from the Rye'

    • February 04, 2020
    • Kelly McCartney

    For Sacramento-based singer/songwriter Tré Burt, the idea of ever even meeting John Prine might've have seemed like an impossible dream. But, after Burt self-released Caught It from the Rye in 2018, Prine's label, Oh Boy Records, caught ear of it and, after seeing him perform in 2019, brought him onto the label alongside Kelsey Waldon — their only two signings in the past 15 years. Now, Oh Boy is re-issuing Caught It from the Rye and Burt is opening shows for Prine. Turns out, the dream is not impossible.

  • Album Review: Bonny Light Horseman, 'Bonny Light Horseman'

    • January 22, 2020
    • Kelly McCartney

    Bonny Light Horseman is a true drop-the-needle record with every single song being as strong as the ones before and after. That's not at all unexpected, considering the brilliant work of each of its members, but it is still a wonder to behold that will surely stand for centuries to come.

  • Review: Allison Moorer, 'Blood: A Memoir'

    • December 01, 2019
    • Kim Ruehl

    It’s a horrible, tragic story that Allison Moorer shares in a new 300-page memoir titled Blood. But mixed into all the awfulness is unwavering love and compassion for parents and sister, deep confusion, and a certain melancholic longing—for her parents, for what might have been and what never could be.

  • Album Review: The Avett Brothers, 'Closer Than Together'

    • November 07, 2019
    • Kelly McCartney

    With Closer Than Together, the Avett Brothers step into the "political song" arena, while not abandoning more familiar ground, all with mixed results. On this album as all the rest, though listeners certainly catch glimpses of their influences — whether that's Bob Dylan or the Clash — the Avett Brothers' melodies, harmonies, and arrangements are unlike any other band's.

  • Album Review: Molly Sarlé , 'Karaoke Angel'

    • October 25, 2019
    • Kelly McCartney

    Whether paradoxes or purgatory, liminal states of existence make people uneasy. Most folks like their status quo binary world of black or white, not black and white or, for heaven's sake, GREY. Well, with Karaoke Angel, Molly Sarlé has created the perfect soundtrack for a grey, circular, both/and world. Brimming with timeless music backing timely messages, Karaoke Angel manages to be high brow and lo-fi, plain and poetic, uncomfortable and comforting all at once. Just like real life — the one not pictured on Instagram — these songs are complex rather than clean.