Album Reviews

  • Album Review: Hayes Carll, 'What It Is'

    • March 15, 2019
    • Kelly McCartney

    With What It Is, Hayes Carll continues to prove that he's one of the most gifted wordsmiths in the game. Read Kelly McCartney's review.

  • Album Review: Various, 'The Social Power of Music'

    • February 27, 2019
    • Henry Carrigan

    Since 1948, Folkways has been collecting, preserving, and disseminating the songs that illustrate the social power of music. In this this new 4-CD set, The Social Power of Music, accompanied by a lavishly illustrated 124-page book, Smithsonian senior archivist Jeff Place, director and curator of Smithsonian Folkways Recordings Huib Schippers, and program manager at Smithsonian Folkways Recordings Meredith Holmgren draw from the over 60,000 tracks in the label’s archives to produce a stunning and moving anthology that illustrates the transformative power of music across cultures and across social and cultural issues.

  • Album Review: Yola, 'Walk Through Fire'

    • February 22, 2019
    • Kelly McCartney

    Walk Through Fire feels like an artistic butterfly flitting about, completely unaware that it's supposed to stick to one style. Rather, it far prefers to cross-pollinate its listeners with bits of country, soul, pop, gospel, and more. It's an album that harkens back to the golden years of FM radio — the 1970s — when the Fifth Dimension, Dolly Parton, and Dusty Springfield all played side-by-side, and it does so with just the right amount of pomp for its particular circumstances.

  • Album Review: Nell & Jim Band, 'Steel'

    • February 21, 2019
    • Henry Carrigan

    Nell & Jim Band’s Steel delivers sparkling harmonies, clever songwriting, rapturous and rollicking instrumentals, carrying us through the ambiguities and promises of life, love, and hope. Read Henry Carrigan's full review.

  • Album Review: Brìghde Chaimbeul, 'The Reeling'

    • February 21, 2019
    • Devon Léger

    "The melodies are shaped slowly and carefully, each drawing out the richest timbre from her instrument, the drones rolling over and around the music like peat-blackened water running through a bog. It’s a deeply evocative album, it transports you. It’s beautiful music." Read Devon Léger full review of The Reeling, the new album by the young Scottish piper, Brìghde Chaimbeul.

  • Album Review: Mandolin Orange, 'Tides of a Teardrop'

    • February 09, 2019
    • Kelly McCartney

    Though throughout Tides of a Teardrop, Mandolin Orange reckons with the ride that is grief, there's a quiet, easy comfort to it all. You can't listen to this album and not feel like everything will, indeed, be okay, no matter the water depths you mind be currently be treading.

  • Album Review: Rosanne Cash, 'She Remembers Everything'

    • November 21, 2018
    • Kelly McCartney

    On her latest release, She Remembers Everything, Rosanne Cash sets her previous explorations of the past aside to share her hard-earned wisdom of the here-and-now from the perspective of a 63-year-old-woman who knows a thing or two because she has seen a thing or two.

  • Album Review: JP Harris, 'Sometimes Dogs Bark at Nothing'

    • November 12, 2018
    • Kelly McCartney

    Few songwriters in Nashville have had as many lived experiences as JP Harris. He's been a runaway, a train-hopper, a hitch-hiker, a farm worker, a carpenter, and more. Heck, the guy spent 12 years living in a remote Vermont cabin with no plumbing or electricity. JP Harris is a dadgum country song come to life. On his new Sometimes Dogs Bark at Nothing album, he brings many of those experiences to bear.