Our (pseudo) monthly look at the albums we are currently loving the most.
Jeff Przech & The Outfit – Jeff Przech & The Outfit
From the opening notes of the first toe-tapping single, “Maribelle”, it’s clear that Jeff Przech and his exceptional backing unit have brought their A-game. Przech is a thoughtful, soulful songwriter who happily lives on the country side of the Americana pantheon. His influences, which he wears proudly on both sleeves, are on full display here. One part Waylon Jennings, one part Jason Isbell, and a whole lot of ’70s music that tap-danced back and forth from the rock to country worlds and back. But it’s not without his own twist on it all. Catchy rock hooks deftly mingle with country and folk aesthetics, while bluesy numbers like “Coy” are woven through the sonic tapestry that Przech and his outfit sew together. Przech’s tell-it-like-it-is lyrics matched with top-notch musicianship, all through the lens of pristine production, render this album completely accessible for those who don’t necessarily partake in the more sawdust-laden styles of music. You don’t need cowboy boots to apply for fandom here, but they certainly couldn’t hurt. Three years ago Przech delivered a memorable selection of tracks on his Sounds Like Fresh album, his return to the recording fold is a triumphant one to say the least.
Goodnight Blue Moon – Dawning Dream
It’s been four long years since New Haven’s Goodnight Blue Moon has gifted us any new music. Those four years filled with personal triumphs, struggles, and lineup changes have resulted in a group of songs that see Goodnight Blue Moon both growing beyond and yet often revisiting their roots. While tracks like the first single, “Undertow” and the dreamy “Sunset Over State”, are still firmly rooted in New England folk and Americana traditions, other tracks (such as the title track) see these seven musicians continue to progress and explore their indie rock leanings. One of the things to love about the first two Goodnight Blue Moon releases was their ability to write infectious tracks that stayed with you for days after each listen. In that respect the more things change, the more they stay the same. Lush harmonies and supple orchestration are layered atop a foundation of rootsy folk/rock to create songs that are simultaneously nostalgic and progressive in feeling as well as structure. All told it’s a refreshing take on a sound that was a breathe of fresh air to begin with. As a fan, waiting for years for new music isn’t optimal, yet in the case of Goodnight Blue Moon the proverbial juice was worth the squeeze.
Belle of the Fall – Rise Up
When singer/songwriter, Julia Autumn Ford, and songwriter/producer/multi-instrumentalist, Tracy Walton, decided to merge their talents full-time to form Belle of the Fall they set out to find the perfect combination of Ford’s sultry brand of folk with Walton’s more rock-oriented take on Americana. Their debut album was excellent, but it was also two artists still finding their way, almost like two dance partners trying to find the right rhythm to move to. With their newest full-length album, Rise Up, Belle of the Fall have finally found their voice, and a beautiful one it is. Somewhere between ’60s orchestral folk and its more modern equivalents, Belle of the Fall has nestled themselves like a mama bird settling in for a long winter’s hatching. Tracks like “Nothing Left To Lose” and the title track are the perfect amalgamation of a wide array of influences that each artist brings to the table. This time around though it’s presented truly as a ‘band’ as opposed to two artists working (well) together. Ford’s voice is still one of the best around and the arrangements on this album help to highlight that. It’s an album filled with both hope and longing, love and angst. It’s a compelling group of songs worthy of multiple listens.
Parker Hu – Late Reply
Released somewhat quietly on the last day of 2017, Connecticut singer/songwriter, Parker Hu, delivered the aptly titled Late Reply. Hu is another artist who made us wait way too long for new music, five years to be exact. (Hu can be at least partially excused as she also fronts CT act, Them Damn Hamiltons.) It’s not a matter of if her full-time band and solo material differs, but by how much. Where Them Damn Hamiltons is a full-on Americana experience, Hu takes her solo material on more traditional rock and indie rock paths, while letting her folk flag fly full mast. On this release Hu is a poet first, penning lyrics that are deep and introspective. It doesn’t take a thorough examination to see that this is a very personal release and the music is fitting of one life’s journey – filled with energetic highs and somber lows. Late Reply is at its best when Hu appears at her most vulnerable. Tracks like “Canyons” and “Let You Chase Me”, with a stripped-down production and solemn aesthetics are where Hu and her talents shine brightest. Hu can pen an indie folk song with the best of them and this album stands as some of her best solo work to date.
The Wolff Sisters & The Last Calvary – Cahoon Hollow
There’s something to be said about the bond of siblings when it comes to making music. Modern music history is ripe with examples of siblings connecting through song to create something wholly interesting and exceptional. Boston-based sisters Rebecca, Rachael, and Kat Wolff may in fact be the next set of siblings on their way to creating something very special. Over the last two years The Wolff Sisters (and their excellent rhythm section known as The Last Calvary) have been dotting the musical landscape in their hometown with two EPs worth of roots rock meets countrified Americana. After honing their chops on various stages across New England, The Wolff Sisters holed themselves up at Eric Lichter’s Dirt Floor Studios and emerged with a bonafide gem of an album. Each sister contributes vocals, giving each track their own distinct personality, yet it all fits like the most gorgeous of puzzles. From foot-stompers like “Down By The Lake” to the bluesy undertones of tracks like “The Hollow” to the Springsteen-styled storytelling of tracks like “Leave This Town”, The Wolff Sisters have seemingly perfected just about every corner of the Americana pantheon. Theirs is a Midas Touch when it comes to folksy/roots songwriting. The sky is the limit for this act and I, personally, am looking forward to watching their success unfold in front of them. https://thewolffsisters.bandcamp.com/album/cahoon-hollow
Pat Stone & The Dirty Boots – Long Way Home
I once booked this band on a whim and the strength of one track I heard on The Local Bands Show on CygnusRadio.com. A few months later they proceeded to take the stage inside the pub at the Glastonbury Apple Harvest Festival and melted the faces of every unsuspecting listener. By the time they closed out with a well-timed Tom Petty cover the crowd was ready for them to simply keep going and take us all blissfully into that gorgeous October night. I’ve been waiting patiently for these guys to emerge from a studio with something new in hand ever since. After teasing us with a string of catchy and compelling singles, Long Way Home is finally here and frankly we are all going to be a little better for it. Pat Stone & The Dirty Boots play it similar to acts like Uncle Tupelo and Old 97’s. That is to say it’s often rock (or even punk) masquerading as a country band, often times not even in a very comprehensive disguise. While they may be hiding a bunch of tattoos under their flannels, Pat Stone and his band of merry ramblers deftly keep things gritty and a little dust-covered in the way that all the best alt country acts are able to. Long Way Home is the type of album to deliver a high-energy shit-kicker only to be followed up by a rock track infused with powerful pop hooks. Yet Pat Stone & The Dirty Boots not only make it work, they hammer it right out of the park.