Caroline Cotter - Home on the River
Cotter has a sweet voice and all of the songs here are set to subdued and mostly acoustic arrangements that really highlight her vocal talents, like on the soft country of "1 4 3" where her voice is appropriately tender for a song that has a title that is an alternative way of saying "I love you." One of the album's most striking cuts is "Eternal Light," a slightly foreboding folk tune, and her best vocal turn may be on the haunting "My Washroom" where she accompanies herself with understated guitar playing. The album closes with the brief "My Peace," a Woody and Arlo Guthrie song that Cotter sings acapella. Get it here.
Raven and Red - We Rise Up
A trio with two lead singers, Raven and Red are comfortable in many Americana sub-genres; the bluegrass waltz of "Living and Loving You," featuring vocalist Mitchell Lane, opens the record and the set moves on with the John Denver-informed sound of "Left Me Again" and the weepy country ballad "Wild Roses," both of which also feature Lane. Co-lead singer Brittany Lynn Jones gets a vocal turn on the somber "Mirror to My Soul" and she, like mandolin player Cole King, joins in on harmony vocals throughout. An instrumental reprise of "Wild Roses" gives King, Lane on acoustic guitar and Jones on fiddle a chance to really strut their stuff. Many of the cuts here have philosophical and hopeful lyrics and album closer "We Rise Up," sung by Lane, is no exception. Get it here.