Murder By Death- Jim Ed Brown- Sam Morrow

Murder By Death
Big Dark Love

Bloodshot Records

Americana or roots music is a genre that's constantly being expanded thanks to groups like Murder By Death, who here play a sort of prog Americana where dissonant piano, mournful cello and curious effects are as much a part of the music as beds of steel guitar and the occasional loping country rhythm. The band seems to be at their best where they also incorporate a bit of a pop bounce into their sound, like on "Solitary One," where singer Adam Turla, the glue throughout, sings over a bed of horns and lurking, eerie-sounding organ, only pausing long enough for a bridge of psych-y guitar to add to the ominous overtone. "Send Me Home" is given more of a straight reading; the song about the loss of wanderlust plays out to reverb guitar and homesick horns set to a basic mid-tempo rhythm. "Natural Pearl," a twangy cowboy rocker, is perhaps the rootsy-est number on Big Dark Love as it easily conjures the image of Turla singing it as he rides through the dusty Texas plains on a horse. Tons of twists and turns on this album and the constant surprises are part of what makes it so much fun. Get the album here.

Jim Ed Brown
In Style Again

Plowboy Records

He's been a member of the Grand Ole Opry for more than 50-years and even a bout with lung cancer couldn't keep him away from the venerated stage for too long; Brown took a four-month leave to undergo treatment but came right back as soon as the cancer went into remission. Now Brown's dedication to his craft is also on display with the vibrant new album In Style Again, an effort that opens nicely with "When the Sun Says Hello to the Mountain," a cut that features harmony vocals from Jim Ed's sisters Maxine and Bonnie. Vince Gill also guests on the album, singing background vocals on the classic country shuffle "Tried and True." Despite having weepy steel guitar as one of its components the title cut is, with its orchestrated background music, done in the smooth country style that artists like Ray Price often worked in. But much of the album, highlighted by tunes like "Am I Still Country" and the bluesy "Older Guy," resonate with the much beloved sound of country as it was in the '60s. Get the album here

Sam Morrow

Forty Below Records

It's only fitting that Morrow title this album Ephemeral; not so long ago he was mired deep in an addiction, the kind of situation where nothing seems to last except for the incessant cravings themselves. Clean for several years now, the singer/songwriter/guitar player is now able to articulate his feelings, and while the songs presented here are mostly not obviously about addiction or dissipation, they are imbued with a world-weary sadness that no man of 24-years should know. Various instruments embellish songs here and there but it is Morrow's evocative voice and his forlorn acoustic guitar playing that are in the spotlight. Because of his past personal problems Morrow is just now getting started on a promising career but this set of yearning, introspective songs indicates that his talent is certainly not ephemeral. He may or may not be happier next time out but Morrow is an artist that will be very interesting to watch develop. Get the album here.

Murder By Death- Jim Ed Brown- Sam Morrow

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