GoodSongs: Well Worn Soles

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I get a lot of music to (hopefully) review.  Most of it is good.  Some of it is great. Every now and then a record matches up perfectly with my musical DNA.  Like the one I received recently from Well Worn Soles.  This record is wonderful from the first listen.  It sounds like what I want to hear when sitting on the porch at the farm.  It sounds like music I’d love to hear live.  It sounds like life.  Real, authentic, natural.  When I read their bio, I began to understand why .

They met while enrolled in the bluegrass program at East Tennessee State University and quickly recognized that there was something special about the two of them together.

Yes, there is.  Emerson Wells-Barrett and Chelsea Dix-Kessler make some amazing music.  I could share just about any of the 11 songs on their forthcoming record, “Country/Folk by Well Worn Soles,” which is scheduled for release on August 4, 2015, and you’d love it.  But when someone writes and sings “We were something, me and you.  Two happy spiders, all tangled up in our web,” well, that’s the one I have to pick.

Big Red Fire – Well Worn Soles

There’s a lot more to love on this record.  Chelsea plays a beautiful fiddle and Emerson plays a mean mandolin, among other instruments.  There’s traditional country, there’s bluegrass arrangements, there’s honky-tonk, and there’s even the right amount of humor (humor on a record is like whiskey; a little is good, too much makes my head hurt).  They remind me of so many of my favorite bands.  Freakwater, The Be Good Tanyas, The Everybodyfields (the benchmark for Tennessee duos), etc.

When this record comes out, buy it, stream it, heck, steal it if you have to (not really).  If you like well written, well-played rural American music, you’ll love this record.

I do, and I do.

Keep up with Well Worn Soles via their website, Facebook, and Instagram.

GoodSongs: The Pollies

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The Pollies, a quintet from Florence, Alabama, is preparing to release its new record, Not Here, on September 25, 2015 via Single Lock Records/Thirty Tigers.  Recorded at Dial Back Sound in Water Valley, Mississippi, and produced by Ben Tanner (of Alabama Shakes) and The Pollies’ lead singer and songwriter, Jay Burgess, the record is the band’s first for Single Lock/Thirty Tigers and the follow-up to their 2012 release, Where The Lies Begin.

This is a mighty fine, genre-defying, progressive southern, grab bag of ear candy.  The first song, Jackson, is an early clue that you’re into something good.  As a bearded, southern, country-raised social liberal, it makes my heart sing when other southern musicians take up the progressive flag.  “I’ve always been into revolutions—more specifically thinking about what things would be like if they hadn’t happened,” Burgess says.  “Obviously, a major movement in this country’s history was the Civil Rights movement.  I think about how long that effort took and how great the risk was, and it’s amazing to me.”  Jimmie Lee Jackson, a church deacon, was beaten and shot to death by Alabama State troopers in 1965 during a peaceful voting rights march. His death was one of the inspirations for the Selma to Montgomery marches.  It’s a great sounding song- one of my favorites of 2015, that tells a meaningful story (as an aside, I can’t wait for some southern bands to produce some great songs celebrating the marriage equality victory we joyfully witnessed this year, a movement that traces it lineage back to the Civil Rights movement).

Lost, the second song on the record, has a wonderful 70s-ish, alt. country vibe with some great harmonies.  I really dig this song.

The arrangements on this record stand-out, on almost every song.  She has a lot going on behind some wistful vocals.  A big shout out to whoever played the piano on this record.  Very nicely done (as another aside, best piano playing on any record ever?  Chuck Leavell on Brother and Sisters).

There’s a lot of range here as well  You Are alternates between a garage rock sound and a Cure vibe, and it works.  Losers is a rocker that would have fit right in on a dBs record.  Lonely Betty sounds like good Ryan Adams.

Like most good records, it changes as you listen to it.  Initially, I didn’t think much of Paperback Books, but then later, as the record was playing while I did other stuff, I though “damn, that’s a great song.”  Now it’s one of my favorites.

This is predominantly an alt. country record, but it has strong elements of folk rock, alternative rock, and the best parts of modern rock.  It’s easy to classify on first listen.  But the details blur the genre in a very interesting way.

Whatever you want to call it, this is an excellent record.  I put most of the songs in my primary playlist.  I suspect you will too.  Buy this record when it comes out.

GoodSongs: Sam Outlaw

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Somehow, I managed not to hear any Sam Outlaw music, until today.  On the way back from San Antonio, I heard a song that I knew I loved from the first few notes.

So I get home and, as I almost always do when I am exploring a new artist, I go to YouTube and discover not only another perfect country song, but one of the best music videos ever.

That’s a great piano track, and a great song.

I’m fixing to listen to every Sam Outlaw song I can find.

Awesome.  Highly recommended.