Ruth Moody: These Wilder Things

The Wailin’ Jennys is spawning some excellent solo albums. First Heather Masse, now Ruth Moody is set to release her sophomore solo album, These Wilder Things, on May 7th. Moody’s angelic, lilting soprano tangles with pop-polished bluegrass and folk. The new album also features guests Mark Knopfler, Jerry Douglas and Crooked Still’s Aoife O’Donovan.

The standout tracks are the old-fashioned, slightly eerie opener “Trouble and Woe” and the spectacular Mark Knopfler duet “Pockets.”

Other highlights include the beautiful title track ballad, “One and Only,” “Trees for Skies” and the exquisite, Celtic-influenced “Life is Long.”

The album also features a pretty, slowed and stripped down cover of Bruce Springsteen’s “Dancing in the Dark.” You can listen to the track, “One Light Shining,” in the following Soundcloud stream…

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Ruth Moody Official Site

Della Mae: This World Oft Can Be

Della Mae’s upcoming album, This World Oft Can Be, is a merry, genteel collection of old-fashioned bluegrass, folk and country that beautifully showcases Della Mae’s all-female harmonies. Highlights include the opener “Letter From Down the Road,” the ballads “Mabeline” and “Heaven’s Gate” and the lilting, string-accented title track. You can download a free, legal mp3 of the track “Empire” by entering your email address into the widget below. This World Oft Can Be will be released on May 28th.

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Della Mae Official Site

Steve Martin & Edie Brickell: Love Has Come For You

Comedian turned bluegrass musician Steve Martin and singer Edie Brickell have joined forces for the new album, Love Has Come For You. What a delight their collaboration turned out to be! Martin’s deft, delicate banjo playing is the perfect complement for Brickell’s gentle, melodious voice. Love Has Come For You will be released on April 23rd.

Standout tracks are the peppy “Get Along Stray Dog,” the lovely title track ballad, the breakup anthem “Siamese Cat,” “Shawnee” and the genteel finale, “Remember Me This Way.”

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Steeldrivers: Hammer Down

The Steeldrivers will return on February 5, 2013 with their third full-length release, Hammer Down. Unfortunately, the new album lacks the fiery freight train of blues that made their 2008 self-titled debut so brilliant. I suspect the shift in sound is due to the changes in the band’s lineup. Whatever the reason, Hammer Down is a much more mellow collection of old-timey country and bluegrass. It’s a pleasant enough listen, but somewhat of a letdown after such an extraordinary debut. Highlights are “I’ll Be There” and “Cry No Mississippi.”

Hammer Down Tracklist

01. Shallow Grave
02. How Long Have I Been Your Fool
03. When You Don’t Come Home
04. I’ll Be There
05. Burnin’ The Woodshed Down
06. Wearin’ A Hole
07. Lonesome Goodbye
08. Hell On Wheels
09. Cry No Mississippi
10. When I’m Gone

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Steeldrivers Official Site

Kasey Chambers & Shane Nicolson: Wreck & Ruin

Australian singer-songwriter superduo Kasey Chambers and Shane Nicolson recently released their sophomore collaboration, Wreck & Ruin. Since the couple’s debut, Rattlin’ Bones, made both my Top Albums of 2008 and Best of the Decade lists, I was very excited to hear the new release. Unfortunately, my expectations seem to have been raised too high. I really wanted to love this album but, even after repeated listens, there are only a few tracks that appeal to me.

The haunting acapella duet “‘Til Death Do Us Part” that opens the album is by far the standout track.

The peppy bluegrass title track is more representative of the album’s overall sound.

“Adam & Eve” has a delicously eerie backwoods clang, while “The Quiet Life” is a gentle country ballad.

Otherwise the album’s pleasant, but not nearly as memorable as its predecessor.

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Kasey Chambers & Shane Nicolson Official Site