Mickey Guyton and Vicki Vann

Mickey Guyton was signed to major country music label Capitol Nashville in 2011 and released two EPs: Unbreakable in 2014, and Mickey Guyton in 2015.  The latter earned her a nomination for New Female Vocalist of the Year at the 2016 Academy of Country Music awards.   But two singles released this year, “Black Like Me” and “What Are You Gonna Tell Her”, both featured on her new EP Bridges that dropped this past Friday, are raising her profile to a new level.  She’ll be on stage at the ACM awards this Wednesday to sing “Black Like Me”.

Check out the lyrics video for “Black Like Me” and the video for “Better Than You Left Me”, the featured single from Mickey Guyton.  And here’s  a link to “What Are You Gonna Tell Her” if you’d like to hear more.

Black women singers are extraordinarily rare in mainstream country music, even more so than their male counterparts. It took a bit of searching to uncover Vicki Vann, who released an eponymous debut album in 2002 and Reckless Heart in 2011. Reckless Heart is chock full of classic country sounds, including the title track, “When You’re Comin’ Down”, and many others.

P.S. Sad news that Toots Hibbert, featured in last week’s blog post, did pass away this past Friday. Reggae and Toots and the Maytals’ music, though, will live on forever.

New Classic Country by Midland

The Washington Post Magazine ran a great article today about Midland, a country trio two albums into a what looks like a very promising career.  The band has racked up commercial success and critical recognition since the release of its first album, 2017’s On the Rocks.  They’re written up as channeling the neo-classic country style of George Strait and Dwight Yoakam (the band took its name from one of Yoakam’s songs), mixed with the polished sounds and high harmonies of the Eagles.   I’m not qualified to judge country music lineage, but I really like nicely crafted songs with great vocals and harmonies, and Midland is putting out some beauties.

Their sophomore album, 2019’s Let it Roll, features “Cheatin’ Songs”.   No video out yet for this one, but it’s sweet to just listen to.

If you want video entertainment, here’s another song from Let it Roll, “Mr. Lonely” featuring Dennis Quaid getting his comeuppance from every lady in the bar.   Midland’s base player, Cameron Duddy, turns out to be a big time music video director as well, whose work includes Bruno Mars’ “Uptown Funk” video.

Here’s where it all started for Midland, their first single,”Drinkin’ Problem”, with an award winning video directed by Duddy.   Nuthin’ says “classic country” like cow horns on a Cadillac.

New Albums from Loretta Lynn and Margo Price (with a little Jack White backstory)

Loretta Lynn released “Full Circle” on March 4th, her first new album since 2004.  Work on the album began in 2007 under the guidance of daughter Patsy Lynn and John Carter Cash. Its fourteen tracks were culled from hundreds of recordings made in those past eight years.  At 83 Lynn’s voice is still pitch perfect, and the duet “Lay Me Down” sung with her contemporary, Willie Nelson, is sure to be a favorite. The song was written by Mark Marchetti, the husband of Patsy’s twin sister Peggy.

I’ll wager that both the album and the duet will win Grammys this year. If they do, it would be a repeat of the success of Lynn’s last album, “Van Lear Rose”. Here’s the Grammy-winning duet “Portland Oregon” from that album, featuring its producer, Jack White.

Margo Price has been singing in Nashville for a dozen years, and her debut album “Midwest Farmer’s Daughter” is reportedly the first by a new country artist for Jack White’s Third Man Records. This album doesn’t feature White or bear his production imprint though, Price recorded it at Sun Studios in Memphis and Third Man released it just as Price recorded it.

Here’s the upbeat first official video from the album, “Hurtin’ (On the Bottle)”. Perhaps she’ll sing it when she performs on Saturday Night Live on April 9th!

Women Vocalists Review – Björk, Rhiannon Giddens and Kandace Springs

Before we start, a couple of notes on last night’s Grammy Awards.  Happy to see Roseanne Cash take home three in the American Roots categories for “The River & The Thread” (see our earlier post), Beck take home two for “Morning Phase” (see our earlier post), and Jack White score one for “Lazaretto”.

But that’s old musical news.

Björk (she of the infamous swan dress) is a unique and esoteric vocalist with an international following, putting out top selling solo albums since 1993.  Her latest, “Vulnicura” (meaning “Cure for Wounds”), was to be released in March to coincide with an exhibit on her career opening at the Museum of Modern Art in New York.  But the album leaked on the internet in January, so the album dropped early.  Lush with string arrangements, the album is a meditation on her breakup with American artist Matthew Barney.  Spend a few minutes getting into the hypnotic feel of the album’s first track “Stonemilker”.

In a completely different vein, Rhiannon Giddens has been working with uber-producer T Bone Burnett on a few projects, including her first solo album “Tomorrow is My Turn”. The album includes covers of a number of great artists, features great backing musicians, and most of all introduces us to a great new singer. Listen to these covers of Patsy Kline and Joan Baez.

And in another completely different vein, Kandace Springs is a singer and pianist bringing a soul look and style that’s a little bit retro and a whole lot of fun. Check out “Love Got in the Way” from her eponymous debut EP. Then, to tie back to last night’s Grammy’s, listen to her cover of Sam Smith’s “Stay With Me” which won him Record of the Year and Song of the Year.

 

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New Albums from Classic Women Vocalists and a Newcomer – Rosanne Cash, Chrissie Hynde, and Rachel Price

Some famous female vocalists have new music out, and a great new singer has arrived on the scene.

Rosanne Cash, eldest daughter of Johnny and superstar in her own right, released “The River and the Thread” in January.  The album has received its share of good reviews, and the first track is “A Feather’s Not a Bird”.  The album’s producer is Rosanne’s husband John Leventhal, who also co-wrote all the songs and plays lead guitar on this performance. If you like the video below, check out this studio performance of “The Long Way Home” with John backing Rosanne on acoustic guitar.

Perhaps the best Rock & Roll frontwoman ever is Chrissie Hynde of the Pretenders. Almost 35 years after “Brass in Pocket” launched the band’s career, Chrissie is about to release her first solo album. “Stockholm” is due out in June, and the first single “Dark Sunglasses” has been released. Unfortunately, the video shows us no Chrissie, just a bunch of folks wearing – you guessed it. If you want to see Chrissie front the Pretenders in their heyday, 30 years ago, check out the other video too. The video quality isn’t great, but don’t you wish you’d been there?

Back in October we wrote about Lake Street Dive covering a Jackson Five tune. The band is now out with a new full-length LP “Bad Self Portraits” that is fresh and absolutely delightful from start to finish. The band’s lead singer, Rachel Price, has a great voice and a unique style that propels the band’s range of jazz, soul and R&B tunes. Here is the title track from the new album, and “You Go Down Smooth”.

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