americana folk alt review

I have been meaning to share this for a while.

Four artists I like.

All with new cds.

All pretty good. Okay. All good.

And I imagine I could summarize their style as Americana <with an apology to Kathleen Edwards who is Canadian>. Or maybe it is Alt-country or americana alt folk country … whatever.

All storytellers.

All strong lyrically.

All relatively sparse on the musical composition <no techno stuff>.

All with distinct voices and delivery.

And, fortunately for this post, all with relatively good new albums.

Mindy Smith

Well. I am going to begin with Mindy’s new self-titled cd because it is brilliant. I am not a religious person but I have always thought if I was fortunate to meet an angel her voice would sound just like Mindy’s <with a nod to another Christian singer … Leigh Nash>.

Her voice has always had this fragile strength and when she writes a good song <and she writes her own music primarily> it just sounds perfect. She has a special voice that can deliver in minor keys which makes her songs uniquely melodious but also has a wispy-like harmonious thoughtful and human side.

This cd has only one song I wish she hadn’t put on it <Don’t Mind me> but the first three songs on this cd are as good as any she has ever recorded.

I wasn’t sure she would ever be able to match Long Island Shores <which is almost a perfect cd top to bottom> but this cd sure does come close.

Her strong faith weaves its way throughout without making it a Christian music cd and her country roots weaves its way through the cd without making it a country cd … it is just … well … Americana folk story telling at its best.

Here is an oldy but goody in case you don’t know who she is:

Out Loud:

And here is the lead single off her new cd:



And she really earned a spot in my post when I read what she said about her new song “closer.” Excellent thought for anyone <even if you don’t like her music>.

“Many times in life’s journey, we find ourselves disoriented. For me, I make destructive decisions that can distract me from my ultimate goal. I think I am making the right choices and staying close to my agenda but I just run off course. In ‘Closer,’ I see the North Star as the prize. One that I am always getting so close to but unable to grab a hold of and then it eludes me. Personally this song paints a picture of how I see my musical career and that I see NOW is my moment. Taking the time to listen for the answers to my questions. I guess NOW is always our moment even if it is only etching out one little piece of the bigger picture.”

<if Mindy reads this … awesomely written Mindy … well done>

Kathleen Edwards

As a contrast to Mindy’s voice you have Kathleen’s. She writes different types of songs and with a voice that grits its way through her lyrics she makes you think you are sitting at the end of a smoky bar, maybe 5 beers into the night, doodling on a napkin.

Her new cd is called Voyageur.


Her Back to Me cd was one of the best cds I have ever purchased. I wasn’t sure she would ever be able to match it <and that’s okay … because it was an almost perfect cd> but her newest cd is pretty good. Not as good … but good.

As a singer songwriter she is seemingly overlooked by the main stream but she is much much better than half the crap you hear on today’s radio.

Ok. Some songs.

The entire Back to Me cd is wonderful but Copied Keys remains my favorite song in it:

Copied keys:

Next. Another older one …

Goodnight California … a long rambling epic song off of her cd Asking for Flowers is wonderful <Kathleen plays a beautiful violin to help create a richness in tone>:

And then.

Two new songs off new cd:

Change the Sheets:


And because I have seen her live and I recommend it to anyone who likes this kind of music …

Back to Me live:

Aimee Mann

This is about her new cd Charmer:

“When you’re a charmer, the world applauds / They don’t know that secretly charmers feel like they’re frauds.”

“charmer” is the same lyrically subtle ironic music we have come to listen to, and love, from Aimee but she also dazzles us with a really lean economic approach to the music.

“Charmer” is less a term of endearment for Aimee Mann than it is a source of curiosity: What are they after, these charming people? What’s their angle?

Mann explores the concept on her eighth studio album, a collection of smart songs drawn from what she calls the “super pop” of the 1970s and ’80s.

“Labrador” is a spectacular song.

She interpolates a snippet of the 19th century pop ditty “Daisy Bell,” better known as “Bicycle Built for Two,” in a way that’s as unexpected as it is perfect.

This cd ranks up with the best of everything she has ever done. She is always slightly wry in her storytelling and effortlessly catchy at the same time.

<song actually begins at about 1:45>




And as she discusses how she writes about people and how she finds the lyrics to write:

“It’s so hard to be a person, isn’t it?”

A great thought for all of us.

Tyler Hilton

I had to finish with this guy. A singer songwriter I have liked for a long time. Just like the other artists here he is a wordsmith through and through. What he may actually be better at than anyone else here in this post is pacing. The way he paces his lyrics in a song creates a feeling that adds a level to the words. He makes you feel the ups & downs of whatever he is singing just by the speed in which he sings. Wonderful wonderful deliverer of lyrics <which is a talent many of us overlook in the great singer song writers>.

His newest cd is Forget the Storm which is really good.

He says:

“I was looking for a phrase that communicated how we all have something in common, Hilton says. I was spending a lot of time in the South and in Canada and whenever there was a storm, you could be standing in line at the grocery store next to a stranger and they’d inevitably remark about the crazy weather. That’s when it hit me: Everyone shares one common thing … weathering the storms together. And that became a metaphor about recognizing that we all need to be encouraged to weather the storms. Sometimes you need to remind yourself that dreams can happen, but they may take time so cant give up”.

<nice thought Tyler>


This is the song that made me a Tyler Hilton fan.

You’ll ask for Me:

New songs.


Prince of Nothing Charming:

A slower song.

Leave Him:

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Written by Bruce