From the flood of fingerpicking guitar and the authoritative voice that opens "Every Little Bit Hurts" you know you're in the presence of a folk master. Barton Carroll has woven another witty and wise tale of hard times when they come and good times where you find them.
When backed by her band the Howlin' Moons, Ohio native Angela Perley is most likely to unleash a torrent of roots-soaked rock 'n' roll. But on the ballad "Brooklyn Girls" she shows just how far her vulnerable, phrase-sensitive voice can take a song.
Named after a small Missouri town, Salisbury is the project of St. Louis-based singer and songwriter Eric Lysaght, well-known as leader of rock band Neptune Crush. But Salisbury, and its new album "Life Is a Heartbreak," evokes the folk and country of the heartland. With gospel harmonies and a dreamy sense of nostalgia and narrative detail, the track "Down at the Fair" is a microcosm of the Salisbury world.
Recorded on an old tape deck that most musicians would be thrilled to unload on Craigslist for a sandwich and a case of beer, "Vermona" by Brooklyn, N.Y. duo Take Berlin has a delicate acoustic movement that's part found art, part elusive emotion.
The new breed of orchestral-folk bands is nothing if not precocious, and Montreal, Quebec band Little Suns is surely that, as well as spry in its rhythms and wry in its message of hope and companionship.
Bassist for Eleanor Friedberger's current touring band, Cassandra Jenkins is a fine songwriter, singer and arranger in her own right, as evidenced by the new track "Up in Flames," which blends a folk sensibility with misty ambience.
Cave States is a new band of old friends. Anchored in the songwriting of Chris Grabau (Magnolia Summer) and Danny Kathriner (Half Knots and Colonel Ford), and including Todd Schnitzer (Nadine and Half Knots), John Horton (Bottle Rockets and Colonel Ford) and John Higgins (too many bands to name), all hailing from St. Louis, the group has collaborated on a new collection of Americana and folk-swept songs, including this lilting, lyrical prayer for a daughter, "Before My Eyes."
Portland, Ore. songwriter Ryan VanDordrecht says that he aims for "a sound that walks a fine line between polish and unrefined beauty." On the streamlined, harmonica and slide guitar-sparkled "Great American Life" he's achieved just that.