Steve Thorngate's Music Reviews

Music

We Are Rising, by Son Lux

Earlier this year, NPR's All Songs Considered solicited Ryan Lott, aka Son Lux, for an experiment: could he write and record an album in one month? Lott agreed.

Music

Long Player Late Bloomer, by Ron Sexsmith

Why don't more people listen to Ron Sexsmith? The critically acclaimed singer-songwriter crafts masterful pop songs, records them with topflight producers and sings them in an understated croon. Unless you hate music that makes you smile, what's not to like?

Music

The Party Ain’t Over, by Wanda Jackson

Wanda Jackson may be the queen of rockabilly, but Jack White is king of this collaboration. The roots-obsessed producer takes charge, offering a high-octane reimagination of various '50s styles. But where White's work on Loretta Lynn's Van Lear Rose (2004) came off as reverent and almost subtle, here 73-year-old Jackson's presence seems like an afterthought.

Music

Demons, by Cowboy Junkies

Vic Chesnutt, who died of an overdose in 2009, was one of the best and most unusual songwriters of his generation. Country-rock veterans Cowboy Junkies are far more conventional. So Chesnutt diehards might not find much to like in this collection of his songs, but the album may provide newcomers a bridge to his work.

Music

In the Cool of the Day, by Daniel Martin Moore

Nostalgic country-gospel records inhabit a liminal space between personal-historical document and genuine religious statement. Daniel Martin Moore's latest follows this path but enlivens it a bit.

Music

Hollywood Town Hall & Tomorrow the Green Grass, by the Jayhawks

Alt-country is typically traced to Uncle Tupelo, but the early '90s Jay­hawks made better records. Where Uncle Tupelo found scrappy affinities between traditional Americana and punk, the Jayhawks brought '70s country-rock to the alt-rock '90s.

Music

Say Goodbye, by Liz Janes

While Say Goodbye is no straightforward salute to Mem­phis, soul is as good a word as any for this quiet, strange but above all groovy little record.

Music

The Head and the Heart

This new band's sound has roots in the indie-folk scene, with its moody treatments of simple chord progressions and Americana rhythms. But the larger thread here is classic pop, and The Head and the Heart offers the complete feel-good package.

Music

Antifogmatic, by Punch Brothers

It's fine to eschew traditional bluegrass for intricate pop, but playing the latter with strict string-band instrumentation just sounds kind of gimmicky.

Music

Low Country Blues, by Gregg Allman

While the most tried-and-true way to say "I'm a serious American roots artist" is to book Emmylou Harris to sing backup, a close second is to get T-Bone Burnett to be your producer.