THOMM JUTZ | To Live in Two Worlds, Vol. 2
Bluegrass, Americana; Mountain Home Music Company – STREAM / BUY album
Like its predecessor, Thomm Jutz‘s To Live In Two Worlds ,Vol. 2 is filled with stories of mysterious deaths, moral dilemmas, struggling musicians and historical events that range through the years and across the globe. With some songs featuring a crackerjack string band and others featuring nothing more than Jutz’s guitar and voice, this collection—now available everywhere—shows how the songwriter lives between past and present, nostalgia and reinvention, preservation and innovation.
“As always with my writing, you’ll find characters from days gone by in this collection of songs,” says Jutz, who was nominated for IBMA Songwriter Of The Year in 2017, 2018 and 2019. “Real or imagined, they struggle with their place in the world—like we all do. My beliefs, frustrations and hopes live in these characters, in the spiritual overtones and worldly undercurrents of their human existence. From the writing desk to the recording studio it’s been a genuine joy to work on this album.”
With songs ranging through the early days of country music to modern day historical events like Nashville’s historic flood and the fire that raged through Paris’ Notre Dame cathedral, Jutz weaves a rich historical timeline with memorable melodic strains and vivid turns of phrase. People long forgotten live again, favorite characters from modern classics make their appearances, and stories never told before come clothed in the sounds of days gone by.
The first single from the project, “The Flood of 2010”—the only song in the entire two volume set to receive both solo and full band treatments—sets the pace, evoking the musical flavor of a durable folk song while carrying on the genre’s tradition of telling the news of the day in a vivid, detailed fashion. Inscrutable histories both truth-based and fictional get their due in “New River Gorge” and “In This House,” while the simplest verities of the gospel are revealed in “If You Sign Up For The Kingdom,” “Suffering’s Gonna Find You” and “No One Knows.” Another great stream of musical tradition, the blues, is explored here, too, from the hardships that inform the “East Kentucky Blues” and the unfulfilled promises laid bare in “Emancipation Blues” to the story of African-American Grand Ole Opry star DeFord Bailey (“Evening Prayer Blues Revisited”). And no matter the particulars, Jutz and his co-writers dig deep to find the essence of each story and link it to the larger world.
Whether he’s accompanied by the masterful Mike Compton (mandolin), bassist Mark Fain, Justin Moses (dobro, banjo) and fiddler Tammy Rogers (The Steel Drivers), or by nothing more than his own exquisite guitar work, Thomm Jutz has written a new chapter in the story of American roots music with To Live In Two Worlds, Vol. 2—and we’re left only to wonder what he’ll have to say next time around about the times we live in now.
The music of Asheville Americana outfit Amanda Anne Platt & The Honeycutters is nuanced, bringing insight and wit to the stories Platt tells through songwriting. Lyrically driven, the band’s country roots music often inspires introspection, whether it be about life on the road, heartache or hope.
Recorded in circumstances dictated by these times of staying at home, two new songs from Platt show once again her ability to access deep wells of emotion and to bring empathy and charm to the feelings she finds there.
“I went into the studio back in May hoping to make some demos to put out to potential producers for our next record, and I came away instead with the idea of releasing a string of home recordings and solo demos in a more raw, unproduced state,” says Platt. “I think this has largely to do with the lack of connection so many of us have experienced during the pandemic—so many friends and musicians I know who are used to living their lives in venues and bars and hotels, making friends out of strangers every day, now oddly cut off from what gives them life. I feel the need to put as much of myself into my music as humanly possible now.”
With that in mind, Platt chose to release “Desert Flowers,” which features the full Honeycutters band, first. Platt says, “‘Desert Flowers’ made sense to me as a first single because it’s a nostalgic song about a summer spent on the road. We recorded all our parts in our respective homes and though it was a little strange to do it this way when I’m used to recording all together in the studio, it gave me a real sense of satisfaction to hear it come together from so many different corners.”
The other release, “There May Come a Day,” strikes a different tone, with just Platt, her guitar and piano from Evan Martin.
“‘There May Come a Day’ is an older song I’ve been kicking around for a long time, it’s a bit of a thorn in my side that seems to make more sense to me as I get older. It’s about hope, ultimately, which is an entity that seems to be varying supply lately,” says Platt. “This was just a demo I had made with my guitar, but as I listened back to it there was a fragility about it that I didn’t want to tamper with. Evan put some sweet, haunting piano on it and we left it at that.”
With both songs, Platt taps into a deep vein of time-worn melancholy that’s always been present in her music, but resonates even more deeply in the current moment. Even so, both “Desert Flowers” and, especially, “There May Come A Day” offer glimpses of brightness not only in the lyrics, but in the subtle instrumental phrases and textures that serve as a sensitive musical commentary on Platt’s evocative meditations on time and place and the intersection of lives. And while these recordings are unmistakable reflections of today’s challenges, in the end it’s the character and the messages of the songs themselves that are likely to leave the longest and deepest impression.
PHIL LEADBETTER & THE ALL STARS OF BLUEGRASS | Swing for the Fences
Bluegrass; Pinecastle Records – STREAM / BUY single
Beginning his bluegrass and reso guitar (dobro) career at the tender age of twelve, Phil Leadbetter has blossomed into one of the genre’s giants and most sought-after musicians in the history of acoustic/Appalachian-inspired music. The All Stars of Bluegrass, led by Leadbetter himself, is a continuosly rotating, “Opry style” collective of some of the biggest names in bluegrass and country. Lineups have included the likes of Steve Gulley, Dale Ann Bradley, Claire Lynch, Shawn Camp, Ken Mellons, Paul Brewster, Amanda Smith, Kenny Smith, Sierra Hull, Mike Bub, Missy Raines, Alan Bibey, Jason Burleson, Adam Haynes, Steve Thomas, to name a few.
THE ALEX LEACH BAND | “October Fall”
Bluegrass; Mountain Home Music Company – STREAM / BUY single
If The Alex Leach Band’s debut single for Mountain Home Music Company, “Take the Long Way Home,” was a brash, sunny slice of progressive-leaning bluegrass, the quintet’s second Jim Lauderdale-produced release reveals a different side of the group and its leader. Written by Leach and Georgia musician Evan Rose, “October Fall” is a veiled, yet intensely evocative study of memory and loss, all the more powerful for its enigmatic lines and restrained accompaniment.
“I was hanging in Georgia with a fellow musician and good friend of mine, Evan Rose, about 11 or 12 years ago when he sang a song for me that he was working on,” Leach recalls. “I could tell it had a deep meaning with him, but wasn’t sure of the whole story behind it. I carried the words and melody with me for many years before I brought it back out and added another verse to it. The writing of this song spans over a decade, and I hope it will hit home to listeners who may have dealt with losing a close friend in their adolescence.”
“I was remembering the times I had with a good friend,” explains Rose. “She and I always hung out during the October festival in Guyton, Georgia. When we were both in our teens, her life was cut tragically short. This song reflects some of our special adventures together.”
Introduced by an appropriately sparse, yet melodic introduction on two guitars, “October Fall”’s first verse sets the song’s tone in an intimate, plain-spoken yet almost mysterious way:
“Blue skies in these eyes of mine
They remind me why you’re not still alive
And I keep getting left behind
By the world and everyone else in line
But they won’t listen why
No they won’t listen why”
And as the arrangement slowly adds more instruments and textures, Leach adds detail upon detail to paint a picture at once misty and blurred, yet achingly precise in its emotional truth. For those who know Alex only for his mastery of the quintessentially bluegrass Stanley style—and, indeed, for just about everyone—“October Fall” is bound to be a revelation that, for all his devotion to bluegrass tradition, The Alex Leach Band is firmly planted in a thoroughly modern musical world.
RAY CARDWELL | Just a Little Rain
Americana; Bonfire Music Group – STREAM / BUY album
The wait is finally over as Ray Cardwell officially releases his brand new album, Just a Little Rain. Inspired by decades in the business performing and touring, the collection features 10 new recordings, all spotlighting the chart-topper’s powerful vocals and songwriting virtuosity. In addition to the project’s first two singles “Rising Sun” and “Born To Do,” the full album is now available for purchase and streaming.
“I can’t believe the third record is out. I’m really excited for everyone to hear it.” Just a Little Rain was produced by Danny Roberts of The Grascals, “My old buddy from the New Tradition days,” says Cardwell. “I also want to give a special shout out to all of the guest songwriters on the record who helped make this possible.”
Serving as the follow-up to the critically-acclaimed Stand On My Own, the new record picks up right where the previous effort left off. The current single “Born To Do” is a clear testament, recently hitting No. 1 on Bluegrass Today’s Grassicana Airplay Chart earlier this month. It marks the singer’s first trip to the top spot since the fall of 2019. The upbeat hit is a hard-driving bluegrass tune that stays true to Cardwell’s humble beginnings in the genre. This feel-good anthem features the empowering lyrics, “It’s a hard hard life, but it’s the one I choose. I’m just doing what I was born to do.”
Released via Bonfire Music Group, the project takes the next step in the career of the Missouri native, who ventured new levels, teaming up with top songwriters like Louisa Branscomb, Daryl Mosley, Danny Roberts, Rick Lang, Stephen Mougin, Irene Kelley, Darrell Scott and more (see track listing below). Standouts on the project include the title cut “Just a Little Rain” written by Lang / Rich Schleckser. The hitmaker also finds his groove with an epic remake of the song “Take Me To The River,” made famous by soul legend Al Green. To celebrate the release, Cardwell gave music fans a special surprise, premiering the song a day earlier exclusively on Vents Magazine (read all about it HERE).
In addition to lead vocals and bass by the Missouri native, the album features Danny Roberts on mandolin, Adam Haynes on fiddle, and Tony Wray on banjo and acoustic guitar, plus Jaelee Roberts singing tenor vocals. It was engineered/mixed by Scott Vestal at Digital Underground Studio. All combined with Cardwell’s powerhouse vocals, the project includes a who’s-who lineup of talent in the Bluegrass / Americana genre.
Getting his start performing regionally with The Cardwell Family in the Show-Me State, the collection of tracks were heavily inspired by the singer’s musical upbringing, which included stops at venues and bluegrass festivals throughout the ‘70’s and ‘80’s, along with performing as a member of New Tradition in the ‘90s.
THE WALKERS | A Hymns & Classics Collection
Southern Gospel; Godsey Media – STREAM / BUY album
About the focus track (“I Feel Like Traveling Home”) | A Southern Gospel fan-favorite, The Walkers kick off their new LP with a rousing traditional toe-tapper that encourages the listener to not get bogged-down in the affairs of this world, rather be reminded to look upward for the reward of Heaven is coming! With the train-beat & old-time guitar-pickin’ flavors in full-effect, this opening track will have gospel fans tussling the two-step along-side the tambourine-tingly up-tempo tune!
ROLLING HILLS WORSHIP | “God of the Impossible”
Christian, worship/praise; Rolling Hills Worship – STREAM / BUY single
About | With much uncertainty happening around us in these moments—one word, “impossible,” seems to resound when seeing ourselves on the other side of all the chaos. The team at Rolling Hills Worship have written a song to remind us of the truth found in Luke 1:37—with God, NOTHING is impossible. As the song’s Bridge echoes, “Nothing’s gonna stop Your light from shining…” Such a hopeful promise in dark times.
SACRED HARMONY | “Sing Joy to the World”
Southern Gospel; Godsey Media – STREAM / BUY single
About | Sacred Harmony takes a typical Christmas-like song title & reminds us that we should be reminded to “sing joy” every day of the year. This very non-Christmas song—a mid-tempo Southern Gospel burner—urges us to be positive in life no matter how bad things might be. Not only for ourselves, but for others around us, as well—good vibes are contagious…just like the Chorus of this song! “Take a little joy to the world / ‘Cause the world is waiting for a little good news when the news aint good!”
REL McCOY & PEACE 586 | “No More Soda (feat. DJ Kair One)”
Hip hop, rap; Illect Recordings – STREAM / BUY single
About | Emcee Rel McCoy (Toronto, Canada) and producer Peace 586 (Los Angeles, CA) join forces to create a soulful boom bap banger. DJ Kair One ices the golden era goodness with an expert scratch hook. Recommended if you like: J-Live, Awon, Substantial, Moka Only, Shad, O.C., Oddisee, Sojourn.
THE DYSART FAMILY | “Land of Forever”
Christian, Hip hop/rap; CLG Distribution – STREAM / BUY single
About | For believers around the world, the culmination of their faith in Jesus is to one day join the Savior in the ultimate destination: Heaven. With “Land of Forever,” The Dysart Family captures the emotion and elation as they anticipate, “As we gather together in the land of forever…” The up-beat, almost country-rock timbre of the song’s Choruses support the mood, and enrapture the listener in that age-old foreshadowing feeling of being heaven-bound.
WATCH FERD | “We Alright”
Christian, Hip hop/rap; CLG Distribution – STREAM / BUY single
RELEASED TUESDAY, SEP. 22:
BACKLINE | “The Farm”
Bluegrass; Mountain Fever Records – STREAM / BUY single
Mountain Fever Records is proud to announce “The Farm” a fresh single from Backline releases everywhere music is sold, today.
The story Katelyn M. Ingardia, lead singer and primary songwriter for Backline tells us here is a stirring one. Many of us have a family farm in our history or current life and have experienced our sentiments about them. They are, however varying, often potent material for writers—especially in bluegrass. “The Farm” in this story is steeped in U.S History and finds it roots in the Transcontinental Railroad. Kaitlyn further describes her inspiration.
“We were finishing up a practice at my parents’ house and Zach started playing the main melody riff of what became “The Farm” over and over again. We all were listening. I then started throwing words out there and right then we came up with the first verse. As I headed home that night, I started to mull over what this story could be. What would we want it to say? I thought about an elderly man I worked with at the peach stand as a teenager, Mr. Jimmy. He would tell me stories of his family farm and growing up there. He told me about many great memories as a boy, but I remember one day he said, “Baby,” (my nickname) “‘I remember the day so clearly when the men in suits came and told my daddy we needed to quit farming and work in the city. They made it more expensive for us to farm and make a living than it was to go on to town and work in the mills. That was the day I wasn’t a farm boy anymore.”‘
A story of legacy, heritage and lots of grit, of a boy who was raised in the fields, in the shadows of the crops and his Mama. The story of a boy who turns into a man bearing the weight of continuing his families’ work and farm, of one who is told to leave the land that he so dearly loves. It’s a story of his past that holds a promise for his future generations, a story he refuses to write “The End” of, unless it’s with bloodshed. We hope you enjoy this piece of work that I know we had a blast writing, arranging, and recording.” —Katelyn M. Ingardia
OZAY MOORE & THE PLAYER | “Ready” (feat. Rebekah Pumphrey)
Hip hop, rap; Illect Recordings — STREAM / BUY single
Ozay Moore is the founder & Executive Director of All of the Above Hip Hop Academy “AOTA”, a non profit organization in Lansing, Michigan that mentors youth through hip hop culture. Anthony Jones a.k.a. The Player was mentored in the program & this track sees the shift from student to peer. He’s ready. The track features production from AOTA instructor and Illect Recordings artist Ess Be.
Over the last 20 years, Ozay Moore (f.k.a. Othello) has proven himself to be an exceptional storyteller time and time again. Whether as a member of the classic hip hop trio, Lightheaded, or as a solo artist, Moore’s flow has always moved crowds. Aided by soulful production and a deep knowledge of hip hop culture, Moore’s music is highly relatable because he blends personal experience with larger themes that cross cultural lines.