Here are this week’s five songs worth listening to. Birthday edition!
JR Carroll–Girl From A Song
JR Carroll first popped into my world via playing with Zach Bryan. You know Zach, my obsession for the last two years. JR is actually smoother than Zach, and damn this song is gorgeous. There was a time I probably would have blown off a song like this. Now, it damn near brings tears. Thankfully, I stumbled across the girl JR is talking about here. He doesn’t have a full album yet, but I can’t wait after his first two singles: this one and another called Grass That Isn’t Green. I have a spotify playlist called Adventures of Brian and Sarah. It is mostly used for road trips with her and features either songs from concerts we have been to together or songs that make me think of her. Guess what just got added to it.
I never will get over how you love me when you are sober and I’ll do anything to make you stick around for a while.
Barry Gibb & Jason Isbell–Words of a Fool
Here is a combo that came out of nowhere that I didn’t know I needed but now want more of. Barry Gibb has a new Gibb Brothers Songbook country-bluegrass album, and this is off that. Isbell nails it. This was originally written in 1986 but never released. I’m glad to see Barry pull off this album, which has been on his wish list for a while.
The Panhandlers–West Texas Girl
The Pandhandlers is a supergroup, in the way a supergroup can be when the quartet is a talented group of singer-songwriter types well known in the Red Dirt scene but largely ignored by any mainstream medium. The group is William Clark Green, Josh Abbott, John Bauman and Cleto Cordero. This started out as an idea for a Flatlanders tribute that turned into a full blown buddy album of original material. The Flatlanders influence seeps through the seams on this one, as this feels like a love letter to Texas. As I rolled through the album I kept having one pervasive thought. This album will make you want to move to West Texas for all the wrong reasons and some of the right ones. This album currently sits in my top five for the year. It will hit you in all the red dirt feels.
Sturgill Simpson–Life of Sin (Cuttin’ Grass version)
I’ve included I Don’t Mind off this album in a column before and it has since shot to the top of the Americana charts. I’m including another because I’ve been debating how to handle this album for my year-end rankings. I’m leaning toward just throwing all 20 tracks in my Best of 2020 playlist and not ranking the album as it all reworked versions of previously released stuff. Cuttin’ Grass Vol. 1 will easily be one of my 3-4 most listened to albums of 2020 though. I freaking love this album. When I first saw Sturgill live, my thought was this guy is a rock star stuck in a country band. Then he put out a couple albums that were definitely more rock than country and caught some blowback from the traditional country folk. I’m pretty sure this album was a not-so-subtle middle finger to those people, with Sturgill saying fine, I can do traditional and do it better than any of you. If it wasn’t on purpose, I’d bet his subconscious contributed.
Allman Betts Band–King Crawler
The next generation of southern rock has been here, but now they have finally teamed up. Devon Allman and Duane Betts grew up the children of southern music royalty. That heritage has saturated their own music careers, and now they have combined with bassist Berry Duane Oakley, son of Allman Brothers bassist Berry Oakley, and they went to work on original material, following a tribute tour of sorts. This is another one fellas of my generation can share with their Pops.
We’ll be back with five more next week. Until then, remember the immortal words…
“Songs are really just interesting things to be doing with the air.” Tom Waits