Music

New Albums for October

Harmony-driven anthems from the Watson Twins, acoustic cuts from Blackberry Smoke, and happy returns from Jason Isbell and Edie Brickell
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ARTIST: Blackberry Smoke
ALBUM: The Southern Ground Sessions
ADD TO YOUR PLAYLIST: “Run Away from It All”

Southern rockers Blackberry Smoke unplug on their latest effort, a collection of acoustic takes on songs from their April album, Find A Light. Recorded at Nashville’s Southern Ground Studios, some of the new arrangements also include familiar guests—Amanda Shires on “Let Me Down Easy” and Tom Petty cover “You Got Lucky,” and the Wood Brothers’ Oliver Wood on “Mother Mountain.”

ARTIST: The Watson Twins
ALBUM: Duo
ADD TO YOUR PLAYLIST: “Rolling Thunder”

Identical twins Chandra and Leigh Watson have lent their voices to such artists as Jenny Lewis, Willie Nelson, and Kings of Leon. On Duo, their first release in five years, the Kentucky-raised, Nashville-based sisters get the top billing they deserve. Rather than standard two-part harmony, the twins sing each vocal part in unison to choir-like effect—made even more powerful when they are joined by fellow sibling duo the Cactus Blossoms on the stirring “Call to You.”

ARTIST: Colter Wall
ALBUM: Songs of the Plains
ADD TO YOUR PLAYLIST: “Saskatchewan in 1881”

Fans of Johnny Cash might find their next favorite voice in Colter Wall, whose booming baritone has garnered millions of streams since he released his full-length debut last year. For his sophomore effort Songs of the Plains, the Canadian crooner tapped Americana kingmaker Dave Cobb as producer and recorded the album in Nashville’s legendary RCA Studio A—fitting for a release that’s likely to become a country staple.

ARTIST: Edie Brickell & New Bohemians
ALBUM: Rocket
ADD TO YOUR PLAYLIST: “Tell Me”

Edie Brickell & New Bohemians weren’t planning on releasing a new album, but when rehearsals for a reunion show yielded a fresh crop of songs, Rocket, their first release in twelve years, came about rather quickly. You can hear the relaxed, no-pressure vibe on lead single “What Makes You Happy.” Its funky, rubbery baseline isn’t that far removed from the band’s 1988 mega-hit “What I Am,” and happily neither is Brickell’s gentle Texas twang. They’ll be back on the road this fall.

ARTIST: Jason Isbell and the 400 Unit
ALBUM: Live from the Ryman
ADD TO YOUR PLAYLIST: “Cover Me Up”

Jason Isbell can write one hell of a song—we’ve told you once, we’ve told you twice, and now we’re telling you again. Live from the Ryman is a special treat for Isbell fans who have come to cherish his impeccably crafted anthems: the room’s reaction to poignant moments make each lyric all the more affecting.

ARTIST: Kaia Kater
ALBUM: Grenades
ADD TO YOUR PLAYLIST: “New Colossus”

At twenty-five, banjo player and songwriter Kaia Kater is one of folk music’s most promising storytellers, drawing from her Grenadian heritage and experiences living in Canada and Appalachia to find universal truths. Kater shines on “La Misère,” a nod to her island roots that re-interprets a song she unearthed in the Smithsonian archives, while “Hydrants” relies only on her low, silky voice.

ARTIST: Lauren Morrow
ALBUM: Lauren Morrow EP
ADD TO YOUR PLAYLIST: “I Don’t Think About You At All”

Lauren Morrow—known best as one-half of Nashville-by-way-of-Atlanta duo Whiskey Gentry—puts lyrical fire behind a classic country sound on her four-song solo debut. With its Don-Draper-esque kiss-off, standout track “I Don’t Think About You At All” packs a punch, even though the song has a ballad’s pacing. You always have to watch out for the quiet ones, right?

ARTIST: Eric Church
ALBUM: Desperate Man
ADD TO YOUR PLAYLIST: “Desperate Man”

Eric Church has shucked country norms since the beginning, finding his following in dive bars rather than radio and infusing his drawl with plenty of rock. On Desperate Man, Church veers even further from the standard country-radio formula, integrating funk elements on songs like “Hangin’ Around” and scaling back to singer-songwriter basics on “Hippie Radio.”

ARTIST: Heather Morgan
ALBUM: Borrowed Heart
ADD TO YOUR PLAYLIST: “Arms of a Lion” featuring Lori McKenna

Country radio listeners have definitely heard Heather Morgan’s songs—they just might have been sung by the likes of Brett Eldredge, Sara Evans, or Keith Urban. On her debut album, the Texas native proves she’s one to watch—both in the writing room and on the stage—with heart-melting high notes that lend a unique warmth to wistful melodies.

ARTIST: JP Harris
ALBUM: Sometimes Dogs Bark at Nothing
ADD TO YOUR PLAYLIST: “JP’s Florida Blues #1”

Before moving to Nashville and making his living as a carpenter, JP Harris spent more than a decade living in an Appalachian cabin with no electricity or running water. The no-frills attitude reveals itself in his music, too: on Sometimes Dogs Bark at Nothing, he growls through gritty uptempo honky-tonk tunes and bare-bones ballads. Consider high point “JPs Florida Blues #1” the rollicking soundtrack to your next road trip—just keep your eye on the speedometer (and the rear-view mirror.)

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