Elevate Difference

Reviews tagged country

Apple Core

So much folksy lady rock, so little time. Add Kendl Winter’s Apple Core to the ever-lengthening list of guitar-loving, country-inspired singer-songwriters with a flair for bluegrass. It may not be terribly original, but Winter makes a fine effort on her fourth solo album. At times, her work is hauntingly beautiful; at others, it’s frustratingly cliché.

Live in Louisville

“Well you have it, you love it, now it’s your turn to shove it…I don’t want to play house anymore,” sings Carrie Rodriguez on her newly released live compilation album, Live in Louisville. Her soulful voice, accompanied by rousing fiddles, makes her point with grace and force.

Downtown Church

It's nothing new for an artist to try different genres of music, but not many can pull off multiple styles in an original way — let alone a way that actually sounds good. Count Patty Griffin among those rare musicians. I've been a fan of Griffin's since I picked up her 1998 release Flaming Red, a compelling mix of punk, pop, and what was then referred to as 'alternative' music.

American Gong

Did adding Joanna Bolme on bass somehow ruin the “purity” of the Quasi sound? I would suggest not. Although it would be impossible to argue that their music was thin before, Bolme’s bass adds a perfect oomph without taking away from the chemistry of the duo that already existed.


If there’s one word to describe the works of Nouvelle Vague, it's génial. Generally, I don’t trust cover versions. Many of them are an abomination that spits all over the originals, but somehow, the cover band Nouvelle Vague makes me forget that.

Somewhere Gone

More subdued than X, less twang than the Knitters, this album might be what you listen to once glad bags have been replaced by retro shifts as the little black dress of choice—more spirit than spit.

Emmylou Harris (10/27/2009)

No matter how many songs Emmylou Harris sings or how many chords she strums, this legendary artist consistently sounds fresh and vibrant. At the Overture Center for the Arts in Madison, Wisconsin, I had the pleasure of seeing Emmylou and her Red Dirt Boys, along with special guest and opener Buddy Miller.

Gina Villalobos

The fourth studio album from indie folk rocker Gina Villalobos rolls off right away with “Take a Beating to You” and from then on out, Villalobos and her voice go on a journey both swift and slow. With honest and painful lyrics penned mostly by Villalobos herself, the record rises to the top of the alt country/rock genre and may be a breakout hit for this year.

Letter from New Virginia

Did you know that one of iTunes musical categories is “unclassifiable”? Such a description is apt for the music of Donny Hue and the Colors. The group uses many unusual instruments, including autoharp, melodica, glockenspiel, and theremin, as well as guitar and organ on an album that can alternately be described as psychedelic, minimalist, and orchestral. The instrumental “Into the Woods” plays like the opening of a movie, setting the tone for the album.

Victoria Day

My first taste of Melissa McClelland came about a year ago when a friend had me listen to her beautiful rendition of Bruce Springsteen’s ballad of the working class "Factory." Her version gave a feminine and country-tinged perspective that worked brilliantly with the song.

Out in the Country: Youth, Media, and Queer Visibility in Rural America

The town I grew up in—Athens, Georgia (pop. 100,266)—is generally known for two things: indie music (a la REM, Elephant 6, and Kindercore) and the University of Georgia, both of which play a major role in maintaining the town's liberal leanings. However, Athens doesn't lean too far. It's still a place where college football dominates from Labor Day to Christmas, and if you're not in church on Sunday morning, you are assumed to be riddled with sin. Coming up in an environment rife with contradiction, I learned a lot about peaceful co-existence through plausible deniability.

Rotting Slowly

Their name, Curious Mystery says so much. Curious instrumentation crossed with a mysterious sound as they fearlessly cover the gamut—a grab bag of indie noise rock, folk, psychedelia, country, and blues. It all works whether it’s attributed to their experimentation of sounds, or that they are just an experimental bunch, a breath of fresh air in an arguably stale climate.

Rise & Shine

Rise & Shine, the sophomore album by country duo Fanny Grace, is pleasant, well-produced, up tempo, contemporary country-rock with a postfeminist sensibility. Writer/producer/guitarist Paul Reeves and co-writer/lead singer Carmen Meja have turned out a collection of sassy-yet-vulnerable-women-in-pickups songs in the best Dixie Chicks tradition.

Catherine Avenue

Biirdie came into my life at just the right time. Named for the musical Bye Bye Birdie (but adding an extra “I” because one Birdie band already exists), this southern California folk-rock trio’s sophomore release may not be extraordinarily adventurous or unusual, but they nevertheless make you want to take a long drive into nowhere, windows down. Maybe living in Boston, I hear songs about L.A. and get whimsical for rolling hills that lead to desert.


As I listened to Elizabeth Cook’s new album Balls, I wanted to open the window and scream, “Why doesn’t country radio play her songs?” I love country music that sounds authentic, the kind that one has to search the internet to find. Cook’s music definitely fits the bill. I really appreciated the blend of different old-time sounds: bluegrass, rockabilly and traditional country.

Children Running Through

Patty Griffin is a storyteller. Rarely confessional or self-indulgent, she tells tales, assumes personas and takes the listener deep into the lives of her characters. Each persona has her or his own musical interpretation, deepening and strengthening the voice. In “Up to the Mountain (MLK Song),” Griffin assumes the voice of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. and puts herself into to the head and heart of a man working for a vision and a dream.

You Leave Me Here

Kelly Greene’s music sounds like a mix between a lot of new country and a little singer/songwriter rock, like Sheryl Crow, mixed with a dash of influence from the Cardigans. It is upbeat, toe tapping and, at some points, the flow of the music makes you want to sing along without knowing the words. Although one must give her (and all other singer/songwriters) credit for writing her own music and lyrics with this album, it sounds a bit repetitive. All of the lyrics cover the exact same subject.

Trespassing through Time

Do you like Sandra Bullock? Some people do, and some people don't. But she does have a certain appeal, a wide-open smile that brightens the celluloid, and her popularity is evidenced by box office stats and the ability to get Miss Congeniality made into a sequel. Well, Trusting Calliope has a similar charm. Jill Horn and Susannah Meyer are both California natives who are often mistaken for sisters. Before they joined forces, their lives ran parallel paths.

Ladyfest South (January 25-28, 2007)

Ladyfest South is always a blast because it is back to back lady talent for a good cause. Ladyfest South 2007 happened over four nights at four venues in Atlanta and featured over fifty music and spoken word acts. This year’s beneficiaries are The Rock N’ Roll Camp for Girls and The Fund for Southern Communities. Thursday January 25, 2007 - Eyedrum Art Space Phat Man Dee from PA is amazing and fun to see. She sports interesting costumes and sings cabaret camp and pop.

Miles Away

I come from the country – from the wide open farms and rolling feed yards of Texas anyway – and I ain’t never heard anything like Gina Villalobos. Released by Face West Records, Villalobos’ third album Miles Away scrawls its own existence into alt-country. Villalobos rough-hews away with a sweet intensity and her heart beats in her voice as she sings, “I got aces on my mind” from the track “Tied to My Side,” recalling country giants Willie Nelson, Patty Griffin and Neil Young.