Dead Man Winter, Furnace (Gndwire Records), 27 January
This is the debut album from Dave Simonett, the leader of progressive bluegrass group Trampled By Turtles. The Minnesota songwriter documents the fallout from a divorce with a set of poignant folk-pop songs that are tuneful and raw.
Rose Cousins, Natural Conclusion (Old Farm Pony), 3 February
Joe Henry produced this sophomore album by Halifax-based singer Rose Cousins, whose lovely folk songs, such as Freedom, are reminiscent of the acclaimed debut by Patty Griffin many years ago. The simplicity of these songs is deceiving; as sparse as they feel, her voice draws you in until you realize you are at the heart of the storm.
Chuck Prophet, Bobby Fuller Died For Your Sins (Yep Roc), 10 February
San Francisco’s Chuck Prophet continues his creative roll with this forthcoming album of garage soul topped with Bad Year for Rock and Roll, a tribute to the many musical icons – including Prince and Bowie – who died this year.
Ryan Adams, Prisoner (Pax Am/Blue Note), 17 February
Following a live album and a full-album cover of Taylor Swift’s 1989, the enfant terrible of Americana presents his first set of all original songs in three years. Judging by first single Do You Still Love Me?, the sound follows 1980s anthem rockers Foreigner and REO Speedwagon.
Son Volt, Notes of Blue (Transmit Sound), 17 February
The alt-country movement of the 1990s started with this St Louis band and the vision of songwriter-singer Jay Farrar. Many incarnations later, Farrar is back with a set of new songs reportedly influenced by the work of Mississippi Fred McDowell, Skip James and Nick Drake.
Rhiannon Giddens, Freedom Highway (Nonesuch), 24 February
The former member of the Carolina Chocolate Drops returns with a second solo effort following the theme of racial strife from slavery to civil rights to Black Lives Matter. Largely a set of originals, the album also includes songs originally by Mississippi John Hurt, the late folk singer Richard Fariña, and the title song by the Staple Singers.
Old 97’s, Graveyard Whistling (ATO), 24 February
For more than 20 years this Texas band have stayed true to their hyper-kinetic brand of roots country; the original lineup – singer Rhett Miller, guitarist Ken Bethea, bassist Murry Hammond, and drummer Philip Peeples – have regrouped for this 11th album featuring Good With God, featuring Brandi Carlile in the title role.
Wesley Stace, Wesley Stace’s John Wesley Harding (Yep Roc), 24 February
The singer formerly known as John Wesley Harding returns to his birth name with a new album that doubles as a stealth return effort by the Jayhawks as it features the band’s core lineup — Gary Louris, Marc Perlman, Tim O’Reagan, and Karen Grotberg – backing up each song, including Let’s Evaporate, the album’s first single.
Valerie June, The Order of Time (Concord), 10 March
This is the second album by Memphis singer and multi-instrumentalist Valerie June whose 2013 album, co-produced by Dan Auerbach of the Black Keys, wove together blues, folk, ambient electronics and Appalachian soul.
Hurray for the Riff Raff, The Navigator (ATO), 10 March
One of the more unexpected breakout albums in recent memories was the debut from this New Orleans band that featured Latin rhythms, rock, doo-wop and country. This follow-up is described as “a cinematic concept album” inspired by the Puerto Rican roots of singer Alynda Segarra.
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