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Five Albums You Should Be Listening To Right Now: Bluegrass Edition
The editor of Engine145 recommends bluegrass, Americana, and country music.
By Juli Thanki
Every two weeks, titans of the mediasphere give Nerve their music recommendations. This week, it’s Juli Thanki, editor of Engine145.com , a country, roots, and bluegrass blog.
1. Eilen Jewell, Queen of the Minor Key
The Boston-based Jewell covers a variety of musical styles on her fourth album. From the fierce rockabilly of "Warning Signs" to "Only One," which sounds like a long-lost jazz standard, to the old-school country duet "Long Road" (with Big Sandy), the whole record is a keeper. My favorite track: "Bang Bang Bang," a sinister look at Cupid, who, in this song, wields a "sawed-off six gauge."
Listen: "Bang Bang Bang"
2. Chris Young, Neon
Young won Nashville Star a few years ago, but with his past three albums, he's proven that he's a lot more than a reality-show competitor. At a time when a lot of male singers on country radio are incorporating '80s rock or, on occasion, bad hip-hop into their music, Chris Young keeps it country, drawing on influences like Keith Whitley and neotraditionalists like Randy Travis and Alan Jackson.
3. Connie Smith, Long Line of Heartaches
It's been over four decades since Smith topped the charts with country classics like "Once a Day." She hasn't changed much over the years. On Long Line of Heartaches, her first album of new material since 1996 (and only her second since the late '70s), she's still sticking to her traditional country roots. Listen to a preview of the album here.
Listen: "Once a Day"
4. The Farewell Drifters, Echo Boom
With Beach Boys harmonies and Avett Brothers energy, The Farewell Drifters deliver infectious bluegrass-influenced acoustic music (and killer live shows, if they happen to come your way). Echo Boom, their sophomore album, is their most accessible release, and a must-listen for fans of progressive bluegrass acts like Sarah Jarosz or the now defunct Cadillac Sky. Their last record featured a sharp cover of The Beatles' "For No One." Here, they do a nice job on "The Only Living Boy in New York."
Listen: "We Go Together"
5. Ernest Tubb and Loretta Lynn, Singin' Again
Loretta Lynn's duets with Conway Twitty are better known, but I've always preferred Ernest Tubb as her singing partner. When Singin' Again, the second of their duets records, was released in 1967, Ernest Tubb was an elder statesman of country music, Lynn the rising star. The odd couple works well together. Check out "Sweet Thang," where Loretta warns potential man-stealers "Take my advice, if you blink more than twice, you better have something in your eye." It's not available on CD, but Singin' Again is worth hunting through a few record stores.
Listen: "Sweet Thang"