1. If you want to frame Elvin Bishop’s music in a contemporary context, you could fairly say that he was a precursor to today’s so-called “bro-country music,” in which young male country singers churn out song after song about getting in their trucks to go party with pretty gals. But few of those young whippersnappers also feature the stuff that makes Elvin Bishop such a continuing gas—the raspy chuckle in his singing, and the sharp sting of his guitar. He invites you to contradict the title of this album and insist that he CAN do wrong right—just right.

    — Ken Tucker, reviewing Elvin Bishop's album Can't Even Do Wrong Right

  2. ken tucker

    elvin bishop

    country music

    blues

    review

  1. Miranda Lambert leads off her enormously entertaining album Platinum with that song, “Girls.” It’s a mini-manifesto of country feminism nicely complicated by Lambert’s cheerful acknowledgment that making a blanket statement about ALL women is a fool’s game. And Miranda is no fool. She began her career opining about everything from domestic violence to smokin’ and drinkin’. Now, a superstar at the center of her industry, she’s—well, she’s devising new ways to sing about smokin’ and drinkin’.

    — 

    Ken Tucker

     Hear the full review of Miranda Lambert’s new album Platinum

  2. miranda lambert

    country music

    ken tucker

    review

  1. Ken Tucker reviews Carlene Carter's new album Carter Girl, an album that offers “a fresh take on classic songs:”

 What Carlene Carter does on this album is significant. She doesn’t approach these old songs as sacred relics to be enshrined with pious respect. Rather, she treats them like living, vital pieces of art that can withstand being taken apart, thought about, and re-imagined. Take, for example, “Lonesome Valley.” It’s a song that was itself an interpretation of a public-domain composition when the Carter Family recorded it, and has subsequently been sung many different ways, by Woody Guthrie, Joan Baez, and on the soundtrack of the Coen Brothers film O Brother Where Art Thou, to name just a few. Carlene has taken back the song, added some of her own lyrics about deaths in her family, plays some wonderful piano, and sings harmony on the chorus with Vince Gill. In the process, she comes up with her own excellent piece of work.


photo by Sasha Haagensen /GettyImages View in High-Res

    Ken Tucker reviews Carlene Carter's new album Carter Girl, an album that offers “a fresh take on classic songs:”

     What Carlene Carter does on this album is significant. She doesn’t approach these old songs as sacred relics to be enshrined with pious respect. Rather, she treats them like living, vital pieces of art that can withstand being taken apart, thought about, and re-imagined. Take, for example, “Lonesome Valley.” It’s a song that was itself an interpretation of a public-domain composition when the Carter Family recorded it, and has subsequently been sung many different ways, by Woody Guthrie, Joan Baez, and on the soundtrack of the Coen Brothers film O Brother Where Art Thou, to name just a few. Carlene has taken back the song, added some of her own lyrics about deaths in her family, plays some wonderful piano, and sings harmony on the chorus with Vince Gill. In the process, she comes up with her own excellent piece of work.

    photo by Sasha Haagensen /GettyImages

  2. carlene carter

    june carter cash

    country music

    woody guthrie

    joan baez

    ken tucker

    review

  1. Ken Tucker reviews Sara Evans' album Slow Me Down:

"Sara Evans is a singer with a big voice who knows what to do with it. Her phrasing is conversational; she rarely tries to goose the emotion in a song by stretching out syllables or leaping registers. Evans has never been a singer of hardcore country music — she likes pop, and she’s not afraid to apply her big vocal power to a big, cheesy power ballad. The difference between Evans and many singers who work in that particular territory is that her power ballads really pack a punch."

image via sony music nashville View in High-Res

    Ken Tucker reviews Sara Evans' album Slow Me Down:

    "Sara Evans is a singer with a big voice who knows what to do with it. Her phrasing is conversational; she rarely tries to goose the emotion in a song by stretching out syllables or leaping registers. Evans has never been a singer of hardcore country music — she likes pop, and she’s not afraid to apply her big vocal power to a big, cheesy power ballad. The difference between Evans and many singers who work in that particular territory is that her power ballads really pack a punch."

    image via sony music nashville

  2. sara evans

    Country Music

    review

    ken tucker

  1. Ken Tucker reviews Chuck Mead's album Free State Serenade:

"The range of Chuck Mead’s country, blues, and rock sounds here is impressively adroit. If he sometimes undermines his tragic themes with smart-aleck phrasing and the occasionally obvious rhyme, well, you could hear that as part of his strategy as well. He wants to lull you into thinking you’re experiencing the kind of songs you’ve heard before, only to leave you as surprised as his narrators about how their sorry lives turn out."


Photo by Jim Herrington via Nashville Public Radio View in High-Res

    Ken Tucker reviews Chuck Mead's album Free State Serenade:

    "The range of Chuck Mead’s country, blues, and rock sounds here is impressively adroit. If he sometimes undermines his tragic themes with smart-aleck phrasing and the occasionally obvious rhyme, well, you could hear that as part of his strategy as well. He wants to lull you into thinking you’re experiencing the kind of songs you’ve heard before, only to leave you as surprised as his narrators about how their sorry lives turn out."

    Photo by Jim Herrington via Nashville Public Radio

  2. chuck mead

    country music

    ken tucker

    review

  1. 
"Ultimately, both Jon Pardi (above) and Jason Eady have to confront the dilemma of all young country musicians: How to navigate the pop current that keeps country music commercially viable while connecting to a past that fewer and fewer listeners are aware of. It’s not a matter of being either a sell-out or authentic; it’s a matter of making music that enough people want to hear to sustain a career."

Ken Tucker reviews two “bro-country” albums from Jon Pardi and Jason Eady


image via got country View in High-Res

    "Ultimately, both Jon Pardi (above) and Jason Eady have to confront the dilemma of all young country musicians: How to navigate the pop current that keeps country music commercially viable while connecting to a past that fewer and fewer listeners are aware of. It’s not a matter of being either a sell-out or authentic; it’s a matter of making music that enough people want to hear to sustain a career."

    Ken Tucker reviews two “bro-country” albums from Jon Pardi and Jason Eady

    image via got country

  2. fresh air

    ken tucker

    review

    country music

    jon pardi

    jason eady

    bro-country

  1. Fresh Air music historian Ed Ward takes a trip to Memphis by listening to a 9 hour compilation of the Sun Records country legacy:

Memphis has always believed that it, too, should be a center for country music, and that Nashville, despite a history reaching back to the 1920s, shouldn’t have a monopoly on it. When Sam Phillips started Sun Records in 1953, he encouraged country artists because he knew that if he was going to find the performer with “the colored sound and feel” that he was looking for, that’s where he’d be. Bear Family has released a nine-hour compilation of Sun’s country output called Sun Country Box: 1950-1959.



photo by Lance Vaughn View in High-Res

    Fresh Air music historian Ed Ward takes a trip to Memphis by listening to a 9 hour compilation of the Sun Records country legacy:

    Memphis has always believed that it, too, should be a center for country music, and that Nashville, despite a history reaching back to the 1920s, shouldn’t have a monopoly on it. When Sam Phillips started Sun Records in 1953, he encouraged country artists because he knew that if he was going to find the performer with “the colored sound and feel” that he was looking for, that’s where he’d be. Bear Family has released a nine-hour compilation of Sun’s country output called Sun Country Box: 1950-1959.

    photo by Lance Vaughn

  2. fresh air

    country music

    ed ward

    bear records

    sun studio

  1. Pioneering country music artist Ray Price died Monday of pancreatic cancer. He was 87 years old.  Here’s one of his biggest hits, “Heartaches by the Number.”
Ray Price was born in Cherokee County, Texas, in 1926.   When Price was inducted into the country music hall of fame in 1996, he was described by Kris Kristofferson as a living link from Hank Williams to the country music of today.  He worked with Hank Williams’ band, and helped give several country performers their starts.   Early in their careers, Willie Nelson, Roger Miller, Johnny Paycheck and Johnny Bush played in Price’s band, the Cherokee Cowboys.  He recorded albums for decades — and when Terry Gross interviewed Ray Price in 1999, he was about to release another one. Here’s “Rambling Rose,” a track from his then-forthcoming CD, "Prisoner of Love." View in High-Res

    Pioneering country music artist Ray Price died Monday of pancreatic cancer. He was 87 years old.  Here’s one of his biggest hits, “Heartaches by the Number.”

    Ray Price was born in Cherokee County, Texas, in 1926.   When Price was inducted into the country music hall of fame in 1996, he was described by Kris Kristofferson as a living link from Hank Williams to the country music of today.  He worked with Hank Williams’ band, and helped give several country performers their starts.   Early in their careers, Willie Nelson, Roger Miller, Johnny Paycheck and Johnny Bush played in Price’s band, the Cherokee Cowboys.  He recorded albums for decades — and when Terry Gross interviewed Ray Price in 1999, he was about to release another one. Here’s “Rambling Rose,” a track from his then-forthcoming CD, "Prisoner of Love."

  2. fresh air

    ray price

    hank williams

    willie nelson

    Country Music

  1. Both of these country-bluegrass hybrids by James King and Alan Jackson share a devotion to craft. Both albums feature impeccable arrangements for mandolin, fiddle and banjo. Both employ the singer Don Rigsby for harmony vocals. It’s hard not to give the edge, however, to King’s Three Chords and the Truth. His album contains that extra splash of vinegar, that additional twist of tightened emotionalism, that gives both bluegrass and country their distinctive kinds of artistic truth.

    —  Ken Tucker reviews country and bluegrass artists James King and Alan Jackson on Fresh Air

  2. fresh air

    review

    ken tucker

    bluegrass

    Country Music

    alan jackson

    james king

  1. The Golden Globe nominations are out. Heidi and I are pretty big fans of the show Nashville, so we’re excited that Connie Britton got a best actress nod for her role on the show as (fictional) country music superstar Rayna James.
Here’s a little piece from Ann Powers about some of what makes Nashville great. Plus, it has a list of — and YouTube links to — some classic country duets that will make your life more complete.
And here’s the Fresh Air interview from when Britton was on another great show, Friday Night Lights.
- Nell View in High-Res

    The Golden Globe nominations are out. Heidi and I are pretty big fans of the show Nashville, so we’re excited that Connie Britton got a best actress nod for her role on the show as (fictional) country music superstar Rayna James.

    Here’s a little piece from Ann Powers about some of what makes Nashville great. Plus, it has a list of — and YouTube links to — some classic country duets that will make your life more complete.

    And here’s the Fresh Air interview from when Britton was on another great show, Friday Night Lights.

    - Nell

  2. Golden Globe nominations

    Connie Britton

    Fresh Air

    Interviews

    Nashville

    country music

  1. Singer Darrell Scott Reflects On His Father’s Death

  2. darrell scott

    wayne scott

    country music

    music

  1. americanroutes:

    Here’s another musical collaboration that we couldn’t fit into the show: Darrell Scott, accompanied by the Preservation Hall Jazz Band, singing “The Year That Clayton Delaney Died.”

    The Tom T. Hall song is actually about a man that Tom knew named Lonnie Easterly, who lived on Clayton Hill next to a family called the Delaneys. As Tom says, “I kept everything on that hill, there in his neighborhood, to keep from losing that reality.”

    Tomorrow: Darrell Scott remembers his father Wayne, who died earlier this year in a car accident. We also replay an interview from 2006, featuring both Darrell and Wayne.

  2. darrell scott

    wayne scott

    Country Music

  1. Before he became famous, Buck Owens found his voice in Bakersfield, CA. View in High-Res

    Before he became famous, Buck Owens found his voice in Bakersfield, CA.

  2. buck owens

    country music

  1. Rosanne Cash, on her father’s list: ”We started talking about songs, and he mentioned one, and I said I don’t know that one. And he mentioned another. I said, ‘I don’t know that one either, Dad,’ and he became very alarmed that I didn’t know what he considered my own musical genealogy. So he spent the rest of the afternoon making a list for me, and at the end of the day, he said, ‘This is your education.’ And across the top of the page, he wrote ‘100 Essential Country Songs.’” View in High-Res

    Rosanne Cash, on her father’s list: ”We started talking about songs, and he mentioned one, and I said I don’t know that one. And he mentioned another. I said, ‘I don’t know that one either, Dad,’ and he became very alarmed that I didn’t know what he considered my own musical genealogy. So he spent the rest of the afternoon making a list for me, and at the end of the day, he said, ‘This is your education.’ And across the top of the page, he wrote ‘100 Essential Country Songs.’”

  2. rosanne cash

    johnny cash

    country music

  1. Since releasing her first solo album in 1967, Parton has become a star in movies and on television. But rock critic Ken Tucker says that her new album,Better Day, returns the focus to Parton’s singing and her frequently underestimated songwriting. View in High-Res

    Since releasing her first solo album in 1967, Parton has become a star in movies and on television. But rock critic Ken Tucker says that her new album,Better Day, returns the focus to Parton’s singing and her frequently underestimated songwriting.

  2. dolly parton

    country music

    ken tucker

    music review