Posts Tagged ‘Nashville’

It seems we’re starting to come out of darker times, it’s been overdue as has new music. In this whole process RCA studios in Nashville has become my new home, where magic just keeps pouring out and into the music. I’m holding on to the album for a few months longer but until then I have this EP for you, a collection of my favourite songs I performed live at RCA studio A earlier in the year.

The singer-songwriter debuted her live recording of “The Bends” track at RCA Studios in Nashville to mark the release of her new live EP, “RCA Studio A Sessions”.

Jade Bird shared her hauntingly beautiful cover of Radiohead’s Black Star this week.

I wanted to release the video of us playing Black Star as I know a lot of you may have seen me playing it in your venue, in your city, and I appreciate you always took a minute to be silent and listen. The lyrics are so beautiful in this song.

Cover of Radiohead’s “Black Star” performed by Jade Bird at RCA Studio A, Nashville.

Every once in a while we hear a record here at Full Time Hobby Towers which stops us in our tracks and demands our attention. Spencer Cullum’s Coin Collection, a record which came out via YK Records late last year, was one of those albums. Recorded in Spencer’s adopted home of Nashville, TN and with a star-studded line-up of musicians in the Collection, the album has brought us continued joy over the last few months. However, it was rather tricky to get hold of over here without opening up our own coin collections and shelling out for hefty shipping costs.

So we’ve worked with Spencer and YK to import some LPs here to London to help keep the shipping costs down a bit. contact Full Time Hobby or the Bandcamp Site:

Spencer Cullum’s Coin Collection — homaging the ’60s and ‘70s folk-rock heroes of his homeland, finds Nashville sideman Spencer Cullum stepping from the shadows to spotlight. And, along with a supporting cast of fellow Music City stage and studio aces — like guitarist Sean Thompson and multi-instrumentalist Luke Reynolds, along with singing and writing partners like Rose, Andrew Combs, Erin Rae, Annie Williams and James “Skyway Man” Wallace — he’s bringing a bit of Britain to Tennessee with him.


Released November 12th, 2020

THE Coin Collection:

Spencer Cullum
Caitlin Rose,
Erin Rae,
Annie Williams,
Herman Düne,
Mayon Hanania,

Dom Billet: Drums
G. Maxwell Zemanovic: Drums
Adam Bernarik: Bass
Sean Thompson: Electric Guitar
James Wallace (Skyway Man): Piano, Mellotron
Luke Reynolds: Tapes loops & Synths .
Micheal Rinne: Upright Bass
Adam Stockdale: Acoustic Guitar
Jim Hoke: Flutes, Clarinet & Saxophone
Austin Hoke: Cello
Jordan Lehning: String Arrangement

All Songs Written by
Spencer Cullum except
Jack of Fools (S. Cullum & Andrew Combs)
To Be Blinkered (S. Cullum & James Wallace)
Dieterich Buxtehude (S. Cullum & Luke Reynolds)
The Tree (Mike Heron)

Human Error Music (BMI)

Spencer Cullum

May be an image of 1 person

The inevitable messiness of life is what makes it so painful, interesting and enjoyable, but learning to be okay with it all is much easier said than done. Nashville-via-Texas singer/songwriter Katy Kirby is well on her way in that journey. On her debut album “Cool Dry Place”, Kirby tries to decide what’s worth holding on to and what’s worth seeking, but also allows herself the freedom to pause and just revel in precious moments, like a drunken walk home (“Peppermint”) or the fantasy of protecting someone you love (“Eyelids”).

Whether slipping into playful metaphors or arriving at an important realization, Kirby sounds, at once, comfortable and uncomfortable with the fluidity of interactions and situations, which is what makes this record more than just an incredibly pleasing collection of songs. Wants and needs are blurred, relationships shapeshift, but more than anything, a human desire for intimacy and understanding underpins it all. After dropping in and out of school, religion and recording music, Kirby is searching for a sustainable source of warmth—whether a person, a plant, Target lingerie or “a secret chord that David played.

Katy Kirby is a songwriter and indie rock practitioner with a writerly focus on unspoken rules, misunderstandings of all kinds, and boredom. Kirby was born, raised, and home schooled by two ex-cheerleaders in small-town Texas, where she started singing in church amidst the soaring, pasteurized-pop choruses of evangelical worship services. After high school, Kirby moved to Nashville, where she managed to graduate college with a rapidly expanding circle of artistic allies, an amorphous collection of leftist beliefs, and a few handfuls of songs. After a series of painful failures to complete a record that reflected the temperament of those songs, Kirby finally turned to dear friends and co-conspirators to form a band capable of constructing a satisfying full length. 

Released via Keeled Scales

The Nitty Gritty Dirt Band have shared a new ensemble rendition of Bob Dylan‘s 1964 classic “The Times They Are A-Changin”. This new cover features contributions from Jason IsbellSteve EarleRosanne Cash, and The War and Treaty and serves as a fundraiser for Feeding America.

In the song, released via Bandcamp last week, NGDB leader Jeff Hanna bookends the track with the first and final verses. Between those two ends, each vocalist delivers a unique vocal performance that is able to make a song so iconic and familiar appear in a new light. From Earle’s gravely outlaw country drawl to Cash’s powerful ballad gusto, each singer is able to put their own mark on the song’s timeless lyrics.

Though the track, originally released on Dylan’s 1964 album of the same name, may seem older than time itself, Nitty Gritty Dirt Band was founded just two years after the song’s release.

“I’ve been a fan of Bob Dylan’s since I was a teenager, living in California,” Hanna said. “I was fortunate enough to see him sing ‘The Times They Are A-Changin’ in concert the year the song was released. It moved me deeply then and that hasn’t changed. The lyrics are as relevant today as they were when Dylan wrote it. Maybe even more so.”


Consider purchasing it via Bandcamp to help Feeding America. Each donation of $1 can provide up to 10 meals for children, families, and individuals facing hunger across the county.

Released February 5th, 2021
Original Composition by: Bob Dylan


For Alicia Bognanno, the onset of each tour begins with a familiar ritual. She gathers her 16 distortion pedals (yes, you read that right: 16) and begins a process of elimination – “a distortion off,” as she likes to call it. Starting with a batch of five, she narrows down the winning gritty, aggressive tone and repeats the procedure until just three are left standing. And, as always, her Greer Amps pedal is triumphant.

“For some reason in my head I’ll be like, ‘What if I’m not maximising my pedal tone.’ I hate myself for saying that, but it’s true.” She laughs. “It’s just such a waste of time. I go through it and every time it’s the same. What the fuck am I doing?”

I suggest it has therapeutic benefits. “Clearly it’s doing something for my mental health. So yeah, that’s my relationship with pedals. Maybe we leave that bit out,” she jokes. The singer and engineer behind gritty punk act Bully eases into conversation gently. I can sense we’re both a little anxious, which is oddly comforting. She eagerly offers up pictures of her “ginormous” nine-year-old dog that she lives alone with in Nashville.

We discuss everything from the excess of over-the-top dudes doing pedal demonstrations on Youtube – “there’s a guy noodling on like a blues guitar and you’re like, ‘What the fuck?’ Like, does this translate? … He’s got his foot up on his amp, and it’s like, ‘Okay we get it’,” she says between laughter, – to the need for the representation of friendship between teenage women in film.

“I think that’s why Ladybird was cool. There’s so much you need from [those friendships]. Like talking about getting your fucking period and what’s supposed to be normal,” she explains. The track ‘Focused’ was written about her best friend growing up. She reflects on what they went through as teens; how they confided in one another when they couldn’t speak with their families. “As culture we’re told to hide our tampons when we’re walking to the bathroom, you know what I’m saying? When you’re kids you’re so embarrassed. You’re constantly being shamed for it in middle school,” Bognanno explains.

She misses the depth of those youthful, devious and playful friendships. “Even just having sex when you’re young and being called a slut. I mean, guys don’t get that. Ever. That’s an award for them.” She wishes these dynamics were examined with a greater degree of wisdom in film. And in a way that is truly accessible, so you’re not trawling through the deepest, darkest corners of Rotten Tomatoes to find a story that’s told well.

Having grown up in a small town in Tennessee, Bognanno didn’t start playing guitar until she was 20 after moving to Nashville. She wasn’t raised in a musical family. In fact, she was only exposed to one local band growing up. “Playing music was not a thing,” she explains. She dabbled with piano at home, but found the instrument limiting. “I was really bad,” Bognanno says, comparing it to sounding like the soft and polished pop singer-songwriter, Sara Bareilles.

When she first picked up an electric guitar, her music started to translate into the gritty, high-velocity punk that it was destined to be. “I got my first SG when someone was like, ‘If you can fix this, you can have it.’ And it was just a soldering point in the input jack that was messed up, so I was like, ‘Perfect’,” she says.

She’s noted a sense of imposter syndrome in previous interviews. Asked if this feeling remains, she says it does, but Bognanno is thankful for the team behind Bully and their manager, Ryan Matteson. “[He’s] constantly just like, ‘You’re worth more than that’,” she explains. “I’m [consistently] just in this headspace where I’m like, somebody is going to say what I’m doing isn’t fair or that I don’t do deserve what I’m getting, which I do. I work my fucking ass off.”

Bully have been constantly on the move, having played at least 85 shows across the States, the UK and Europe,

Asked how guitarist Clayton Parker, bassist Reece Lazarus, and herself prevent burn out on tour, she explains, “We are really independent. I think when we’re touring around other bands they get confused, because we’ll just get to places and scatter … Everyone really likes their alone time.” Small acts of thoughtfulness helps to ease tension. “It’s like, don’t crack open a hard boiled egg in the van,” she says, laughing. “We went out to band dinner last night. It’s a lot of silence, but it’s good – it’s the thought that counts.”

Her songs have always been personal, and instilled with whatever anxieties were playing on her mind at the time of writing. However, after Trump’s election, she decided to be more outright. “The election in the states, whether or not it was intentional or subconscious, definitely affected everybody’s art,” she says. “It’s just built up the need to more vocal about everything in general.

“There was a lot of stuff that I kept more personal because I didn’t feel like I needed to talk about it, like my sexuality and stuff,” she explains. “I’ve brought it up this year because it’s just like, let’s just make a safe space for everybody … I think people are just searching for that connection a lot more.”

As for how she’ll connect with her audiences in the future, we’ll have to wait and see: Bully are currently working with five new songs, and Bognanno plans to start demoing fresh material from mid this month to September. “[Whether or not I’ll] think those songs are total garbage in five months is still up in the air.”

“Losing” is out now through Sub Pop Records

Working in tandem with her erstwhile musical collaborator David Rawlings, singer/songwriter Gillian Welch searched through her vault and uncovered a rich cache of home demos and reel-to-reel recordings that she then assembled into three volumes of archival offerings. Collectively titled The Lost Songs and delineated as Boots Vol. 1, 2 and 3, she shares 48 songs in total, thus allowing fans and followers an opportunity to bear witness to Welch’s creative sensibilities and the unreleased music she and Rawlings recorded in the fertile period between her critically-acclaimed albums Time (The Revelator) and Soul Journey. An aural sketchbook of sorts, the three volumes reflect a certain creative consistency and Welch’s willingness to indulge her muse wherever it might lead.

Fans of Gillian Welch and her long time songwriting foil David Rawlings’s reimagining of early country and bluegrass are used to being patient. Until a month ago, the pair had only released five albums proper under her name, and three in his, since Welch’s 1996 debut, “Revival”. But after their studio, with all their old recordings, was almost destroyed by a tornado in March, they’ve changed tack. Hot on the heels of July’s covers album, “All the Good Times Are Past and Gone”, comes the follow-up to 2016’s first batch of archive recordings, The Official Revival Bootleg, with two more volumes.


While most of the offerings are rendered in stripped-down settings, all reflect a propensity to tap traditional sources and pay heed to a strong roots regimen. It’s music that’s rendered with a genuine folk finesse and a sound of a vintage variety.  The charm is manifest in both the novelty and the nuance. Although they are demos, with little more in play than guitar and Welch’s voice, they sound fully realised. 

First Place Ribbon, about barefoot Kathy, “the kinda girl likes the dust between her toes”, rattles along with an irresistible momentum; the narrator of the brooding Shotgun Song fantasises about escaping the chain gang; Valley of Tears is as desolately beautiful as its name suggests. That Welch and Rawlings have sat on such inspired recordings for almost two decades makes you wonder what other hidden treasures might be forthcoming.


Unearthed from a cache of home demos and reel-to-reel recordings, Boots No. 2: The Lost Songs is the second release of archival music from the vault of Gillian Welch and David Rawlings. This remarkable 48 song collection, spread over three volumes, was recorded between the making of Time (The Revelator) and Soul Journey. It is an intimate glimpse at the artist’s sketchbook, containing some lifelong themes as well as some flights of fancy.


This album is all about the honed to a sharp fine edge, of Gillian Welch Goodness- excellent production, and just so damn real and fine.

May be an image of 6 people

Texas-based indie rocker Katy Kirby has shared the title track from her forthcoming debut album, “Cool Dry Place”, out on February 19th, 2021 via Keeled Scales Records. It’s the follow-up to her previous single “Traffic!,” “Cool Dry Place” is about finding the balance between emotional boundaries and the primal need for deep connection with others. With love being such a high-risk, high-reward venture, it poses taxing moral dilemmas, and Kirby finds herself finally committing, yet still looking back: “And once the dust has settled, then you’ll know / that you’re gonna get more of me than you bargained for / All the ways we can go wrong / Will we ever get that far?” The song’s dainty beginnings gradually morph into an untamed indie rock firestorm, as if to signify this jump into the great unknown.

Kirby says of the song: I had a very fun habit of getting involved with someone and then getting cagey once they needed or just wanted me more than I was comfortable with. I thought this was very intelligent of me, being smart enough to know when to get out, before I got close enough to lose objectivity. I suppose it isn’t a terrible rule of thumb, considering that people are statistically dangerous. But this song was me beginning to see my own needs, in an embarrassingly transparent way. I too, am nothing more than a meatbag of vulnerabilities.


Early 2021, just before Katy Kirby took over the world with her one of a kind debut album, we met up at a place called the cathedral of junk in an Austin suburb. but it turned out that we couldn’t shoot there due to covid stuff. so we walked around until we found a nice tree to shoot under. here is Katy Kirby playing “Fireman” !.

Releases February 19th, 2021

All songs written (and sung) by Katy Kirby.
Secret Language” incorporates elements of “Hallelujah” by Leonard Cohen.

Texas-based Katy Kirby roams indie rock’s outer perimeter, graceful in pace and nimble in lyrical footing, finding space for crushing guitar solos as well as moments of ambling playfulness. Inviting comparison to artists akin to Phoebe Bridgers and Angel Olsen, Kirby inhabits a singular style in her own right – lending the experience of her upbringing to a wistful pastoral sound. Indie-rock songwriter Katy Kirby grew up in a small-town Texas, where her primary exposure to songcraft came via “the pasteurized-pop choruses of evangelical worship.” On her forthcoming debut album “Cool Dry Place”, out February 19th, 2021, on Keeled Scales, the still-Lone Star State-based Kirby wrestles with the indefatigably cheery spirit of the church songs she was raised on, twisting her jangle-pop sound into subtly adventurous shapes suggestive of a roving soul. “Ten segments in an orange / Only so many ways that you can pull apart someone,” she sings on the title track, effortlessly tossing off the kind of line that makes your heart ache instantaneously. Kirby thrives in the place between easy appeal and more complicated explorations, and she’s already made believers out of us. 

Katy Kirby on “Audiotree Live (Full Session)”

Katy Kirby is a buoyant post-folk song writer whose elastic, pristine vocal delivery wraps around and within experimental song constructions. The Keeled Scales signee continues to hone her craft with each release; perfecting a divine blend of stylish song writing.

Live at Audiotree.

Tracklist;1. 00:00 – Juniper 2. 03:02 – Portals 3. 06:02 – Traffic! 4. 09:36 – Tap Twice 5. 12:17 – Cool Dry Place

Recorded on October 26th, 2020 in Chicago, IL.


One of the first releases of 2021 comes from Steve Earle and has a tragic back story: The album, “J.T.,” is a tribute to his son, the singer and songwriter Justin Townes Earle, who died from an accidental drug overdose in August. “I’ve never loved anything in this world more than him,” Steve Earle said. “I was connected to him in ways that, you know he’s my first born, he did the same thing I did and we both had this disease.” On the evening of August. 20th, Steve Earle spoke to his son Justin Townes Earle for the last time.

In a phone call initiated by Justin, they caught up on family business and Steve, the country-rock singer-songwriter, who struggled with addiction for years, told his son a lauded musician in his own right that he would support him if he was ready to begin his own recovery. “I said, ‘Do not make me bury you,’” the elder Earle recalled in an interview. “And he said, ‘I won’t.’”

That night, Justin, 38, died alone in an apartment in Nashville of an accidental drug overdose; an autopsy found evidence in his blood of cocaine laced with fentanyl, a powerful opioid. For Earle, the death of his eldest son set off waves of grief. He had watched Justin grow from a scraggly teenage hip-hop fan intrigued by Kurt Cobain to a rising star of Americana music the fuzzy intersection in the Venn diagram of folk, country and rock, where Earle has long been a looming presence.

Justin, who released eight albums and an EP over 13 years, had a mordant song writing style that bore the influence of Townes Van Zandt, the fatalistic folk oracle who was Earle’s mentor and the man he named his son after. It also had the unmistakable imprint of Earle himself, whose best songs, whether performed in loud bands or alone with an acoustic guitar, have always had a certain rock ’n’ roll sneer.

Justin, like his father, also spent years as an addict, using heroin since his teens. Alcoholism plagued him throughout his career, and took a hard toll in his later years. Justin was hospitalized with pneumonia over the summer, having aspirated vomit in his lungs, and was told by a doctor that he would die if he did not quit drinking, Steve said. But while Steve eventually got clean after spending time in prison in 1994 on drug and weapons charges his son succumbed to the disease. Among Justin’s survivors are his wife, Jennifer, and a 3-year-old daughter, Etta St. James Earle.

Within days of Justin’s death, Earle, 65, began work on what would become “J.T.,” an album of 10 of Justin’s songs, and one new track by his father, that will be released on January 4th, which would have been Justin’s 39th birthday. Proceeds from the LP will go to a trust to benefit Etta.

“His best songs were as good as anybody’s,” said Earle, whose Greenwich Village apartment is crammed with photos of Justin, including one black-and-white shot on the wall showing his 3-year-old son chomping on a candy apple. “He was a way better singer than I am, a way better guitar player, technically, than I am. His fingerpicking could be mind-blowing.” “He was just one of those people,” Earle added, “that never felt like he was enough.”

“J.T.” Justin’s childhood nickname is the latest entry in what has become a grim specialty for Earle: the tribute album for a departed musical confidant. “Townes” was released in 2009, a dozen years after Van Zandt died; “Guy,” a homage to the songwriter Guy Clark, came out three years after Clark’s death in 2016. But “J.T.” was made while Earle’s pain was still raw. During recording sessions in October, the official cause of Justin’s death had still not been determined.

Recorded with the Dukes, Earle’s longtime backing band — including Chris Masterson on guitar, Eleanor Whitmore on fiddle, Ricky Ray Jackson on pedal steel guitar, Jeff Hill on bass and Brad Pemberton on drums “J.T.” includes some of Justin’s best-known songs, like “Harlem River Blues,” “Champagne Corolla” and “The Saint of Lost Causes,” the title track of Justin’s final album, released in 2019.

Earle’s craggy-voiced performance underscores dark themes that were there all along. “Harlem River Blues” contemplates a drowning death. (“Tell my mama I love her, tell my father I tried,” it goes. “Give my money to my baby to spend.”) “Turn Out My Lights,” about the phantom-limb ache for a former lover, takes on an eerie double meaning when Earle sings:

Even though I know you’re gone, I don’t have to be alone now
You’re here with me every night, When I turn out my lights

Recording the album “wasn’t cathartic as much as it was therapeutic,” Earle said. “I made the record because I needed to.”

“J.T.” is, in a sense, a double portrait of father and son. Justin was born in 1982, while Earle was a journeyman songwriter in Nashville. He and Justin’s mother, Carol Ann Hunter, split up when Justin was 3, around the time that Earle’s recording career began to take off. For much of Justin’s youth, Earle was touring or lost in the depths of drug addiction.

By Justin’s teenage years once Earle was clean and out of prison he was living with his father, and they developed a close musical bond. Earle recalled a pivotal moment when Justin, still a guitar novice, was stunned by Cobain’s stark acoustic performance of “Where Did You Sleep Last Night” with Nirvana on “MTV Unplugged,” unaware of the song’s provenance from the folk icon Leadbelly. Earle pointed his son to the L section of his record collection, where Leadbelly abutted the bluesmen Lightnin’ Hopkins and Mance Lipscomb.

“Next thing I knew,” Earle said, “he was playing Mance songs that I had never been able to figure out.”

Justin played in two bands, the Swindlers and the Distributors, before going solo in his 20s. In 2007, Justin’s debut EP, “Yuma,” introduced him as a stylish traditionalist with a hint of punk-rock attitude. Within a few years, he was building a reputation in New York, appearing frequently (as performer or patron) at a bar near his East Village apartment. He developed an irresistible persona for the media, dressing in retro suits and hats, blithely recounting his struggle with drugs while revelling in the notoriety it brought. “There’s really no such thing as bad press,” he told The Wall Street Journal in 2010.

Shooter Jennings, the country-rock singer and son of the outlaw country legend Waylon Jennings — recalled Justin during this period as an almost intimidating talent, albeit one who still lived under the shadow of a famous father. “When you get out there, there’s going to be this built-in audience of people that are curious to see what Steve Earle’s son is like, or what Waylon Jennings’s son is like,” Jennings said. “So there’s this bit of distrust with the audience from the very beginning. Are they here because they like my music, or are they here because they like my dad’s music?”


To record “J.T.,” Earle, with the help of his son Ian, 33, winnowed Justin’s work to a list of 10 songs — two of them, “Turn Out My Lights” and “Far Away in Another Town,” Justin wrote with Scotty Melton and booked a week at Electric Lady Studios in New York. He worked fast, sending his band preparatory notes by text message. By the time they began recording, Justin had been dead for less than two months. (They began sessions before October 20th.) Earle, who had largely avoided speaking publicly about Justin’s death, wanted the album to be his statement.

He was also wary of being roped into anyone else’s memorial. “I did not want to be asked to be on a tribute record with several people that I thought absolutely were enablers and helped kill him,” Earle said, his words flecked with expletives. “So I thought the way to nip that in the bud was to make a record of my own.”

At this point in his career, Earle bespectacled, with a long salt-and-pepper beard is a Renaissance man for whom mortality and addiction have been perennial subject matter. In addition to his many albums, Earle has written a play about a woman on death row and a novel about the spector of Hank Williams, and contributed music to a recent play about a mining disaster in West Virginia. Lately he has been writing a science-fiction story intended for television.

The night before the first session for “J.T.,” Earle gathered the band at his apartment for a sushi meal. Ray Kennedy, Earle’s longtime engineer, recalls the time in Electric Lady as being celebratory but focused. They began each day at 10 a.m. and finished by 4 p.m., so that Earle could take care of his youngest son, John Henry, 10, who has autism. “It felt positive,” Kennedy said. “It felt like we were taking an expression of somebody’s art and creativity and giving it back to the world in a different package.”

Earle, slouching on his sofa with a green bandanna as a face mask, seemed almost bemused by the question of whether recording his dead son’s songs was difficult to get through.

“I inoculated myself to some degree,” he said. “I was prepared for it to be horrific. But the truth is, it was kind of business as usual in a lot of ways.”

Justin’s catalogue, with its frequent themes of the entanglements and disappointments of family, might seem a minefield for Earle. He did not record anything from his son’s albums “Absent Fathers” or “Single Mothers.” He also avoided one of Justin’s best-known songs, “Mama’s Eyes,” which begins: “I am my father’s son/I’ve never known when to shut up.”

Those songs, Earle said, simply didn’t hold up as well as others he chose, which showcase Justin’s economical storytelling voice. The choices also contrast the two men’s styles. “J.T.” opens with “I Don’t Care,” a jaunty, fingerpicked ditty from “Yuma.” The Dukes play it as a rollicking hootenanny, with Earle growling its sardonic twist on a folk cliché: “I don’t know where I’m going no more/I don’t know, and I don’t care.”

Steve Earle and Justin Townes Earle in 1999.

Other songs reveal an interplay between the two men and their music. Justin’s “Lone Pine Hill,” a Civil War ballad with a Townes Van Zandt-style guitar part, Earle sees as indebted to his “Ben McCulloch,” about a disillusioned Confederate soldier. For two of Justin’s earliest tunes, “Maria” and “Ain’t Glad I’m Leaving,” Kennedy dug out tapes of Justin’s original arrangements with the Swindlers, which he and Earle recorded in 2001, when Justin was just 19.

Earle said that in writing “John Henry Was a Steel Drivin’ Man,” from his most recent album, “Ghosts of West Virginia” (2020), he “deliberately emulated” Justin’s guitar part on his song “They Killed John Henry.” “It always made me incredibly jealous that Justin had a John Henry song and I didn’t,” he said.

The song that was the most painful to record is also the album’s most powerful: “Last Words,” a heartbreaking synopsis of a father’s journey, from holding his newly born son to speaking to him for the last time. Earle wrote it less than a week after Justin died, and he described it as “maybe the only song I’ve ever written in my life that every single word in it is true.”

“Last thing I said was ‘I love you,’” Earle sings, over acoustic guitar and ominous, droning feedback. “Your last words to me were ‘I love you too.’”

Steve Earle – Guitar, Mandolin, Octave Mandolin, Harmonica and Vocal
Chris Masterson – Guitar, Mandolin, 1 Finger Piano and Vocal
Eleanor Whitmore – Fiddle, Mandolin, Organ and Vocal
Ricky Ray Jackson – Pedal Steel Guitar, Dobro and Vocal
Jeff Hill – Acoustic and Electric Bass, Cello and Vocal
Brad Pemberton – Drums, Percussion, and Vocal
All songs written by Justin Townes Earle

Recording the album “wasn’t cathartic as much as it was therapeutic,” Steve Earle said. “I made the record because I needed to.”

William Tyler is a Nashville guitarist and composer. He spent years woodshedding and touring with Nashville groups like Lambchop and Silver Jews before breaking away to focus on his own version of instrumental guitar music. The concept of “vanitas” in medieval art refers to the juxtaposition of macabre symbols of death with material ephemera in order to illustrate the impermanence of earthly things. What struck me about this was not the representation of death in a macabre/morbid way, but rather that very sense of ephemerality and impermanence. Reading an article about the history of ephemera in art led me to the concept of vanitas, and I wanted to find a way to pivot that in a more, well, hopeful direction. But these paintings force us to bear witness to the contrasts of life, death, and impermanence, and if 2020 has taught me about anything, it is this concept of “bearing witness” both on a personal and political level.


If you don’t know William Tyler you really should by now. He’s been around for a bit and has been releasing solo work for a decade. This was his second effort of the year and this seven-song set is out there. The record is all about life and death and how they are separate but also one continuous thing. On the opening track “With News From Heaven” Tyler loops chords, riffs, and sonic scapes from his guitar over one another and as they brightly jangle around one another they bring the listener into a new realm that will take them through the rest of the record. There are weird radio broadcasts on a number of songs that fade in and out, which truly make you feel like you may not be on this planet anymore even though it’s clearly a familiar signal you’re hearing.

The sprawling 12-minute epic “Slow Night’s Static” is a guitar that drones in and out of focus as more of these distorted radio signal broadcasts are just out of reach of your ear behind the guitar. It’s hypnotic, beautiful, and like nothing, William Tyler has done before. This serene track must be that feeling of literally being between life and death, just waves of ease washing over you. He leaves us with “Pisces Backroads”, another euphoric track that feels hymnal and ends on a high note. As the record ends you might feel like you have reached a spiritual awakening or wonder where you just travelled to over the last 39 minutes.

Released September 4th, 2020

Recorded and produced by William Tyler except “Four Corners” by Scott Hirsch