I mentioned last month the excellent ReviewShine service, which connects (mainly Americana) artists looking for a bit of well deserved coverage with parasites like me after free music. As a music fan and blogger there is no downside, except for the frustration of knowing that there is more good stuff out there than you can ever hope to take in properly.
I have been delighted to hear a lot of fine music this month but, as good as the overall standard has been, there are two albums that have really stood out for me. They are very different in style but equally excellent. You should check them both out.
First up is "The Parade" by The David Mayfield Parade, which came out in February on 9th Grade Records.
Nelson over at Fifty Cent Lighter has done a much better review of it that I could ever manage. I thought it was interesting that he mentions "a non-existent feud with Jim Lauderdale" in his review because when I was thinking of possible comparisons it was Mr Lauderdale that I thought of. The album covers a range of styles but the songs and performances are consistently strong. Particular favourites are the epic closing track, which has the catchy title "I Have Been Known To Be Wrong From Time To Time But I'm Afraid I'm Right", and this opening track which is made even better by the arrangements.
"Blue Skies Again" - The David Mayfield Parade
Next we have Huke Green with his aptly named "Rustic Poet" LP, available now on Bandcamp and released more widely next Tuesday. Huke is a big hairy feller from Channelview in Texas. You might not think looking at his photo that he is a sensitive type, but you would be wrong.
Huke's voice is not, in all honesty, conventionally attractive but it has a sort of grizzled sentimentality about it which works very effectively with his rootsy songs to create something tough but tender. For comparison, think of the music of James McMurtry or the books of James Lee Burke. The whole album is good but the real highlights are the story songs and low-life character sketches, in particular "Letter to a Son" and this one, which has quickly become one of my songs of the year so far.
"Peggy" - Huke Green
Here's Huke with the mean and moody video for "Devil's Shout", which is also on the album.