The day before we celebrate Record Store Day, we celebrate Friday with new music. Today, Friday, April 15, alternative country singer-songwriter Sturgill Simpson released his third album, “A Sailor’s Guide to Earth,” and folk-rock singer-songwriter Graham Nash released his sixth album, “This Path Tonight.” Sam Beam from Iron & Wine teamed up with Jesca Hoop for “Love Letter For Fire,” Edward Sharpe & The Magnetic Zeros released the eclectic “PersonA” and PJ Harvey takes aim at American housing projects in “The Hope Six Demolition Project.”
Maybe you’ve heard him on the Joe Rogan Experience podcast. Or maybe you were lucky enough to see him perform at the Philadelphia Folk Festival in 2014. Sturgill Simpson is giving a new meaning to the term outlaw country musician. Simpson, who produced his third album, “A Sailor’s Guide to Earth,” released Friday, April 15, explores psychologic and psychedelic themes in his songwriting and pulls in influences of blues, soul, gospel, rock and rockabilly in his music. The album includes a stunning cover of Nirvana’s “In Bloom,” and Simpson is backed by The Dap-Kings on horns throughout most of the album. The tracks are recorded live and that energy is captured on songs like “Brace for Impact (Live a Little).” Get “A Sailor’s Guide To Earth” from Sturgill Simpson, iTunes, Google Play, Amazon and Spotify.
Known for his part in the supergroup with David Crosby and Stephen Stills that sometimes included Neil Young, British singer-songwriter Graham Nash released his sixth studio album “This Path Tonight” Friday, April 15. At 74 years old, Nash has been around the block. We haven’t heard from him in 14 years. In that time he split from his wife and announced publicly that he’d never work with David Crosby again. Now, a man on his own, Nash wrote on his website: “The music has a different feel to my earlier albums although I hear echoes of each one. This journey of mine was one of self-discovery, of intense creation, of absolute passion.” Like a lot of Nash’s songwriting, this album asks more questions than gives answers. Nash documents what he sees on “This Path Tonight,” as an artist asking the right questions after decades of life and music. Get “This Path Tonight” from Graham Nash, iTunes, Amazon and Spotify.
Folk singer-songwriters Sam Beam and Jesca Hoop team up for a collaborative album “Love Letter For Fire” released Friday, April 15. Beam, best known as his moniker Iron & Wine, shares harmonies and guitar licks with Hoop and the duet is joined by a full band featuring Robert Burger on keyboard, Eyvind Kang on violin and viola, Glenn Kotche on drums, bassist Sebastian Steinberg and Edward Rankin-Parker on cello. This is the first time Beam had collaborated in the songwriting process with anyone and he focused on their contrasting songwriting styles and exciting energy. Fun fact – Beam took the photo for the album cover. See Sam Beam and Jesca Hoop with Marlon Williams Tuesday, May 24 at Union Transfer in Philadelphia, Pa. Get “Love Letter For Fire” from SubPop, iTunes, Amazon and Spotify.
“PersonA” the fourth album by collective folk band Edward Sharpe and the Magnetic Zeros is upbeat, friendly and more professional that past albums. Released Friday, April 15, “PersonA” puts a spotlight on the musicianship of the 10-piece band led by Alex Ebert. Recorded in New Orleans, the band draws on influences from The Big Easy but maintains and expands upon its signature free-flowing, psychedelic sound. It’s airy, loose and and jammy. The truly collaborative effort doesn’t have two tracks that sound alike, but somehow they all seem to maintain that Edward Sharpe sound. The first single, “Hot Coals,” clocks in at 7:17 while its second, “No Love Like Yours,” is a mere 2:57, the shortest track on the album. Both are solid as are the eight other tracks on “PersonA.” Get your copy from Edward Sharpe and The Magnetic Zeros, iTunes, Amazon and Spotify.
British singer-songwriter PJ Harvey has a thing or two to say about housing projects in America. Her ninth studio album, released Friday, April 15, is entitled “The Hope Six Demolition Project” in reference to the HOPE VI projects in the United States. The album is inspired by a bus tour through our nation’s capitol that she took with filmmaker Seamus Murphy and Paul Schwartzman of the Washington Post. The album opens with “The Community of Hope”, which was written directly in response to that bus trip, drew criticism from council members in Washington D.C. for lyrics like “This is just drug town/ just zombies.” What is probably most impressive is the album was created during sessions that were open to the public as part of an art installation at Somerset House in London called Recording in Progress. Avant garde, deep and also inspired by trips to Afghanistan and Kosovo, “The Hope Six Demolition Project” is an album that seems like kindling to sparking debate and that’s exactly what Harvey has done. Get “The Hope Six Demolition Project” from Amazon, iTunes and Spotify.