I think one of the rewarding things about hearing new music is discovering an artist who knows his own voice. An artist that creates their own space and then inhabits it well, with authority and confidence. Mark Currey does this on his fine debut, Tarrant County. Some might say Currey, at 53, is late to start a recording career, but that would be a mistake. By waiting, Currey has allowed his vision and songwriting skills to distill into something deeply personal. It has also given him the confidence to be his own man, and make the record he wanted to make.
Ray Bonneville opens his latest release, At King Electric, with the kind of understated world weary grace and lyrical punch that JJ Cale made his calling card. On his ninth album Bonneville displays the discernment that some artists never attain, namely that he realizes the strength of his songs lies not in what he puts into the recording, but rather, what he leaves out. His songs work the way an emotionally charged conversation does, one in which the person who shows the most restraint has the upper hand. What Bonneville doesn’t say speaks loudest.
J.M. McSpadden III is a writer and roots music enthusiast who believes every road trip is an opportunity for the full- tilt boogie.