Kelcy Mae: Half-Light Double EP
"Close your eyes. See the story in your mind, not with open eyes" starts Bright Eyes, the opening track of Kelcy Mae’s Half-Light EP. It's a song that thrusts the singers beautiful voice to the front over a single guitar before gradually building to a musical crescendo. The track shows a deft hand in doing so and serves as an invitation to the listener to an album that pairs solid, straightforward songwriting with a wide ranging musical style with just enough twang at the heart of it all to appeal to any fan of modern Americana.
Mae’s voice is one of the album’s best features: think a little bit Bonnie Raitt combined with Natalie Merchant and you’ll have some idea of what she sounds like. Tracks like King of Tennessee and Oh How the Whiskey put it’s southern drawl to good effect pairing it with a driving rhythm while quieter numbers like the album opener and Get Back Home allow the singer to demonstrate her emotional range.
There’s twelve tracks to the double EP: the first six songs are titled Half-Light and cast the songs in more upbeat poppier arrangements while the back half shows a more restrained less produced sound. Whichever sound you prefer—my personal taste leans a bit more towards the latter—there’s lots to like here, and the album shows a talent that hopefully continues to grow.
Katie Glassman & Snapshot: Dream a Little Dream
If Kelcy Mae’s decision to open her album with vocals out front does a good job of showcasing the album’s strengths, the same can be said for Katie Glassman’s decision to kick things off with a fiddle riff: Dream a Little Dream hits your ears like a record pulled from a 1940s time capsule combining the best of the Carter family tradition with that era’s jazzy piano riffs. It’s fitting that the second song on the album is called Good Times Gone By on an album that so clearly evokes that hopeful period.
Glassman’s fiddling is excellent and nicely paired with the piano and accordion that feature prominently here. On Little Dream of Mine she takes a torch singer singer while a number of other tracks leave the vocals aside altogether for instrumental numbers that are as good as the vocals ones.
If you’re looking for the perfect soundtrack for your Gatsby themed summer garden party you would do well to pair this with a Mint Julip and Little Miss Higgins’ Bison Ranch Recording Sessions from last year. Both are perfect choiceswith great backing bands, and you’ll find your guests on their feet dancing faster than you can press play. Make sure to send me an invitation—I’ll bring the bourbon.
Old Man Luedecke - I Never Sang Before I Met You
Old Man Luedecke’s Tender is the Night was one of last year’s best releases—it saw the banjo protege (who is neither old, nor really named Luedecke) in fine form. I, apparently, wasn’t the only person to think so: it won both Folk Recording of the Year and Album of the year at last week’s Canadian East Coast Music Awards.
The four songs on I Never Sang Before I Met You pairs the Old Man with musician and producer Joel Plaskett for a collection of great songs that show a bit of a rockier touch to them. The banjo is actually pushed to the back here with Luedecke showing an equal facility for the guitar. This change of pace provides a refreshingly look at a tremendously talented songwriter, and there isn’t a bad one in the mix here.
“If reading books was money / and spinning records was investing / and drinking was consulting / baby we’d be rich” Luedecke sings in a song that comes in both a clean and a “cuss version.” Lesser talents have plead the same with less effect. If this EP is a clue into what’s coming from the musician, we’ve all got something to look forward too.