I DJ on KSYM 90.1 FM in San Antonio once a month, Americana roots music type stuff. Saturday was my September shift (warning: it was Talk Like A Pirate Day). I thought I’d highlight some of the new releases I’d recommend.

Crosseyed Heart Keith Richards has a new album, Crosseyed Heart. Last one was 23 years ago–I remember buying that one (Main Offender); “Eileen” has to be on my top 10 playlist.. one of the best Stones songs the Stones never recorded. I would like the Rolling Stones more if Keith was singing instead of Mick–case in point: “Happy” (note in the video Mick can’t stop taking over).  Anyway, the new album is very good, going back to blues, reggae (he spends a lot of time in Jamaica), New Orleans brass, even country: “Goodnight Irene”  brings something new (gospel choir with the tin pan alley pianny), which is something to say as it’s been recorded hundreds of times since it was made famous by Lead Belly. “Robbed Blind” could also fit on Third Coast, with the slide guitar.

Richard Thompson Richard Thompson flies under the radar–‘the greatest guitarist you’ve never heard of‘, but consistently releases good music.  I stumbled onto him when a friend took me to a Dave Alvin show — we thought Dave was the headliner, and were fixin’ to leave but were transfixed. Thompson has a unique picking style — check out Pony in the Stable, or Long John Silver for a more traditional guitar driven rocker.

Jason Isbell Jason Isbell‘s ‘Southeastern’ was probably last year’s best album (yeah, it came out in 2013…), and ‘Something More than Free’ is better. I wouldn’t call them story songs, they’re more character snapshots. Like”Speed Trap Town“, about a man leaving his hometown (or not)–you don’t know the full story, but you get to know these people through the snippets, like going to the high school football game you used to play, ‘Sneak a bottle up the bleachers and forget my name/ These 5A bastards run a shallow cross/ It’s a boy’s first dream and a man’s first loss’.

Complicated Game Speaking of character songs, James McMurtry perfected this; he has said that he builds a song by hearing a phrase in his head, then figuring out who said it.  ‘Complicated Game’ took a while, 7 years since his last one, but it’s a keeper. And he mentions South Dakota not once but twice! My opinion, James can tell more of a story in 6 minutes than his pop Larry does in 980 pages. You can picture his characters living on past the song.

I just realized, what is it about these covers?  I didn’t de-colorize any of them. I guess black and white is the new black.

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