The Secret Sisters – You Don’t Own Me Any More: Love is not possession.

2017_TheSecretSisters_YouDontOwnMeAnymoreArtist: The Secret Sisters
Album: You Don’t Own Me Anymore
Year: 2017
Grade: B-

In Brief: A solid third effort from the Alabama country/folk duo. It doesn’t quite have the same edge as Put Your Needle Down, and as a result the songs can feel a bit samey after a while, but I get that pop/rock crossover appeal might not have been the intent here.

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John Paul White – Beulah: There’s always a second time around.

2016_JohnPaulWhite_BeulahArtist: John Paul White
Album: Beulah
Year: 2016
Grade: B-

In Brief: White continues to demonstrate strong songwriting chops as a solo artist, though the bare-bones folk sound sometimes undersells that skill. A few more full-bodied, up-tempo tracks help, but since I know him as the guy from the Civil Wars, I can’t help but think that he shines brightest when he has another vocalist in the mix to play off of.

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Out of the Grey – A Little Light Left: Let the music span the distance.

2015_OutoftheGrey_ALittleLightLeftArtist: Out of the Grey
Album: A Little Light Left
Year: 2015
Grade: B

In Brief: While it’s quite different from the glossy, catchy and quirky pop tunes of their 90s heyday, Out of the Grey has created a mellow and mostly acoustic record that feels authentic to who they are now. It’s not so much a comeback as it is a welcome visit from old friends you haven’t seen in ages.

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Josh Ritter – Sermon on the Rocks: I got a devil in my eye.

2015_JoshRitter_SermonontheRocksArtist: Josh Ritter
Album: Sermon on the Rocks
Year: 2015
Grade: B

In Brief: A much more diverse, playful, foreboding, swaggery, fantastical, pretty much everything (except boring and mopey!) album than The Beast in Its Tracks. I’m unsure how much of this record is fact and how much is fiction, and since Ritter is so good at the fiction, that’s just the way I like it.

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The Lone Bellow – Then Came the Morning: And then the sunset, then afternoon, then midnight, for some strange reason.

2015_TheLoneBellow_ThenCametheMorningArtist: The Lone Bellow
Album: Then Came the Morning
Year: 2015
Grade: B-

In Brief: This is a typical sophomore album, in that it finds The Lone Bellow trying a few new things, diversifying the songwriting a bit, and ultimately becoming a better band for it, but the result is a scattershot album where you’re almost better off jumping in anywhere instead of starting from the beginning.

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The Secret Sisters – Put Your Needle Down: To Quit You or Not to Quit You? That Is the Question.

2014_TheSecretSisters_PutYourNeedleDownArtist: The Secret Sisters
Album: Put Your Needle Down
Year: 2014
Grade: B

In Brief: This neo-traditional country duo swings back and forth between peppy “girl group” songs from a bygone musical era and more brooding alt-country ballads, with a heavy emphasis on songs about breaking up with good men and wishing you knew how to break up with the bad ones.

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Nickel Creek live at the Wiltern Theater: Hallelujah, the 21st of May!

The last two times I saw Nickel Creek were at the exact same venue where I was fortunate enough to see them perform earlier this week, on the final evening of their reunion tour. I realized just as I was typing that sentence that I’m incredibly spoiled.

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