A trio of terrific Americana-aimed releases are worth discovering...
Artist: Mark Olson & Ingunn Ringvold
Title: Magdalen Accepts the Invitation (Fiesta Red Records)
You might like if you enjoy: The Jayhawks, Bright Blue Gorilla
Tell me more: A deeply personal album filled with mood-swept Laurel Canyon Americana meets baroque pop originals, Magdalen Accepts the Invitation features 10 songs featuring the considerable talents of the husband-and-wife duo of Mark Olson (The Jayhawks, the Creekdippers) and Ingunn Ringvold. Set for release on June 5, the Joshua Tree-based duo's third collaboration is a winning set of tracks that excel on the strength of top-flight songwriting, beguiling vocal harmonies, nuanced arrangements and absorbing instrumentation. The couple's voices blend in captivating ways across the disc (just listen to the chamber pop-styled "Christina Hi!" and Neo-classical "Silent Mary"). Standouts abound on this terrific LP; I love the gentle opener "Pipestone I Won't Be Back," sweeping "April In Your Cloud Garden," and reflective "Black Locust." Information: FiestaRedRecords.com.
Artist: Marshall Chapman
Title: Songs I Can't Live Without (Tallgirl Records)
You might like if you enjoy: Marshall Chapman, Kim Carnes
Tell me more: Delving into a who's who of classic songwriters, Nashville-based artist Marshall Chapman's new album Songs I Can't Live Without fully delivers on that sharp title. Her wonderful raspy vocals uncover new shades and details on the wide range of material; an especially probing take of Bob Seger's "Turn the Page," a melancholic reimagining of the Carole King/Gerry Goffin classic "Will You Still Love Me Tomorrow," a playful reading of the Elvis Presley hit "Don't Be Cruel" and inspired "He's Got the Whole World In His Hands" are among the terrific cuts here. Neilson Hubbard's excellent production and double role providing drums deserves kudos along with the contributions of studio players Will Kimbrough (lead guitar) and Dan Mitchell (keyboards, bass, Flugelhorn). Information: Tallgirl.com.
Artist: The Odd Birds
Title: Better Days (Ron Grigsby and Jennifer Moraca)
You might like if you enjoy: Mark Olson & Ingunn Ringvold, Gram Parsons & Emmylou Harris, the Fallen Stars
Tell me more: The Odd Birds' wonderful debut release Better Days is a wonderful and breezy Americana release that exudes a warmth and sense of purpose in tune with the fast-moving track listing. The acoustic folk rocker "Better Get Outta Town" opens the EP, impressively introducing the duo of singer-guitarists Ron Grigsby and Jennifer Moraca — both of whom sing and play guitar. The countrified "Jenny-Lynn (Won't You Come Home)," uplifting "Fly" and yearning "Better Days" showcase their endearing sound. A tender cover of Lowell George's "Willin'" and Gram Parsons' "Return Of The Grievous Angel" further elevate the EP. In addition to his excellent production, Bobbo Byrnes adds some stellar guitar and organ work on the disc. Information: theoddbirds.com.