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Americana Music Blog

America has been serving up slices of Americana since the mid-19th-century. The genre is an all-encompassing term for a variety of music styles that found their roots in America, including blues, bluegrass, country, and roots-rock. More often than not, Americana is a fusion of one or more forms of roots music, and it is commonly synonymous with folk-based country and singer-songwriter music.

Some of the most iconic Americana artists include Johnny Cash, Bruce Springsteen, Willie Nelson, Lucinda Williams and Steve Earl. Steve Earl remains popular to this day; his 2021 album, J.T., was listed as one of the best Americana albums of the year. Other artists that featured alongside Earl on the albums of the year list included Brandi Carlile, John Hiatt, Jack Ingram and Strand of Oaks.

Prior to 2010, Americana was considered a niche genre, yet in a transition that no one anticipated, Americana moved into the mainstream. The artists responsible for pulling the genre into the limelight included The Lumineers, the Avett Brothers, and of course, Mumford & Sons. Despite being a British band, Mumford & Sons became one of the best-selling Americana artists in recent years. They made history when they became the first British band since Coldplay to make it big in the US and sell more than a million albums. Yet, Mumford & Sons held their hands up to admit that without The Lumineers, their success wouldn’t have been possible.

In the late 90s, the Americana Music Association was established in Nashville; and they still have their finger on the pulse to this day. In 2021, they named Black Pumas as the group of the year, Brandi Carlile as the artist of the year and Charley Crockett as the emerging artist of the year. It’s not surprising to see Black Pumas named as one of the Americana artists of the year; the Austin-based act has amassed over 100 million streams with their most popular soul psych song, Colors. They also picked up three Grammy nominations in 2020.

Americana received another uptick in interest with the release of the blockbuster film, A Star is Born, which followed a roots music raconteur (Bradley Cooper) on his quest for fame. Bradley Cooper’s character may have been fictional, but plenty of Americana history and culture was poured into the critically acclaimed film that became an overnight sensation; both Lukas Nelson and Brandi Carlile appeared in the film. It seems that as long as there are artists committed to planting roots of Americana into their music, it will never go out of trend.

Lorne Riley has released his page-turning upbeat country earworm, That’s All She Wrote

‘That’s All She Wrote’ is the latest quintessentially country single from the singer-songwriter Lorne Riley, who ingeniously cloaked his latest pop and rock-encompassing feat of Americana with swathes of 80s nostalgia to take you on a sonic journey you’ve never muddied your metaphorical boots with before.

You just can’t help falling in love with the small-town boy who has dug up his Northern Ontario roots and implanted them in his new residence in Dubai. Evidently, you can take the boy out of the country, but you can never take the country out of the boy.

Since making his debut in 2019, he’s featured on the Nashville Music Row Chart; That’s All She Wrote is yet another hooky chart-worthy hit from the singer-songwriter who knows exactly how to infuse his vignettes with bold imagery and a sense of soul that will awaken your own.

That’s All She Wrote was officially released on April 28; hear it on Spotify now.

Review by Amelia Vandergast

Changing Times: Sun-Pinned Leaves sees the smoke in the rainfall on City’s Got Soul

Seconding the emotions on offer from a special human, Sun-Pinned Leaves lights up the happiest way possible on the delightfully honest song to vibe with on any day of the week on City’s Got Soul.

Sun-Pinned Leaves is an award-winning Deal, England-based indie folk/Americana duo who return after blessing our souls with the terrific single from 2022, Summer Of Love.

Guiding us back to 1975 and powering in with something rather memorable, Sun-Pinned Leaves have the kind of vibe which many will find truly fascinating. Showing us the experience and thousands (or more) hours of practice, we find a single which belongs in any era.

Sun-Pinned Leaves are a popular live act with most recent gigs including Dublin Castle, London and Sandwich Folk & Ale Festival, Kent.” ~ Sun-Pinned Leaves

City’s Got Soul from Deal, England-based indie folk/Americana 2-piece band Sun-Pinned Leaves is another bonafide gem when we all needed it most. This is a superbly delivered single which shall ease all pain away, to show us what excellent music sounds like in 2023.

When you feel the vibration of your local city, everything changes forever.

Spark up the passion again on SoundCloud.

Reviewed by Llewelyn Screen

Lucas Pasley put his audience in the saddle of injustice in the roots release, Icelandic Horses

The authentic but by no means archaic Americana luminary Lucas Pasley twanged plenty of timeless soul onto the airwaves with the release of his third album, Ponies Back Home. The serenely composed release, which carries all the Grammy-nominated allure of Bonny Light Horseman’s debut LP, starts with the standout single, Icelandic Ponies. 

With melodies that sway in the breeze of his songwriting which pays homage to his Appalachian Mountains roots and a voice so soothing it could placate a rabid raccoon, there’s no overstating the arresting allure of Icelandic Horses.

His slide guitars reach the pinnacle of sonic catharsis as the lyrics lament the inherent unjustness of the universe while showing you the beauty within it in the same breath. The fragility of life is laid out in a series of short and bitter-sweet vignettes to brim you with gratitude for the burdens you don’t bear and fill you with empathy for the ones who do.

Stream Lucas Pasley’s album, Ponies Back Home, on Spotify now.

Review by Amelia Vandergast

The Fretbenders – Wandering Soul: An Americana Beacon for Wanderlust Dreamers to Follow Home

Taking you simultaneously to a veranda in Sicily and a back porch in Louisiana, the soundscape in the standout single, Wandering Soul, from the singer-songwriter duo The Fretbender’s seminal album, Long Overdue, is a beacon for the wanderlust dreamers to follow home.

Between the harmonicas, slide guitars and folksy vocal lines which sugar the atmosphere with compassion for the world-weary to savour, Wandering Soul is a timeless rootsy Americana offering which will nestle you within its euphonic comfort.

The husband-and-wife duo, Diane and Bob Kordas are known for their homely senses of soul and their unique roots infusions, which allow heritage sounds to resound on contemporary airwaves. Following their hotly anticipated LP, we hope there’s plenty more in the pipeline.

Wandering Soul is available to stream via Spotify.

Review by Amelia Vandergast

Americana Meets British Acoustic Indie in Champagne on the Rocks’ Sentimentally Cinematic Single, Golden Hour

UK singer-songwriter, Champagne on the Rocks, tantalised timeless Americana tones and tinged them with British acoustic indie in his latest cinematically rendered single, Golden Hour.

With choruses that made me nostalgic for Semisonic, Deep Blue Something and The Calling while simultaneously affirming that Champagne on the Rocks has what it takes to become a sonic legacy in his own right, you’re damn right we were arrested by the elevated weight of Golden Hour. When the winding Americana guitar solo hits, the stripped-back sentimental hit which will allow all of your most-cherished sun-soaked memories to manifest in your mind, the track transformed into a virtuosic triumph. Repeat attention is practically mandatory.

Golden Hour is now available to stream on all major platforms via this link.

Review by Amelia Vandergast

The World Doesn’t Make Sense: Brian Berggoetz Band feels the wicked frustration on It’s Gonna Rain

After blessing us with an incredible interview recently, Brian Berggoetz Band is rather lonely and wants to feel the fresh water drizzle all over his tired body with the thunderbolt that is, It’s Gonna Rain.

Brian Berggoetz Band is an Arizona-based alternative artist who loves to fuse in Americana and certainly keeps it sentimental and is quite simply excellent in delivery.

My sound is a combination of Dave Matthews and Bruce Springsteen. On the new EP, Familiar Sounds there is a touch of the Moody Blues as well. Recently I have been playing with a cello and violin players and that project found it’s way on to the album. There’s an orchestral rock song as well as a straight orchestral piece I did with some help from the Tucson Symphony. I’m very happy with those two pieces.” ~ Brian Berggoetz Band

Blessing all wary hearts with a rather special single to get excited about, Brian Berggoetz Band rips through the carpet and shall be that entertaining act who isn’t afraid to tell us the truth no matter what. This is epic stuff from the desert residing underground legend.

It’s Gonna Rain from Arizona-based alternative artist Brian Berggoetz Band is a booming song to turn up loud and proud when everything seems to be shattering beyond belief. Stunning all veins with a superbly lit performance for the masses to enjoy who love it loud, we are thrilled to the core by this heartbeat of a soundtrack to believe in.

Listen up on Spotify.

Reviewed by Llewelyn Screen

Jeff Livingstone augmented Americana in ‘Tonight I’ll Be Staying Here with You’

Jeff Livingston

In his latest single, Tonight I’ll Be Staying Here with You, the Cypress, California-hailing folk-rock singer-songwriter, Jeff Livingstone, augmented Americana to pay an ode to quintessential country while giving the roots a kiss of life.

With the rapturous riffs and energy of All You Need is Love by the Beatles against the heart-on-sleeve influence from the icons Bob Dylan, Eric Clapton, and Jerry Garcia, Tonight I’ll Be Staying Here with You is a riot of twangy sentiment-heavy soul that won’t fail to pull you right into its visceral core. With vocal cords that connect with your heartstrings with every harmony, you’re damn right I shed a tear over this stellar feat of virtuosic songwriting.

I don’t whip out the V word for just anyone, but after bringing his extensive vocabulary in music theory and strong musical foundation together in a tapestry of ingenuity, I can’t think of many other contemporary artists worthy of that accolade.

Tonight I’ll Be Staying Here with You will officially release on April 28. Hear it on Spotify.

Review by Amelia Vandergast

Tom Seth Johnson projected adoration through indie rock anthemics in Anywhere in the World Right Now

If indie rock n roll has a soul, it resounds in the magnetic sincerity of the latest single, Anywhere in the World Right Now, from Oxford’s prodigal son, Tom Seth Johnson.

With only an edge of 90s Britpop, there’s plenty of room for an Americana tinge that poured in the same foot-stompin’ vein as The Black Keys. So many postcards get sent to Britpop, but Johnson put his own swaggering stamp on his. Especially, through the sweeter-than-sugar line, “I’ve finally found a reason to play my guitar, ‘cos usually I’m down in Dixies midnight bar”. I legitimately shed a tear.

The rock n roll lifestyle is subject to prolific glamourisation; Johnson put that toxicity to bed and wrapped it up in soulful anthemics to prove all the vacuous sex and drugs in the world can’t parallel the high of coming home when it is a person that defines home instead of four walls.

Anywhere in the World Right Now is now available to stream on Spotify.

Review by Amelia Vandergast

Frances Cleave explored the Pepsi and Coke of suffering with her Southern Gothic single, ‘Freedom vs. Loneliness’.

The sophomore single, Freedom vs Loneliness, from the indie songstress Frances Cleave, is an ethereally arrestive shoegazey Clannad-ESQUE exploration of sufferance. The 21-year-old singer-songwriter takes inspiration from her haunted city of Charleston, SC; it doesn’t get much more Southern Gothic than her latest single, which will drive you to breaking point in the presence of her harbingering vocal lines that effortlessly gel with the phantasmally reverb-soaked pensive synths and evocatively plucked acoustic guitar strings.

The lyrics subtly explore the triadic trauma imparted by religious trauma, sexualisation and objectification but there’s enough ambiguity within the lyricality for the listener to apply their own contexts of freedom and loneliness. It’s a poignant reminder that the grass isn’t always greener, especially when the ground is hallowed whichever way you turn.

We can’t wait to hear what else she has in the melancholic pipeline; her debut LP is due for release late 2023, following her next single, which is primed for release in May.

Freedom v Loneliness debuted on April 1. Stream it on Spotify.

Review by Amelia Vandergast

Welcome Stranger set an intimately artful indie-folk score with ‘You Need Me’

From chamber strings to honkytonk Americana tones to indie art-rock crescendos, Welcome Stranger rolled with all the evocative punches when instrumentally composing their latest single, You Need Me.

After taking inspiration from the likes of Ben Howard and Justin Vernon, the devilishly talented duo scribed their own eloquently indie folk signature in You Need Me, the lead single from the debut album, Running Out of Miles. The LP title is heartbreak material alone.

With the whisky and melancholy-soaked vocal lines, you will lock into the lyrics from the first hit of this stunningly orchestrated single, which definitively proves that beauty still thrives in the world, regardless of the entropy and disillusion that so easily manifests whenever the full picture is in view. Yet, with this poetically candid single, Welcome Stranger exhibits that intimacy and intricate detail is everything.

You Need Me will officially release on March 31st. You can hear it via SoundCloud.

Review by Amelia Vandergast