Title: They’re Calling Me Home Artist: Rhiannon Giddens with Francesco Turrisi Label: Nonesuch Formats: CD, LP, Digital Release date: April 9, 2021
Acclaimed African American folk musician Rhiannon Giddens and Italian multi-instrumentalist Francesco Turrisi offer their second collaboration, They’re Calling Me Home. Sheltering in Ireland during the pandemic, the two artists decided to draw from traditional folk music of three countries for this project. The album’s title not only speaks to those who are sheltering in place during the pandemic, but also to the metaphorical “call home” or “homegoing” of death, in tribute to those who have lost their lives due to COVID-19.
Title: Simple Syrup Artist: Sunny War Label: Org Music Format: LP, Digital Release Date: March 26, 2021
Following a captivating NPR Tiny Desk performance and
an acclaimed album in 2019, Sunny
became an artist to watch for fans of acoustic roots music. Since then, the
L.A.-based singer and guitarist has certainly kept busy, founding a Los Angeles
chapter of the nonprofit Food Not Bombs, marching for BLM protests, and
recording her newest album, Simple Syrup.
Described as classy rap, street-poet blues and fierce
folk, the music of London artist L.A.
Salami creates a truly unique and always evocative
experience. Born Lookman Adekunle Salami, L.A. Salami began writing poetry from
an early age, a hobby which eventually blossomed into writing poetic lyrics
with acoustic-oriented instrumental backing. On his most recent album, The
Cause of Doubt & a Reason to Have Faith, Salami ventures into more
experimental ground as he draws on everything from ‘90s hip-hop and rap to
psychedelic folk and proto-punk of the ‘60s.
Title: The Iron Pot Cooker Artist: Camille Yarbrough Label: Vanguard/Craft Recordings Formats: LP (first vinyl reissue; 180-gram Record Store Day ed.)* Release date: September 26, 2020
Twenty-nine seconds into track one, “But It Comes Out Mad,” Camille Yarbrough takes a breath. This is not a simple breath, but a deep breath, an exasperated breath. In that one breath, she sets up listeners for the premise of the entire album. The Black community is under pressure, being cooked, and we are tired.
Title: Spider Tales Artist: Jake Blount Label: Free Dirt Formats: CD, LP, Digital Release date: May 29, 2020
Jake Blount has teamed up with a group of talented, young, and mostly queer folk musicians to assemble a thoroughly moving and often harrowing collection of songs by Black and indigenous folk musicians. Blount is a rising star in the folk scene, becoming the first Black person to make the finals at the prestigious Appalachian String Band Music Festival (better known as Clifftop), and the first to win in the traditional band category. Three years later, he placed first in the banjo contest, playing three tunes from Black banjoists including Dink Robert’s “Roustabout,” which appears on Spider Tales, Blount’s first full solo album.
Title: L.E.S. Douze Volume 2 Artist: Le String Noise Label: Nouveau Electric Formats: CD, Digital Release date: April 17, 2020
The Stone is a Lower East Side experimental music venue that has no bar and allows no speaking – the music is the sole focus. It was in this environment that artist-in-residence Louis Michot and the three other members of Le String Noise recorded their latest release, L.E.S. Douze Volume 2. The ensemble is a collaboration between fiddler and vocalist Louis Michot of Lost Bayou Ramblers, violinists Pauline Kim and Conrad Harris of String Noise, and cellist and vocalist Leyla McCalla, alumna of the Carolina Chocolate Drops and Our Native Daughters.
Title: Blue Sky Artist: Reverend Shawn Amos & The Brotherhood Label: Put Together Music Formats: CD, LP, MP3 Release date: April 17, 2020
Self-proclaimed blues preacher Shawn Amos returns to his Americana, singer-songwriter roots on his latest album, Blue Sky. Since his 2018 release, The Reverend Shawn Amos Breaks It Down, Amos shifted his home base to Texas and has been touring nonstop with a faithful band of compatriots. Designated The Brotherhood, this group includes drummer Brady Blade (Dave Matthews, Indigo Girls), bassist Christopher “CT” Thomas (Norah Jones, Macy Gray), and Amos’s longtime guitarist Chris “Doctor” Roberts. Collaborating with additional friends and family, Rev and The Brotherhood traverse spiritual and emotional territory littered with heartbreak, displacement and redemption.
Multi-instrumentalist and music historian Don Flemons, otherwise known as “The American Songster” and co-founder of the Carolina Chocolate Drops, has become one of the foremost experts and practitioners of African American folk music traditions. Flemons garnered a Grammy nomination and multiple awards for his last solo project, Black Cowboys(2018). Now Flemons is offering his first compilation, Prospect Hill: The American Songster Omnibus, which includes his Prospect Hill solo album from 2014, the EP What Got Overoriginally released on vinyl as a 2015 Record Store Day premium, and a new collection of twelve previously unissued instrumental tracks he’s pulled together under the title The Drum Major Instinct. If you didn’t score copies of these records when they first dropped, you should definitely pick up this nicely packaged two-disc set with extensive liner notes by Flemons and Vania Kinard and evocative tintype photographs by Timothy Duffy.