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Americana reviews provided by 88.9FM KRFC’s own Scott Foley, host of Routes and Branches, Saturdays 4-6pm.

>  Gretchen Peters, Hello Cruel World
Peters actually emerged from the Colorado folk scene several years ago, and has since become a celebrated writer, primarily for mainstream country sorts (most successfully penning the frequently misunderstood “Independence Day”  with Martina McBride.  Like Matraca Berg, Peters only occasionally issues albums under her own name, though they’re typically critically lauded.  I would actually liken her music to a storyteller like Tom Russell, with whom Peters released a 2008 album of duets.  She is joined here by musicians Viktor Krauss, Will Kimbrough and Byron House, as well as vocalists Kim Richey and Rodney Crowell, with whom she sings a duet for the album’s highlight.  Gretchen Peters will tour through Denver (and Carbondale) in April.  Recommended.
Produced by:  Doug Lancio, Gretchen Peters and Barry Walsh
Label:  Scarlet Letter
File Under:  Americana

>  Cam Penner, Gypsy Summer
The Canadian singer-songwriter and his 4th album was the subject of a nice piece on NPR recently, ” … his parents owned and ran an illegal roadhouse and his grandfather made and sold his own moonshine within a small Manitoba Mennonite town.”  Penner balances the gruff with the gentle, with lyrics exploring some of the Big Questions and a guitar that could whisper or buzz depending on the song.  Like much Canadian americana, there is a definite folk side to Penner’s music as well.
Produced by:  Cam Penner
Label:  Self
File Under:  Americana

>  Ruthie Foster, Let It Burn
Foster is one of those blessedly difficult to categorize artists, who sounds at home in every genre.  Of the 13 cuts on this new album, she has written only three, with typically wide-ranging covers from writers from Black Keys to Adele, with June Carter and David Crosby in between.  Recorded in New Orleans, Foster’s sixth album (fifth studio) is her most intimate yet, focused on her rich vocals, paired with William Bell on one track and Blind Boys of Alabama on four more.  Fully soulful, from blues to gospel and folk.
Produced by:  John Chelew
Label:  Blue Corn
File Under:  Americana

>  James Low Western Front, Whiskey Farmer
From the band, “The band may reside in the lush climes of Portland, Oregon, but their musical watershed is sourced by Nashville and Bakersfield.  Their sound shuffles, grooves and sweats with the best of them, begging to be played through the in-dash stereo of a pickup truck.”  A couple nice, dusty songs that could merit air love, featuring a couple of Portland’s most respected backing musicians, including producer Coykendall and Lewi Longmire.
Produced by:  Mike Coykendall
Label:  Union Made
File Under:  Americana

>  Kelly Pardekooper, Yonder
Iowa City native Pardekooper recently relocated to sunny Los Angeles, but brings along much of the imagery and spirit  on his sixth album.  He also borrow’s Iowa’s Bo Ramsey to produce the CD and add electric guitar throughout.  To quote No Depression’s website, “Kelly’s new album Yonder is some of the best Americana folk-country-blues-rock-roll-soul-rumble I’ve heard in a while.”  Like Bo’s other friend and cohort, Greg Brown, there is a gruff and bluesy nature to Pardekooper’s voice, as well as his electric guitar.
Produced by:  Bo Ramsey
Label:  Leisure Time
File Under:  Americana

>  Various Artists, This One’s For Him: Tribute To Guy Clark
This remarkable treasure has been years in the making, bringing together a perfect storm of participants to pay tribute to the music of the legendary Texas songwriter.  Absolutely nobody messes around with Clark’s songs, with all contributors offering reverent takes on his masterpieces (rather than “interpretations”).  Where this could come off as stale and boring, you’ll have to trust me that it truly doesn’t.  There are weeks of great tunes for your shows, from artists such as Steve Earle, James McMurtry, Patty Griffin, Joe Ely, Robert Earl Keen, etc etc etc.  One of the best tribute albums issued in recent years and Recommended.  (ps.  every single track is already entered in Spinitron.  If you can’t find it, you’re probably doing it wrong).  (ps, too  Sadly, the promoter only sent us the CDs and poorly printed notes without a proper case.  I’ll try to track one down, but keep an eye open for an unassuming and nondescript package).
Produced by:  Tamara Saviano & Shawn Camp
Label:  Icehouse
File Under:  Americana