January 21, 2020


By Kristi Kates | March 4, 2017

Little Big Town – The Breaker – Capitol Nashville
It’s not a jawbreaker candy, nor the kind of breaker that arrives during a windy day on the lake; Little Big Town’s latest is about the things that break a person, from relationships ending to being overworked at a job. Produced by Jay Joyce, the album is a thoughtful and thought-provoking set that gives a nod to the band’s supportive fans and family. First single “Better Man” written by Taylor Swift does lean slightly toward the band’s previous, more pop-focused effort, but otherwise this is definitely a country set from the Alabama quartet. ***

Rhiannon Giddens – Freedom Highway – Nonesuch
Digging deep into historical stories of the oppressed, Giddens’ latest is by turns direct and poetically deceptive. With one song, she sets the scenario directly on the line right in front of you (“Julie”); with the next, she camouflages parts of the tale beneath incongruous melodies only to reveal the (often sadly stunning) punch line when you least expect it (“Love We Almost Had”). This is by no means a casual Sunday afternoon listen, nor an easy one, but it’s well crafted, ambitious, and most definitely timely. ** ½

Tedeschi Trucks Band – Live from the Fox Oakland – Fantasy Records
Late last year, Tedeschi Trucks Band put on a performance that many of its fans call its best to date. Fortunately for all, that show was committed to an album recorded in top-notch style with great and expansive sound mixing and a solid setlist that includes favorites like “Just as Strange,” “You Ain’t Going Nowhere,” “Leavin’ Trunk” and “Don’t Know What It Means.” The superfans among you will appreciate the bonuses with this album, most notably a concert film with extra tunes not included on the audio tracklisting. ** ½

Josh Turner – Deep South – MCA Nashville
Singer Turner has long been able to blend traditional country-western sounds with a modern twist. He continues that approach on his sixth album, which he says represents “the simpler things in life.” The tunes and lyrics here are pretty simple and for the most part not particularly impressive, but they still reflect Turner’s aim, from the Southern sweet tea and fried chicken mentioned in one track to the faith-based musings in another. The set includes his current chart-climbing single “Hometown Girl” as well as the South Carolina-seasoned songs “All About You,” “Beach Bums” and “Never Had a Reason.” **


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