Americana legends and luminaries release moving and inspiring work this week, including a new album by Norah Jones, a new single and lyric video by Shemekia Copeland, a new video from Lori McKenna, a tribute to John Hartford by Leftover Salmon and Nick Lowe, Paul Carrack and Bill Kirchen unfurl a rendition of a Merle Haggard classic.
Norah Jones is back with the album Pick Me Up Off The Floor. The nine-time Grammy winner packed the album with an arsenal of songs bathed in her velvet croon. Jeff Tweedy and Brian Blade collaborated with Jones to create the album’s lush thicket of sound. Watch the official video for “To Live” staring drummer Nate Smith, bassist Jesse Murphy, trumpeter Dave Guy, and tenor saxophonist Leon Michels.
Norah Jones has had a busy 2020. Earlier in the year, Norah Jones released the album Sister with her band Puss N Boots and recently contributed a cover of the song That’s the Way the World Goes Round for a John Prine tribute.
Shemekia Copeland delivers a powerful call for unity in her new song, “Uncivil War.” Released on Juneteenth Copeland explains, "It's not just a song. I’m trying to put the 'united' back in the United States. Like many people, I miss the days when we treated each other better. For me, this country’s all about people with differences coming together to be part of something we all love. That’s what really makes America beautiful.”
Songwriting powerhouse Lori McKenna pens some of her most personal work on the forthcoming album The Balladeer available July 24. For the album, McKenna summoned personal life stories about marriage, motherhood, and family. Commenting on the lyrical vulnerability of the album, McKenna reflects, “I’m at the age now where you can see really well where you’re going because you’re helping your parents and you’ve lived through what your kids are doing. It’s this weird emotional time where you’re like a bookkeeper, writing it all down, trying to make sense of it, and add it all up somehow.”
Lori McKenna won back to back Grammy Awards for Best Country Song with 2016’s “Girl Crush” performed by Little Big Town and 2017’s “Humble and Kind” performed by Tim McGraw. Fellow Grammy winner Dave Cobb produced The Balladeer at the world-renowned RCA Studio A. McKenna’s immense talent for blending emotionally resonate lyrics and moving instrumentation is on grand display in her single “Good Fight.”
Musician, author, singer, songwriter, steamboat pilot, dancer, calligrapher, disc jockey, folklorist and historian, John Hartford’s legacy is a rich tapestry of influence. A pioneering troubadour who wed the avant-garde ethos of the hippie movement to traditional hillbilly music. “Without the album Aereo-plane, there would be no newgrass music,” says Sam Bush.
To celebrate John Hartford’s life and honor his musical legacy LoHi Records will release On The Road: A Tribute To John Hartford on June 26. A diverse lineup of artists brings new life and imagination to 14 songs from Hartford’s career-spanning catalog. Artists such as Jamie Hartford, Todd Snider, Sam Bush, John Carter Cash, Leftover Salmon, The Travelin’ McCourys, Keller Williams, Yonder Mountain String Band, Jerry Douglas, Norman Blake, The Infamous Stringdusters, Railroad Earth, The Band Of Heathens, Fruition and more.
LoHi Records is donating all proceeds to MusiCares, an organization helping musicians in need and crisis. “This is going to call on our better angels to come out during this time,” says Vince Herman. “I hope we all are feeling that we’re all in the same boat, and we either sink or swim together.”
The Titan of the Telecaster and King of Dieselbilly Bill Kirchen earned his monikers. Kirchen and his Big Tex Telecaster ignited Americana, the Rockabilly revival, Punk, and Alt-Country. The Proper Years a three-album retrospective encapsulating Bill Kirchen’s genre-busting 50-year career will be released on July 24.
The collection contains the somber Merle Haggard classic Shelly’s Winter Love sung by Nick Lowe and Paul Carrack, and Kirchen’s famous guitar accompanies. Kirchen, attesting to the moving performances of Lowe and Carrack, said, “This reading of Shelly’s Winter Love may be the only time someone has sung a Haggard tune where I liked the vocal better than the original.”
Cory Martin is a freelance writer in Nashville, Tenn., writing about movies, music and pop culture.