Another stunning week of new releases headlined by a new album by Will Hoge, a new addition to the Great American Song Book by Old Crow Medicine Show, an album 46 years in the making by Neil Young, and new singles by the Allman Betts Band and the Old 97’s.
In April WMOT had the honor to host Will Hoge for Public Radio Music Day, where he teased us with two songs from his forthcoming album Tiny Little Movies June 26, 2020. Hoge played “The Curse,” a foot-stomping arena-ready anthem and the tender ballad “Even the River Runs Out of this Town.” In his newest single “The Overthrow” Hoge mixes sharp-tongued lyrics about televangelists and “Darth Vader with a spray tan” over a bed of chunky Led Zeppelin guitar riffs. When asked about the song Hoge joked, “That one’s not getting played on country radio.”
As a response to the global pandemic and economic crisis, NPR started the Morning Edition Song Project. Musicians have been asked to pen songs reflecting on the condition America is in and try to make sense of it. Nashville’s Old Crow Medicine Show gifted us with “Pray for America.” Each verse is tinged in a pervasive melancholy, but the chorus glistens with punctuations of hope, the dichotomy reflects our reality. Lead singer Ketch Secor said, “What I really wanted to do was to write a song that felt like 'God Bless America,' but I also wanted to have a little 'This Land is Your Land,' too,” Secor went on to describe the importance of adding to the Great American Songbook, "I think we, as songwriters, got to keep adding to the canon of songs about America because we need to update it.” These are troubling times and we need new songs about our country to inspire unity."
Old Crow Medicine Show made a music video shot entirely in Nashville to accompany the single. They have also been channeling their creativity into the Hartland Hootenanny, a live show broadcast on YouTube and Facebook, airing Saturday nights at 7:00 PM CST
After 46 years the wait is over Neil Young finally releases his long-lost album Homegrown. “I apologize. This album Homegrown should have been there for you a couple of years after Harvest. It’s the sad side of a love affair. The damage done. The heartache. I just couldn’t listen to it,” said Young. “I wanted to move on. So I kept it to myself, hidden away in the vault, on the shelf, in the back of my mind….but I should have shared it. It’s actually beautiful. That’s why I made it in the first place. Sometimes life hurts. You know what I mean. This is the one that got away.”
The album is made up of twelve Neil Young songs, seven are previously unreleased - “Separate Ways,” “Try,” “Mexico,” “Kansas,” “We Don’t Smoke It No More,” “Vacancy” and “Florida.” Also included are the very first recordings of “Homegrown,” “White Line,” “Little Wing,” “Love Is A Rose,” and “Star Of Bethlehem” – all of which maintain the vibe of the Homegrown sessions. Young is joined by a band of friends on other tracks, including Levon Helm, Ben Keith, Karl T Himmel, Tim Drummond, Emmylou Harris and Robbie Robertson.
The Allman Betts Band has announced their second full-length studio album titled Bless Your Heart, available August 28. Recorded in the fabled Muscle Shoals Sound Studio on 2-inch tape, laying down 13 songs in one week.
The first single, “Magnolia Road” evokes the group’s affection for The Band and the Grateful Dead. An accompanying animated music video for “Magnolia Road” is under the influence of The Beatles Yellow Submarine movie and it feels like the Grateful Dead “Dancing Bear” could bob through at any moment.
Twelfth, the aptly named 12th album by Alt-Country stalwarts the Old 97’s swaggers out August 21. Recorded at Sputnik Sound in Nashville, Rhett Miller, and his longtime bandmates—bassist Murry Hammond, guitarist Ken Bethea, and drummer Philip Peeples—teamed up once again with GRAMMY-winning producer Vance Powell. The group says the album tackles classic Old 97’s themes such as “sex and booze, laughter and tears, poetry and blasphemy.”
New single and video for “Turn Off the TV” directed by Liam Lynch features Puddles the Clown, archival footage of the band throughout their career, and a few of their celebrity friends.
Dallas Cowboys quarterback (Number 12) Roger Staubach graces the album cover. Miller joked about the potential backlash for such a decision, “I know that by putting him on the cover, we’ll be alienating a lot of fans in Philadelphia, Washington, D.C…,” he says with a smile “But I feel like it transcends that. It was such a long time ago.”
Cory Martin is a freelance writer in Nashville, Tenn., writing about movies, music and pop culture.