10-Harmony Woods - "Graceful Rage"
I was going to write if you wanted to hear what Dashboard Confessional would sound like if fronted by a girl, but I think we have already crossed that line with him. There is more of an honest folk feel to the songs penned with clever lyrics that do not get too bogged down in girl power.
9- Emma Ruth Rundle - "Engine of Hell"
After her collaborations with Thou it makes sense that she would need to strip things down to simpler terms and just record more introspective songs with a piano and guitar. The guitar-oriented songs are the stronger of the two, as the piano ones are too delicate for her own good, but even this exercise in getting back to basics is better than most can do.
8-Lana Del Rey - " Chemtrails Over the Country Club
Mood wise this album makes me think she has been paying attention to Taylor Swift's quarantine output. Sure, there are some familiar sounds though these are piano based ballads that shine most when they find their dreamy grooves that have been dialed back through a filter of Xanax.
7- Sturgill Simpson - "the Ballad of Dood & Juanita"
6- Wardruna - "Kvitravn"
A folk album so entrenched in ancient tribalism it would be easy to get lost in the ritualistic nature of the sounds and not be aware of the songs. That is not the case here. They have taken a page from Dead Can Dance in this regard. There is a sense of movement that creates a primal groove and layers added to create dynamics. This is the band's first album on a major label, Columbia Records. This is no way has caused them to try to make music more accessible to western audiences.
5-the Killers - "Pressure Machine"
This is an interesting time in their career to check them out as they peaked popularity wise so that gives them more room to play around with what they do. It seems here on their 7th album they have decided to do just that write a folk-rock album about Flower's childhood in the heartland. Harmonica driven ballads is not what they are known for so imagine my surprise finding this out. I do have a thing for artists and their weird phases like disco Kiss and new wave Alice Cooper, so add country Killers to the list.
3-Bridge City Sinners - "Unholy Hymns"
There is a great deal of maturation in the evolution of this band on many levels. Production wise to songwriting. This doesn't sound like a bunch of train hopping punks with banjos. What has been sacrificed in terms of the raw grit they once had has been replaced by a lusher sound and wider range of influences. Namely this vaudevillian jazz that gives these songs more of a swing.
2-Rome - "Parlez-vous Hate"
Long time fans might feel the neo folk project is selling out by not making the kind of bleakly obtuse that put them in line for Death in June's throne. It does seem like these songs were written with breaking through in the America. There is even a song that kind of parodies Bruce Springteen's "Born in the USA" But all the above works for me as it is very hooky and concisely written songs.
1-Amigo the Devil -"Born Against"
After "Everything's Fine" the bar is pretty high going into this one. There is a bigger slicker production sometimes bringing more of a rock dynamic sometimes sounding like a drunk romp arounds the streets of New Orleans. His singing is more dynamic, and lyrics refined his sense of storytelling to bring fresh wallop to the punch of his songs here and worth many repeat listens.