Anyone who has followed our site over the past year knows that managing editor Greg Jones is a big fan of sincere singer songwriters. Being able to find someone who can deliver a witty or thoughtful lyric over a well-played acoustic guitar is bound to get some interest around here. When you add to that a couple of guys who are just class acts, you are bound to have awesome results. Check out these two incredible EPs from the emerging folk music world.
Kyle Cox – Trio and Friends
-This album was a live-tracked trio album expressing some of Kyle’s most exciting and fun songs. Written as an homage to classic country and Americana music, Trio and Friends is an album meant to garner the respect of all of us. I think it deserves just that respect. The opening track “Trusty Ol’ Pair of Boots” is about, of course, Kyle’s wife. Seriously. But it’s a lot more romantic that it sounds like it would be. It’s about faithfulness and perseverance, written with the kind of tongue in cheek humor that defined the 60s country music world and it even has the rapid strum style of Johnny Cash (and company). It’s off to a great start.
“The One I Left Behind” taps into a different mood, but nevertheless has a sweet and endearing style to it. If you were at a mid century barn dance, this would be the song you’d dance to with the one that brung ya (so to speak). It’s also a heartbreak song. The whole trio really works on this one. The backing vocals are so 60s that you are almost guaranteed to smile. “The Artist” is more of a sophisticated tune. It reminds me of George Jones with more of a troubadour spirit to it. The steel guitar is great on this track. The recording puns are strong with this one, too. I am a big fan of the female harmony on this track, too. The final track “Richest Man Alive” is one of the songs of the year for me (no joke). It’s such a perfect country song. I hope that it gets some big time airplay in all the right places. It’s a song about what we value, who we love, and where we’re going in life. Seriously if you can’t get behind a song like this, I don’t even know why you’re reading this right now. It’s amazing.
Jeremiah Daly – Chicago Tapes
-Every once in a while you meet a songwriter who can just speak to you. The opening of this minimal acoustic album is “The Road,” a sonic and lyric adventure that draws the listener in to the album right away. You immediately can tell that Daly writes with impeccable sincerity and conviction. When the second track “King” begins, I can’t help but compare him with someone like James Taylor with a bit more of high art style rather than a pop flavor. Even still, “King” rolls and envelops itself with a kind of intricacy that is all too familiar. “I don’t know what someone would want with me…” It’s a personal, deep and honest reflection that doesn’t seep and mourn like emo, but inspires along the lines of Noah Gundersen’s writing.
“Passerby” is a beautiful folk song. It’s about life on the road and adjusting to all the constant change. Daly studies that life with an interesting complexity that gets more and more alluring with each listener. It’s about seeing other people’s lives – relationships and spaces – as an observer and fearing what might happen for him one day. The way he writes about personal insecurity is so powerful I really don’t have better words for it. You just need to listen to it. “Matter” is a bluesy track that reminds me of the Delta. There’s a darkness that looms over the song’s chord structure and personal travails. The lyric “I’ve been running all my life… I’ve seen my kingdom come.” I don’t want to work to hard to interpret the lyrics, but it definitely has a spiritual edge to it. I can’t help but wonder if it’s about the artist or perhaps a biblical character. Either way, it’s fascinating and gripping. The final track “Without Wear” is particularly good; the music is structurally satisfying with some chords that evoke a gentle conversation. But the lyrics, as usual with Daly, are really captivating. Since I talked to Daly about his full length last year, I have a pretty good idea what the song is about. The way he confronts a sort of “one that got away” sentiment is honestly tragic and sweet. It’s also the song on the album where his vocals sound the most like Gundersen and David Ramirez. That’s some pretty damn good company.
I love both of these albums. Pick them up and support these incredible artists!!!