It’s not officially summer yet, but the sunny days ahead will be perfect for road trips, cookouts and summer jams. Here are 10 upcoming Americana albums we can’t wait to hear, preferably with a cooler of cold ones in arm’s reach.
Cowboy Jack Clement, For Once and for All (July 15)
Clement wrote Johnny Cash’s “Guess Things Happen That Way” and produced Waylon Jennings’ Dreaming My Dreams album, so he’s earned a place in heaven as well as in the Country Music Hall of Fame. For all his accomplishments, he was not much of an album-oriented artist and finally got around to his debut in his late 40s. For Once and for All, his first posthumous release and only his third long-player overall, represents a major addition to his catalog, featuring new recordings of old tunes like “Miller’s Cave” and “The Spell of the Freight Train.”
Christopher Denny, If the Roses Don’t Kill Us (Aug. 5)
In 2007, Arkansas native Denny released his debut Age Old Hunger, a collection of covers and sharp country-soul originals sung in a gravity-defying warble somewhere between Jimmie Dale Gilmore and Slim Whitman. Over the next seven years, he battled alcohol and drug addiction that threatened to ravage his voice and even end his life. Fortunately, he got clean, recorded a follow-up and signed to Partisan Records. Rather than dwelling on the darkness of those years, If the Roses Don’t Kill Us sounds like a celebration of triumphing over demons.
The Duhks, Beyond the Blue (June 24)
The term “world music” is usually applied to non-Western artists, yet Canadian fusion band the Duhks have a truly global range. On their fifth LP, Beyond the Blue, they mix North American folk and bluegrass traditions with Celtic melodies and Afro-Cuban and South American rhythms. This is their first album in six years, following numerous lineup changes and a long band hiatus, but the group welcomed back original vocalist Jessee Havey for this comeback record.
First Aid Kit, Stay Gold (June 10)
For their third album, Swedish sisters Klara and Johanna Söderberg — better known to the world as First Aid Kit — returned to Omaha, Neb., to work with Mike Mogis (Bright Eyes, Monsters of Folk), who helmed the duo’s 2012 breakthrough,The Lion’s Roar. Despite those familiar surroundings and personnel, Stay Gold doesn’t sound like a retread of that album’s sunny ‘70s country-rock sound. In fuller and more ambitious arrangements, the siblings address more mature themes, including the homesickness that comes with touring and the self-reckoning that comes with success. (Watch “My Silver Lining.”)
John Hiatt, Terms of My Surrender (July 15)
Like fine wine, cast-iron pans and cowboy boots, Hiatt seems to get better with age. Exactly 40 years after releasing his debut album, he is set to unleash his 22nd, Terms of My Surrender, which shows off that grizzled voice on 11 new, mostly acoustic songs produced by his longtime guitar player Doug Lancio. Songs like “Face of God” and “Baby’s Gonna Kick” prove that his wry sense of humor hasn’t dulled with the years, nor has his incredible insight into what makes his wily character tick.
Imelda May, Tribal (July 29)
What Amy Winehouse did for old soul music, May is doing for rockabilly. On her fourth album, the Dublin singer-songwriter rocks like Gwen Stefani fronting the Stray Cats, roaring her lyrics over a fat upright bass line and a juvenile-delinquent guitar. Using rockabilly as a foundation, Tribal also veers wildly from dramatic torch songs and sugary Buddy Holly pop to buzzy surf-rockand hot-rod punk. (Watch “It’s Good to Be Alive.”)
Willie Nelson, Band of Brothers (June 17)
Even into his 80s, Nelson still seems to manage to release about 50 albums a year, give or take 48. Amid his ever-growing catalog, Band of Brothers stands out as significant. Of the 14 songs on the album, nine are brand-new original compositions. “The Wall” is a standout, as Nelson surveys the triumphs as well as the wreckage of his long career. The last album to feature so many new originals was 1996’s Spirit, a career highlight, so expectations are certainly high. (Hear “The Wall.”)
Old Crow Medicine Show, Remedy (July 1)
Following the success of Old Crow Medicine Show’s reimagining of “Wagon Wheel,” Bob Dylan sent the band a snippet of lyrics he’d written more than 40 years ago for his soundtrack to Pat Garrett & Billy the Kid. His request: Old Crow should put a melody and some music to it and see if lightning could strike twice. The result is “Sweet Amarillo,” an accordion-drenched standout on Remedy. They’ll celebrate the release date on the stage of the Grand Ole Opry. (Hear “Sweet Amarillo.”)
Shovels & Rope, Swimmin’ Time (Aug. 26)
Two years ago, the husband-wife team known as Shovels & Rope — Michael Trent and Cary Ann Hearst, as the marriage license reads — unleashed a fierce, funny and affecting album called O Be Joyful, then toured constantly and won two Americana Music Awards. Already they’re making good on the buzz with Swimmin’ Time, which they recorded at their home studio in Charleston, S.C. Again, they played most of the instruments themselves, preserving that raw, raucous sound. Presumably their beloved hound, Townes Van Zandt, howls along.
Trampled by Turtles, Wild Animals (July 15)
Duluth, Minn., isn’t big enough for its favorite string band to dodge its favorite indie-rock lifers for very long, so it was only a matter of time before Trampled by Turtles teamed up with Low. Trampled by Turtles’ seventh studio album, Wild Animals, features production by the Low’s Alan Sparhawk, who adds subtle flourishes to the Turtles’ sophisticated arrangements while subtly drawing the band away from its bluegrass sound.