in my soul there’s music everywhere

On his latest release, In the Cool of the Day, Cold Spring, Kentucky’s Daniel Martin Moore explores his roots, tapping into the sound of the south and the long shadow of religion that informs the culture. Though the lyrics are often explicitly religious, Moore never gets preachy and the beauty of the songs transcends the words, making it highly enjoyable for even those of a non-Christian persuasion.

The instrumental framework of In the Cool of the Day is what you’d expect for a Southern Americana album – acoustic guitar, banjo, piano, strings, drums, voice. What you don’t necessarily expect is the all-star talent putting the instruments to use – Yim Yames, Ben Sollee, and Haley Bonar among them.

The 50s pop-ballad vibe of “Closer Walk With Thee” makes it seem like hanging out with Jesus would be just tops, while the title track is a bit more reverent with its minor chords. “Dark Road” is a lively country rambler, and “Up Above My Head” sounds like something from a front-porch jam session.

My favorite contributions to the album are the songs written by Moore. The a capella open of “All Ye Tenderhearted” is gorgeous, further bolstered by the banjo, mandolin, and guitar that join in. “Lay Down Your Lonesome Burden” is a beautiful instrumental musing, and the humble, bluesy “O My Soul” is a must-hear. Regardless of your spiritual leanings, In the Cool of the Day will make you a believer in Daniel Martin Moore.

In the Cool of the Day drops 01.18.11.
You can download “Dark Road” here.

there’s one last love song hidden in my head

When you think of Brooklyn, the first thing to come to mind probably isn’t bluegrass-infused americana – but maybe it should be. On Overcome, The Jones Street Boys meld elements of folk, country, and bluegrass with pavement-pounding urban flare to yield a sound that is distinctly American.

Case in point is the last track on the album, “Tall Buildings”. Though the melody is familiar, the lyrics have a slant that ring true with any reluctant hipster who gives in to growing up (“sell me a suit / cut off my hair / send me to work in tall buildings”).

There is a wide musical range in the choice of songs, from the organ, harmonica, and bubbling banjo on “River Wide”, the quiet introspection of “Overcome” and “Hello Lonesome”, and the rougher vocals and distinctly bluegrass feel of “Last Time”. Vocal duties are more or less evenly traded off between the warm and deep sound of Jon Hull’s voice and sharper and reedier style of Danny Erker, with a healthy dose of group harmonies thrown in for good measure. Overall there is a nice balance and chemistry amongst the quintet.

Overcome is a great choice for those who want to dig into their roots without having to endure the twang and hokeyness so often associated with country and bluegrass.

Overcome dropped 10/2/2007.

You can stream the entire album at their site.

Click on the links to download Last Time and Argentina.