Last week, I realized I was discriminating against our lone female act of the week, the fabulous Amy Black, when I titled my essay “Soul Men” and focused on the Bo-Keys and some of the other dudes who were getting set to play. Amy jokingly called me on it after the show, and that was fine. I apologized for the way the editorial cookie had crumbled. This week the wonderful band Frontier Ruckus is gonna be the overlooked minority in the room when they make their return. Because besides their manly selves, our lineup is made up of a bunch of talented, vivacious women. And I just gotta talk about them.
Tara Nevins has the most experience among the bunch. She’s the long time singer/songwriter and multi-instrumentalist who co-fronts the awesome Donna The Buffalo. They’ve played MCR twice and they always bring out the dancers with their Cajun pulse. But this time Tara is showcasing songs from her new solo album, her first in about 12 years. Co-produced with Americana all-star Larry Campbell, it’s a wonderful effort that retains some of the Buffalo groove but lets us hear some fresh sides of her musical vision.
Two other lasses are making return visits to the show, and both have seen their profile rise significantly since we last saw them. Angela Easterling, belle of Greenville, SC, has a golden glowing voice and she writes observant songs about contemporary life. She can weave urban sprawl and cultural shifts into songs as gingerly as love and relationships. She’s taken her very promising career to a new level with her new album Beguiler, and we expect to be beguiled on Wed. Same goes for Amanda Shires, whose recent Carrying Lightning album has been all the rage in the indie rock and country press. “This year’s breakout star from the old school,” says My Old Kentucky Blog, and Justin Townes Earle calls her a diamond. And not in the rough. She’s a gorgeous woman with melodies to match.
There are many reasons to get excited about the two newcomers to Roots this week as well. Vietti emerging artist Natasha Borzilova is a Russian native who came to Nashville well over a decade ago as part of the extraordinary newgrass/country band Bering Strait. They earned some real attention before having to part ways. And Natasha has used the years since to hone a truly unique songwriter’s voice. Also sounding like nobody else is Lera Lynn, a sultry cool songwriter from Athens, GA who is having a breakthrough year. She took a first place at the Chris Austin Songwriting Contest at Merlefest and then an Americana prize at the Athens Music Awards. Her stuff has a gothic edge and reminds me a bit of the shivering country rock of Caitlin Rose. I really can’t wait to see her, or the rest of our lovely lineup for that matter. The interviews ought to be rather painless as well.