It’s a bit of a slow week for new albums, at least where country music is concerned; but really, who can hope to follow up a masterpiece like Zach Bryan’s “American Heartbreak”? Steve Earle & the Dukes are taking on that challenge this week, and, might I say, succeeding? Last week was killer for new music, but this week is slowing things down a bit. It’s a bit of a chill release day, so take this time to relax into some new music.
New Albums for May 27, 2022
- Steve Earle & The Dukes – “Jerry Jeff” (New West Records)
- Wilco – “Cruel Country” (dBpm)
- Liam Gallagher – “C’mon You Know” (Warner)
- Corner House – “How Beautiful It’s Been”
- Building Rockets – “How to Bridge the Gap” (Juste Comme Ça Records)
- Def Leppard – “Diamond Star Halos” (Universal Music Enterprises)
Just a few releases, but they’re good ones, I promise. For something completely different, try “Heart Under” from indie outfit Just Mustard, “Cancer Culture” from metal group Decapitated, or “Where the Heart Is” from Philly alternative emo band Sweet Pill.
Steve Earle & The Dukes – “Jerry Jeff”
While this album isn’t my usual fare, it’s definitely something special for fans of both Steve Earle and Jerry Jeff Walker. Earle is in the midst of making albums honoring his heroes, and, according to Earle, Jerry Jeff Walker is a big one. He told Vulture, “I wanted to be Jerry Jeff Walker more than anything else in the world for several years.” The record covers some of Walker’s most popular songs, like “Mr. Bojangles” and “Gettin’ By,” and what I assume are some of Steve Earle’s favorites. Earle’s distinct voice lends the songs a rough, almost wrung-out quality, and the instrumentation is a clear and strong accompaniment. Overall, “Jerry Jeff” is a wonderful tribute to Jerry Jeff Walker, but is still wholly unique to Steve Earle & The Dukes.
Corner House – “How Beautiful It’s Been”
This debut album from Boston-based quartet Corner House draws on Scottish- and bluegrass-inspired instrumentation to create a shared experience of growth and community. Lead singer Ethan Hawkins has a uniquely raspy voice that lends itself to the album’s lively fiddle and guitar; it’s a journey through the band members’ life experiences and shows us how they’ve overcome. Corner House uses instrumental tracks to add breaks between each song, creating an introspective moment between lyric tracks. There, the band’s Celtic influences are clear in the resounding fiddle and cello, but also in the folksy mandolin picking. “How Beautiful It’s Been” is a truly delightful debut from four people who seem like equally delightful human beings.
Wilco – “Cruel Country”
When you think Wilco you don’t immediately think “country,” but, according to the band, country music has been a constant influence over the years. Now, they’ve made their country album, and it blends Wilco’s familiar alternative writing style with a new country/bluegrass-inspired backdrop. This album takes on a loose history of the United States, almost chronologically, over its 20 tracks. “There is no middle when the other side / Would rather kill than compromise,” sings Jeff Tweedy in the song “Hints.” It’s a powerful narrative, but it’s also poetic, and I think it’s just what we need right now.