Tift Merritt's gifts for songcraft and perfectly pitched delivery are old news at this point, but it's good to know that she can still turn a phrase and break a heart 15 years into her career. She and partner Eric Heywood offer up three acoustic songs from her latest "Stitch of the World." Songs performed are "Dusty Old Man," "My Boat" and "Wait for Me." Engineered by Jon Valley. Recorded on March 1, 2017 at KDHX in St. Louis, Missouri.
Alejandro Escovedo's long career has led him through strains of punk, folk and Americana, but for 2016's Burn Something Beautiful he channels rangy, guitar-heavy rock & roll. He's joined on that album by Peter Buck (R.E.M.) and Scott McCaughey (Minus 5), but for this session it's just him and his acoustic guitar. Songs performed on this episode are "Farewell to the Good Times," "Heartbeat Smile" and "Beauty and the Buzz." Recorded on November 13, 2016 at KDHX in St. Louis, Missouri. Engineered by Jon Valley.
When Amanda Shires isn't on stage -- performing her own songs or in support of her husband Jason Isbell or the legendary John Prine -- she pursues her MFA in creative writing; on her latest LP, My Piece of Land, she walks the line between biography and fiction. Shires sings three new songs and talks at length about her writing process, life on the road and much more. Songs performed are "Harmless," "Pale Fire" and "When You're Gone." Recorded on November 3, 2016 at KDHX in St. Louis, Missouri. Engineered by Andy Coco.
On her debut album "Beyond the Bloodhounds," singer and guitarist Adia Victoria uses an updated and dark-tinted brand of electric blues to tell her stories and consider the intersections of her black, Southern, female identities. On this episode, we'll talk with Adia Victoria about the legacy of music as social protest in the era of Black Lives Matter. Songs performed are "Dead Eyes," "Head Rot" and "Invisible Hands." Recorded September 25, 2016 at KDHX in St. Louis, Missouri. Engineered by Andy Coco.
Olivia Hally and Pepita Emmerichs combined their first syllables and their musical talents in creating Oh Pep! in their native Melbourne, Australia a few years ago. Both have studied music at the university level but their earliest recordings show an unfussy freedom in adopting folk and Americana forms. On this year's full-length Stadium Cake, the pair embrace a fuller palette of pop sounds while still tackling some big-ticket issues in their lyrics. Songs performed are "Wanting," Doctor Doctor" and "Afterward." Recorded August 3 at KDHX in St. Louis, Missouri. Engineered by Jon Valley.
Will Johnson led the beloved Denton, Texas-based Centro-matic for over 15 years, and after that band's friendly dissolution, he released Swan City Vampires and embarked on a series of living room tours. Johnson will play three songs from that new LP -- "Call, Call, Call," "Nameless, But a Lover" and "Pulleys" on this episode. Recorded on May 25, 2016 at KDHX in St. Louis. Engineered by Andy Coco.
The three Stavely-Taylor sisters -- Emily, Camilla and Jessica -- have been recording as the Staves for a number of years, fusing the austerity of British folk with the rich overtones of their harmonies. Their latest, the three-song EP "Sleeping in a Car," reunites the band with Bon Iver's Justin Vernon, who lends production help on these songs as the Staves move outside of purely acoustic music and embrace electronic and ambient textures. Songs performed for this session are "Make It Holy," "Outlaw" and "America." Recorded on June 25 at KDHX in St. Louis. Engineering by Jon Valley.
Call the Jayhawks an Americana band if you must, but singer Gary Louris is more than likely to sling some German noiseniks your way. The band's latest, "Paging Mr. Proust," was recorded with Peter Buck and Tucker Martine, and Louris' detail-rich songs study the twin poles of stillness and movement. We'll hear three acoustic versions of tracks from that new LP: "Leaving the Monsters Behind," "Lovers of the Sun" and "Comeback Kids." Recorded at KDHX in St. Louis on June 27, 2016. Engineered by Jon Valley.
Robert Ellis' latest album is self-titled; that tidbit, along with a recent divorce, has had critics and writers salivating for a broken-heart narrative. But to hear Ellis tell is, he's still exploring the grey area in relationships, where people struggle to get what they want. We'll talk with Ellis at length and hear three new songs on this week's episode. Songs performed are "Perfect Strangers," "Amanda Jane" and "California." Recorded at KDHX in St. Louis on June 7, 2016. Engineering by Andy Coco, mixing and mastering by Jon Valley.
Oscar Scheller self-records his songs under his first name, and the tracks on this year's Cut & Paste place his elegant baritone voice against scuzzy garage rock and the rainbow-colored remnants of Brit Pop. We caught him on his first full tour of the U.S. whilst opening for Bloc Party, and on this episode he'll talk about his musical upbringing, his fascination with American pop culture and the challenge of adapting home recordings in a full-band setting. Songs performed are "Sometimes," "Breaking My Phone" and "Good Things." Recorded at KDHX in St. Louis on May 24, 2016. Engineered by Andy Coco.
Miles Nielsen leads the rock-and-roots combo the Rusted Hearts through warm, weathered Americana on this year's Heavy Metal. We'll talk with Nielsen and the band about its evolution, its Midwestern sensibilities and growing up in the shadow of Cheap Trick. Songs performed are "Simple Times," "Is This The End" and "Honey Bee." Recorded on May 12, 2016 at KDHX in St. Louis. Engineered by Andy Coco.
Lily Cato leads this New York-based sextet with clear nods to '60s girl-group harmonies and an increasing reliance on taut, muscular synth pop. Parlour Tricks plays three tracks (including one as-yet-unreleased tune) on this week's show, and we talk with Cato and harmony vocalists Darah Golub and Morgane Hollowell about the band's evolution, its rejection of gender-as-genre, and how all the best post-show compliments deal with music theory. Songs performed are "Gone," "Requiem" and "Leave Your Light On." Recorded on March 7, 2016 at KDHX in St. Louis. Engineered by Andy Coco and Paul Roach.
These two singer-songwriters take different approaches to their craft -- Grant-Lee Phillips is often ruminative and mystical, while Poltz treats his songs as a catch-all for his expansive and idiosyncratic worldview. But as tour mates, Phillips and Poltz find commonality both in the songs and in conversation, as this special two-for-one episode of Collector's Edition proves. Phillips performs "Smoke and Sparks" and "Holy Irons" from his latest The Narrows, and Poltz plays "I Want All My Friends to Be Happy" and "Folksinger" from his latest, also called Folksinger. Recorded on February 16, 2016 at KHDX in St. Louis. Recorded by Dan Kinney, mixed and mastered by Haley Hudson.
This Los Angeles-based quartet calls itself the Americans, a broad and startlingly simple name and one that fits the group's catch-all approach to American roots music. After two self-recorded releases, the Americans will issue the studio album "I'll Be Yours" this spring. We talk with all four band members during this session and hear three new, forthcoming songs: "Stowaway," "Harbor Lane" and "I'll Be Yours." Recorded on January 14, 2016 at KDHX in St. Louis, Missouri. Recorded by Andy Coco, remixed by Haley Hudson.
Few bands in St. Louis are as storied and celebrated as the Bottle Rockets. The band was a leading light in the burgeoning alt-country movement in the early '90s and has been consistently releasing records and touring the country for nearly 25 years. The newest LP is called "South Broadway Athletic Club" (named for a local landmark), and the band talks about recording its first album in its hometown. Songs performed are "Monday (Every Time I Turn Around)," "Ship It on the Frisco" and "Dog." Recorded on December 14, 2015 at KDHX in St. Louis, Missouri. Engineered by Dan Kinney.
Alongside woodwind player Jeff Lederer and bassist Paul Sikivie, drummer Matt Wilson leads this seasonally motivated jazz trio through a deep dive of the Christmas song canon, performing traditional carols, modern tunes and folk songs with equal parts wit, irreverence and inventiveness. We'll talk with the band about finding new meaning in old favorites and how Christmas songs have become a different take on the idea of the "jazz standard." Songs performed are "Hark! The Herald Angels Sing," "Si Me Dan Pastellas" and "O Come O Come Emmanuel." Recorded on December 17, 2015 at KDHX in St. Louis, Missouri. Engineered by Andy Coco.
Mikaela Davis came to play the harp at a young age almost by happenstance, but by her teenage years she had figured out how to use the instrument to drive her dreamy, slightly psychedelic pop songs. We'll talk with Davis and her drummer and collaborator Alex Cote about the importance of music education, the influence of Joanna Newsom and her upcoming LP. Songs performed are "When You're Away," "Is This the Way," and "I Don't Want Another Love." Recorded on October 6, 2015 at KDHX in St. Louis, Missouri. Engineered by Andy Coco.
Pure Bathing Culture principals Sarah Versprille and Daniel Hindman talk about stripping back the layers of their band's shimmering, gossamer pop songs on this year's Pray for Rain. Producer John Congleton helped them focus their sound and new additions to the recordings -- Moog bass and live drums, to name two -- give a new bounce to the Portland-based quartet. Songs performed are "Palest Pearl," "She Shakes" and "Pray for Rain." Recorded on October 12, 2015 at KDHX in St. Louis, Missouri. Engineered by Andy Coco.
(Bonus content: Pure Bathing Culture's appearance on Collector's Edition from November 12, 2013)
Emi Night leads the Denver-based quartet Strawberry Runners with a memoirist's approach to the heartfelt and harrowing stories of her own childhood. Her bandmates support these songs with a twee-pop sheen that doesn't undercut the lyrics' emotional heft, and Strawberry Runners' two-song single shows both sides of that coin. The band is about to record its debut LP but were kind enough to play a preview of the forthcoming album. Songs performed are "Dog Days," When We Were Good" and "Your Bed Was Tall." Recorded on October 3, 2015 at KDHX in St. Louis, Missouri. Engineered by Andy Coco.
On The Embers of Time, Josh Rouse pairs his tastefully arranged and sweetly sung songs with lyrics that meditate on artistic identity, personal history and shifting priorities. On this episode, Rouse shares three solo, acoustic songs from the new record and talks about the duality of playing fundamentally American music while residing in Valencia, Spain, where he's lived for over a decade. Songs performed are "New Young," Somedays I'm Golden All Night" and "Crystal Falls." Recorded on September 18 at KDHX in St. Louis, Missouri. Engineered by Andy Coco.
Tim Kasher started the Good Life as a softer, more bare-bones approach compared to the work he was doing in Cursive, but the band came to be more than a mere side-project. Mid-2000s Albums like Black Out and Album of the Year showed melodic and thematic adventurousness, but the Good Life had been dormant since 2007. This year's Everybody's Coming Down finds the core quartet back in fine, rangy form. Songs performed as "Everybody," "The Troubadour's Green Room" and "So Let Go." Recorded on September 5, 2015 at KDHX in St. Louis, Missouri. Engineered by Andy Coco.
You might know him as the lead singer of the Athens, GA-based band Dead Confederate or as a member of Diamond Rugs alongside members of Deer Tick and Los Lobos, but T. Hardy Morris remains restless on his latest release. "Drownin' on a Mountaintop" is released under the guise of Hardy & the Hard Knocks, but Morris' knack for finding Southern rock's grittier corners remains regardless of the outfit. Songs performed are "Young Assumption," "Blame" (one of his contributions to Diamond Rugs) and "Shit in the Wind." Recorded on August 4, 2015 at KDHX in St. Louis, Missouri. Engineered by Andy Coco.
The long-running, hard-touring acoustic trio the Devil Makes Three talks about its most recent LP, 2013's I'm a Stranger Here and shares stories about collaborating with producer Buddy Miller. Songs performed are "Pray for Rain," Do Wrong Right" and "Graveyard." Recorded on January 22, 2015 at KDHX in St. Louis, Missouri. Engineered by Joshua Melvin.
Rev. Peyton and his bandmates are proud purveyors (and dedicated scholars) of country blues music, and their latest LP So Delicious revels in joyous surrender to the music. Rev. Peyton himself opines about domestic bliss, blues scholarship and more. The band performs the songs "Pot Roast & Kisses" and "Front Porch Trained." Recorded at KDHX in St. Louis, Missouri on February 22, 2015. Engineered by Dan Kinney.
For her forthcoming LP This Ain't Luck, singer-songwriter Alex Winston took a more personal approach to her lyrics while opening up her music to more radio-ready popcraft. Winston talks about the new songs and the fruitful, if trying, creation of the new album. Songs performed are "The Day I Died," "Careless" and "Gentleman." Recorded at KDHX in St. Louis, Missouri on June 23, 2015. Engineered by Andy Coco.