2023 Grammy Nominations For Best Americana Album - Norm Rosenfield
In These Silent Days, Brandi Carlile
Things Happen That Way, Dr. John
Good to Be…, Keb’ Mo’
Raise the Roof, Robert Plant & Alison Krauss
Just Like That…, Bonnie Raitt
Americana, as defined by the Americana Music Association (AMA), is "contemporary music that incorporates elements of various American roots music styles, including country, roots-rock, folk, bluegrass, R&B and blues….While acoustic instruments are often present and vital, Americana also often uses a full electric band." This overview will briefly examine the Grammy nominees for Best Americana Album 2023.
Brandi Carlile, six-time Grammy winner, could easily win a few more come February 2023, as she is nominated in seven categories, including Record and Album of the year. “Right On Time” and “You and Me On the Rock” are two outstanding tracks from her In These Silent Days.
The two songs juxtapose big screen, cinematic sounds (“Right On Time”) and more intimate, catchy acoustic-based textures (“You and Me On the Rock”).
If you can recall the syncopated acoustic guitar from Paul Simon’s “Me and Julio Down by the Schoolyard,” you’ll get the germinating musical idea for Carlile’s heartfelt “you-and-me-against-the-word'' story. This year might be a big sweep for Brandy Carlisle.
Dr. John passed away in 2019. This release (Things Happen That Way) was the album he was recording before his fatal heart attack. It features interpretations of WIllie Nelson, Johnny Cash, and Hank Williams compositions.
The Doctor goes into the wayback machine (remember Rocky and Bullwinkle?) and revisits his psychedelic Gris Gris period with an updated rendition of 1968’s “Walk On Gilded Splinters.”
Another savory highpoint of the album features Aaron Neville in a duet arrangement of the Travelling Wilburys’ “End of the Line.” This entire posthumous release is a gem and the epitome of the AMA definition of Americana.
Keb Mo is a 5-time Grammy winner whose body of work links the Delta blues with a postmodern stew of folk, country, and rock. Hard to imagine him winning in this category this year, although Good to Be… delivers a solid serving of his eclectic approach and genre-fluid sound starting with the title track.
Raise the Roof by Robert Plant and Alison Krause is nominated for 3 Grammy awards this year. The pair’s first effort, Raising Sand, garnered Album of the Year in 2009. Both albums were produced by T Bone Burnett, a 10-time Grammy winner himself.
Reunited, this British-American partnership generates all the hypnotic charm of their first collaboration. “Quattro (World Drifts In)” takes you on a magical journey, originally performed by Calexico. If you’d like to wager on the title, if needed for a third album, I offer for your consideration, Raising Chickens. As unlikely as that is to happen, so too Raise the Roof wins in this category.
Bonnie Raitt is another 10 time Grammy winner nominated in this category, and was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 2000. Just Like That… opens with the smoldering mid- tempo single, “Made Up Mind,” featuring a beautiful descending chord progression leading to the chorus, and Raitt’s delicious slide guitar.
“Down the Hall” is an original acoustic ballad confronting mortality in a hospital ward. Possibly a product of the Covid years, Raitt weaves a poignant and soulful tale. Although the album is a longshot for this category, “Just Like That” is a lump in your throat song that hits you in the gut and is a strong contender for Song of the Year.
The 65th Grammy Awards will be broadcast Feb. 5, 2023.
You Don’t Have to Wait Till Tomorrow
The ranks of musicians lost in the past month are ever expanding. As each one departs, the tributes appear, and we listen to or discover for the first time the extraordinary gifts they once possessed.
Maybe you had heard of David Crosby, Jeff Beck, or Tom Verlaine before they left the building. Maybe some more than others. It was only natural for some aspects of their careers to come to light. Listening to essential songs or going back to your personal favorites takes the place of sending flowers or sending condolences.
For the non legacy artists, the up and coming ones trying to make a living out of their music, can’t wait till tomorrow to receive recognition from an overnight obit-hit. The simple act of liking a song or video can mean a lot to rising artists. Commenting on social media is more impactful than a thumbs up/like. Sharing a new lyric video with friends goes even further than that. They all take but a moment, yet to the artists, it's potentially another first down in their quest to score a touchdown.
“You don’t know what you’ve got til it's gone. They paved paradise, put up a parking lot” (Joni Mitchell) Mitchell got that right.
You can help the Dorons get a few yards closer to musical paradise, before it gets paved and made into a parking lot. Jimi Hendrix says you “don’t have to wait till tomorrow.”
RINGING IN 2023 WITH “CHIMES OF INNOCENCE”
Around this time of year, many bipeds view their world as a clean slate. That’s why resolutions are often initiated in January. The hard part is keeping those resolutions beyond this month. The good news is the Dorons’ next single drops Friday 1/6/23. “Chimes of Innocence'' is the perfect cynic repellant for the jaded. Meaning, listening to the new single will either ensure you remain faithful to your New Year’s commitments, or give you a momentary respite from post ball drop blues. So if you just dropped in to see what condition your condition was in, you came to the right place.
2022 was a historic year for The Dorons, for which we are grateful. We completed our 18 month project, and released The Doronic Verses this past November. Not sure if there’s been a Covid 19 baby boom, but 2022 was a great year for music conceived during the Big Flu.
Big Thief’s double album is one of the best of the crop. It’s got a mouthful of a title - Dragon New Warm Mountain I Believe In You - and has an unpolished, eclectic vibe like the Beatles’ White Album. It was recorded in four locations and one might chalk it up to that.
Now for something completely different. The band Brian Jonestown Massacre released Fire Doesn’t Grow On Trees in June 2022. The band has been releasing music for over thirty years, and is every bit as genre fluid as Big Thief. “It’s About Being Free Really” has the Who’s groove down from Magic Bus. Along with lots of fuzz boxes and other sonic delights in the belly of the bus.
The third album of the year (besides The Doronic Verses) to check out is one I have already mentioned in a previous report, Revealer by Madison Cunningham. Give yourself permission to watch 20 seconds of this live performance of “In From Japan.”
If you think there are better choices for best albums of 2022, let me know. It’s easy to miss something when there are a gazillion releases every month.