John Murry – Califorlornia

Evangeline, 2014

Murry’s deep voice steers these eclectic and often sombre tunes in a way that brings to mind blues, country, folk and Americana written from a thoughtful rock’n'roll perspective. Though his strong point is his dense balladry, Murry’s no stranger to upbeat melodies and distortion either, and provides much variety with only a few songs here, including a compelling Warren Zevon cover.

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Edie Carey & Sarah Sample – ‘Til The Morning: Lullabies and Songs of Comfort

Groundloop, 2014

The two mothers collaborate on a lullabies album, merging their folk-pop and Americana styles together seamlessly with vocal harmonies and gentle intimacy. The selections include Wilco and Townes Van Zandt covers among many others, as well as three originals, and the pair put their own breathy, pensive and ultra-relaxing spin on all the material. Not just for mothers, fans of all things hushed will find plenty to enjoy here.

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Gabriel Kahane – The Ambassador

Sony, 2014

Ten songs that were inspired by different locations/buildings in Los Angeles, Kahane’s ode to his home takes a mature angle with classical and jazz ideas in his folky-pop delivery. Though some of the topics are heavy – i.e. the death of a teen who was shot and killed following the Rodney King incident – the music is entirely graceful, from waves of sadness to upbeat hooks.

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Crash – Hardly Criminal

Community Music, 2014

Chris Richard has been staying busy as the backup singer for the Magnetic Zeros, in addition to being the frontman for Deadly Syndrome. Here he adds a soulful, jazz friendly, Motown-inspired disc to his resume while still putting in enough country and folk to satisfy the Americana crowd. With a few different singing styles and a handful of genres touched on, Crash pulls off a diverse, compelling album.

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Levi Weaver – Your Ghost Keeps Finding Me

Rock Ridge, 2014

A meticulous folky/Americana album that trades off between keys and unplugged guitars and louder modern rock moments that border on alt-rock, Weaver has an impressive set of pipes that match up well with his sophisticated stories. Emotive, eloquent and reflective, this is an album that would sit well against Votolato, Kinsella, etc.

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Haley Bonar – Last War

Graveface, 2014

People this prolific are rarely as consistently vital. After five LPs and at barely 30 years old, Bonar’s work is at a career high with this driving rock album that’s complemented by synth, reverb and plenty of melody. Though she’s mostly been known as an alt-country/folkie, this is often a louder direction, though the acoustic closer is a reminder of her prior greatness, too.

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