Let’s go ahead and call 2015 the year of Cassandra Jenkins. I found her by way of a cover of one of the saddest songs of all time, Cat Stevens’ Wild World:
Not only does she do a great job with it, but she actually makes it SADDER. I don’t know how that was possible. Anyway, that got me to search her out, and I found her EP…And wow. It may seem slow and uneventful, but listen closer. “The Bird” is a gentle song, but it’s haunting. Compare it to “Birthday Song,” which is actually a waltz—a heartbreaking, country-tinged waltz about well-wishers on someone’s special day. Why is it so slow, so dreamlike? I don’t know. But it doesn’t feel like it’s a “happy” birthday. It’s a song that made me think. And don’t miss the Americana psychedelia or Motorcycle Mary, either. Of all the tunes on this EP, it stuck to me the most.
This will probably make my end-of-the-year best of list. Check it out.
As always, it’s free. The new compilation from Americana analog label Mason Jar Music. Standout tracks: Cassandra Jenkins’ “Spirit,” which is inspiring me to go buy her album; LA Freeway by Roseann Cash (I thought I’d already heard the definitive version when I heard Bill Hearne’s version, but this one is even better); and Cory Chisel doing Bring it on Home to Me.
But seriously, this Cassandra Jenkins gal is fantastic. Find more of her music here–including the cover of Wild Word that I embedded below.
“Now I know you’ll be fine on your own, and your families all need you at home…” Is “To a Band That I Loved” written for the Drive-By Truckers? Maybe. Probably. And I suppose that might make a lot of people sad. But I for one am overjoyed that Jason Isbell walked away from a band that was bigger than he’ll ever be as a solo artist because, goddamn, he has a lot to say. I’ve loved every one of his solo albums, and his latest is no exception. If this isn’t one of the best albums of 2015, then we’re in for a tremendous year.
He’s only offering one song as a sample, which is too bad because the entire album is essential listening. To make up for it, I’ve included a video of him covering one of my favorite artists of all time…Van Morrison. And just to make things even, I’ve added a cover of Jason’s own material—Coedine is an awesome song.
Yeah, they’re a major label band now….But they still sound independent of the massive production machine that makes everyone sound alike. These are real people playing real instruments and singing with their own voices.
(Except they use Ben Bridwell’s on the single!)
I’m really enjoying this album. Especially Cumbia de Donde, below. Calexico always feel so rootsy and earnest.