Since new release season is rolling on while the Nashville music community and the rest of us remain holed up at home, here’s another round-up of music that shouldn’t be missed.
Jessie Alexander, “I Should Probably Go Now”
Jessi Alexander had a brief tenure on a major label in the mid-2000s before building her reputation as a behind-the-scenes songwriter who could bring contemporary polish to grown-up gravitas and sentimentality. She decided to document a batch of songs she held especially close, and with her industry connections, casual studio sessions led to Decatur County Red, an album with earthy depth and a robust connection to country lineage. During the dusky, sensual ballad “I Should Probably Go Now,” she brings to life the tension between relishing a momentary fantasy and exercising restraint.
Mark Fredson, Going to the Movies
After fronting scrappy roots-rock outfit The Lonely H for a decade and spreading his talents among side man gigs and collaborations with luminaries out of the local scene — like Caitlin Rose, Erin Rae and Margo Price — Mark Fredson is making his debut under his own name. On Going to the Movies, he brings suave theatricality and studio finesse to soft rock and piano pop, including the synth-driven track “To the Moonlight.” His vocal performance tells quite a story, his tightly controlled timidity gradually flaring with anxious obsession.
2’Live Bre, “Lights”
Nashville-bred rapper and singer 2’Live Bre started releasing music as a student at Tennessee State University. Between last year’s full-length and the string of loosies and videos he’s dropped in rapid succession this year — including “Lights,” in which his breezy, Autotuned boasts ride atop Afrobeat-style syncopation — he’s shown himself to be a malleable performer with pop instincts.
Sarah Siskind, “In The Mountains”
Sarah Siskind made her reputation as a singer-songwriter whose melancholy eloquence and sublime reimagining of mountain melody attracted the likes of Alison Krauss and Bon Iver during her Nashville tenure. Siskind’s since returned to her native North Carolina, though her Tennessee ties remain strong. “In the Mountains,” from her self-produced upcoming album Modern Appalachia, depicts the pastoral pull in a way that’s less wistful than bracing.
Lou Turner, Songs For John Venn
Past offerings from poet and singer-songwriter Lou Turner, featuring the band The Styrofoam Winos, have been fairly scruffy or lo-fi, but her second album, Songs for John Venn, is a collection of winsome folk-rock and capricious orchestration. “Widening Venn Diagram” is full of quietly imaginative musings on unlikely commonalities between people.
Brian Brown, “A Cashville Story”
Brian Brown built quite a bit of local buzz with his live performances and guest spots leading up to his full-length debut Journey, whose 10 tracks unfold at a leisurely pace. “A Cashville Story” showcases his drowsily refined flow and casually deep analysis of gentrification’s unequally distributed spoils.
Sad Penny, “Nightside”
Formerly one-half of the folk-pop harmony duo The Saint Johns, Jo Meredith has been making her own tuneful, artfully detached music under the Sad Penny moniker since 2017. The title track of her new indie rock-leaning EP Nightside is furtive and fetching, her wispy, sighing vocal attack surrounded by shimmery synths and prickly guitars.
Kandace Springs, The Women Who Raised Me
Kandace Springs, an accomplished vocalist with a foundation in contemporary jazz, has personalized the template of the standards album with The Women Who Raised Me. Drawing from the repertoires of women who served as early musical guideposts for her — from Ella Fitzgerald to Nina Simone, Bonnie Raitt, Roberta Flack, Sade and Norah Jones — she celebrates subtle virtuosity with the contemplative clarity and sensual depth of her own interpretations.