Jewly Hight

While Nashville's standard studio music-making processes remain at a quarantined standstill, here's another roundup of compelling new and recent music from visitors, part-timers, newcomers and lifers alike.


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.


The fact that Nashville's famously bustling live music scene has temporarily gone silent — first partially interrupted by the March 3 tornadoes, then halted altogether in response to COVID-19 — makes this an opportune time to catch up with the loosies, EPs and albums that either went overlooked in the crowd of early 2020 releases or won't be getting signal boosts from now-canceled promotional performances.

The circumstances of David Olney's death have been widely reported, not least because people were struck by what seemed like a poetic end for such a poetic presence. Onstage last Saturday during the 30A Songwriters Festival in the Florida panhandle, Olney reportedly paused mid-song and bowed his head to his chest, suffering another heart attack.

Maybelle Carter apparently made a mean chicken gizzard soup, which called for chicken livers, necks and backs, besides the gizzards. Her daughter June Carter Cash published that recipe, along with a host of others, in Mother Maybelle's Cookbook: A Kitchen Visit With America's First Family of Song in 1989, a little over a decade after her mother's passing. Only those who'd had the privilege of being guests in Maybelle's home had witnessed what she could do with soup pots and frying pans in the name of painstaking hospitality.

Up until pretty recently, nostalgia for country music from the particular moment of the early-to-mid 1990s was as likely as not to be expressed with a playfully knowing wink. A few years back, the canny, established hit-maker Dierks Bentley and his touring band cooked up a nutty but clearly affectionate, costumed caricature of '90s country singers and songs and dubbed themselves the Hot Country Knights. Their set lists have included versions of songs by Alan Jackson, Tracy Byrd, Shania Twain and an array of other past hit-makers, but inevitably there's a Brooks & Dunn cover.

From the front, the unassuming Nashville building that's home to Dan Auerbach's Easy Eye Studio looks like a place more likely to house drab offices than creative labor. In fact, its proprietor confirms a call center once operated inside its walls before he bought the facility and had tracking and control rooms built to his specifications.

Note: NPR's First Listen audio comes down after the album is released. However, you can still listen with the Spotify and Apple Music playlists at the bottom of the page.

The new music that's come out of Nashville in recent months is an embarrassment of riches. There's so much of it, in fact, that we risk overlooking a slew of notable new albums, EPs and tracks from artists who are either building on initial buzz, following up quiet debut efforts with bolder sophomore statements, reemerging after significant stylistic reinvention or delivering on their established reputations. Here's a wide-ranging roundup of talent in chronological order.


Note: NPR's First Listen audio comes down after the album is released. However, you can still listen with the Spotify or Apple Music playlist at the bottom of the page.

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