WDIY's Top 10 Albums of August 2023
Before summer officially ends, the kids go back to school, and we bust out the Halloween decorations, WDIY has one last celebration planned — the Top 10 Albums list for August 2023! Reminisce on recently-passed warmer weather with the most played albums of the month.
Get Behind the Wheel
May 5, 2023
Sometimes, it really does get worse before it gets better. Eilen Jewell had a rougher pandemic than most of us; her marriage to her partner, drummer, and co-manager fell apart and she was left with a small portion of a music career and a small child to care for while the world seemingly fell apart around her as well. She dealt with this by doing what a lot of us wish we could do and ran off to a cabin in the woods to deliberate on what her next step in life would be, debating if she even wanted to create music anymore. After four years and lots of hikes in Idaho, she decided to come back with something to prove. Her most recent studio album produced by Will Kimbrough is eleven tracks of what she calls “roots-noir” blended with more psychedelic, spacious arrangements. She rounds out with a five-minute track and a backward tape-enhanced finish with the words, “Oh, you crazy, crazy heart. You have to break before you can bend.” And to top it all off, despite the divorce, the band is still together and trying to make it work.
The Mountain Goats
Jenny from Thebes
October 27, 2023
It must say something about a band’s longevity to end up on a trending list before the album officially debuts. But if you’re familiar with The Mountain Goats’ catalog, it shouldn’t come as that much of a surprise. With their upcoming 22nd studio album, we return to the rock opera stage with the recurring character of Jenny, who originally appears in the All Hail West Texas track bearing her name, but her influence extends even further into the band’s past. Lyricist John Darnielle describes the album as being about "the individual and society,” and about safety and shelter and those who choose to provide care when nobody else will. Jenny's "southwestern ranch style house, the people for whom that house is a place of safety, and the west Texas town that is uncomfortable with its existence.” Our beloved main character is running from something. Since this being an album by the Mountain Goats, it’s a safe bet whatever she’s fleeing is something bad. Something catastrophically bad.
O Sun O Moon
True North Records
May 12, 2023
O Sun O Moon is the Canadian singer-songwriter Bruce Cockburn's latest studio album. Recently released, it’s a collection of 12 original songs that demonstrate songwriting and guitar-playing skills from more than 55 years of artistry and mastery. Along with the musical chops, Cockburn also uses his wisdom and age to write almost exclusively uplifting songs that tackle topics from politics and human rights to the environment and spirituality. Right before his triumphant 78th birthday, he reminds us why he is so well loved. Since his self-titled debut in 1970, he has won 13 Juno Awards, 22 assorted gold and platinum records, an induction into the Canadian Songwriters Hall of Fame, been made an Officer of the Order of Canada, among many other accolades.
Rickie Lee Jones
Pieces of Treasure
April 28, 2023
In her 15th studio album, Rickie Lee Jones celebrates a reunion with her lifelong friend and tried and true coworker, legendary producer Russ Titelman, co-producer of Jones’ debut and the follow-up record Pirates. Traditionally a jazz singer, Jones has never quite leaned into the title as much as she has before; the newest record is 10 covers from the Great American Songbook. While that in itself isn’t a very revolutionary concept as lots of talented performers have taken on the task before her, none have done it quite like Jones has. It’s not a retro flashback or a trip down 1970s nostalgia, but instead a more modern arrangement fashioned with Jones’ timeless vocals. The album was recorded at Sear Sound during a five-day stint in New York City, and you can hear the fast-paced and urban beat of the city move and breathe in all 10 songs.
Wilderness Within You
May 12, 2023
Even though his soulful rock sound earned him Album of the Year nomination from the Americana Music Honors & Awards in 2016, Parker Millsap saw the nomination as more of a challenge to branch out and continue to change rather than an encouragement to stay the same. While the foundation is still the same, his sixth album features more tape loops, electronic beats, synths, and other technological New Wave influences than we might be used to. But it’s still not a heavy and futuristic record. Where the Americana singer-songwriter was previously looking outward, especially with his 2018 “Other Arrangements,” he's looking within himself on this 2023 album, favoring acoustic instruments and pastoral arrangements. Despite purists who may disagree, the slight shift in sound can come as a welcome, satisfying left turn from a singer/songwriter who never quite follows a straight path.
Tedeschi Trucks Band
I Am the Moon: I. Crescent
September 9, 2022
The fifth studio release by Tedeschi Trucks Band is considered by many to be the most ambitious and yet somehow intimate work that rock and roll big band has ever made. It embodies an old-world epic in size and scale; this series contains four albums and 24 original songs inspired by classical literature of days old and the drama, isolation, and pain of the modern pandemic era. In May 2020, two months after the band was forced off the road by lockdown, vocalist Mike Mattison sent an email to the rest of the band with some pandemic reading assignments. The poems and stories became the foundation of the lyricism for this record series.
Samantha Fish & Jesse Dayton
Death Wish Blues
May 19, 2023
The first-ever collaborative album from Samantha Fish and Jesse Dayton (not counting their 2022 EP) and produced by the legendary Jon Spencer, Death Wish Blues is born from a shared passion for pushing the limits and bending the rules of blues music. Death Wish Blues melds their eclectic tastes into a tracklist of songs both emotionally potent and wildly contagious that helps fulfill their shared longtime mission of opening up the blues genre to entirely new audiences. And in a genre built upon the foundation of collaboration, there’s something to be said about upholding a tradition so deeply embedded in your community while still finding a way to turn it on its head. It was recorded during a 10-day period at Applehead Recording & Production located in Woodstock, New York. This is Kansas City native Samantha Fish’s 12th album as well as her fourth collaborative one. As for the Texas native Jesse Dayton, along with an impressive resumé of guitar features for the stars, this is his 17th album to date.
Moving on Skiffle
March 10, 2023
After two heavy-hitting albums of political ranting about lockdowns, Van Morrison appears to have got everything off his chest and gone back to his basics. His newest record is 23 covers of early country, gospel, folk and blues songs that he first encountered at Belfast’s Atlantic Records during the skiffle craze of 1956–57. It only seems fair that such an old music genre and an old crooner cross paths again in 2023. This is, after all, the 44th studio album by the Northern Irish singer-songwriter. The 90-minute record, despite the beastly length, feels like a moment of peace after two intense albums; Moving On Skiffle is light and lively, an easy record to enjoy.
Stories from a Rock n’ Roll Heart
Highway 20 Records
June 30, 2023
The triumphant 15th studio album by the American singer-songwriter Lucinda Williams comes as a sort of victory lap: in the past three years, the legendary rocker has survived a tornado, a pandemic, and a stroke. Even though she can’t play guitar as a result of the stroke, she refuses to go down without a fight. She played more shows in 2022 than she has any year since 2017, except now she has a support team for touring and collaborating on songwriting instead of doing it all on her own. Her newfound love of being in the studio and working with other creatives has influenced her workflow so much that the sequel to this record is already done and set to release sometime in 2024.
Marty Stuart and His Fabulous Superlatives
May 19, 2023
This isn’t your grandfather’s country record. And it felt like we almost weren’t going to get it. Marty Stuart’s been so busy lately, I don’t think anyone would blame him if he did forget to make new music. Between re-opening the Ellis Theater in his hometown of Philadelphia, collecting pieces of country music history and raising funds for a museum to house them, and being inducted into seemingly every music hall of fame that exists, it’s been over six years since Stuart released a new record. This Country Music Hall of Famer, five-time Grammy-winner, and AMA Lifetime Achievement honoree returns to his professional roots with a new record, exploring a cosmic country cowboy landscape populated by the iconic tropes from the Western movies we all love. Marty Stuart captures the sound of the desert landscape with a sweeping, spacious, wide-open sound that truly puts it in close proximity to just downright mystical. The songs on Altitude were inspired by and mostly written during Stuart’s 2018 tour in support of Roger McGuinn and Chris Hillman of the Byrds.