WDIY's Top 10 Albums of October 2023
Boo! We celebrated Halloween with all treats and no tricks at WDIY with our Top 10 Albums of October 2023!
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. And to top it all off, despite the divorce, the band is still together and trying to make it work.
Hiss Golden Messenger
Jump for Joy
August 25, 2023
If listening to this newest album feels perhaps a bit too personal, don’t worry. It’s supposed to be. This is frontman M.C. Taylor’s most autobiographical work yet under the band name, even though most of it seems to be portrayed behind a character. The album serves as letters between the present-day songwriter we know and his alias Michael Crow, a teenage dreamer very much like Taylor himself, and together, they move through the 14 tunes that make up the record. In this way, Jump for Joy is a look at what life is like and how it can be enjoyed with art, and the ways that our hopes and dreams can work with or against real life. Produced by Taylor and engineered by longtime coworker and friend Scott Hirsch over two weeks in the fall of 2022 at the Sonic Ranch studio in Tornillo, TX, just a short walk from the Mexican border, Jump for Joy contains an unusual spontaneous energy that feels like a fresh chapter in the Hiss Golden Messenger.
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. 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.
April 28, 2023
Taj Mahal is often considered a still-living legend for his contributions to pop music, despite not really making what we would think of as pop music. With a voice that, to many, is as recognizable as Louis Armstrong, Ray Charles, or Dr John, Taj (or Henry St. Claire Fredericks Jr.) has throughout his career pushed the envelope of Americana music by blending traditions with Caribbean, African, traditional blues, and jazz. He has won 4 Grammys from 15 nominations, was inducted into the Blues Foundation Hall of Fame, and presented with a Lifetime Achievement Award from the Americana Music Association. As the title of his newest record would assume you to believe, it’s a tribute to Harlem’s Savoy Ballroom and of the swing jazz big band era from the New York stomping grounds he was born from. Savoy is the realization of a musical collaboration they had been planning for decades, finally locking in the studio time to make it happen in August 2022.
Marty Stuart and His Fabulous Superlatives
May 19, 2023
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.
Hey Guys, Watch This
Hungry Mouse Records
August 28, 2023
Nellie McKay has been graced with a reasonable amount of success in her lifetime; since her debut record ‘Get Away from Me,’ she has released a number of well-received albums and collaborated with a long list of other famous singers and performers. Her music has been used on radio, in TV shows, movies, and even on Broadway. And she’s even something of a hometown hero, splitting her childhood and teenage years between Harlem and the Pocono mountains (while having dual citizenship here and in London). Keeping that in mind, this is her first release in a whopping 13 years and shows her history and life experience better than any biography can. The album was recorded with a parade of musical comrades in Charleston, West Virginia and with some credits of being recorded in Saylorsburg and East Stroudsburg here in Pennsylvania.
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.
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. 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.