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Music News 10/18/2017

COUNTRY & ROOTS

All three of this week’s highly recommended CDs are follow-ups to very successful debut albums.

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Dori Freeman, LETTERS NEVER READ (MRI, $15.98) – One of my favorite albums from last year was the self-titled Dori Freeman from a young Galax, Virginia singer, songwriter, and guitarist, with a wonderful voice, and very catchy songs. On Letters Never Read, producer Teddy Thompson returns, and surrounds Ms. Freemans with subtle guitars, fiddles, but also touches of soulful organ and vibes; he also sings harmony vocals. Ms. Freeman wrote great new songs and she also covers “I Want to See the Bright Lights” by Richard Thompson (who plays his unmistakable guitar on the album) and  ends the album with a great version of Jim Reeves’s “Yonder Comes a Sucker” with just snare drums and voice.

Béla Fleck & Abigail Washburn, ECHO IN THE VALLEY (Rounder, $16.98) – Just two voices and two banjos make for this very compelling album, a follow-up to the self-titled Béla Fleck & Abigail Washburn, the first collaboration by the husband-and-wife team. Banjo stars from two different worlds (Béla playing virtuosic bluegrass/”new-grass” and Abigail playing clawhammer style), they combine styles with abandon, and play the whole family of banjos. Traditional songs, like a bluesy version of “My Home’s Across the Blue Ridge Mountains” and “Come All You Coal Miners,” are mixed with originals, with Ms. Washburn’s voice leading the charge.

Margo Price, ALL AMERICAN MADE (Third Man Records, $14.98) – Margo Price had a breakthrough album last year with Midwest Farmer’s Daughter, ending the year on SNL and as opening act for Chris Stapleton. Her follow-up is even more assured, with her originals (many co-written with Jeremy Ivey) in arrangements ranging from honky-tonk to blends of classic country and R&B. She duets with Willie Nelson on “Learning to Lose,” and addresses today’s topics from the heart on the title song, as well as on “Pay Gap” and “Nowhere Fast.”

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