Nashville Beats: New Music From Torch Singer Mandy Barnett

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Photo: Cyndi Hornsby


Mandy Barnett, a native of Crossville, Tennessee, started singing at five years-old. She has been singing since. Mandy’s style is rooted in the classic country and pop crooning of iconic singers and enduring sounds. She delves into a song with a keen interpretative sense, studying the intricacies of its emotional content and rendering a powerful performance through her full-bodied voice.

As a teenager, Mandy starred as country music legend Patsy Cline in the stage show “Always . . . Patsy Cline” at the celebrated Ryman Auditorium in Nashville. The performances sold out nightly and received rave reviews across the country. 

Mandy soon signed with Asylum Records where she released her first album as herself, appropriately entitled, “Mandy Barnett.” The album received glowing reviews in major trade publications and magazines, including “Time” magazine, as well as praise from veteran country artists and fans.

In due course, Seymour Stein, who introduced the world to Madonna, Seal, the Barenaked Ladies, and k.d. lang, heard Mandy’s voice and was, he said, “spellbound.” When Stein launched Sire Records within Warner Music Group, Mandy was the first artist he signed. Mandy’s Sire Records project paired her with the undisputed pioneer of the Nashville Sound, producer Owen Bradley. The album that they made together, “I’ve Got A Right To Cry,” would be his final contribution to the music world.  Owen passed away four songs into the project, but not before leaving his unmistakable mark on the album.

Mandy is set to release her first album in 5 years, Strange Conversation via Thirty Tigers on September 21, 2018.  

Mandy laughs when she’s asked “What took you so long?” to make Strange Conversation, I needed to cleanse my palette,” explains the woman with a voice that’s all sultry velour. “I’m a torch singer, somebody who can do a little bit of everything. Pop, blues, gospel, country, soul — songs with emotion are what I do.” And so, she had to decide what to do next. While musical soul-searching, Barnett honed her symphony show (performing with the Nashville Symphony Orchestra, the Detroit Symphony Orchestra, and the Ulster Orchestra in Belfast) and even reached back to an old passion — visual art — to get her creative juices flowing in a fresh direction. In between touring performing art centers, historic theaters and concert halls, and making gallery-exhibited artwork, Barnett embraced thoughts of finding different material to record.

She pauses for a moment, weighing the jolt to longtime fans versus the reality of her new music. “But honestly, it’s all me,” says Barnett. “It’s all aspects of who I am.” Because for Barnett, a singer who’s captivated Owen Bradley, the idea of her musical future is as compelling as the idea of honoring classic country’s past.

You can hear her version of Mable John’s More Lovin the first song from Strange Conversation, via Rolling Stone Country HERE.

You can catch her live at 3rd and Lindsley on Tuesdays as she finishes up a month-long residency.  





A Sound Recommendation: Indie Folkers From Brisbane — Hollow Coves


A dynamic indie folk group brimming with the band’s passion for travel and observing different shades of the world, Hollow Coves is the project of Ryan Henderson and Matt Carins. After meeting in 2013 through mutual friends and a shared love of acoustic music, the boys began writing together with no real expectations for where it might lead. And now, three years later, Ryan and Matt’s memories from their travels across all corners of the globe have lead to a range of new music influenced by their journeys.

Quoting influences such as Angus & Julia Stone, Ben Howard, & The Paper Kites, the boys are setting out to deliver their own brand of indie folk. Blending an earthy folk sound, acoustic melodies & vocal harmonies; Matt and Ryan take turns delivering lyrics of reflection, frequently harmonizing as their voices blend together and complement each other.

Initially based out of Brisbane, Australia, Hollow Coves’ first self-released tracks saw the bare bones of three songs recorded at home in Brisbane. Then as the boys went traveling, the songs slowly took their shape as Ryan and Matt, on opposite sides of the world at this point, bounced ideas back and forth over the internet with their good friend and producer Hayden Smith.

When they eventually unveiled their debut track, “The Woods”, Ryan was finishing up a snowboarding stint in Canada while Matt was halfway through a European odyssey, and neither of them was even half expecting the response they received. “The Woods” reached #1 on both Hype Machine and THR’s Top TV Songs chart and has since gone on to receive millions of plays across the globe.

Now, with the first illustration of the boys’ unique approach to creating music, and a full-length album in the works, alongside some of the biggest gigs of their young lives rapidly approaching, Hollow Coves is ready to launch you into their personal brand of escapism.

In April they dropped a new song Ran Away.  We really love this acoustic version.




New Music From Richard Thompson


Photo:  By Tom Beygrowicz


Richard Thompson is set to return with 13 Rivers on September 14th, 2018. A return to New West Records, the 13-song set is the Grammy nominated artist’s first self-produced album in over a decade and was recorded 100% analog in just ten days.

13 Rivers is a bare-bones, emotionally direct album that speaks from the heart with no filters. “There are 13 songs on the record, and each one is like a river,” Thompson explains. “Some flow faster than others. Some follow a slow and winding current. They all culminate on this one body of work.” A high water mark in an overwhelmingly impressive career, 13 Rivers was recorded at the famed Boulevard Recording Studio in Los Angeles.

Previously known as The Production Workshop, which was owned by Liberace and his manager, the locale served as the site for seminal classics by Steely Dan, Fleetwood Mac, Ringo Starr, and hosted the mixing sessions for Pink Floyd’s legendary The Wall.

Of the album, Thompson says, “The songs are a surprise in a good way. They came to me as a surprise in a dark time. They reflected my emotions in an oblique manner that I’ll never truly understand. It’s as if they’d been channelled from somewhere else. You find deeper meaning in the best records as time goes on. The reward comes later.” He continues, “I don’t know how the creative process works. I suppose it is some kind of bizarre parallel existence to my own life. I often look at a finished song and wonder what the hell is going on inside me. We sequenced the weird stuff at the front of the record, and the tracks to grind your soul into submission at the back.

13 Rivers commences on the tribal percussion and guitar rustle of “The Storm Won’t Come” as the artist bellows, “I’m looking for a storm to blow through town.” The energy mounts before climaxing on a lyrical electric lead rife with airy bends and succinct shredding from the guitar virtuoso.

Calling the new songs “brilliant,” NPR Music’s Bob Boilen named Thompson “one of our greatest living guitarists and songwriters,” and stated, “His just-announced 19th solo album, 13 Rivers, still finds him brimming with bursts of guitar magic and storytelling.” 



Richard Thompson’s musical influence cannot be overstated. Having co-founded the groundbreaking group Fairport Convention as a teenager in the 60s, he and his bandmates invented the distinctive strain of British Folk Rock. He left the group by the age of 21 which was followed by a critically acclaimed, decade long musical partnership with his then-wife Linda, to over 30 years as a highly successful solo artist.

In 2011, Thompson received an OBE (Order of the British Empire) personally bestowed upon him by Queen Elizabeth II at Buckingham Palace. The Los Angeles Times called him the finest rock songwriter after Dylan and the best electric guitarist since Hendrix and Rolling Stone has named him one of the “Top 100 Guitarists of All Time.” He has received lifetime achievement awards for songwriting from Britain’s BBC Awards, the Americana Music Association, and was awarded the prestigious Ivor Novello Award. His song “1952 Vincent Black Lightning” was named one of TIME Magazine’s 100 Greatest Songs Since 1923. A wide range of musicians have recorded Thompson’s songs including Robert Plant, Elvis Costello, R.E.M., Sleater-Kinney, Del McCoury, Bonnie Raitt, Tom Jones, David Byrne, Don Henley, Los Lobos, and many more. His massive body of work includes many Grammy nominated albums as well as numerous soundtracks, including Werner Herzog’s Grizzly Man. Thompson’s genre defying mastery of both acoustic and electric guitar along with his engaging energy and onstage wit continue to earn him new fans and a place as one of the most distinctive virtuosos and writers in Folk Rock history.




New Project Featuring Sean Lennon Debuts This Fall


Tiny Mix Tapes has officially announced that He Arrived By Helicopter (featuring C. Gibbs and members from Lucinda Black Bear & Sean Lennon) are releasing a debut album called The Shiny Hostel on September 14.

He Arrived By Helicopter was started by songwriter Christian Gibbs (aka, C. Gibbs, Lucinda Black Bear) following life changes that led to a move out of NYC in 2016. The objective was to release and perform a new body of work, primarily instrumental based compositions, in their embryonic form, shortening the length of time from conception to release. A major component of this process is Gibbs’ recording and mixing most of the record himself, which afforded him the unique ability to side-step the usual channels of record making. Going through a bout of reclusion in the Western Catskills, and choosing not to perform for a spell, Gibbs recorded in his humble upstate dwelling near Bethel Woods, where the original Woodstock Festival took place, as well as in the ever shrinking allotment of space in his Brooklyn railroad apartment. New additions in the shape of children gave Gibbs less time and less space in Brooklyn for record making so whenever a free moment arose he would grab it, write, record and make a rough mix. The results have some Lo-Fi moments but only as dictated by economics and environments rather than aesthetics.

Dividing his time between country and city, some songs might have a siren heard in the background, while other songs might have the sounds of birds and chainsaws leaking into the mic. Often the songs are written and performed the same day relying more on the processed sounds of guitar using a variety of beats, synthesizers, and percussion. As the record progressed some songs called for lyrics and so there are a few that exist throughout the album. Even though it began as a side project, Gibbs found himself working with old band members Matt Brandau, Tim Kuhl ( Sean Lennon, Margaret Glaspy), Philip Sterk ( Black Lillies) on the 7.5 minute epic title track “He Arrived By Helicopter.“ The name came about during a recent not so glamorous tour date when one of the more successful sidemen of the group, Tim Kuhl, who had just come off a festival circuit with Sean Lennon’s The Goastt (Ghost of a Saber Tooth Tiger), remarked “You know Gibbs, I usually arrive by Helicopter to these things nowadays.” Hence, He Arrived By Helicopter was born.

 First single:  Cold Damn Truth




Wanda Jackson Announces New Music Produced By Joan Jett


Known for her energetic stage shows and pioneering presence as a female artist, the one-and-only Wanda Jackson – popularly known as the Queen of Rockabilly and the First Lady of Rock & Roll – has returned to Nashville to work on new music. Fellow female Rock n’ Roll Hall of Fame member, Joan Jett, is producing the project. The as-yet-unnamed project is currently anticipated for a 2019 release. After decades of recording covers, Jackson hit the writing room for this project, co-writing with many hit Nashville songwriters including Angaleena Presley of the Pistol Annies. “Ex’s and Oh’s” singer Elle King also contributed a song to the project.

Jackson is excited to go into the studio at the end of this month in Nashville to record vocals for the project with four-time Grammy Award winner Vance Powell. Powell also assisted on Jackson’s 2011 collaboration project with Jack White; The Party Ain’t Over, which peaked at #17 on Top Rock Albums, and #58 on the Billboard Hot 200. The album also earned rave reviews from critics, as well as landing Jackson guest spots on such programs as Conan and The Late Show with David Letterman.

The songs on this project are very dear to my heart, as a lot of them are based on my own life experiences,” said Wanda. “I’m really looking forward to sharing what Joan and I have been working on.”

Wanda Jackson has landed more than 30 singles on the Country and Pop Music Charts between 1954 and 1974. With over 40 albums to her credit, Wanda has proven to be an enduring and genre-defying legend of American music, who is still creating and establishing her legacy as an artist. In 2009 Wanda Jackson celebrated her induction into the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame.


The announcement of Jackson’s new music comes nearly a year after the release of her autobiography Every Night Is Saturday Night: A Country Girl’s Journey to the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame. Wanda tells the story of being discovered by Country Music Hall of Famer Hank Thompson, why she refused to return to the Grand Ole Opry for more than fifty years, the challenges she and her integrated band, The Party Timers, faced when touring in a less racially tolerant era, her relationship with Elvis, and how she ultimately found the love of her life.



INTERVIEW: Meet Singer-Songwriter Ryan Martin


Originally from Los Gatos, California, Martin started writing songs when he was 14 and was soon playing in bands and doing solo gigs up and down the West Coast. After a traumatic car accident in 2005, life took a dark turn and Martin found himself bouncing between jail and treatment. Realizing he needed a fresh start in order to turn his focus back to his music, he made his way to New York City. He soon found a band, and an audience, and recorded his excellent debut album, For All the Beautiful Losers. After gigging around NYC, touring all over the United States, engaging new fans, and becoming a father, Martin felt he was ready to make a record that reflected a new sense of hope and purpose.


His latest, Gimme Some Light is now available via High Moon Records. The first single, ‘Death of Love’, was released earlier this year, with a beautifully-shot video that blends French New Wave cinema with a classic Americana vibe. 

We recently had the opportunity to talk to Ryan about the new record.

ASoulfulSound:  Your new album Gimme Some Light is now available. The record is deeply emotional and personal. How comfortable are you sharing and exposing yourself like this?

RM:  It’s very comfortable for me. I get more nervous around small talk. But anything has to do the peoples struggles and complexities and fears and emotions is all just fine with me.

ASoulfulSound:  You started gigging in your teens in California until an accident in 2005 sidetracked you for several years. Would you like to talk about that? How you specifically settled on NYC?

RM:  Well, to be clear the accident happened when I was 18 and I did most of the traveling and shows and writing after that and after my turn in the clink for bit. I think it actually helped me in a lot of ways. I was exposed to another side of life that I had been sheltered from until then. It forced me to grow up quicker than some other kids at 19. I was living in LA at 21 and decided to drop everything and leave. It was one of those classic moments of walking out of a job, throwing the apron in the trash, buying a map, filling the car with oatmeal and then driving. Originally my friend and I wanted to go to Canada but they wouldn’t let us in, so New York was next on the list. I loved it so I just stayed. I lived in my car for a while and eventually got a job as a doorman on Bleecker Street. The city pulled me in.

ASoulfulSound:  Can you describe how the music scene differs from California and NY? How is it the same?

RM:  I’m not sure if I’m totally qualified to answer that question. I was pretty hesitant in CA. But from my experience I would say LA can be a tougher nut to crack. And maybe San Francisco. People are kind of settled into there groups and there kind of wary of outsiders. New York seemed to me to be much more receptive place to me at least. I’m sure there’s someone with the opposite story. After all, it has been “go west.” People like the sun all year. I like seasons.

ASoulfulSound:  We LOVE the single, Death of Love, just LOVE IT. Can you tell us the inspiration for that song?

RM:  Glad to hear you LOVE it! Thanks. I think that song comes from my frustration at how people seem to be so closed off from one another. It kind of goes back to how comfortable I am having a deeply personal conversation with a total stranger. I like connecting with people and I think most people should be trusted. I guess some people would call me “intense.” They seem scared of honesty. Well, how else are we going to get to the heart of the matter?

ASoulfulSound:  On Adeline, we’re feeling a bit of a John Doe vibe, who are some artists that inspire you.

RM:  Sure. Elliot Smith, Bruce Springsteen, Neil Young, Bob Dylan, Mark Kozelek, Jackson Browne, Townes Van Zandt, Mark Linkous, Bob Dylan, Gillian Welch, Leonard Cohen, Joni Mitchell. I think that’s enough?

ASoulfulSound:  In support of the new record, you are currently on tour. How’s it going? Do you have a favorite city or venue that you look forward to playing? A dream venue you’d like to play? (NOTE: We’re still eagerly anticipating a Philadelphia show!)

RM:  So the tour will start next week on Monday in LA. I’m sure it will be everything tours promise to be. I’m really looking forward to traveling up the west coast. It’s been a long time since I’ve done that. I lived in Chico, CA once for about four months. That was a really beautiful time in my life and my memories from there are precious. I haven’t been back since I left about twelve years ago. I’m also looking forward to Seattle, I’ve never been there before. See you in August!

ASoulfulSound:   It’s festival season…. tell us your DREAM Festival lineup. Anyone living or passed on.

RM:  That’s a hard one. I think I’d just like to see Mark Kozelek play for like 10 hours. I would probably know every song.

ASoulfulSound:  What’s next?

RM:  I have a whole bunch of new  songs. I would love to start another record soon. Maybe in the Fall. Also I would love to tour Europe. I’ve never been!

ASoulfulSound:  Thanks so much Ryan.  We wish you all the best with the new record and hope to catch a show soon.



A Sound Recommendation: Austin’s Christy Hays


Photo by Alison Copeland


“Like Lucinda Williams in a Carhartt jacket, Christy Hays works rugged metaphors into emotionally charged country-folk” (Austin Chronicle).


A songwriter from Austin TX, Christy Hays draws her inspiration from placid landscapes and common life through the veil of humanism.

Though raised in central Illinois, Hays has lived all over the wide landscapes of the American West and Alaska. Returning to her beloved wilderness, Hays spends portions of the summer in Montana gigging in the Northwest and loves quality time at her writers retreat.

Her new album ‘River Swimmer’ was released earlier this year on Nine Mile Records.

Bruce Robison cut her song “Lake of Fire” on his latest album “Bruce Robison and the Back Porch Band”. Although she’s been compared to Brandi Carlile, Rhett Miller, and Patty Griffin, Hays truly has a sound uniquely her own.