Judy Dyble/Andy Lewis
Summer Dancing (Acid Jazz)
Summer Dancing is a triumphant turn for an undersung figure of seminal British psych-folk. Judy Dyble preceded Sandy Denny in Fairport Convention before working with Robert Fripp in his pre-King Crimson days—her range and tone are similar to Vashti Bunyan, though if Bunyan is the mysterious neighbor who seems too cool to talk to, Dyble’s the one who happily collects your mail while you’re on holiday. Andy Lewis—DJ, producer and, recently, bassist with Paul Weller—frames Dyble’s direct songs with heady production plus accents of glockenspiel, vibes, autoharp and on “Treasure,” an organ passage that evokes Soft Machine and Stereolab. Summer Dancing sounds true to the spirit of Pentangle, Steeleye Span and Fairport—it’s folk but not too precious, which makes it so.
Swedish string trio Väsen burst into stateside prominence with the 1997 NorthSide debut Whirled. In the ’80s, impeccable instrumentals might have gotten the group tagged with the “new acoustic music” label, but Väsen brings a distinct old world sensibility to the table, and its new collection of originals includes several pieces that might be mistaken for centuries-old airs. If the songs are a bit mannered at times, the interplay between nyckelharpa, 12-string guitar and five-string viola is airtight, and will be on glorious display when Väsen plays C’ville Coffee September 23—and speaking of Brewed, the (amazingly unrelated) Väsen Brewing Company of Richmond plans to present some of their beers at the show.
Shelby Lynne &
Not Dark Yet (Silver Cross)
Alt-country and folk fans will rejoice—sisters Shelby Lynne and Allison Moorer have finally released an album together and, predictably, their voices blend uncannily. On this set of mostly covers, they’re backed up by flawless yet soulful session cats. Sounds promising, especially on leadoff track “My List,” which erupts after a restrained first verse with churchy organ, piano and pealing slide guitar. It’s stirring—but next up, the sisters outsad the Louvins on the Brothers’ “Every Time You Leave,” and from there, the album becomes a bummer, nearly every song double-coated with a particular shade of misery. Merle Haggard’s “Silver Wings” is sardonic and sad; Jesse Colter’s “I’m Looking For Blue Eyes” is elegiac and sad; Townes Van Zandt’s “Lungs” is ghostly and sad.
The Jerry Douglas Band
What If (Rounder)
The banjo and the fiddle have worked in various jazz traditions, so why not the dobro? Jerry Douglas seems the prime candidate to make the case, having branched out from bluegrass to chamber folk (the Russ Barenberg/Edgar Meyer collaboration Skip, Hop and Wobble) and global fusion (Bourbon & Rosewater, with Vishwa Mohan Bhatt) while compiling a thousand album credits on his way to GOAT dobro status. Unfortunately, the many flavors on What If rarely come together; sax and trumpet are largely reduced to window dressing as swingless drummer Doug Belote boxes in the players. When his martial tattoo lets up, as on the Philip Glass-flavored title track and the borderline cheesy but lyrical “Go Ahead and Leave,” Douglas glows.
Poor David’s Almanack (Acony)
If David Rawlings indulges in the old, weird America chic that defines so much boring Americana (witness album title and wood-cut folklore scene cover), at least A) he doesn’t take himself too seriously, and B) he spills out deceptively nasty guitar lines, like, constantly. Longtime partner Gillian Welch is all over Almanack, along with members of Old Crow Medicine Show, Dawes and Punch Brothers, but this is Rawlings’ show—and while his singing might not dazzle like his picking, he’s a great host. All originals here, from the lightly rolling opener “Midnight Train” to the Neil Youngian stomper “Cumberland Gap” to the sardonic “Yup” to the plaintive closer “Put ’Em Up Solid.” Fly on.