The Current Pulse of Americana Music [June 4]

Chris Stapleton Traveller

It’s here! Each week I will take a look at the Billboard Americana/Folk Albums chart and grade the top 15 albums. The grading format I use each week is every album will receive either a +1, -1 or a 0. These will then be tallied up for an overall score, or pulse of the current top fifteen Americana albums, with the highest possible score being a +15 and the lowest possible score being a -15. How do I determine if an album is rated a +1, -1 or 0? The rating it received on the site or myself will determine this. If it hasn’t been rated yet, then I will make the call. Albums rated between 7 and 10 receive a +1. Albums rated a 5 or 6 receive a 0. Albums rated 4 or lower receive a -1.

The goal of this exercise is to evaluate the current state of Americana music and determine if it’s improving or getting worse. Let’s take a look at this week’s top fifteen…

  1. Chris Stapleton – Traveller +1
  2. Sawyer Fredericks – A Good Storm -1
  3. The Lumineers – Cleopatra +1
  4. Sturgill Simpson – A Sailor’s Guide To Earth +1
  5. Hard Working Americans – Rest in Chaos
  6. James Bay – Chaos And The Calm +1
  7. Nathaniel Rateliff & The Night Sweats – Self-Titled +1
  8. Bonnie Raitt – Dig In Deep +1
  9. Ruth B – The Intro (EP) 0
  10. Alabama Shakes – Sound & Color +1
  11. Mary Chapin Carpenter – The Things That We Are Made Of -1
  12. Foy Vance – The Wild Swan 
  13. The Jayhawks – Paging Mr. Proust
  14. The Strumbellas – Hope
  15. Loretta Lynn – Full Circle +1

The Current Pulse of Americana Music: +6

The pulse debuts this week!

Albums That Dropped Out of the Top 15 This Week

  • N/A

Albums That Entered The Top 15 This Week

  • Chris Stapleton – Traveller
  • Sawyer Fredericks – A Good Storm
  • Hard Working Americans – Rest in Chaos
  • Alabama Shakes – Sound & Color
  • Foy Vance – The Wild Swan

Album I Predict Will Be #1 Next Week

  • Chris Stapleton – Traveller

Biggest Gainer This Week

  • N/A

Biggest Loser This Week

  • Mary Chapin Carpenter – The Things That We Are Made Of – Down 8 from #3 to #11

Thoughts

Not a bad start at all for the Americana/Folk Albums chart this week. As I expected Stapleton takes the top spot with Traveller and will chart on both country and Americana chart. Same for Sturgill Simpson and his new album A Sailor’s Guide To Earth. There are a couple bigger names I didn’t expect to see, which are Sawyer Fredericks and James Bay. Both are more along the lines of singer-songwriter/acoustic-based artists, however it is entirely fair to put them on this chart because they do fit the Americana definition. Alabama Shakes and The Lumineers are two acts that really define the chart and why we needed it. The inclusion of Ruth B is the only one that caught me off guard. Then again I’ve only heard one song from her, so maybe she fits the chart well.

As you can see I have not heard all of the albums on this chart, but that won’t be a problem moving forward and only be the case on this first one as the chart begins to define itself. Some of you probably thought I would never give a -1 on an Americana pulse and I prove you wrong on the very first one. I couldn’t even get through the Carpenter album because as I remarked on Twitter last week, it was just too dry throughout and had no variety sonically. It’s a shame because I was expecting big things from it, especially with Dave Cobb as producer.

It’ll be interesting to see what names will pop up each week on this chart and how long it will take before we hit a perfect score or a negative score. As always be sure to weigh-in below with your thoughts and let me know what you think of the format. I’m still tinkering with it and wouldn’t say it’s set in stone. This feature might also be on Tuesdays moving forward and only came out today because I’ve been debating myself on how to approach this. Anyway let me know your thoughts.

Update 1

I’m starting to slowly listen to each album without grades and I’m going to update as I go along.

Ruth B – The Intro (EP): The four song set has some nice piano arrangements, but all of the songs sound too similar. “Lost Boy” is a good song though. It’s a shame the other three don’t do more to stand out.

Sawyer Fredericks – A Good Storm: I couldn’t even make it all the way through with this album. It’s the definition of generic and fits the “white guy with a guitar” stereotype to a T. Also another reminder of why I stopped watching The Voice years ago because it churns out cookie cutter artists.

82 thoughts on “The Current Pulse of Americana Music [June 4]

  1. Zackary Kephart May 25, 2016 / 1:22 pm

    My initial thought to Mary’s album as I listened through the first 3 or 4 tracks, “wow, this is good!”. My thoughts after listening to more and more tracks, “Dear God when will it end?”

    Taken as an album, Mary’s album is mediocre. However, there’s some individual tracks that work very well. It’s kind of like the Honeycutter’s “Me Oh My” album from last year – stuck in one tempo and kind of boring after awhile (although the Honeycutter album had a lot more flavor than this).

    In other news I absolutely love this new feature! It’s about damn time Billboard recognized Americana as a legitimate genre. I don’t think anyone is going to beat Stapleton for awhile though haha.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. OlaR May 25, 2016 / 3:02 pm

    “Americana”: the mix of artists & styles is still a little bit strange. Sawyer Fredericks (with a Pharrell Williams mix on the album) & Loretta Lynn? It’s like Loretta Lynn & Luke Bryan on the same charts. Wait….oh, well.

    Like

  3. petemarshall724 May 25, 2016 / 8:06 pm

    I do like Loretta Lynn “Full Circle” but I can’t stand Sawyer Fredericks at all. He shouldn’t win the Voice because he is not that great and I can’t stand his music at all.

    Like

  4. Cobra May 25, 2016 / 9:13 pm

    I’m surprised at the reaction to the new MCC album. I love it. It’s exactly what I’ve come to expect from her after her last several albums. It may not be a ground breaking 10/10 album, but for me, I would give it a solid 8/10.
    .
    However, on another note, do you know anything about the criteria for an album to fall under this banner? SCM broke it down a little bit, but I couldn’t really get a clear picture. I recall an article Trigger posted a bit back about Green River Ordinance being excluded from country despite filling out metadata indicating their album as country. Is similar criteria being imposed here?

    Like

    • Josh Schott May 25, 2016 / 9:56 pm

      The most concrete answer I could give you on the criteria comes from this article in The Tennesseean:

      Billboard said the new chart will generally consist of Americana, folks, root and acoustic acts, “including solo singer-songwriters of those styles, with greater consideration given to acts leaning more toward the Americana side than before.”

      I strongly think the official definition given on the Americana Association’s website is also taken into consideration by Billboard considering there’s no other authority on the genre/label.

      I’m assuming the same procedure is followed in regards to metadata with Americana/Folk. The whole reason the GRO fiasco happened was because major country labels were starting to feel the affects of independent-minded and Americana acts impacting the country chart. It isn’t a secret that many major label acts have struggled to sell albums while Americana acts are starting to move more and more like with Jason Isbell and Sturgill Simpson. By creating this Americana chart I wouldn’t expect to ever have another GRO incident happen. The metadata aspect and approving acts in regards to appearing on charts is a non-factor/issue 99% of the time because there isn’t any point in objecting. But the major labels started putting pressure and objecting to Billboard because it was affecting their artists’ chart position and they love to use these numbers for their ads and marketing. Well any artist uses their chart position for marketing. So I wouldn’t worry about another GRO incident.

      Like

      • Cobra May 25, 2016 / 10:01 pm

        Cool. Thanks for the clarification.

        Like

        • Josh Schott May 25, 2016 / 10:02 pm

          No problem!

          Like

  5. jess May 26, 2016 / 8:43 pm

    Sorry if this is a dumb question… is this new chart for albums as a whole, rather than individual songs? I suppose that makes sense, I don’t recall hearing about Act A or Group B or Singer C releasing singles in the Americana genre, which makes more sense because there’s not really a platform for them to release singles but rather albums as a whole….

    Sorry, I don’t follow these charts very closely but I do enjoy seeing the pulse posted each week and seeing the “health” of things. Same reason I tried to watch the Billboard awards… even though I don’t like most/all of the acts that are on there I still like to know what’s going on. Sort of like watching Fox News or MSNBC depending on which side you’re on.

    Thank you.

    Like

  6. Daryl May 29, 2016 / 12:54 am

    What are your opinions of the latest albums from Kurt Vile, Father John Misty, Courtney Barnett and Sufjan Stevens? (they charted on the Folk Albums chart before)

    Like

    • Josh Schott June 1, 2016 / 11:50 am

      Well the Father John Misty album was one of my favorite albums of the year, although it never got a proper review on the site because we still hadn’t fully incorporated Americana/folk coverage into the site and wasn’t sure if FJM would fit. But I Love You Honeybear is a fantastic album. I didn’t hear the Vile album and only heard parts of the other two, although I what heard sounded good. They’re on my long list of stuff I want to listen to in full.

      Like

  7. Beth June 1, 2016 / 9:47 am

    Love the soulful music Sawyer Fredericks provides. His music tells a story and he sings from the heart with a lot of emotion. Gotta see him live to appreciate. Go to a concert. You won’t regret!

    Like

  8. Kent bishop June 1, 2016 / 9:58 am

    Clearly the reviewer is an idiot. Not able to listen to Sawyer Fredericks a good storm all the way through. What a tone death Sudo review. This LP has rave reviews from real critics such as AXS and yahoo music. Not a country hack

    Dude when showed your ignorance through out this hack if a review.

    Like

    • Josh Schott June 1, 2016 / 12:47 pm

      Congrats! You’ve left the dumbest comment on this post. By the way, you’re looking for the word pseudo, not sudo. Sudo is a program for Unix-like computer operating systems. By the way those “real critics” are just copying and pasting PR releases from the artists for their reviews and aren’t allowed to be negative (as someone who has been offered a spot at AXS and knows writers there), but that’s what most of you fans are used to seeing so I can’t say I’m surprised you’re angry when you actually get real, honest thoughts. I guarantee this “country hack” as you refer to me, is being much more honest with you than any of those “real critics.”

      Also nice sentence structure!

      Liked by 1 person

    • jess June 1, 2016 / 7:34 pm

      stopped in to say… your comment doesn’t even make any sense, regardless whether you like the album or not…. lurn guud ing-lesh bro.

      that said, while I think Sawyer’s music is great, every song sounds exactly the same which is a major disappointment.

      Liked by 1 person

  9. Lori Ann June 1, 2016 / 10:17 am

    Sawyer’s “A Good Storm” is anything BUT cookie cutter! He is the most amazing singer/songwriter to come along in quite some time. His music cuts straight to your soul and truly makes you feel! I suggest that the reviewer give this LP another listen and forget the fact that Sawyer was ever on The Voice.
    Truly shocked at the “review”

    Like

    • D Miller June 1, 2016 / 5:05 pm

      Additional comment: Sawyer’s talent was developing long before The Voice. Reviewer is not familiar with earlier work “Out My Window” which contains all original songs written before the age of 15. Sawyer’s talent is certain to grow exponentially in the next few years. He’s definitely a talent to follow.

      Like

  10. Donna Knott Funk June 1, 2016 / 10:18 am

    I don’t agree with the so-called “review” on the Sawyer Fredericks CD!! What were YOU listening to?? I heard originality, heart, emotion, and raw talent. I felt the words go into my soul. The lyrics alone could be a poetry book on their own. The talent of the young man is amazing and the fact that he is only 17 is incredible. The music is memorable and definitely something different. What is your reasoning for the not even listening??? You’re missing greatness111!!

    Like

  11. stephanieunger June 1, 2016 / 10:23 am

    Yes, I am a Sawyer fan, so this is coming from someone who has listened to ALL of his music (not just part of an album). There is nothing cookie cutter about him, especially when compared to other Voice winners. The album offers many different musical styles, so each song might not please every single person. However, you should have listened deeper and gotten further into the album. My advice for the reviewer is to listen to an entire album before grading it. I believe that’s your duty if you’re going to review it, right?

    Like

  12. Tracy June 1, 2016 / 10:24 am

    Sawyer Fredericks album “A Good Storm” is an original work of art. Not everyone will understand it in the same way but for those of us who do, its a gift. He’s an amazing and gifted performer and his music makes you “feel” if you let it.

    Like

    • Margaret A. June 1, 2016 / 10:33 am

      AMEN 😄

      Like

  13. Elizabeth June 1, 2016 / 10:29 am

    Surely you listen to cookie cutter music yourself based on the fact you didn’t listen to Sawyer Fredericks Lp “A Good Storm” all the way through. His songwriting is pure emotion bound up with his live performances pulls the audience in and doesn’t let go until the last note. His West Coast Tour was mostly sold out at every venue. So please take another listen.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Josh Schott June 1, 2016 / 12:48 pm

      Don’t give two shits about his West Coast Tour being mostly sold out. I review music and that’s it. Your useless stat has no bearing on my thoughts on the music.

      Like

      • Elizabeth June 1, 2016 / 1:15 pm

        Thank you for your kind honest reply.

        Liked by 1 person

  14. Ray MacDonald June 1, 2016 / 10:29 am

    This opinion piece reminds me why few take reviews like this seriously.

    A number of flaws

    • the reviewer should know the subject.
    The writer knows precious little about the artist, his music, or enormous popularity and emergence as a genuine talent.

    • ground observation in observable fact.

    Writer ignores or discounts the remarkable accomplishments in this new artist.
    Sawyer Fredericks was voted most loved of all The Voice™ performers.
    Millions of viewers votes.
    Millions of YouTube views and re-views of his performances.
    Record setting sales on iTunes.
    Most songs in top 200 at one time.
    According to Republic, Fredericks broke many series sales records for The Voice, with nine singles reaching the iTunes top 10, and 14 singles charting in the Top 200 during the final week. A total of nearly one million digital singles were sold in the course of the show.[1] Throughout the competition Fredericks maintained a strong social media presence, with leading numbers of followers on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram.[23]
    etc…

    • Analysis, perception, insight
    Josh compounds his uninformed stance with a disparaging swipe at Sawyer Fredericks and “cookie cutter artists”

    It is Sawyer’s originality, authenticity that so appeals. His songs are well-written and played with intense emotion that so many enjoy and connect to. These facts continue to swell the number of listeners, fans and supporters.

    For more:
    http://www.sawyerfredericks.com
    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sawyer_Fredericks

    Liked by 1 person

    • Josh Schott June 1, 2016 / 12:55 pm

      A number of flaws in this comment outlined below, along with:

      An observation of your ground observation in observable facts:

      – Don’t give a shit about his accomplishments. I’m only reviewing the music.
      – Don’t give a shit that he was voted most loved on The Voice. I’m only reviewing the music.
      – Don’t give a shit about millions of viewer votes. I only review the music.
      – Don’t give a shit about millions of YouTube views. I only review the music.
      – Don’t give a shit about iTunes sales. I only review the music.
      – Don’t give a shit about records and social media. I only review the music.

      That’s all my opinions based on. Just the music. None of that outside stuff matters with my reviews and never ever will.

      Analysis:

      Ray has no idea how to accept someone saying negative things about his favorite artist, so he resorts to straw man arguments that do nothing but show his lack of knowledge when it comes to reviewing music. Perhaps Ray should have studied the reviewer, much like how he suggests I should have “studied” Sawyer Fredericks to give a review.

      I reward your comment no points and may the father of reasoning and understanding guide you.

      Like

      • Ray MacDonald June 1, 2016 / 1:34 pm

        Why would I study the reviewer?
        The idea with journalism is to cover the story, not become the story.

        I cited examples, facts, that speak to the opinion of millions of real people.
        Maybe they don’t post a blog… but they vote, attend concerts, buy albums, and whose opinions are valued by everyone in the music industry. These facts support the argument that his work is valued, followed and has merit…. Unlike the notions of a blog writer.

        I can accept constructive, reasoned criticism. What I cannot abide or give value to is an unprofessional, lazy performance by one who poses as a music critic and won’t even listen to music they’re commenting on.
        That fact is telling about your purported professionalism.

        Like

        • Josh Schott June 1, 2016 / 2:05 pm

          My comment about studying me was facetious and mocking your suggestion I study the artist. I was familiar with Sawyer enough to review it. I don’t have to know every little thing about him to comment on his music. I wouldn’t call what I’m doing journalism. I’m just a blogger with thoughts. Nothing more.

          “I cited examples, facts, that speak to the opinions of millions of real people”

          Sure and the key word here is millions of people. Their opinion, not mine. I told you before and I’ll say it again. I listen to the music and my opinion of it is solely based off the music. None of that other stuff matters when it comes to my opinion. It is my opinion, not yours, and you don’t get it decide how I base it. If you want to base your opinion off those facts, go right ahead. I prefer the quality of music dictating my thoughts on music, not numbers and sales. McDonalds may sell more hamburgers than anyone else, but that does not make it the best hamburger. Sales and popularity doesn’t always mean good quality. It means you’re the most profitable, marketable and popular. All things that have no bearing on art quality.

          Like

        • Ray MacDonald June 1, 2016 / 2:29 pm

          Those details are one measurable outside of my narrow opinion…that’s why I offered them.
          and… they are only external data points. Aesthetic and artistic assessment can often be reduced to personal factors.

          Since you did not give a full listen, or provide a full review… You might ask yourself why one would bother to revisit your blog… if only to witness another half baked artifact plucked from your backside

          Like

          • Josh Schott June 1, 2016 / 2:59 pm

            Please don’t let the door hit you in the ass as you leave. Thanks for reading!

            Like

        • Zackary Kephart June 1, 2016 / 2:40 pm

          Ray, If you actually read this blog you would see that Josh has provided plenty of in-depth reviews of artists he both likes and dislikes. One little comment on an album shouldn’t be enough to drive readers away. It might be enough for fans of Sawyer but to assume that Josh does all of his reviews like this is acting ignorant of the two years worth of work he’s done on this blog.

          Liked by 1 person

        • Ray MacDonald June 1, 2016 / 3:05 pm

          a writer I am no longer interested in hearing from… and wonder at those who support him.
          we already got your earlier contribution, Zach…maligning contributors as likely trolls.

          curious when a critic receives warranted criticism and lashes out with excremental sludge
          .. some can dish it out..
          but have a hard time being on the receiving end of warranted criticism.

          Like

          • Josh Schott June 1, 2016 / 3:10 pm

            I can’t take criticism? Hahahahahaha! This is hilarious. This is coming from a guy who came to my blog with a bunch of other super fans to tell me I’m wrong and got all pissy about a one paragraph opinion.

            Like

      • Zackary Kephart June 1, 2016 / 3:09 pm

        It’s Zack

        And I already apologized for that and explained why I stated my earlier comment.

        Like

    • Ray MacDonald June 1, 2016 / 3:14 pm

      can’t get back the time I wasted here…
      lesson learned

      you’re a fraud.

      Like

  15. Karen Milles Johnson June 1, 2016 / 10:44 am

    I’m surprised about your reaction and comments about Sawyer Fredericks LP. Generic would be the last word I would use to describe this artist/work. I feel like I’ve been waiting years for this music. Original and heartfelt. Agree with another comment, “feels like a gift.” This is a 17 yr old boy who writes his own music and is so adamant about staying true to himself that he will not change it for fame or money. This is to be applauded. I love this beautiful music and will enjoy for years! Give it another listen!😊

    Liked by 1 person

  16. Zackary Kephart June 1, 2016 / 10:47 am

    Well I can tell someone is a big Sawyer Fredericks fan and is posting under various names…..

    God I hate when comments get flooded with trolls.

    Like

    • Ray MacDonald June 1, 2016 / 10:58 am

      Zach, I know many of these commenters personally…they are real folks, sincere, taking a moment to share their views about an artist they care a great deal about.

      Liked by 1 person

        • Ricos June 1, 2016 / 12:39 pm

          Yep, and his West Coast fans are just getting into their morning reading, so more to come as he has a big fan base. Do yourself a big favor and go see him live Zack, you’ll love him and we will all embrace and welcome you!

          Liked by 1 person

    • DITJ June 1, 2016 / 10:59 am

      Trust me, no various names needed. He has a huge following.

      Liked by 1 person

    • Traci McCormick June 1, 2016 / 11:00 am

      This is where you are wrong. Sawyer has a very strong fan base that was alerted to your review today. You are hearing from only a tiny fraction of those that LOVE Sawyer and his music & will step up and challenge negative reviews- especially from people that obviously know nothing about the artist or his music.

      Like

      • Zackary Kephart June 1, 2016 / 11:11 am

        It’s not my review Traci. I’m just a reader.

        Like

        • tcmcmd June 1, 2016 / 11:16 am

          I apologize Zack. My mistake.

          Like

    • Lori Ann June 1, 2016 / 11:11 am

      I assure you these are real posts, from real folks. Sawyer’s fanbase is huge and quite relentless. This review has just been brought to our attention. The onslaught will continue. No offense intended, just want to set the record straight 🙂

      Like

    • Gail W. June 1, 2016 / 3:39 pm

      Zachary, these are all different people.
      I’m curious, Josh. How far did you get on the LP before you quit listening?

      Like

      • Gail W. June 1, 2016 / 3:43 pm

        *Zackary

        Like

      • Josh Schott June 1, 2016 / 3:52 pm

        Seven songs in

        Like

  17. Char June 1, 2016 / 10:55 am

    Please listen to the entire Sawyer Fredericks album! The music is soulful, the lyrics are beyond his years and his voice delivers powerfully. He’s not necessarily country and if that’s what you expected, that could be the problem. Sawyer has many fans and he will continue to grow as an artist!

    Liked by 1 person

  18. DITJ June 1, 2016 / 10:56 am

    Disappointing that you did not listen to A Good Storm all the way through. Love the LP and his newer music (find on youtube) is mindblowing.

    Like

  19. Pam Bowen June 1, 2016 / 10:59 am

    Sawyer Fredericks LP is the first CD I’ve purchased in thirty years. His music Is thoughtful and emotional. His live performances mesmerize his audience. The fact that he has the ability to write such meaningful songs is beyond belief at such a young age. I taught many gifted children but what Sawyer does can not be taught it. It comes from deep within his soul.

    Liked by 1 person

    • southtexaspistolero June 1, 2016 / 3:59 pm

      Sawyer Fredericks LP is the first CD I’ve purchased in thirty years.

      Boy, have you missed a shit-ton of good music.

      Liked by 3 people

  20. Stephanie Cohen June 1, 2016 / 11:38 am

    I have never been a fan of The Voice, but just happened to stumble on Sawyer’s performance of Man of Constant Sorrow and have been hooked on him and his music ever since. I know that it is hard to let a teenager into the depths of your soul, but if you listen to his music with an open heart & mind, that is where you will find yourself. I must admit that due to the many co-writers and producers on this album (something concocted by the record label) the album does reflect some inconsistency, but that doesn’t take away from the fact that they are all good. Did you listen to What I’ve Done? I mean really listen? Or This Fire? Or Not Coming Home? And 4 Pockets takes you into the manic experience and thought process of someone contemplating suicide in a way that isn’t melodramatic or sappy. Perhaps the real issue is that Sawyer doesn’t really fit into any genre description and when you slap a label on something you have expectations. Sawyer is unique. Sawyer is an artist. I hope Republic chooses to trust Sawyer’s impeccable instincts and give him 100% creative control over the next LP. In the meantime, give “A Good Storm” another listen. This time without a pre-conceived notion as to what you will find

    Liked by 1 person

  21. Ricos June 1, 2016 / 11:57 am

    Love this new category! Americana may save those of us ready to scream in pain as yet another over produced pop track tops the billboard charts. Can’t understand why the reviewer gave what came across as a half-hearted effort to actually review the albums here. Stopped listening to Sawyer Fredericks’ A Good Storm? Seriously? So, I’ll help her out. Cookie cutter? Absolutely not – “This Fire” is a lovely love song whose rises and falls brings to mind a beautiful ballet dance unfolding. “What I’ve Done” is a haunting/chilling tale from a cold-hearted lover, and Sawyer’s unique voice gives real belief to the indifferent sadness of the man who drove his lover to her death. “Still Here” breaks your heart as the pleading doomed lover’s voice knows his fate, yet still reaches out. Sawyer’s tone and deliberate pace makes this song so unique and powerful you find yourself turning up the sound to hear/feel more. “Shots Fired” is a fun turn, entirely different from the other songs, as a lover’s voice is her “weapon of choice”. Again, Sawyer’s powerful voice brings it to life. “4 Pockets” has so much, including the amazing changes in tempos going for it, you just have to hear it, again and again! A crowd favorite at his concerts, you may have a hard time wrapping your head around the fact that it is a song about suicide. When you get down to truly deciphering the actual lyrics and understanding the powerfully delivered lines as “this fear is CRUSHING me, I want to get out, but I’m trapped beneath it’s feet,” you realize this teenager can write and deliver the language of PAIN via song better than most seasoned adults. Sawyer’s voice is powerful and sincere – go hear Sawyer in concert for the best musical experience you’ve had in ages! Americana music! So Happy you’re back to save us!

    Liked by 1 person

    • Josh Schott June 1, 2016 / 12:56 pm

      The reviewer is not a her. I’m a dude.

      Like

  22. Becca June 1, 2016 / 12:09 pm

    I am another real person commenting on an amazing young new artist, Sawyer Fredericks. This young man is an extremely talented songwriter with a lovely, soulful, mesmerizing voice. It is certainly disappointing to hear a reviewer make a judgment on an album he confesses he didn’t even listen to in its entirety, that seems a little disingenuous and a less than professional effort to me. To each his own, I certainly understand, however, Sawyer has a very large, loyal following for his unique talent that obviously appeals to many.

    Liked by 1 person

  23. Rebecca Pifer June 1, 2016 / 12:15 pm

    Sawyer Frederick has made me fall in love with music again. I got so tired of hearing the same old, same old songs. I discovered that Sawyer has been writing, singing, and playing the guitar since he was twelve. He has played farmers markets and had been busking. He already had an independent album out when he was thirteen. He is kind and his fans from all over the world love him. Your ill done review has unleashed the like of #AGoodStorm like you have never witnessed. Enjoy your day!

    Liked by 1 person

  24. Vicki June 1, 2016 / 12:16 pm

    I’m also a Sawyer Frederick’s supporter. Sawyer has a strong support team all over the United States. He even has a fan from Uruguay that has a Go Fund Me account trying to raise money to come to the United States to see Sawyer and some of his other fans. https://www.gofundme.com/26tkhfnu

    I definitely don’t think your review is accurate. Go see him at one of his concerts. He will be on tour in the middle and eastern part of the United States in the near future.

    Liked by 1 person

  25. Jenna DiFeo June 1, 2016 / 12:38 pm

    Re: Stephanie Cohen’s comment @June 1, 2016 at 11:38 am

    Ms Cohen pretty much says it all. Perfectly.

    The only thing I would add is to get a true feeling of Sawyer and his music, he must be experienced live. To get an idea of his vision of a couple songs on A Good Storm you can watch his performance at Aspen82, KSPN Kitchen.

    This Fire: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=LiqiyAAjrg4
    4 Pockets: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=dFiqAruthXY

    Even fan videos at his live performances don’t do justice to actually being there, but here is one more song from the album when Sawyer was at the Soiled Dove Underground, Denver, CO 5-11-16, as part of his west coast tour.

    Not Coming Home: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=2_4vtd95p4U

    If I were to try and fit Sawyer into existing genres I would say Soulful Americana Delta Folk.

    One day he will be with an Indy label and won’t be shaped and molded by a large record label who as we all know do not have the artists best interests at heart. Sawyer Fredericks is a once-in-a-lifetime talent. I can’t wait to see where his journey takes him and us.

    Like

  26. Josh Schott June 1, 2016 / 12:38 pm

    Alright fans of Sawyer Frederick I see all of you and to clarify I am the one who wrote this piece and gave my thoughts on the album above. So a few things to address and clarify with all of you:

    1) A lot of you did not revert to silly name-calling in disagreeing with my mini-review and I will acknowledge that I appreciate this. For those who did, that is more of a reflection upon yourselves than it is yours truly.

    2) You’re obviously all very passionate about Sawyer and you’re not the first passionate group of fans and certainly won’t be the last to get pissed off at my thoughts. I understand you all really like the guy, but you do know it’s just my opinion right? You don’t have to agree and sending endless comments to my blog is not accomplishing anything nor going to change my opinion. As longtime readers of my blog will tell you, I stand by my opinions and rarely change them.

    3) I see a lot of comments rebuking my thoughts on the album not being good by citing things such as popularity, his large fan base, Twitter followers, YouTube views, his personality, etc. And none of this has anything to do with the music. My thoughts on A Good Storm are purely based on the music. None of that other crap matters to me. On my blog, ONLY the music matters in my grades and thoughts. I’ve given complete assholes nice grades and really nice people bad grades. I’ve given big names like Luke Bryan a 0 and indie artists with hundreds of followers 10/10. Music is all that matters to me and nothing else when giving grades and thoughts on the music. If I had a nickel for every time a pissed off fan countered my reviews with such bullshit nonsense like popularity, sales and social media followers, I would be pretty damn rich.

    4) Another popular comment above is how I should have listened through the whole album and since I didn’t my thoughts aren’t genuine or I’m not “doing my job” (hahaha). This is on your boy Sawyer. If he had made a better album, I would have gotten through. But you know time is short and when I’m listening to something that clearly isn’t working for me, there’s no point in continuing to listen. FYI I also listened to a majority of it. And if I did a full review of it, I would listen to all of it like I do for all proper album reviews on the site.

    So in conclusion I stand by my thoughts. You can all keep leaving comments and giving me more hits if you like, but it’s not going to do anything. If you guys enjoy Sawyer, more power to you. I don’t, I’ve left my thoughts and that is that.

    Liked by 2 people

  27. jenmarie June 1, 2016 / 12:40 pm

    Re: Stephanie Cohen’s comment @June 1, 2016 at 11:38 am

    Ms Cohen pretty much says it all. Perfectly.

    The only thing I would add is to get a true feeling of Sawyer and his music he must be experienced live. To get an idea of his vision of the songs on A Good Storm you can watch his performance at Aspen82, KSPN Kitchen.

    This Fire: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=LiqiyAAjrg4
    4 Pockets: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=dFiqAruthXY

    Even fan videos at his live performances don’t do justice to actually being there, but here is one more song from the album when Sawyer was at the Soiled Dove Underground, Denver, CO 5-11-16, as part of his west coast tour.

    Not Coming Home: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=2_4vtd95p4U

    If I were to try and fit Sawyer into existing genres I would say Soulful Americana Delta Folk.

    One day he will be with an Indy label and won’t be shaped and molded by a large record label who as we all know do not have the artists best interests at heart. Sawyer Fredericks is a once-in-a-lifetime talent. I can’t wait to see where his journey takes him and us.

    Like

  28. KMJ June 1, 2016 / 1:03 pm

    Hi Josh! I don’t think you “pissed off” the majority of the group. I think most of us were just surprised. And yes, we are a passionate bunch. 🙂 Hope you weren’t offended by the comments. Just would hate to see the industry pass over someone as talented as Sawyer for yet another cookie cutter artist. Have a good one!

    Liked by 1 person

    • Josh Schott June 1, 2016 / 1:08 pm

      Hey KMJ! Not offended at all and found them amusing actually. It’s always nice to see passion too. Trust me I’ve had much much worse comments that were actually offensive. Hope you have a good one too!

      Like

  29. Josh Schott June 1, 2016 / 1:11 pm

    One more thing: I will make a fair deal with you Sawyer fans. Show me your interest and if it’s a lot, I’ll go back and give the album multiple listens and a full, proper review. How does that sound, Sawyer fans?

    Like

    • Ray MacDonald June 1, 2016 / 1:41 pm

      You promise to give “a full proper review”… at some point, when you feel like it?
      This says much about your post

      Like

    • tcmcmd June 1, 2016 / 2:34 pm

      If I am being honest, the album is a poor representation of Sawyer’s talent. It is full of compromises with the label that do not let his true style and artistry shine. I like the album, but that’s with the back drop of knowing what Sawyer is truly capable of and of having seen him live many times. It’s hard to “hear” the album from the stance of someone that has never heard Sawyer and it makes me sad that for some, this is all he will be judged by. I am hopeful that his next album will be pure Sawyer without the label’s overbearing influence. Hopefully he will find a producer that is able to capture the magic that happens when you hear him live and the way his voice feels a room. A recording just doesn’t do it justice. If you do listen to the album again, know that the first several tracks are co-writes & while they are good, they have influences in them that aren’t Sawyer. Take It All (the 1st track on the album) was Republic’s attempt at a pop song (and Sawyer IS NOT a pop artist). You have to get deeper into the album until you find the songs that Sawyer wrote himself (and unfortunately the liner notes are misprinted)… What I’ve Done, Still Here, A Good Storm and 4 Pockets are all his original work, written when he was only 14. And as for genre, I agree that I’m not sure where he fits. He isn’t really folk, Americana, rock or country or even singer/songwriter. He’s a combination of all of those mixed in with a little blues, but he really doesn’t really fit neatly in any one category. Anyway, I write all of this to say that you are certainly entitled to your opinion of the album (it is your blog after all), but I’d love if you would reserve judgement on Sawyer as an artist until you’ve heard more and ideally until you’ve had a chance to see him live. You may still decide you don’t like his music, but hopefully you will have changed your opinion that he is cookie-cutter and generic.

      Like

      • jenmarie June 1, 2016 / 4:38 pm

        Thanks, tcmcmd. Exactly how I feel about the album. Was not surprised though. That’s how big labels roll. They have a formula for what they believe sells. Sawyer stuck to his guns on some of his originals (and I too wonder why RR listed other writers on songs he wrote before he ever went on The Voice) but even on those you don’t get the full impact — the hit to the solar plexus that happens when you see/hear him live. A live album would be the best way to showcase Sawyer’s rare, hard-hitting talent. That’s why I posted a few links to live appearances. But even those don’t do justice to the power and intensity of his live performances.

        Josh, whatever your opinion and whatever you write after listening to the entire album, if you ever get a chance to see him live I hope you’ll take it. I think Sawyer and his band will surprise you. In a good way! Don’t know where you are but his next tour schedule should be announced soon.

        http://www.sawyerfredericks.com/

        Thanks for listening/reading all of us and allowing us to fill up your blog! 😉

        Like

      • sac452 June 1, 2016 / 5:27 pm

        I think you hit the nail on the. Josh should wait for the next album when, hopefully, Sawyer will have 100% creative control.

        Like

  30. Zackary Kephart June 1, 2016 / 1:31 pm

    Since I also left some words here I want to speak up too. I apologize to all of the Sawyer fans who I called “trolls”. It’s just that this blog has seen its share of artists get criticized only to have one person disguising as multiple people to share their vitriol. I can see you all are a passionate group of people and I can respect that. The rest was nicely said by Josh already.

    Liked by 1 person

  31. judith hoffman June 1, 2016 / 1:50 pm

    Yes, listen again! However, the bland RR “canned instrumentation” and inability to adjust to his tender, soulful artistry in his song lyrics & melodies needs a live band to accompany him! You need to go to You Tube and search newyorker9 for live performances from the west coast tour. He now has his own band assembled by him,and who, through endless rehearsals came to know his songs. We, his Sawyerville fandom pray that a live album will be his next! He fits in no current genre. He is a soulful rock, folk, blues, country, etc. artist.He is his own genre. Listen to him! Please! P,S. His Deluxe A Good Storm CD at FYE does have one true country song called “Bittersweet”.

    Liked by 1 person

  32. Lynn Nyquist June 1, 2016 / 2:34 pm

    I’m confused about the comment that Sawyers music is cookie cutter. I don’t know any music like his. Please do check closer into his music . Who you think he sounds like?

    Like

  33. J.D. Suggs June 1, 2016 / 2:39 pm

    Josh, as you see, Sawyer Fredericks has a large, passionate and vocal fan base that loves his music. This includes me. Having read your opinion, and seen that it comes from a site called “country perspective”, I am concerned with the recent change Billboard has chosen to make regarding the Singer/Songwriter chart, and the confusion it seems to be causing. Lumping so many disparate genres into one category does a disservice to everyone. Sawyer is a singer/songwriter, and is unique in that he cannot be squeezed into any one genre. His songs are raw, personal, deeply felt and heartbreaking, but hard to categorize. Where, for example would you place “Silent World” (written at age 16), which is reminiscent of Dylan’s “Masters of War”? (If you don’t have the extended FYE version of the album, here is a link: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=psVrcJAMAz8 ) Thank you for your willingness to listen.

    Liked by 1 person

  34. Rebecca Pifer June 1, 2016 / 2:43 pm

    If you want to do a genuine review of Sawyer’s songs. Check out the YouTube videos mentioned previously. His band, no mixing, giving his all for his fans. You will be amazed!

    Like

  35. southtexaspistolero June 1, 2016 / 4:05 pm

    You people have to be kidding me. Made you get back into music? First cd you bought in however many years? For fuck’s sake, have none of you people ever heard of Texas or Red Dirt music? Pat Green, Cory Morrow, Randy Rogers, Wade Bowen, Jason Boland, The Turnpike Troubadours? Come ooooooon.

    Liked by 1 person

  36. Shaunasea M. June 1, 2016 / 4:10 pm

    Sawyer said….he can not understand that there are competitions with music, that music is personal preferences.
    With that said: I can not understand why people feel the need to write reviews or read them for that matter, I did not read your review just these comments…Proof Sawyer Fredericks music creates a passionate feeling that needs to be expressed….LOL 😂

    Like

  37. Al Schilling June 1, 2016 / 4:19 pm

    First, I have to say that I am a big Sawyer fan. But I have to ask you other fans to give Josh a break. As he said, he only reviews the music on the record. I have listened to the record many, many times, and while I have enjoyed it greatly, there are parts that make me cringe. The record is simply over produced. This wasn’t Sawyer’s fault – he had little or no control over that. I would have to guess that most of the blame would have to go the record company trying to make a record that would appeal to their concept of the ideal record buying public. When he has the ability to get with a more compatible record company, then I think we will all be happier. In the meantime, while the review is maybe a little harsh, I wouldn’t say that it was terrible. I am sure we will all enjoy Sawyer’s next album much more.

    Liked by 3 people

  38. jenmarie June 1, 2016 / 5:19 pm

    Sawyer Fredericks at San Francisco Social Hall 5-23-16 performing new untitled song.

    Like

  39. Anonymous Reader June 1, 2016 / 5:37 pm

    Sawyer Fredericks is a soulful artist who captivates people across the globe. People around the world listen to his music every day. You don’t have to care that he won The Voice. You don’t have to care that he has made booming sales on iTunes and music platforms alike. You don’t have to give a second thought about his successful West Coast Tour. However, you are remarking on how some fan opinions don’t matter in the bigger picture, but with that logic, the opinion you’re fighting isn’t any more important either. How can you, yourself, decide an artist’s/an album’s potential if you haven’t even listened to the full album? It’s like a book reviewer reading a full book and giving it a good rating, but reading the book jacket of another that could have the same potential and giving it a poor rating. You wrote that you didn’t exactly care for all the albums on the list, but for some reason you chose to target Fredericks as what you call a stereotypical “white guy with a guitar” and “cookie-cutter” artist. I’d just like to point out that there are multiple “white guys with guitars” on that list alone, not to mention in the world. As for “cookie-cutter,” I don’t know what your personal line between cookie-cutter and everything else is, but Fredericks writes all-original music (OCCASIONALLY with co-writers) which speaks to people and he is genuine — voice, guitar, and all. You are entitled to your opinions, but you need to accept that people listen to this kind music and have opinions of their own. Lastly, the way you are responding to comments left by readers with harshness and profanity is irrefutably unprofessional, whether you are a hired reviewer or not. I hope you reconsider Fredericks’s music, and if you still don’t get the real Fredericks frenzy, you might just not understand.

    Like

  40. Samy June 1, 2016 / 7:46 pm

    People, are you listening to something I am not listening too? I was just listening to one of the songs you provided a link too up (This Fire), just to know who’s that guy you are all fighting for, and with all honesty, I couldn’t complete that one song. Yes, He is a cute boy, yet his music was sooooo boring. And I couldn’t figure out what he is even saying in that song. His diction and phrasing is a mess. I am sorry, I just accidentally found this blog and thought you are probably fighting about this new phenomenal break out singer. It all seemed after that one view, like another struggling amateur w/ ppl that are prob. Inspired by his looks. I honestly wish him well. But he still needs a lot to learn before being a singer.

    Liked by 1 person

  41. DITJ June 1, 2016 / 8:38 pm

    Huh, another ‘person’ that couldn’t make it through a song/album but still chooses to make a negative comment…interesting. His ‘looks’ didn’t win The Voice, his voice did. His ‘looks’ didn’t sell out most of West Coast Tour, his talent and band did. All this at 17 yrs old. People need to be more careful of their words, karma never fails.

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