It is a truism, or at least it should be a truism, that in 2020 if you want to hear the most original music around, you should listen to Americana music.
There is no other genre that has the ability to be as diverse or eclectic.
The variant sounds that emanate from its main sources – Country, Bluegrass, Folk, Blues, early Soul/R&B, early Rock and Roll/Rockabilly, and certain eras of Jazz (Dixieland, New Orleans, etc.) are both distinct and especially ready to be endlessly mixed and matched with each other.
Today across racial, social, cultural, and gender lines, an infinite number of individuals and bands are writing, playing, and producing innumerable varieties of cross-pollinated Americana music unbound by the rules of established genres and traditions. It is an endless and aurally delicious stream that is as many-sided as America herself.
Against this backdrop, enter Asterisk The Universe, the outstanding new album from singer/songwriter John Craigie. With Asterisk, Craigie’s unique coupling of folk, rock, and soul with his humor infused storytelling style not only presents a compelling example of what I just mentioned but also continues to demonstrate that he needs to be considered to be one of the aforementioned genre’s more remarkable and original artists.
With his prodigious songwriting talent on full exhibit throughout this multifarious record, some of the highlights include the wryly defiant “Hustlin’”, the upbeat and infectious “Don’t Deny”, the haunting and introspective “Vallecito”, the inspirational “Climb Up” and the meditative and timely “Part Wolf”.
In these and the other songs on the album, there is an underpinning (and sometimes an exuberance) that sets them apart from a vast majority of folk music influenced compositions from other artists. There are no melancholic feelings about life in these songs, as is often the case with a lot of folk numbers, but a deep understanding and admission by the songwriter Craigie that the fact that we are alive and breathing is a fact that should be celebrated by us all.
In that light and judging by that standard, Craigie’s Asterisk The Universe is a great album for the tumultuous year that is 2020.
Asterisk The Universe by John Craigie on Thirty Tigers Records will be available June 12th on the artists’ website .
Credits: John Craigie- guitar, vocals, Niko Daoussis – electric guitar, Ben Berry-electric bass, Matt Goff-drums, Jamie Coffis-Wurlitzer, piano, organ, Lorenzo Loera-organ, Ezra Lipp-percussion, Erin Chapin-slide guitar, Rainbow Girls (Vanessa May, Caitlin Gaudi, Erin Chapin) – vocals, Jay Cobb Anderson- vocals, Kat Fountain-vocals, Aviva LaFey-vocals, Daniel Steinbock-vocals, Produced by John Craigie, Engineered by Bart Budwig