SILVER LADDER is an auditory shot in the arm from veteran touring songwriter Peter Mulvey. Produced by the indomitable Chuck Prophet, it is a lean, muscular collection of tightly constructed songs, leavening Mulvey’s tendency toward ruminative and yearning acoustic songs with a dose of sharp-witted, punchy rock and roll.
After a turbulent stretch in his personal life left him at sea, Mulvey decided to write his way out of it: “I've been through it. I bet you have too,” he said, “but there are times in life when you turn a corner and suddenly everything is simple: let's make some songs, people! Let's play!” Committing to writing one song a week relieved him of the precious, self-involved artist’s question, What Do I Have To Say? The songs came flooding out over the weeks and months, and within a year he had more than enough for a new record.
Most people mention the voice first. It comes from deep within. Sounds like it means what it says. Then come the lyrics and the stories -- ones about workers and lovers, mothers and sons, the dying and mourning, the prideful and the abused. Ones about the Midwest and the beauty and difficulty that characterizes life around here. There is a humanity in the songs that recalls the work of some of the folk tradition's finest architects. The songs linger. Exhale. Persist.
Simon Balto's work has garnered praise from critics both local, regional, national, and international. The Irish music publication Deadly Music! has compared his songwriting to top-of-his-game, Blood on the Tracks-era Dylan. The Chicago-based music curator Music Means Family said the following: “An unbelievable talent, his layered folk ballads are reminiscent of Baez and Dylan, Guthrie and Prine. There is a deeply satisfying componentto each of his songs – a reminder of home, woodsmoke, and the first traces of your breath as winter begins to settle.”
He has been featured on Wisconsin Public Television, Wisconsin Public Radio, Big Top Chautauqua's Tent Show Radio, Daytrotter, and has supported and shared stages with a wide range of artists in recent years, from Jason Isbell to Johnnyswim, Field Report to Anderson East, Peter Mulvey to Communist Daughter, Charlie Parr to Horseshoes & Hand Grenades.
In 2016, he will release Murmurations, a full-band record that features Shane Leonard (Kalispell, Field Report), Ben Lester (S. Carey, The Tallest Man on Earth, Aero Flynn), Steven Hobert, Kevin Rowe (Buffalo Gospel), and Amanda Rigell (Count This Penny).
John Statz recorded his new album with an all-star band in the middle of a Vermont ice storm.“We had to keep the stove burning the whole day, and then the electricity went out for ten minutes,” concedes Statz. “Luckily, we were just rehearsing.” John Statz will release Tulsa on March 10, 2015.
After years of DIY touring everywhere from Eastern Europe to Mexico, the Wisconsinite who now resides in Colorado fell in with fellow Midwesterner Jeffrey Foucault, a critically acclaimed songwriter and veteran of the Americana circuit. A fan of Statz’s last album (2012’s Old Fashioned, produced by Bo Ramsey), Foucault offered to produce his next record while the two were on tour together in Colorado.
The resulting Tulsa is beautiful blend of soft americana and smooth folk with echoes of The Jayhawks and Whiskeytown. “John writes songs you can’t shake,” says Foucault. “They follow you around all day and run through your head at 3 a.m. Open hearted, horizon-line songs.”
“Jeff kicked my ass. He pushed me to crank out well-written songs,” continues Statz. “He’s such a great songwriter himself and I felt like I had to step up my game. And then there is the absolutely amazing band…” The band John speaks of features Billy Conway (Morphine) on drums, Mark Spencer (Son Volt) on electric guitars and pedal steel, Jeremy Moses Curtis (Booker T) on bass, Jeffrey Foucault on guitars and vocals, Caitlin Canty singing harmonies and Matt Lorenz on fiddle.
“Tulsa feels like how I was always supposed to make a record. Hunkered down for three days, living and eating with the band, tracking live, all during the raging ‘Polar Vortex’.”