“Lesson For You Kid” reminds me of The Beatles, more specifically it reminds me of the explanation John Lennon gave for their song “Please Please Me”  "I was always intrigued by the words of ‘Please, lend me your little ears to my pleas’ – a Bing Crosby song. I was always intrigued by the double use of the word ‘please’. 

 Here, lead singer Steve Sallett doesn’t exactly repeat words but the clever intermingling of ‘less than a lesson" is an intriguing frame for the rest of the song. The intro is a bit of a non sequitur, a sharply picked guitar melody that gets replaced by a swelling tremolo rhythm guitar.  The backing vocals are an absolute highlight, echoing the lead at the perfect moments. It’s another great number off of another great album from 2011 and you can download it for free below.

Lesson For You Kid- The Poison Tree

“Lesson for You Kid” is off of The Poison Tree’s debut album, The Poison Tree, released on March 15th of 2011 on Embarque Records.


A shifting-sway of a rhythm is what will catch your ears first on Trent Dabbs “Keep Me Young”, a song off of his latest LP, Southerner.  What you will not find is the typical warm crunchy riffs of southern rock, despite the tongue-in-cheek “Neil Young”.  The arrangement here is quite engaging, with a soft pulse of percussion, and some rather gorgeous and golden guitar work drifiting among lingering harmonies.  "What was I looking for/ cause’ it was you that keeps me young" It’s a love song, but not for any one in particular and a rather perfect track off of a under-appreciated album of 2011. Check out the download below.

Keep Me Young- Trent Dabbs

“Keep Me Young” was on Trent Dabbs’ latest album Southerner , released by Ready Set Records  on September 13th, 2011.

As a bonus, check out the acoustic ballad “Me & God”, a Josh Ritteresque tune.

Me & God- Trent Dabbs

James Vincent McMorrow is a Irish singer-songwriter whose Early in the Morning  album is full of the hushed intimacy that brought the inevitable comparisons to Bon Iver’s debut album (he even locked himself away for 6 months, though this time in a cabin by the seaside) but McMorrow sticks to a more organic arrangement. While Bon Iver’s vocal arrangement’s bordered on ethereal, McMorrow’s gorgeous twists and turns have the organic tenacity of an R&B soul man(he modeled his vocal stylings after Donny Hathaway, a man too few know) .  "This Old Dark Machine" boasts a great melody that could easily have been a Fleet Foxes or Mumford and Sons arrangement, but McMorrow wins the audience over with his sheer honesty. If it was all a marketing ploy, I’ve rarely seen it better disguised.

Check out the free download below

“This Old Dark Machine"  is the sixth track on James Vincent McMorrow’s debut album Early in the Morning.

This Old Dark Machine- James Vincent McMorrow

I could say that for a man of 24 years, Blake Mills is wise beyond his age. I could say that the guitar work on here is exemplary of what he has to offer the world, filled with warmth and character and more interesting than many guitarists double his age. I could note that this intriguing pick of a cover, “Heart of Mine” from Bob Dylan’s ‘Shot of Love’ period echoes his confidence as a performer.  

He may not have all the commercial credit he deserves, but to any artist he’s on the top of their list, from touring mate Lucinda Williams, to Dawes, even Jackson Browne have been proud to share a stage with him. 

Chimes of Freedom, the Amnesty International tribute album composed of Bob Dylan songs, could thrive on the strength of this number alone amongst 75 other compositions, and we’re all the better for it.

Check out the free download below

“Heart of Mine” is on the upcoming Amnesty International tribute album, due for release on January 24th

Heart of Mine- Blake Mills and Danielle Haim