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New Tracks on the Trail – 7/10

Apparently rumors of the CD format’s demise have not been exaggerated.

Like its fore-bearers in vinyl, cassette (and eight-track) form, the music delivery service that has dominated most of our adult lives is apparently living out it’s “hospice days”.

CD sales have dropped 88 percent since 2001, its decline reflecting a similarly dramatic increase in digital streaming services over the same period of time. Earlier this month Best Buy stopped selling CDs, leaving Missoula collectors confined to Rockin’ Rudy’s, pawn shops and Target – though that, too, appears to be just temporary.


Any worries about hearing the latest, greatest grooves, however, are entirely unfounded. The shift from CD culture apparently reflects music consumption trends less than it reflects a chance in how artists are reaching their fan base.

Case in point: Despite her announcement last week that her upcoming project will be her final album release, Sheryl Crow assuaged fans that she will continue to write and record new music – just in single-track formats instead.

“I’ll just start putting songs out,” she said, calling the album format “a dying art form.”

We’ll kick off this week’s New Tracks on the Trail with a nod to Crow’s commitment to change: The first single off her yet-to-be-titled final album, due in 2019.

“Wouldn’t Want to Be Like You” – released on the Stem platform – is a slam on Wall Street greed and features St. Vincent’s Annie Clark on backing vocals and guitar. This collaborative focus is apparently going to be a theme for the album, Crow’s 11th. Other reported guests (she invited most her “musical heroes,” she said) include Stevie Nicks, Keith Richards, Joe Walsh, Don Henley – and Johnny Cash.

 

Also on this week’s New Tracks lineup:

• Portland-based singer/songwriter M. Ward surprised fans last month by dropping his ninth studio record without any prior announcement.

A quick 35 minutes long, What a Wonderful Industry includes 12 new tracks, two of which feature My Morning Jacket frontman Jim James.


• Trail favorites St. Paul & the Broken Bones will drop their third studio release, the nine-track Young Sick Camellia, on Sept. 7.

The eight-piece Alabama soul band got help from hip hop/pop producer Jack Splash (Solange, Diplo, Kendrick Lamar) for the album, which marks their first since their 2016 break-through, Sea of Noise. That one was noted for its politics; this one moves into a more introspective realm.

Check out the Rolling Stone review of the album’s lead-off single HERE.

• His sound is too eclectic for a genre description, so we’ll just stick with acoustic rock for now.

We’re talking about LA-based Trevor Hall, who flirts with world music, chanting and a dash of reggae on his new project, The Fruitful Darkness.

Released in four parts beginning in August of 2017, Hall finally dropped the finale this past month.

The Fruitful Darkness – inspired by Joan Halifax Roshi’s Buddhist-inspired novel of the same name – marks Hall’s eighth studio release.

• Finally, one of the world’s most celebrated guitarist, Buddy Guy, makes a case for the blues in his 18th solo record – The Blues is Alive and Well.

Released in June, he new one – follow-up to Guy’s Grammy Award winning 2015 album, Born to Play Guitar – is collaborative-rich, with appearances from Mick Jagger, Keith Richards, Jeff Beck and James Bay.

If he’s not your favorite guitarist, Guy – who turns 82 this month – is at least your favorite guitarist’s favorite guitarist.

Check out an album review HERE.

There ya have it – another Tuesday, another batch of New Tracks on the Trail! Thanks as always to Rockin’ Rudy’s for sponsoring this weekly segment …

-Zeke Campfield

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