I just read the long list of Grammy nominees (damn, there are a lot of categories) and was pleased to see that among the obvious—the bedazzling Beyoncé, the can’t-shake-her-off Taylor, the soulful Sam—were a couple of longtime favorites of mine, Rosanne Cash and Eliza Gilkyson.
Cash is nominated twice for the fantastic song “A Feather’s Not a Bird” (best American roots performance and song) and once for the recording it’s on, The River & the Thread (best Americana album). I also especially liked the unusual track “Modern Blue.” Cash drew on her country beginnings for this album (a lot of the lyrics involve traveling in the South), and she wrote all the songs with her husband, John Leventhal, who also produced. Her voice sounds as rich as it did on Seven Year Ache, from 1981.
I haven’t kept up as well with Gilkyson. I first heard her music a long time ago when I was on a trip to L.A., also a first, happily driving those infamous highways and listening to a station billing itself as “The Wave.” Soon after, back in New York, I went to see her at the Bottom Line; she played an acoustic set with just her guitar, a tall, blond, captivating woman. More recently, her album Beautiful World fell into my hands, on loan. I resisted copying it but never downloaded it—OK, I’m going to do that—but remember in particular “Emerald Street” and “The Party’s Over.” She has both a sweetness and a knowingness, and I bet they come across on her new recording, The Nocturne Diaries (best folk album). Hey, how about a “best title” category?
I’m also happy about Beck, Ryan Adams, Sia, and Meghan Trainor—because she took her bass and ran with it.