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Top Tunes for March

Our Favorite New Music from the Blue Ridge and Beyond

Every month our editors curate a playlist of new music, mainly focusing on independent artists from the South. In March we’re highlighting new tunes from Phosphorescent and Will Overman.

Phosphorescent “Revelator” 

After six years, Phosphorescent is back with new music. The long-running project of Nashville (by way of Alabama) tunesmith Matthew Houck will release a new album, “Revelator,” on April 5. The title track is a reflective folk-rock tune about drifting through the phases of a long-term relationship, with meandering pedal steel and idyllic strings that match the mood of the lyrics. – J.F.

The Coal Men  “Black Cat”

The Coal Men, fronted by long time singer/guitarist Dave Coleman, return with their first record in nearly eight years. “Black Cat,” the first single from “Everett,” is named for the 1950s upright piano used by Coleman to add textures and tones to the trio’s groovy swagger. It growls out a be-careful-what-you-wish-for warning to anyone considering an impromptu, and potentially combustible, liaison. Over a droning bass line, Coleman intones that something that seems so right at the time might turn out to be so, so wrong. – D.S.

David Nance & Mowed Sound “Mock the Hours”

If you dig the retro fuzz and choogle-rock of Neil Young and Crazy Horse or Creedence Clearwater Revival, you need to check out David Nance. His 2020 album “Staunch Honey” was a gritty set of revivalist gems, and now he’s back with a self-titled effort with his band Mowed Sound, which came out last month on Jack White’s Third Man Records. Standout track “Mock the Hours” is a raw rocker, with jangly guitars and a stomping rhythm that sounds like it belongs on the FM dial in the 70s. – J.F.

Rosali “Rewind”

When they’re not focusing on their own music, Nance and his band provide backing for singer-songwriter Rosali Middleman, who performs as Rosali. After getting established on the Philadelphia music scene, Middleman has recently made some big moves, relocating to North Carolina and signing with the venerable indie label Merge Records. “Rewind” comes from her Merge debut, “Bite Down,” which comes out on March 22. First single “Rewind” is a jangly garage-rock song that builds in intensity, as it’s guided by Rosali’s classic voice, which evokes the Pretenders’ Chrissie Hynde. – J.F.

The Taj Mahal Sextet “Queen Bee”

Taj Mahal descended upon The Church Studio, the Tulsa, Oklahoma, haven of his friend and fellow icon, the late Leon Russell, to record a 10-song set in front of a live audience in August of 2022. “Queen Bee,” a song he learned from the legendary Mississippi John Hurt and originally recorded in 1977, attests that the performance was a spiritual experience. Joined by bluegrass heavies Rob Ickes on dobro and Trey Hensley on guitar, the 81-year-old Taj Mahal holds court, his resonator guitar and raspy vocals as sharp as ever. – D.S.

The Steel Wheels “Easy On Your Way”

A wise man once said that the only words of consolation the grieving really want to hear are, “I can bring her back.” Our deepest sympathies, offered with the best of intentions, fall well short of that. The Steel Wheels tackle love and mourning, inspired by the all too real sorrow experienced by fiddler Eric Brubaker after the loss of his young daughter, on “Easy On Your Way.” The reality is that there is no right thing to say in those most despairing moments, but the band offers healing through song, which seems like a step in the right direction. – D.S.

Will Overman “Virginia is for Lovers”

“Virginia is for lovers, but I hate it tonight,” sings Commonwealth troubadour Will Overman in the chorus of his new single, an easy-going country-rock song about conflicted feelings after a breakup. With callouts to the Potomac and Shenandoah, Overman clearly has affection for where he lives, but heartbreak has a way of souring the setting, so returning to some memories of his favorite places is bittersweet. – J.F.

Charlie Parr “Portland Avenue”

During a 20-plus-year career, Charlie Parr has become known for his masterful take on country blues, powerfully delivering songs that swell around his crafty guitar fingerpicking or clawhammer banjo stylings. A first time listen to “Portland Avenue” might be pleasantly jarring, as Parr is backed up by a full band. Electric guitar drenched in reverb, pedal steel, organ, and piano, along with a rock-solid rhythm section, deftly support Parr’s bluesy tenor vocals. While unexpected, the sonic pivot is bound to be well appreciated.

To hear these songs and more, follow the Blue Ridge Outdoors’ Trail Mix playlist on Spotify.

Cover photo: Rosali will release a debut album on Merge Records on March 22. Photo by Asia Harman.

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