I was shocked to learn that The Civil Wars' Joy Williams and John Paul White were married, but not to each other: There's blissful, swooning chemistry as they stare into each other's eyes and sing magnificently together. For a moment, I almost felt duped, and then I remembered what I'd heard and all was set right again.
I'm pretty sure this is the coolest thing we've ever done behind the Tiny Desk. There was a bit of furniture-moving and finagling, but when all the heavy lifting was done, there it was: A Hammond B3 organ and its sturdy wooden Leslie speaker cabinet sat waiting for its star performer, Booker T. Jones.
Steve Earle has lived through the sort of horrors that have launched a million country songs: addiction, affliction, heartbreak, even prison. He wears them in his voice, but for all his authentic world-weariness, what's most appealing about him is the wide-eyed, unmistakable fearlessness with which he goes about his life these days.
I'd never think that a banjo player could find my musical sweet spot, which falls somewhere between Mali and The Velvet Underground, but Otis Taylor hits it, spot on. Taylor's music is trance-inducing, and he achieves that effect by playing songs that are modal: Sometimes, they sit on one chord for the entire song.
There's no one way to define a great voice: Genius might lie in the phrasing, the range, the power, the control, the words themselves, or some sort of indescribable something else. But one way to diagnose genius for sure is to have a singer walk into a crowded room with little to no accompaniment, open his or her mouth, and command breathless attention in a matter of seconds.