Austin City Limits announces four new Season 44 tapings to kick off the summer of 2018: legendary songwriter John Prine on June 5, contemporary country queen Kacey Musgraves on June 6, Austin indie rockers Wild Child on June 21 and soulful singer/songwriter Anderson East on June 22.
Hailed “the Mark Twain of American songwriting” by Rolling Stone, John Prine (who made his ACL debut on Season 3 in 1978) makes his highly-anticipated eighth appearance on ACL with a new batch of songs from his just-released The Tree of Forgiveness, his first album of originals in thirteen years, and the highest-charting album of his 47-year career, debuting at #5 on the Billboard 200. Produced by Dave Cobb in Nashville’s historic RCA Studio A, Tree features guest appearances by Jason Isbell, Amanda Shires and Brandi Carlile, as well as co-writes with Dan Auerbach, Pat McLaughlin and Phil Spector. But it’s Prine and his distinctive vision that hold the spotlight, what the New York Times calls “a handful of folky chords, a melody that sounds like it’s always been around, a grainy and understated vocal and lyrics that summon complex emotions in a rigorous minimum of syllables.” Pitchfork praises the “virtuoso at understatement” for “finding the joy in the mundane, and writing about what it means to be alive,” trying, as the Nashville Scene notes, to help us “tolerate the bitter taste left by bewildering, painful experiences like death and love.” “Prine’s heart is all human,” says The Tennessean, “It beats in every song on The Tree of Forgiveness …the most personal record of his 47-year recording career.” He may be singing about going to heaven,” proclaims NPR Fresh Air, “but his earthiness keeps his music alive.”
Kacey Musgraves dazzled in a standout ACL debut in 2014, and the now two-time Grammy Award-winning singer-songwriter makes her return appearance celebrating her acclaimed third album Golden Hour. The new album is generating glowing reviews, with NPR stating, “she’s relaxed into the sound she’s already designed, going deeper beneath its sparkly, vintage-tinted surface and further cultivating her innate commitment to clarity and craft,” and Noisey proclaims “it’s clear that the Texan is still the most talented songwriter in mainstream pop-county.” Co-writing and producing with Daniel Tashian and Ian Fitchuk, the Golden, Texas native created an album that marks a more personal, emotional chapter for a songwriter who has been celebrated for her piercing observations and finely-hewn storytelling. “I had a different mindset this time, which was feeling rather than thinking— leading heart first, rather than brain first,” the newly-married artist says. “I was feeling genuinely happy for the first time in a long time, and it started pouring out in ideas and songs.” In this window of creative exploration, she and her collaborators offer strikingly new musical directions, with inspirations ranging from Neil Young to Sade, even dipping lightly into disco. “You won’t find anybody on this earth more inspired by traditional country music more than me,” she says, “but there are all these other facets of music that inspire me, too. I was wondering what it would sound like if those influences could live cohesively.” Pitchfork calls the record “an assured, artful snapshot of a particular rush of feelings, but its wisdom speaks volumes to Musgraves’ ongoing evolution.” Consequence of Sound calls Golden Hour “an honest, cohesive musical experience that will linger in your mind and heart long after the final notes have faded.”
Austin’s Wild Child make their ACL debut in support of Expectations, the band’s most creative, colorful and intellectually engaging album to date. The Austin-American Statesman raves, “Four albums in, the Austin indie-folk band-that-could has become increasingly confident without losing the sense of childlike wonder that’s so central to the spirit of their music.” The septet’s new release rose out of a desire to take a multispectral approach to writing and recording that went beyond simply trying to engineer success. The band made a list of their favorite musicians who were also producers, choosing ones they thought would shine a new light on specific compositions, and then set about chasing their album from studio to studio all over the world. That route took them to Chris Walla’s (Death Cab For Cutie) studio in Tromsø, Norway, to a home-built warehouse studio in Philadelphia with Dr. Dog’s Scott McMicken, and back to Wimberley, Texas, as Matthew Logan Vasquez (Delta Spirit) set up a makeshift studio in Wild Child lead singer and violinist Kelsey Wilson’s childhood home. The group also tapped the talents of frequent tour mate Chris Boosahda (Shakey Graves), Atlantic Records recording artist Max Frost, and Grammy-winning producer Adrian Quesada (Black Pumas, Brownout). The result is a theater of possibilities, with arrangements that reflect the range of tastes of the producers, from scruffy lo-fi tape hiss to smoothed out precision-cut electronic pop sounds. “Without sacrificing Wild Child’s signature pop swell, Expectations emerges soulful and serious,” says the Austin Chronicle.
Called “an exciting singer-songwriter effortlessly able to blend elements of rock, blues, country and soul” by Associated Press, Anderson East steps on our stage for the first time with his latest album Encore, produced by longtime collaborator Dave Cobb. The album’s title is derived from East’s steadfast belief: that every song on his new album must be worthy of closing out one of his notoriously epic live shows. The Athens, Alabama native broke onto the music scene with “Satisfy Me” from his 2015 major label debut Delilah, followed by a breakout series of years that included appearances on Cobb’s Southern Family compilation, Brandi Carlile’s Cover Stories benefit LP and the Fifty Shades Darker soundtrack, as well as spending much of 2017 on the road with Chris and Morgane Stapleton as part of their All-American Road Show. The New York Times calls Encore “an often lustrous revisiting of raucous Southern soul, rousingly delivered and pinpoint precise,” with NPR Music claiming that it “draw[s] inspiration from the sophistication of Donny Hathaway’s compositions and arrangements, the grandness of Van Morrison’s Caledonia Soul Orchestra and the dashing song interpretation of Joe Cocker.” American Songwriter says, “This remains a sharp, soul-drenched, organically based set that solidifies the R&B roots at the heart of East’s talents,” adding that it’s “poised to push the talented singer-songwriter over the top and into the mainstream.”
Want to be part of our audience? We will post information on how to get free passes about a week before each taping. Follow us on Facebook and Twitter for notice of postings. The broadcast versions will air on PBS later this year as part of our Season 44.