Today’s New Albums: Arlo McKinley, Lizzo, The A’s & We Banjo 3

Stream these new releases out today.

By Team JamBase Jul 15, 2022 6:46 am PDT

Each week Release Day Picks profiles new LPs and EPs Team JamBase will be checking out on release day Friday. This week we highlight new albums by Arlo McKinley, Lizzo, The A’s and We Banjo 3. Read on for more insight into the records we have all queued up to spin.

Arlo McKinley – This Mess We’re In

Singer-songwriter Arlo McKinley today released This Mess We’re In, the singer-songwriter’s second solo album released by Oh Boy Records. The follow-up to his critically-acclaimed 2020 LP, Die Midwestern, finds the Cincinnati native once again working with producer Matt Ross-Spang at the historic Sam Phillips Recording Service facility in Memphis. The 11-track This Mess We’re In also features the same core backing band as the last album, with McKinley accompanied by keyboardist Rick Steff, drummer Ken Coomer and guitarist Will Sexton. The material on This Mess We’re In was informed in part by the death of both McKinley’s mother and best friend, as well as other tragedies including other friends succumbing to drug addiction. McKinley shared the following statement about This Mess We’re In:

“I’m private with a lot of things I go through, but in my songs, I’m honest about everything. So I started to write as a way of getting stuff out. To me, This Mess We’re In is a growth record. I was navigating through a pretty bad time, but also there was the realization that it’s time to really change. My last album was me figuring out whether to stay or go from a very confused spot in my life. This one is trying to better myself – as a musician, as a human being, as a friend. I hope listeners can identify with the things they’re too ashamed to talk about or feel. There’s such a stigma that goes along with things like addiction and mental health. I just want them to know that I go through all of that too. At least for the 47 minutes of the album, you can remove yourself from the world and just let everything disappear for a bit.”

Lizzo – Special

Lizzo released of her fourth full length album, Special, via Nice Life Recording Company/Atlantic Records. The album, which was previewed by the singles “Grrrls” and “About Damn Time,” serves as the follow-up to the multi-talented singer-songwriter’s 2019 major label debut, Cuz I Love You. Among the producers/musicians who contributed to the 12-track new LP were Benny Blanco, Ricky Reed, Blake Slatkin, Max Martin, Ilya Salmanzadeh, Ricky Reed and Nate Mercereau. Lizzo, who also played flute, shared the below statement regarding Special:

“So here we are. You are finally able to listen to this album I’ve working on for three years and I know it’s been a long time and it’s about damn time I put it out. But you have to know that I took my time for me but I also took my time for you. I wrote almost 170 songs for this album to find these perfect 12 songs to bring to you because I felt like this was not what only I needed to hear, but you needed to hear, and what the whole world needs to hear. These are songs about love, whether self-love, love your family, love your friends, or love for a significant other. I really believe that love for oneself and for others is what this world needs to be a better place. If you can take just the time to give a little love to yourself every single day, treat yourself with respect, treat yourself the way you deserve to be treated, and then treat somebody else with the same love or respect that expands, that grows and that can save a life. It saved my life so many times and I’m so honored to be a part of your life. I hope you enjoy the music. I hope you cry, laugh, dance, twerk, do the splits, do whatever you want to do. I’m honored to be doing it with you. So thank you for listening to Special, loving Special , and being special cause if you don’t take nothing away from this album I want you to know you’re special and I’m so glad you’re still with us. Thank you.”

The A’s – Fruit

Amelia Meath (Sylvan Esso) and Alexandra Sauser-Monnig (Daughter of Swords) came together for the aptly named new project The A’s. The Mountain Man bandmates released their debut album as The A’s, Fruit, today on the Psychic Hotline record label. The 10-song album consists nine covers of standards, traditional ballads and lullabies, alongside a lone new original composition. Despite only now issuing their debut album, the pair first performed as The A’s back in 2013. The A’s came to the forefront last year when Meath and Sauser-Monnig were inspired by their shared fondness for the DeZurik Sisters’ original recording of “Why I’m Grieving.” Produced by The A’s and Meath’s Sylvan Esso bandmate Nick Sanborn, Fruit was recorded at Betty’s, Sylvan Esso’s studio in Chapel Hill, North Carolina. The album’s unconventionally generated sounds came from “nylon shorts, hair, shoes, chunks of ice, gravel and frog samples.” Sanborn added vocals, electronics and more. Additional Fruit contributors include Alli Rogers, Gabriel Kahane, Sam Gendel, Alan Good Parker and Jenn Wasner.

We Banjo 3 – Open The Road

We Banjo 3 issued a new album, Open The Road. The self-described “Celtgrass” group from Galway, Ireland consists of two sets of brothers: Enda Scahill and Fergal Scahill as well as David Howley and Martin Howley. Their new album Open The Road follows the 2018 bluegrass chart-topper Haven as well as a live record in 2019 and a holiday LP last year. Open The Road grew out of the lockdown days of 2020 early on in the pandemic with David Howley and his Nashville roommate Scott Mulvahill using their newfound and ample free time to lay down tracks in their home studio.

“We had a house full of instruments, microphones, coffee and whiskey,” David Howley recalled, “so we did what we could to stay sane.” When David mentioned to Scott he had a new tune in the works, the latter replied “Well let’s finish it then!” as he tore into a new bag of coffee beans. That song became Open The Road lead single and opening track “Hummingbird,” which the band finished tracking in Maryland nearly two years after the song’s inception in 2020.

The new record also features The Infamous StringdustersAndy Hall, who lends dobro to closing cut “Believe In Us,” as well as contributions from drummer Danny Young and keyboardist Josh Shilling. Regarding the second single, “Gift Of Life,” David Howley told JamBase:

“In May 2020, in the usual haze of ‘waiting for more information’ and with a cup of coffee on the piano lid, I played one chord and the phrase ‘Over the ditch and into the wilds’ popped out. I sat there in the grips of realising a fear of failure can keep you on the ‘safe path,’ but what about the woods? There’s a lot of life to be lived under the trees. The song came from trying to convince myself that sometimes you might have to stumble into the unknown and trust yourself to choose the right turns.”

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