Jim Allen

Note: NPR's First Listen audio comes down after the album is released. However, you can still listen with the Spotify or Apple Music playlist at the bottom of the page.

On November 23, 2016, just a week after an election that left much of the nation in a state of shock, veteran Omaha singer-songwriter Simon Joyner came to New York to play at Carnegie Hall for the first time. He was opening for longtime friend Conor Oberst, who has always cited Joyner as a primary influence. Joyner had just finished a song about the election, and he was eager to unveil it.

Note: NPR's First Listen audio comes down after the album is released. However, you can still listen with the Spotify or Apple Music playlist at the bottom of the page.

Note: NPR's First Listen audio comes down after the album is released. However, you can still listen with the Spotify or Apple Music playlist at the bottom of the page.

Note: NPR's First Listen audio comes down after the album is released. However, you can still listen with the Spotify or Apple Music playlist at the bottom of the page.

Stephen Stills and Judy Collins' duo album, Everybody Knows, marks the long-deferred continuation of a story that started nearly half a century ago. But the title track brings closure to a musical relationship that goes even farther back.

Note: NPR's First Listen audio comes down after the album is released. However, you can still listen with the Spotify or Apple Music playlist at the bottom of the page.


Though its title is taken from the Old English term for "the sound of winter," much of James Elkington's solo debut bears a distinctly autumnal vibe. With a feel that harks back to the British singer/songwriters of the early '70s, Wintres Woma ultimately seems to capture the slow seasonal slide from fall's gentle unbuttoning into an icier, more frigid landscape.

For a guy with a luminous past, Glenn Morrow sounds firmly fixated on the future on this tune from his first album in 28 years. In the '80s, Morrow was at the epicenter of the Hoboken indie scene that spawned the likes of The Feelies, The Bongos and Yo La Tengo. He fronted local linchpins The Individuals and had played in 'a,' the band that evolved into The Bongos and basically laid the groundwork for the whole Hoboken movement.

Five decades after The Byrds forged the Big Bang of country rock with Sweetheart Of The Rodeo, the impact's still being felt: An alt-country love letter to that influential LP was what tripped the trigger for rising Americana artist Pete Mancini's solo debut.

If Buddy Holly is somehow still capable of hearing the sounds emanating from this mortal plane, there's a good chance he's sporting a broad grin upon encountering "Tip My Heart." The title track from the debut album by Sally & George bears a Spartan sparkle not far removed from the kind that marked the late rock 'n' roll pioneer's venerated output.

Don't be misled — the rugged, timeworn quality of the vocal at the center of this song from Michael Chapman's latest album, 50, has nothing to do with the fact that the veteran British troubadour is 75 years old; he already sounded like that when he was in his 20s.

As partners in marriage and in the rootsy duo Shovels & Rope, Cary Ann Hearst and Michael Trent used to think there was no way their worlds could get any more intertwined. Then they had a kid.

"If I had to live in L.A., I'd be building pipe bombs. It drives me bats," says David Crosby, who — between co-founding The Byrds and Crosby, Stills & Nash — is more commonly associated with the place than 99.9 percent of the musicians on the planet. But he's not just railing arbitrarily against his hometown; he's wryly comparing it to New York City, the object of his affection in "The City," a sinuous song from his new solo album, Lighthouse.

There's a muffled snare beat, like a throat-clearing cough at the start of a speech, and then a gentle cascade of guitar arpeggios before Kayla Cohen starts to sing. The bucolic vibe is the ideal complement to her warm, aqueous tones, as she begins to spin a tale as pastoral as the production on "Buddy."

Bob Weir had good reason for vehemently roaring, "If I had my way I would tear this old building down," when the Grateful Dead played the Omaha Civic Auditorium on July 5, 1978; the chorus of the galvanic "Samson And Delilah" might have expressed how he and the rest of the band were feeling when they began performing that night at the 11,000-capacity venue for a crowd that reportedly didn't exceed three figures.

Note: NPR's First Listen audio comes down after the album is released. However, you can still listen with the Spotify playlist at the bottom of the page.