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“Are You Open?” Seth Walker sings on his transfixing new album of the same title. More than just a question, it’s a challenge, an invitation, a dare. “To me, being open means being vulnerable and exposed,” explains Walker, “but that’s where the little nuggets of creative gold come from. I never planned an overall concept for this record, but each of these songs seemed to spin out from asking myself that one simple question.”
Produced by The Wood Brothers' Jano Rix, ‘Are You Open’ marks Seth Walker's tenth studio recording, and the music is undoubtedly his most inventive, exploring new sounds and textures as he examines what it means to truly be open, both as an artist and more broadly as a human in today's increasingly more complicated world. The songwriting here is bold and infectious, featuring melodies and rhythms drawn from Walker’s time spent in Havana and filtered through his split-screen life in New Orleans and Nashville. The result is a melting pot of sounds and perspectives, a soulful brew of roots music from the Americas and beyond. Songs frequently build off of a single chord, shifting in color and tone as they ebb and flow and stack layer upon layer over hypnotic bass lines and percussion grooves. The record features Walker’s guitar playing more heavily than ever before, and the new approach suits him well, showcasing a melodic prowess to match his prodigious lyrical gifts.
‘Are You Open?’ follows 2016’s critically acclaimed ‘Gotta Get Back,’ a stunning collection that found Walker excavating the roots of his love affair with music by reuniting the family that first sparked his fire as a child. That album traced its origins back to Walker’s native North Carolina, where he grew up on a multi-family commune and studied classical violin and cello before ultimately discovering his passion for soul, jazz, blues, and folk. He’d go on to deftly mix all those genres and more in his work as a solo artist, organically building up a celebrated two-decade career that’s earned him praise everywhere from The Washington Post to NPR, who hailed his "hard-driving" songs and "sweet tenor," in addition to landing him dates with The Mavericks, The Wood Brothers, Raul Malo, Paul Thorn and Ruthie Foster, among others.
Learn More at: www.sethwalker.com
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Shelby Lynne Moorer was born in Quantico, Virginia, on October 22, 1968, and raised in Frankville, Alabama. She came from a musical family and her house was filled with the sounds of classic country music as well as The Beatles and Elvis. Her mother was a natural singer, and her father began teaching her to play guitar around age seven. Lynne once said in an interview, “I was singing before I could talk.”
After high school, Lynne decided to leave her Alabama life behind, for Nashville in 1989, so she could pursue her musical dreams. Once in Tennessee, Lynne met veteran songwriter Bob Tubert, and she gave him her demo tape. Tubert liked it and played it for the TV producer of Nashville Network's Nashville Now, who invited Lynne to perform on the show. The performance caught the attention of CBS Records, and Lynne was offered a contract with the label.
Over the next three years, Lynne produced an album a year: Sunrise (1989), Tough All Over (1990) and Soft Talk (1991), landing a few hits along the way. In 1991, she won the Academy of Country Music’s Top New Female Vocalist award.
Never complacent, after two more albums, Lynne became hungry for a change from the Nashville system, and for her next album she enlisted producer Bill Bottrell, who had worked with such artists as Michael Jackson, Madonna and Sheryl Crow. The resulting album, I Am Shelby Lynne (1999), recorded far away from Nashville on the Northern California coast, earned Lynne the Grammy for Best New Artist in 2000—which was especially poignant as she had been in the music business nearly 13 years.
Love, Shelby was released in 2001, followed by two self-produced albums:Identity Crisis (2003) and Suit Yourself (2005). Just a Little Lovin’, her critically acclaimed tribute to Dusty Springfield, was released in 2008. And the same year Suit Yourself came out, Lynne made her acting debut in the Johnny Cash biopic Walk the Line, playing Cash's mother. She has also appeared on the TV shows Head Case (2007) and Army Wives(2009).
Again showcasing her need to take a different path, Lynne founded her own label, Everso Records, and its first release, Tears, Lies, and Alibis, debuted at No. 16 on Billboard’s Top Independent Albums chart in April 2010. The album resonated with critics as well, and Newsday called it “her strongest album in a decade.” After this critical success, Lynne released her first-ever holiday collection, Merry Christmas, in time for 2010's holiday season.
In 2011, Everso released Revelation Road, and Lynne headed out on a year-long solo acoustic tour. In 2013, a five-song EP, Thanks, came out to rave reviews from the likes of Mother Jones and The New York Times. Lynne said of the album: “These songs are a way to express my love and gratitude to the universe and to all of the music appreciating souls out there for the friendship and fellowship that music brings us.”
In 2014, I Am Shelby Lynne got the deluxe reissue treatment.
I Can't Imagine was released in the spring of 2015, it was her first album for Rounder. The tour that followed included complete concert performances of the new recording and I Am Shelby Lynne in a single set.
Lynne and sister Moorer teamed for the Side by Side tour, and considered recording an album together. The plan was shelved until 2017 when they got together in Los Angeles with producer Teddy Thompson and a small group of invited guest musicians including Benmont Tench, Erik Deutsch, Doug Pettibone, and Val McCallum. The sisters chose to record a host of covers from the classic country canon, alongside contemporary fare by pop and Americana songwriters. Their lone co-written original was the set closer "Is It Too Much?" Titled Not Dark Yet, the album was released by Thirty Tigers in August. They sold out venues across the U.S. And U.K. Lynne recently wrapped her first starring film role called Here I Am, a rock and Roll saga, directed by Cynthia Mort (Nina, Tell Me You Love Me). Lynne co-wrote the music and film score. The new single Off My Mind is currently available online.