Jim Allen

David Crosby is on a roll. After a gap of more than two decades in his solo discography, he has now made three solo albums in less than four years. "Sell Me A Diamond," from his latest album Sky Trails, shows the kind of lyrical firepower keeping Crosby so prolific these days.

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.

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.

Nick Lowe has always been something of a prankster. The guy who called his first album Jesus Of Cool and once notoriously rhymed "Rick Astley" with "ghastly" always loved to give people's expectations a bit of a tweak. So in retrospect it's not surprising that his 1984 album Nick Lowe And His Cowboy Outfit featured only one actual country tune, a cover of the Faron Young hit "Live Fast, Love Hard, Die Young," buried at the end of the LP's second side.

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.

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.

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.

From its very beginnings, country music has scarcely lacked for songs about Jesus — you could fill several box sets with them and barely scratch the surface. But thanks to rising Texan alt-country songsmith Jason Eady's "Barabbas," the shadowy figure whose presence is crucial to Christ's tale is getting a rare shot at the spotlight.

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.

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.

With nearly seven decades in the rearview mirror and some of the finest songs in the English language under his belt, John Prine can do whatever tickles his fancy. As septuagenarian status looms, the celebrated singer-songwriter's muse has moved him to release an album of country duets.

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.

"I wanted some of the chords to just hang in the air, glimmering like stars," says guitarist/composer Chris Forsyth of "Harmonious Dance," a graceful instrumental from The Rarity of Experience, his latest outing with his Solar Motel Band.

On "Ain't No Grave," a track from his new solo album, the singer-guitarist Luther Dickinson stares death right in the face, quite literally.

"I could drop dead in the middle of this conversation," says Graham Nash. "But on the other hand so could you, no matter how old you are," he adds with mordant evenhandedness. Don't worry, the folk-rock elder statesman who's been one-third of Crosby, Stills & Nash since 1968 is just fine. "I have no intentions of leaving," he assures, "my health is pretty damn good. But you know what I mean."

Bambi Davidson isn't the stage-name of a legendary '70s stripper, but the moniker of a largely forgotten German group that in 2015 released a follow-up album a full decade and a half after its debut. That album's title track, "Brunswick," is more immersive experience than song — indicative of the musical changes that have propelled Bambi from a rock band into the kosmiche.

It's happened to most of us at one time or another — having our holidays hijacked by trusting our fates to the whims of Mother Nature and the vagaries of air traffic. It wasn't until celebrated songsmith Nick Lowe's 2013 curio, "Christmas at the Airport," that someone expressed in song what it was like to watch the hopes of holiday cheer fade right before our eyes, on a snow-covered runway in late December.

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

"Cosmic Richard" is a quietly lambent, beach-at-twilight kind of tune to help usher in autumn. Buried at the tail end of The Island, a collaboration between guitarist Chris Forsyth and electronic composer Koen Holtkamp, it offers just the right blend of bittersweet bemusement and low-key luminescence for the task.

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

Digging into a musician's early, unreleased material is a little like looking at a loved one's old family photos—if you're lucky, you gain a greater understanding of the person in the pictures. Such is the case of Iron & Wine fans that explore Sam Beam's Archive Series of DIY recordings, a glimpse of his initial steps as a recording artist. Like the series' first installment, Vol. 2 predates the release of the Iron & Wine debut, 2002's The Creek Drank the Cradle.