The 20 Best Folk And Country Records Of 2018

For fans of country and folk, 2018 was as good a year as any, even if it felt like these artists in these genres on the margins had to fight even harder than ever for the recognition they deserve. Still, if there’s anything the country and folk-minded among us are excellent at, it’s fighting for what they rightly deserve, and plenty of artists put their all on the line in order to get their just deserts. From radio hits and Billboard chart toppers to independent, brand new artists with nothing to their name but a collection of folk songs and a dream, here’s a look at the shining stars in this realm for 2018.

Read More
Jesse Atwell
Poll Results: Slingshot's Best New Artist Of 2018

This was a busy year for NPR's Slingshot artists — 40 exceptional, emerging talents from around the world, hand-picked by public radio stations. They dropped albums, signed record label deals and spent innumerable hours working in studios and on stages. Despite the inevitable changes that come with moving from open mics to stadium tours, one element of their success remained constant: you.

Read More
Jesse Atwell
NPR Best Music of 2018

During a turbulent year rife with personal and political trauma, the most memorable songs pulled no punches in the pursuit of pop. They also arrived from all directions: emerging from longtime partnerships and unlikely collaborations, from fertile local scenes and solitary experiments.

Read More
Jesse Atwell
Interview: Ruston Kelly talks debut album, songwriting and touring with The Wandering Hearts

Although he only released his first EP last year, Ruston Kelly had been making a name for himself long before then.

Originally from South Carolina, Kelly was taught to play guitar by his father, pedal steel guitar player Tim Kelly. He moved to Nashville aged 17, where he wrote songs for several major artists. This September he released his debut album, Dying Star, to critical acclaim. He’s currently out on the road supporting The Wandering Hearts on their latest UK tour.

Read More
Jesse Atwell
Ruston Kelly On World Cafe

I couldn't make it through Ruston Kelly's full-length debut in one stretch the first time I tried. Between the mortal question — "How the hell do I return to normal / If I'm always ending up flat on my back?" — he poses on the opening track and the heart-wrenching harmonica on the next tune, by the time the vocoder washed over the image Kelly as the "son of a highway daughter, born in gasoline" on Track 3, I had to take a welled-up walk away from my desk. Kelly's been to the brink and back, and you can hear it in the moving songs that make up his latest album, Dying Star.

Read More
Jesse Atwell
Ruston Kelly’s Long, Hard Road to Success on the Next World Cafe – Today at 2 pm

Ruston Kelly has been to the brink and back, and you can hear it in the moving songs that make up his new Americana album, Dying Star. At 17, he moved to Nashville where he landed a publishing deal, and the first song he co-wrote was recorded by Tim McGraw. He then developed a drug problem that took over his life for years. Kelly talks with host Talia Schlanger today about overdosing, getting clean, and falling in love with his now-wife, fellow singer-songwriter Kacey Musgraves. Plus, Ruston Kelly performs live. On the next World Cafe.

Read More
Jesse Atwell
Luck Journal: Ruston Kelly on "Dying Star"

Ruston Kelly learned how to perform on the ice. ”I used to figure skate competitively. Aggressively. I skated to Nirvana,” Kelly says, which led him to move away from home to live with a husband and wife coaching team (cue I, Tonya). It’s when he moved away to skate that his father, Tim “TK” Kelly (who often tours with the younger Kelly and played steel guitar on his album), gave him a guitar and a Jackson Browne record and predicted “You might need this”.

Read More
Jesse Atwell
Songwriter Ruston Kelly Announces 2019 Headlining Tour

With its vulnerable lyricism and stark production, Ruston Kelly’s debut album Dying Star is proving to be one of the most magnetic releases of the year. The songwriter is currently on the road in support of the record, playing two sold-out shows in Los Angeles this week before hitting the Pacific Northwest, Midwest and, as his final trek of 2018, the U.K.

Read More
Jesse Atwell
Ruston Kelly on New Album ‘Dying Star’ and Why Women Are Superior Songwriters

“I wouldn’t have been able to make this record unless I got clean, unless I found what sobriety meant to me. Not what it meant for someone else.”

Ruston Kelly is sitting at a corner table at a popular neighborhood pub in East Nashville. He has a natural ease about him, quick with a smile and genuinely interested in those around him. Only a couple minutes inside the door, he’s already made friends with a fellow patron. Unsurprisingly, he’s one of the rare interviewees who asks questions in return.

Read More
Jesse Atwell
RUSTON KELLY ON NEW ALBUM, ADDICTION, HOW KACEY MUSGRAVES HELPED ‘PICK UP THE PIECES’

On the surface, life is damn-near picture perfect these days for Ruston Kelly. The singer-songwriter just celebrated his thirtieth birthday, is happily married to fellow musician Kacey Musgraves and, after generating critical buzz following last year’s Halloween EP, he’s released his debut full-length, Dying Star (9/7). But Kelly knows better than to think he’s in the clear. After all, those years he spent addicted to cocaine and amphetamine, many spent living in his van, they never really leave you.

Read More
Jesse Atwell
Ruston Kelly Makes a Shining Debut

Up until this week, you may have only known Ruston Kelly as Kacey Musgraves’ husband. But with the release of his debut full-length record Dying Star, he will be solidified as an artist worth your full attention. Kelly fuses the raw rasp of Ryan Adams with the demon-wrestling songwriting of Jason Isbell on Dying Star, with songs reconciling the dark days of his past with the brighter future ahead of him. Kelly finds softness in the midst of a sometimes gritty, messy life, and maintains hope even when it seems there’s nothing to live for.

Read More
Jesse Atwell
Ruston Kelly: Dying Star

Little more than a year after releasing his debut EP, Ruston Kelly has arrived with his first-ever full-length, a 14-song collection that showcases Kelly’s fine-tuned songwriting.

Read More
Jesse Atwell