DAVID BALL, Sparkle City—Upon visiting the Land of Oz, Dorothy Gale observed, early on in her journey, “My, people come and go so fast around here!” Well, people come and go so fast in David Ball’s Sparkle City, too, but mostly because they know they belong by themselves, and have well-honed antennae to tell them it’s time to leave.

AUDIE BLAYLOCK & REDLINE, Cryin’ Heart Blues—One hesitates to say “third time’s the charm” when an artist has been as honored and critically acclaimed as has Audie Blaylock, but on this, indeed his third album, second with the sterling band Redline, he’s settled into a traditional bluegrass style full of energy and soul to burn that sounds as durable as the music itself has been over time.

ELIZABETH COOK, WelderThe title of Elizabeth Cook’s welcome fifth album refers both to her father’s chosen profession and a personal transformation of her own. It’s hard to discern much difference in the artist here and the one we heard on her superb fourth album, Balls (source of her signature song to date, “It Takes Balls To Be A Woman”), produced by Rodney Crowell, but if it’s a matter of degrees it’s in the sound of an artist both more resolute and more vulnerable.

DIRTY RIVER, Graveyard TrainIf the Grascals, Blue Highway, Dailey & Vincent, Ricky Skaggs & Kentucky Thunder, the Del McCoury Band and such come at their listeners with the force of mighty waters, the relative newcomers out of Washington, D.C. known as Dirty River are more like the genre’s rippling stream. The quintet’s debut album, centered on the John Fogerty song “Graveyard Train,” is admirable on many levels, not least of them the measured, easygoing pace it maintains from start to finish. It coerces and caresses, but is never too persistent on either count. Dirty River sounds like a band that knows itself, is comfortable in its collective skin, and suggests the listener either accept it on those terms or find other means to entertain yourself.

GREAT AMERICAN TAXI, Reckless HabitsNot heard from on record since 2007, the quintet formed by Vince Herman of Leftover Salmon and Chad Staehly makes its return a moment to celebrate fine songwriting, inspired playing, personable singing, a warm, welcoming spirit and the sheer joy of sharing tall tales, good times and a smidgen of heartbreak with fans new and old.

TRAMPLED BY TURTLES, PalominoLet no one accuse Minnesota’s Trampled By Turtles of going gently into any good night. Palomino, the band’s fifth album, explodes with intense feeling, an in-your-face urgency about its message, and dazzling, emotionally charged playing by the acoustic quintet.

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