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A The War and Treaty

Healing Tide

Strong World/Thirty Tigers

Along with his considerable talents as a guitarist, singer, songwriter, producer, bandleader and radio host, Buddy Miller is an excellent talent scout. In the case of The War and Treaty, Miller gave his stamp of approval -- and a helping hand -- to an act beyond his usual Nashville orbit.

Michael Trotter Jr. and Tanya Blount-Trotter, of Albion, Mich., are husband and wife and a powerhouse R&B duo who sound as though they were born to sing together.

Their full-length album debut is Americana in that it's rooted in the nation's pews, fields and street corners, all sweat and spirit and soul. Miller produced and captured the magic of the live performances that have caused such a buzz about the couple. The material draws from Sly Stone's family but also the Carter Family, thanks to varied arrangements that include Dobro, banjo and autoharp.

Trotter, a wounded warrior who served in Iraq and once composed songs to honor fallen comrades, wrote all 11 tunes with a focus on the glory of love. He and Tanya have huge voices, and while some of the most moving moments come when they dial back the volume, mostly they swing and soar, whoop and wail, testify and sanctify, often in tandem.

Hot tracks: "Healing Tide" for its shouting chorus, "Here Is Where the Loving Is At," with Emmylou Harris; the rockin' "Jeep Cherokee Laredo," the passionate "Hearts" and the simmering "Love Like There's No Tomorrow"

-- STEVEN WINE

The Associated Press

B Big Red Machine

Big Red Machine

PEOPLE/Jagjaguwar

Big Red Machine is a long-in-the-making project led by Bon Iver's Justin Vernon and The National's Aaron Dessner. Its roots go back to an eponymous song the pair created for Dark Is the Night, a momentous 2009 compilation in the Red Hot series benefiting the fight against HIV/AIDS.

Besides the usual physical formats, the album is being released on PEOPLE, a new digital platform co-founded by the two musicians with a few others and which was part of the record's creative process, with contributions from a varied roster including Lisa Hannigan, The Staves, Brad Cook, JT Bates and several of Dessner's bandmates.

Keeping all that in mind, it's difficult to consider the music separately from its source and the predominant sounds reflect its collective nature. Some of the tunes have more than a dozen musicians and there are layers upon layers of vocals and electronic and acoustic sounds throughout. Sometimes they enhance the listening pleasure, like on "Lyla" and "Hymnostic," while sometimes they're more of a distraction ("Air Stryp," "Melt").

Since he's the lead singer and lyricist -- some of the words border on stream of consciousness, others are more straightforward -- Vernon's presence is the most immediate. Some of the album's best moments, however, including the meditative "Forest Green" and the comparatively conventional "I Won't Run From It," clearly have Dessner's soundprints all over them.

The 10 album's songs are loaded with experimentation, some of it exquisite, some excessive. Still, it's an auspicious start.

Hot tracks: "Lyla," "I Won't Run from It," "Forest Green"

-- PABLO GORONDI

The Associated Press

B Aaron Lee Tasjan

Karma for Cheap

New West

When performing on a cruise ship, Aaron Lee Tasjan has been known to play New York Dolls music that sends listeners fleeing for the exits. The amusing lesson: Don't try to pigeonhole this guy.

The one-time glam rocker has dabbled in Americana and, on tour, he does a hilarious Dylan-style talking blues. Now he's into ear candy.

Karma for Cheap is a 10-song pop potpourri heavy on hooks and memorable melodies, with pounding piano and plenty of air guitar invitations. There's a slightly druggy haze to the whole thing and the album echoes classic rock, from ELO ("The Rest Is Yet to Come") and The Traveling Wilburys ("Heart Slows Down") to Elliott Smith ("Dream Dreamer") and Tom Petty ("Set You Free"). Bits of The Beatles abound.

But there's nothing stale about the material because it's so well-crafted and joyfully performed by Tasjan and his touring band, which includes standout guitarist Brian Wright. It also helps that there's a topical bent to the lyrics, which stress the need to overcome the negativity of creepy times.

This album should improve anyone's world outlook.

Hot tracks: "Heart Slows Down," "Set You Free," "Dream Dreamer"

-- STEVEN WINE

The Associated Press

The War and Treaty "Healing Tide" 2018
Big Red Machine Big Red Machine 2018
Aaron Lee Tasjan "Karma for Cheap" 2018

Style on 09/11/2018

Print Headline: The War and Treaty debut is Americana at its best

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