WITH 90.1 FM

Kimberly Junod

The presents are under the tree, the cookies are out of the oven, the eggnog has been dusted with a fine layer of nutmeg, and joining me by the roaring World Cafe fire is Andrew Bird. He's here to play songs from his new Christmas album, Hark!

It's a busy time for music critics as they prepare for the annual tradition of identifying the year's best albums and songs in listicle form. World Cafe Nashville correspondent Ann Powers took a break from her NPR deliberatons to share one more roundup of new songs coming out of the Music City.

The Avett Brothers' sound has grown in size and scope in the last decade — something you could really hear on Closer Than Together, their adventurous 2019 release. But on their new album, The Third Gleam, Scott and Seth Avett take a different turn and bring things back to their roots. No big band, no synths, no electric guitar.

Many bands have struggled making sense of life amid COVID-19, but for Algiers, social distancing between bandmates is something they've been dealing with for years. Algiers was founded originally in Atlanta in the late aughts, but since then its members have lived in different cities, states, and even continents.

Margo Price is new Nashville royalty, a crown princess that has carved out a lofty perch by being true to herself.

There's something intriguing about how much drama can go into great albums. Sometimes it ends partnerships, sometimes it fuels them. For Nick Sanborn and Amelia Meath of Sylvan Esso, the friction is essential to what makes their creative collaboration tick.

You might think that sitting down with two of music's biggest superstars would be kind of intimidating — that someone who has spent the last year breaking sales records and accepting countless awards would maybe be hard to relate to.

When you speak with The War and Treaty, you can feel the love that Tanya Blount-Trotter and Michael Trotter Jr have for each other and their fans, whom they credit as helping create the bubble of acceptance that is the duo's latest album, Hearts Town.

Nigel Chapman is always ... thinking. When you speak to him, it's almost like you can see the wheels spinning in his brain, like he's always on the brink of a new discovery ... about himself, about creativity, about the universe... and about music. And that makes sense, because Chapman, the frontman of the Canadian band Nap Eyes, spent a big chunk of his life working in biochemistry, in science.

Emily Saliers and Amy Ray of Indigo Girls are not only accomplished songwriters and performers in the midst of a 35-year career.

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