Bob Boilen

Kevin Morby's new album is unlike anything he's done before. Gone is the guitar (for the most part) from his earlier recordings. In its place are more droning instruments — sounds more suited for church than the concert hall, including a recurring, small choir. The subject for the album is God and our culture's relationship with God, from deep introspection to the trivial, everyday use of that ever-present expression "oh my God."

Don't worry! Everything's going to be alright. But if you need more reassurance than that, look no further than "Set of Stairs," from the Amsterdam-based band Pip Blom. It's a burst of frenetic joy to lift you up whenever life deals you a bad hand. Its singular message: You got this!

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


When I first heard the ethereal folk songs of Daniel Norgren in 2016, he was performing on a stage at the Pickathon music festival made from limbs and bark — it was the perfect spot to fall in love with his music and yearning voice. His set was both intense and calming.

Maybe it's been a few months and you've wondered: "Where's that dude who played the heavy and weird stuff?" First of all, thank you. It's nice to be missed. The answer: I've been at home, watching lots of movies, changing lots of diapers and taking care of my firstborn daughter. Did this stop me from listening to said "heavy and weird stuff?" Well, yes and no.

It was a day when sunlight drenched the office and the songs of heart from Courtney Marie Andrews felt right at home. It's been a year since her comforting album, May Your Kindness Remain, came out. Amazingly it's her sixth record, and yet she's still a just few years shy of 30. The opening number here at the Tiny Desk, the album's title track, is a shining example of why the songs of Courtney Marie Andrews endure, beginning with her words, based on friendships, and the understanding of a kind soul.

We've returned from our weeklong grind through the South by Southwest music festival happy, though a little dazed, with ringing ears, and a whole bunch of incredible discoveries. On this All Songs Considered we run through some of the most memorable music and performances, from the shredded noise rock of Rev Rev Rev and thundering soul of Yola Carter to the Afro-Cuban grooves of Cimafunk and the remarkable voice of Tamino. Bob Boilen, Stephen Thompson and I each saw around 100 different shows in just a few short days, way more than we could ever share in a single episode.

The expectation upon seeing a banjo hanging is one of rollicking rowdiness, but when Kaia Kater began to strum her five-string, the mood in the office turned plaintive and a bit mournful. The Afro-Caribbean-Canadian singer and songwriter, who studied Appalachian music at West Virginia's Davis & Elkins College, often references the Black Lives Matter movement, within a music form that doesn't exactly snap to mind as being in dialogue with modern issues.

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There's new music from Big Thief: a song, released today, called "UFOF," and the band's third album, coming May 3, titled

On this week's All Songs Considered we premiere new music from Aldous Harding. The artist from New Zealand made my number two album from 2017 (Party) and her latest song, "The Barrel," indicates that she'll be another year-end favorite of mine in 2019.

Scott Mulvahill has been trying to win the Tiny Desk Contest for each of its four years. He's always been one of our favorites, though he's never been our winner. The double bassist entered his song, "Begin Againers" in 2016 and though it wasn't the winning entry, we all loved it so much, I invited him to my desk to perform his extraordinary song. He opened the Tiny Desk with it, only this time he was joined by bandmates Jesse Isley and Josh Shilling who shared vocal harmonies.

Mountain Man is the perfect band for a Tiny Desk concert. These three women make the most intimate music; and behind the desk, the voices of Amelia Meath, Molly Erin Sarlé and Alexandra Sauser-Monnig were the stars. Adorned by only light, rhythmic acoustic guitar, they sing songs that conjure a simpler life: dogs, friends, moonlight, sunlight, skinny dipping, beach towels and sand.

This week's show is made possible by a generous amount of existential anxiety. This includes the ego-destroying rock anthem "I Don't Matter At All," from the Toronto band Pkew Pkew Pkew, and an epic life manifesto from Amanda Palmer called "The Ride" – a ten-minute oration about the crippling effects of unbridled and rampant fear.

While accepting the Best Contemporary Blues Album Grammy for Please Don't Be Dead, Fantastic Negrito gave a shout-out to the Tiny Desk concerts series, which he said changed the course of his life and offered hope when he'd almost given up.

On this week's show, artists battle their inner demons – the kind that come out a night when you're alone in bed, trying to find sleep – speak truth to power, celebrate love, dig into complicated characters with troubled pasts and much more.

This includes a kind of demented nursery rhyme from singer Billie Eilish; the London-based duo Tender and their deep reflection on ruinous self-indulgence; and producer T Bone Burnett's new album with a prayer to overcome fear.

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Today, the great young, American singer Lucy Dacus

Fifty years ago today, on Jan. 30, 1969, The Beatles gave what would be their final concert. And on this special episode of All Songs Considered, we talk with someone who was there: Ken Mansfield wrote and just released a new book on this life-changing event called The Roof: The Beatles' Final Concert. Mansfield was the U.S.

On this edition of All Songs Considered I'm joined by Marissa Lorusso, our Tiny Desk Contest leader and also a critical contributor to NPR Music's Turning the Tables project.

Editor's note: This page has been updated to include more of the conversation between Bob Boilen and Ezra Koenig.

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Andrew Hozier-Byrne has a new album coming in March. His second album, called Wasteland, Baby!, is his first full-length record in four-and-a-half years.

It's been a minute since we got together to share some all-new music – not since our Nov. 6 show of last year, in fact.

Aaron Lee Tasjan arrived at the Tiny Desk in his fashionable ascot and mustard-colored shirt, sporting reflective, red, rounded sunglasses and mutton chops. As he warmed up, the sound of the middle-and-late 1960s came through his seagreen, Gorsuch 12-string guitar while his voice felt both familiar and fresh. This buoyant, East Nashville-via-Ohio soul and his fabulous band have a knack for channeling Paul McCartney, Tom Petty and The Kinks.

Jen Cloher came to the Harbor Stage at Newport with a fervor matched only by her volume. Her band gets some of that credit, with Jen's wife, Courtney Barnett, on electric guitar and Bones Sloane from Courtney's band on bass.

Glen Hansard is passionate about connecting with a crowd. At the 2018 Newport Folk Festival, that crowd was hushed and he went deep. From the opening song, the Swell Season favorite "When Your Mind's Made Up," through more traditional Irish tunes with fiddler Rosie MacKenzie and Brendan Begley on accordion, Hansard's performance was enthralling.

Ever wonder what albums your fellow NPR fans listen to? We asked, you voted and below are the results our year-end listener poll for 2018. The list mirrors the NPR Music Top 50 Albums more than I've noticed in previous years. Like that list, listeners put Janelle Monáe, Kacey Musgraves, Mitski and Lucy Dacus all in the top positions.

Year-end lists are a way to uncover hidden gems, not simply to validate tastes. I'm sure many lists you've looked at didn't have that one favorite you hold near and dear. This episode of All Songs is about our hidden gems, the ones that, in the give-and-take of making a representative staff list, got left off.

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