Sounds Like: An old-soul folkie making sense of the modern world, bending the traditions of his heroes — Dust Bowl songwriters, train hoppers, Delta bluesmen — to suit the 21st century
For Fans of: Post-jail Steve Earle, Bonnie "Prince" Billy, Bruce Springsteen's Nebraska
Why You Should Pay Attention: Split between acoustic folksongs, revved-up roots-rockers and Americana ballads, Eberle's indie debut Matter & Time finds the Pittsburgh-born songwriter nodding to the fingerpickers who came before him. He's no revivalist, though. Songs like "Ashes (Trayvon Martin Blues)" take a hard look at America's growth — or lack thereof — since the glory days of Guthrie, and members of Nashville's world-pop buzz band ELEL make up the rhythm section, pointing Matter & Time toward the less explored wing of folk music.
He Says: "There's a difference between trying to sound old and trying to sound timeless," notes Eberle, who teamed up with co-producer Dave Coleman to capture the album in a series of live takes. "Look at Sturgill Simpson's last album. You've got this dude singing about alien reptiles over a country band. It draws you in. It's not a throwback act."
Hear for Yourself: "Ashes (Trayvon Martin Blues)" is a haunting bit of social commentary, driven by Eberle's old-timey arrangement. Andrew Leahey