Nathaniel Maloney 

Old Empty Farmhouse (www.nathanielmaloney.com)

Nathaniel Maloney never ceases to follow his heart -- even when it leads him off a cliff. The Burton native sings of glowing campfires and fields covered with dew so sweetly that Old Empty Farmhouse occasionally feels syrupy enough to soak your Eggos. "We need to share with each other/We need to help one another/Lend a hand to your fellow brother/And things will turn out right," he sings with impenetrable optimism on "Keep Hope Alive."

Still, Farmhouse works primarily because Maloney's voice is as moving as all the sunsets he keeps singing about. Though he's frequently compared to James Taylor, Maloney also borrows a page from ace storyteller Jim Croce on sparse, acoustic yarns like "Time." Backed by fiddle, mandolin, and banjo, Maloney's rural folk feels like driving through the countryside with the windows down. It's an album so woodsy and rustic, you can damn near hear the crickets chirping.

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