Jim Allen

"I could drop dead in the middle of this conversation," says Graham Nash. "But on the other hand so could you, no matter how old you are," he adds with mordant evenhandedness. Don't worry, the folk-rock elder statesman who's been one-third of Crosby, Stills & Nash since 1968 is just fine. "I have no intentions of leaving," he assures, "my health is pretty damn good. But you know what I mean."

It is said that there are more sheep and deer on the remote Scottish island of Jura than there are people. Improbably enough though, there is a recording studio.

Jim Lauderdale is a notoriously eclectic songsmith who's been incorporating soul influences into his Americana sound since his 1991 debut, Planet of Love. On his latest release, Soul Searching, Lauderdale dives headfirst into classic R&B, with the first half of the two-volume double-album recorded in Memphis.

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

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

Digging into a musician's early, unreleased material is a little like looking at a loved one's old family photos—if you're lucky, you gain a greater understanding of the person in the pictures. Such is the case of Iron & Wine fans that explore Sam Beam's Archive Series of DIY recordings, a glimpse of his initial steps as a recording artist. Like the series' first installment, Vol. 2 predates the release of the Iron & Wine debut, 2002's The Creek Drank the Cradle.

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