Shelf Life: Media from Then and Now for Readers in the Sacramento Region
Not so much a debut as sour mash for your ears, Chris Stapleton kept the outlaw dream alive in 2015 with the kind of ’70s country music your daddy still talks about. Like all good country, it makes you smile. “Might As Well Get Stoned” is the soundtrack to your next back-porch drinking session, and it makes you cry; keep a mason jar handy for the tear-flood on “Daddy Doesn’t Pray Anymore.” Stapleton is the real deal.
The Nashville Sound—Jason Isbell and the 400 Unit
Grammy winner Jason Isbell brings the rock with his new studio album The Nashville Sound, giving us a foot-tapping, fast-paced, topical Isbell, compared to his previous work. There’s no disputing the title—The Nashville Sound was recorded in Nashville’s historic RCA Studio A on Music Row, which boasted country legends like Dolly Parton and Willy Nelson back in its heyday.
Battle Cry of Freedom: The Civil War Era by James McPherson
If Ken Burns’ acclaimed Civil War documentary series leaves you hungry to learn more, look no further than McPherson. For my money, there’s no single Civil War history that is as well-paced, vivid or illuminating as this single volume bird’s-eye view. It’s not a quick read by any means, but it will reward your patience.
The Best Land Under Heaven: The Donner Party in the Age of Manifest Destiny by Michael Wallis
The story of the Donner Party is not a horror-tale of cannibalism; it is the ultimate how-not-to of Westward expansion. Historian Michael Wallis strips back the embroidered tall tales and sensationalism, and finds the very human story within—a journey about 87 hopeful men, women and children that ended in desperate, avoidable tragedy; and the brave rescue mission that saved the 48 survivors.
The New World
Look back at 2005 and fondly remember a time when Terrence Malick was still making movies you could mostly follow. New World is a beautiful, moving account of Captain John Smith and his love affair with Pocahontas, and features some of Colin Farrell’s best work. It’s still Malick, and for some that means it’s too darn long and doesn’t make sense; but New World is a walk in the park compared to Tree of Life or the almost completely abstract Knight of Cups.
The Lost City of Z
Lost City of Z is the true story of a 19th century explorer consumed by his search for a lost Amazonian civilization. Based on the bestselling book, Charlie Hunnam, best known as ‘Jax’ from Sons of Anarchy, is hynotizing in his command of the screen. And Robert Pattinson shines in a supporting role that finally shows off his talents rather than just his strong jawline.