Pop & Rock
VOICES Notes and news on Pop & Rock releases
10 MAY 13 JOHN C. BRUENING
Mandolinist and vocalist Doyle Lawson, one of primary voices in modern bluegrass, worked with numerous bands and musicians throughout the '60s and '70s before assembling Foxfire in 1979. Foxfire quickly became known as Quicksilver, and the band recorded nearly 30 albums over the next three-and-a-half decades. You Gotta Dig A Little Deeper, the band's 2009 debut on Rounder, features the lineup of bassist Barry Scott, guitarist Jamie Dailey, banjoist Terry Baucom, and fiddler Jesse Stockman.
The dozen tracks encompass elements of bluegrass, country and gospel -- all woven into a set of songs written by Lawson and his bandmates as well as prominent country and bluegrass songwriters like Pete Goble, Porter Wagoner and Robert Gateley.
The set starts with the paradoxically mournful yet locomotive-paced "Heartbreak Number Nine," a tune by Scott and Bailey that showcases fast-paced banjo/mandolin interplay along with and airtight vocal harmonies. Midway through the set, "Saving Grace" is a heart-wrenching ballad about the ravages of old age. Grace is a woman whose mind is slipping into dementia, and the song is a tribute to her devoted husband of forty years who continues to care for her.
But there's plenty of room on Dig A Little Deeper for the upbeat, as evidenced by the instrumental "Rosine" and the devotional "Girl From West Virginia," two tracks that follow "Grace" with a much more buoyant sensibility.
"Clearly this man has made a difference," says Grand Ole Opry announcer Eddie Stubbs in his liner notes to this recording. "His work speaks for itself and he has the awards to confirm this. Nevertheless, Doyle Lawson is not ready to retire or rest on his laurels. There is so much more that he wants to contribute. He must always dig a little deeper."
03 MAY 13 DAVID SHANNON
When an artist of Tom Jones’ stature joins Rounder Records, it’s big news. Jones’ position in the firmament of modern day musical entertainers remains foundational, spanning the British Invasion to the present, and his first album with Rounder holds up as strongly as anything he’s ever done -- maybe even more so. On Spirit In The Room, Jones covers a selection of tunes from some of songwriting’s heavy hitters, from Leonard Cohen and Bob Dylan to Joe Henry and Tom Waits, showing off his uncanny ability to interpret others’ work.
The record contains numerous high notes. Jones delivers a spooky, haunting meditation on Henry’s “All Blues Hail Mary,” and his optimistic baritone perfectly suits Dylan’s “When The Deal Goes Down.” His take on “Just Dropped In” (first made famous by The New Edition, featuring a pre-Gambler Kenny Rogers) mellows out the original psychedelic elements but retains the song’s timeless metaphysical overtones. For a knight (he was dubbed by Queen Elizabeth in 2006), Jones also has always had a knack for channeling the blues, and here he compellingly updates Blind Willie Johnson’s “Soul of A Man.”
It’s always impressive when artists find new ways to express themselves. In recreating the songs of these brilliant songwriters for his debut with Rounder, at age 72 Jones has reinvented himself once again.
19 APR 13 DAVID VIENNA
Record Store Day (April 20, 2013) celebrates the local record shop with new and unique releases only available at brick-and-mortar stores. One such release is a 12-inch vinyl edition of Paul McCartney's radio-only version of "Maybe I'm Amazed." This track also appears on the upcoming re-release of Wings Over America.
America captures performances from Wings' mid-'70s tour. If you want to hear a streaming "Maybe I'm Amazed" -- which kind-of defeats the purpose of Record Store Day, but whatever -- you can do so at the Wall Street Journal blog. To locate a participating retailer near you, visit recordstoreday.com.
16 APR 13 DAVID VIENNA
If you aren't regularly visiting NPR music, shame on you. Why would I say that? Because you're missing awesome stuff like the chance to stream tracks from Steve Martin and Edie Brickell's new album Love Has Come For You, that's why.
From the post at NPR music: "On Love Has Come For You, Martin's third album, his roster of collaborators expands to include veteran singer-songwriter , who's been rattling around near the margins of pop and folk music in the 25 years since the double-platinum success of her debut album, Shooting Rubberbands At The Stars. In that time, Brickell ... has shed some of the lilt that marked her early vocals. But she's acquired and honed a sort of plainspoken warmth that pairs wonderfully with Martin's clean, subtly playful five-string picking."
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