Peter Himmelman is a rock ’n’ roll anomaly: an observant Jew who has long declined to play any shows on the sabbath. But this serious commitment to his faith gives his songs heft. He’s addressed brokenness, healing, and humility in songs such as “Impermanent Things” and “Mission of My Soul.” And Himmelman has a knack for melding lyrical complexity with catchy melody.
Those who love Bill Evans or Art Blakey will relish this disc, though Stefano Bollani has his own freewheeling improv stamp. Recorded in one day, and featuring guitarist Bill Frisell, Joy pulses with live energy. Bollani pilots his piano with sophisticated trills, rolls, and riffs.
Many Beatles tribute discs fail because the vocalists or players aren’t up to the task. But with this piano-based instrumental disc, Chicago’s Anthony Molinaro shatters barriers in refreshing ways. On the opening “Blackbird,” he manages to inject the melody with stride-piano infectiousness.
Is it rock? Swing? Boogie-woogie? Louis Prima Jr. (son of the famous comic swing artist) melodiously mixes all of the above. This music moves—often with greased-lightning groove, as on the instrumental title track and “Go, Let’s Go” (which features a frenetic guitar solo). The record has its touching moments, too, as when Prima Sr. and Jr.
Rodney Crowell, longtime guitarist for Emmylou Harris, hit songwriter for Waylon Jennings and the Oak Ridge Boys, demonstrates artistic integrity here, refusing to cave to country-pop trends. Nothing here is calculated; the album was recorded live in a studio.
Recorded in a converted New Orleans–area church over six days, Redemption is a jambalaya of Chicago blues, New Orleans funk, and robust soul. On the standout “Chariot,” Glen David Andrews’s voice rises with gritty passion as he trails into the song’s tag, borrowed from the spiritual “Sweet Home Chariot”:
On the mostly instrumental Pieces, JoyCut takes the sonic hallmarks of the 1980s New Wave era—from shimmering, echo-plastered guitars and propulsive picked bass to dysmorphic synthesizer pads—and reconfigures them in thrilling fashion.
Throughout this disc, Marco Di Maggio shows the versatility of a guitarist with an uncanny mastery of 1950s and ’60s surf, rockabilly, and country styles. On the lovely and gentle “Polka Dots & Moonbeams,” you’ll hear shadings of Wes Montgomery’s octave guitar riffing, along with the shifting jazz-pop chords of Chet Atkins.
Fresh off her successful solo debut at Carnegie Hall, soprano Natalie Mann tackles an ambitious project—the songs of Lori Laitman and Richard Pearson Thomas—with palpable confidence and a thrilling balance of vocal strength and sensitivity. Ably accompanied by pianist Jeffrey Panko, Mann has never sounded better, her round tone and emotional range sublime or thunderous as the material demands.
These 17 songs are inspired by the psalms, and the musical settings recall Michael W. Smith and Phil Keaggy. Equally appropriate for worship or solitary prayer, these acoustic tracks promise and deliver comfort: humble, unassuming, and stripped of any varnish, with Bruxvoort Colligan’s gossamer tenor leading the way.
Though Andy Paley later enjoyed acclaim as a producer, the power-pop group he led with his brother Jonathan faded, as so many of them do. But this collection makes a joyful case for revisiting the Paleys’ catalog. The collection features the group’s entire output on Sire Records, including the bluesy, infectious “Hide and Seek” from the group’s first EP.
This album variously rolls with the calming reassurance of a Dixie river and chugs along like a steam engine. Built around hymns and southern gospel standards, Deep Roots oozes front porch intimacy, its acoustic instruments and vocal harmonies unadorned by studio trickery.
Midwestern rocker Phil Angotti dishes sweet sunshine on a disc redolent of 1970s pop textures à la Todd Rundgren and the Raspberries—though “Goodbye Never Said” has a timeless chamber-pop quality, aided by a dash of strings.
For this second disc in the Lullaby Confessions series, producer-songwriter Barrie Buckner Jr. delivers something unique: lullabies with an easy, breezy tropical bent. Aided by longtime writing partner and producer R. J. Young, Buckner knits a dreamscape that sounds like sultry R&B channeled from a nearby nebula.