While many of his contemporaries have ossified, Neil Young claws at the marrow like a deranged miner, digging deep in ways that confound expectation. He launches his new double album with a track that’s almost 28 minutes long—and that largely revolves around two chords. It’s one of three songs on this nine-track effort that top 16 minutes.
Cleverly disguised as bedtime music for young ones, Lullaby doubles as an album of exquisite, dreamy chamber pop that showcases Justin Roberts backed by a string quartet, trumpets and French horn. The plucked strings on “Heart of Gold” infuse the song with a playful sparkle that shimmers like summer twilight.
Steve Dawson of the five-piece band Dolly Varden shows sharp lyrical skill on the plaintive “Del Mar, 1976,” which invokes water towers and “the sad songs of the ’70s playing soft from a radio at the bottom of her stairs.” Dawson and wife Diane Christiansen offer fine vocal interplay on the punchy rockers “Done (Done)” and “Temperamental Complement.” It’s smart, country-tinged alt-pop ridi
Vignola and Raniolo’s dual acoustic guitars blend like espresso and gelato. From the first notes of “It Might As Well Be Spring,” the players leap with acrobatic precision from strummed triplets to descending diminished scale runs.
Radney Foster pulls off a neat trick: a live re-recording of his first solo album from 20 years ago, Del Rio, Texas, 1959. In splendid voice and backed sublimely by 17 musicians, he treats us to sweet, West Texas nectar.
Audrey Assad’s robust voice, which recalls Paula Cole, can climb from gentle to gutsy in the same song—as it does on the opener, “Blessed Are the Ones.” Heart is a sunny pop affair, and Assad expresses herself with unadorned simplicity. On the piano-driven title track, she asks, “Why should I be lonely?
It’s been 14 years since Sixpence None the Richer released the hit single “Kiss Me.” Little did many listeners know that the song came from a group named for a C. S. Lewis analogy concerning God-bestowed gifts. Now Sixpence has a new album—its first in ten years.
This singer-songwriter with a breathy tenor-alto takes a successful chance on the opening track, “Dylan’s Arms.” As spare guitar meets lush, multilayered vocals, Lewis offers a starry-eyed ode to the master songwriter (“He talks to everyone, but he sings to me, to me, to me”).
I’m Just Dead I’m Not Gone
by James Luther Dickinson and the North Mississippi Allstars
In his storied career, Jim Dickinson produced some of rock’s greatest acts (Big Star, the Replacements). Here his sons Luther and Cody, who gained fame as the North Mississippi Allstars, accompany him in a live gig recorded three years before his death in 2009.
Named “Most Promising New Talent” of 2008 by Acoustic Guitar magazine, Trace Bundy has been impressing audiences with his playing, which will please fans of Phil Keaggy, Michael Hedges and Laurence Juber.
Suzanne Ciani’s work as a synthesizer pioneer dates to the instrument’s infancy, and Lixiviation is a fascinating document that collects both Ciani’s musical compositions and her work as one of the first sound designers.
Chicago’s Kenny Haas mixes it up with live storytelling, prerecorded stories and a smorgasbord of musical genres--from polka (“Don’t Let Those Chickens Run Away”) to a capella doo-wop (“Kitty Delight”).
On the cover of Wrecking Ball, Bruce Springsteen holds his iconic Fender Esquire guitar, the same ax he sported on his 1975 masterpiece Born to Run. Back then, saxophonist Clarence Clemons stood to his left, coaxing an impish grin from the young rocker. Now, on his first disc since Clemons’s death, Bruce stands solitary and sullen against a black backdrop.
Most Westerners know Sufi music through the great singer Nusrat Fateh Ali Khan. This digital-download collection introduces six Sufi and Baul/Hindu artists largely unheard outside India. It’s a spellbinding trip into mystical art with a tender heart, showcased in poignant, centuries-old teaching songs about love, humanity and devotion.