Steve Thorngate's Music Reviews

Music

Tell My Sister, by Kate & Anna McGarrigle

The McGarrigle sisters (Kate died of sarcoma last year) were more successful in their native Canada than in the States, but they were deeply admired by those who covered their songs: Emmylou Harris, Linda Ronstadt, Maria Muldaur, Kate's son Rufus Wainwright.

Music

Night of Hunters, by Tori Amos

While it's hard to imagine many pop artists signing up to write a song cycle based on the history of classical music, for Amos—whom  Deutsche Grammophon approached with this idea—the project seems almost inevitable.

Music

4x4, by Works Progress Administration

Works Progress Administration is a loose collective of a supergroup, primarily a collaboration between Glen Phillips and Sean Watkins.

Music

C’mon, by Low

The usually pejorative term slowcore was coined to describe Low's general minimalism and especially the glacial pace at which the Duluth, Minnesota, trio's songs develop. But patient listeners have always been rewarded with warm guitar sounds, memorable tunes and sweet harmony.

Music

We Are Rising, by Son Lux

Earlier this year, NPR's All Songs Considered solicited Ryan Lott, aka Son Lux, for an experiment: could he write and record an album in one month? Lott agreed.

Music

Long Player Late Bloomer, by Ron Sexsmith

Why don't more people listen to Ron Sexsmith? The critically acclaimed singer-songwriter crafts masterful pop songs, records them with topflight producers and sings them in an understated croon. Unless you hate music that makes you smile, what's not to like?

Music

The Party Ain’t Over, by Wanda Jackson

Wanda Jackson may be the queen of rockabilly, but Jack White is king of this collaboration. The roots-obsessed producer takes charge, offering a high-octane reimagination of various '50s styles. But where White's work on Loretta Lynn's Van Lear Rose (2004) came off as reverent and almost subtle, here 73-year-old Jackson's presence seems like an afterthought.

Music

Demons, by Cowboy Junkies

Vic Chesnutt, who died of an overdose in 2009, was one of the best and most unusual songwriters of his generation. Country-rock veterans Cowboy Junkies are far more conventional. So Chesnutt diehards might not find much to like in this collection of his songs, but the album may provide newcomers a bridge to his work.

Music

In the Cool of the Day, by Daniel Martin Moore

Nostalgic country-gospel records inhabit a liminal space between personal-historical document and genuine religious statement. Daniel Martin Moore's latest follows this path but enlivens it a bit.

Music

Hollywood Town Hall & Tomorrow the Green Grass, by the Jayhawks

Alt-country is typically traced to Uncle Tupelo, but the early '90s Jay­hawks made better records. Where Uncle Tupelo found scrappy affinities between traditional Americana and punk, the Jayhawks brought '70s country-rock to the alt-rock '90s.