Category Archives: Music

Record Of The Week # 125

Highway Butterfly: The Songs of Neal Casal

Following his suicide in 2019, his friend and manager, Gary Waldman, decided to set up a charitable foundation and make this covers album as a tribute and revenue earner. Casal was the musician’s musician. Respected and well liked but despite 14 albums, either solo or part of a band, he’s better known as a guitar sidesman latterly for Ryan Adams and Chris Robinson. He was never a household name. 

Waldman wanted to create a lasting legacy and raise money to place musical instruments in schools as well as provide funds for mental health charities for musicians. At the start he thought they might get some major artists to chip in with the music if he could raise enough money to record it. To his surprise on Kickstarter he raised over $150k and found many artists coming forward. Eventually they had 41 songs (three CDs or 5 LPs) by the likes of Steve Earle, Hiss the Golden Messenger, Susan Tedeschi, Aaron Lee Tasjan, Shooter Jennings, Billy Strings and Warren Haynes.

It’s a large body of music: tuneful, easy rolling electric americana rock that curls around you like smoke such is the enveloping siren nature of these compositions. I never realised how many sumptuous melodies he’d penned. His gentle tenor and tasteful guitar passages provide a template that these songs generally follow. 

Highlights for me include Britton Buchanan, The Fruit Bats, Marcus King or Billy Strings. Strings brings acoustic magic to “All the Luck In the World”. His yearning vocal and a bigger arrangement centred around a shimmering, tinkling piano adds to the drama before he takes off on an elegant acoustic guitar solo. “Pray Me Home” is converted into a piano instrumental by Jason Crosby. The bright melody comes to the fore and seems like a welcome reflective ‘time out’ in this long work. Robbie Robb’s version of “I Will Weep No More” closes the album and includes passages of Casal talking about his early career. This adds chills to the brooding soundtrack of background wailing guitars and thunderous rhythm.

Given the tragedy his lyrics take on more importance. They’re very personal and in the main about relationships often dealing with his shortcomings, the aftermath and inevitable forks in the road.

This is a beautiful collection and a very easy listen. The use of one production team makes the whole work fluent and consistent. The quality of the songs speak for themselves. It’s depressing that Casal didn’t get the recognition he deserved by a wider audience. Slightly contrite at my ignorance of his catalogue I’ve been dipping into the originals and they’re superb. Over and above the devastation of a life taken so young you can’t help but reflect on what a loss he was musically.

Records Of The Year 2021

  1. Rory Feek – Gentle Man

I’d never heard of this Tennessean Country music singer songwriter until his latest album arrived in my inbox from Country Music People. I was blown away. The songs wrap around the sad reality that his partner, in life and song, Joey, died of cervical cancer in 2016. After a hiatus he recorded this album; a galaxy of Country stars all turned up to sing on the album, Lee Ann Womack, Vince Gill, Trisha Yearwood, Alison Krauss and Dolly Parton: probably because his loss had touched everyone. The sentimentality is remarkable. It’s traditional Country with stories of everyday rural American folk. The duet with Dolly of One Angel is literally a tearjerker. Bliss.

  1.   Tylor & The Bank Robbers – Non-Typical Find

Not much Americana comes out of Idaho but when it does then it can be remarkable. I’ve loved both their recent albums of Country Rock with a terrific acoustic rock vibe and engaging lyrics.

  1.   Jacob Tovar – Another Time, Another Place

This is an artist who makes a modest living around Tulsa, Oklahoma. He’s not fêted on a big label. Tovar possesses a classic Country sound and this album of originals and covers hits the spot.

  1.   Ashland Craft – Travellin’ Kind

A winner of a US TV talent show. She has a voice that could break your heart whatever genre she sings. Here she’s got great Country pop songs with sublime tunes and a great band. She’s going to be stellar.

5. Emily Scott Robinson – American Siren

In the 70s she’d be called a ‘Singer Songwriter’ like Carole King or Joni Mitchell. In addition to great songs she has a distinct crystal clear beautiful voice. Again, this is the start of something special.

  1.   Brandi Carlile – In These Silent Days

An enormously talented woman. Her latest was a another highlight of this year’s Americana where the arrangements, compositions and that pure, soaring and occasionally achy voice drew you in.

  1.   Altered Five Blues Band – Holler If You Hear Me

Blues Rock is a timeless genre. Take a mean electric guitar that can squeal, a solid rhythm section and some B3 organ; you’re nearly there. Next add Jeff Taylor’s voice and you have heaven

8  James McMurtry – The Horses and the Hounds

McMurtry inhabits a world of unvarnished Ameriocana takes on rural USA with the struggles and little victories told to you as if he was further along the counter sharing a beer. A complete master.

  1.   Blackberry Smoke – You Hear Georgia

A pastiche of 1970s Southern Rock that mines the sound of Little Feat, Lynyrd Skynyrd and The Allmans with a soupçon of Country. A wonderful album that shows there’s a market for this stuff.

  1.   Thorbjørn Risager & Emil Balsgaard – Taking The Good With The Bad

This Danish duo have been important international blues artists for a couple of decades. Usually part of a larger band here they’ve delivered a sensational traditional New Orleans fused piano driven gem.

Record Of The Week # 124

Robert Plant & Alison Krauss – Raise the Roof

It was an unlikely pairing of bluegrass country/folk singer Alison Krauss with her ethereal and crystal clear voice and 70s rock icon Robert Plant with his remarkable range and phrasing for their award winning 2007 collaboration Raising Sand. The album’s success was likely built on their respective followings and a varied selection of accessible americana. This showcased their vocals with T Bone Burnett’s excellent song curation and production. In 2021 this team is back.

Plant’s seems to have spent 40 years (and 16 albums) attempting to distance himself from Led Zeppelin; his subsequent record sales are impressive but it’s that legacy that excites new and old listeners. He’s latterly ploughed an Americana roots furrow with world music rhythms. Krauss hasn’t been prolific and 2017’s delightful Windy City was her last album. Krauss has her roots in bluegrass but aside from the Union Station work I think of her songs as being country folk ballads where smooth heartfelt melancholy seems to be her signature.

Like Raising Sand here are a selection of covers from the likes of the Everly Brothers, Allen Toussaint, Hank Williams and Lucinda Williams. The album often has rhythms that find their origin in world music and it certainly gives the sound a greater vigour. There are a breadth of songs from different genres ghostly reimagined whether 1960s pop, folk, country, rock and rockabilly. Both take various lead vocals with the other picking up the chorus. The duets are few and far between. Plant’s leads are strident yet flexible, yet when he joins on the chorus he croons sympathetically in the background. Krauss takes the lead on songs that are quite similar to her existing catalogue and otherwise it is always the second voice you hear on a duet.

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Record Of The Week # 123

Charles Wesley Godwin – How The Mighty Fall

After considerable critical acclaim for his 2019 release Seneca could Godwin come up with the goods again? The news is affirmative. Charles Wesley Godwin has a distinct voice that holds a tune with a a slightly tremulous effect adding warmth and expressiveness, some interesting story telling and melodies that he describes as Appalachian country/Americana. Godwin hails from West Virginia: a relatively poor and rural part of the eastern USA and the striving and rustic settings abound.

“Jesse” was inspired from some graffiti he saw whilst out for a jog. On a bridge support he read “Are you thinking of me like I’m thinking of you?” This stimulated his imagination to create a character who’s regretting their parting knowing the other’s moved on. Starting with acoustic guitar chords a picked banjo joins and it builds with pedal steel, strings and eventually the band. This is a voice that can carry the melody by itself but a restrained, yet full arrangement, makes this memorable and beautiful.  

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Record Of The Week # 122

Emily Scott Robinson – American Siren

Robinson’s back story is one of a talented multi instrumentalist and singer who’s moved from North Carolina to Colorado. Here she was employed in social services whilst playing and further studying song writing. Eventually her breaks came and this is her second album, and her first, on a major label, it’s a joy. It’d be enough to talk about her voice: pure, crystal clear and mellifluous. However there’s considerable craft in her song writing and lyrics. She writes stories about classic country music themes such as cheating, missteps, unfilled ambitions and the military and it’s saddest days. She’s sympathetic and never judging but profound and engaging.

Jason Richmond produces (The Avett Brothers and The Steep Canyon Rangers), he ensures the mainly stripped back country arrangements are empathetic throughout. The backing to this divine voice varies between acoustic, electric and atmospheric. Richmond complements the songs with percussion, organ, bass lines, dabbles of electric guitar or sweeping runs of fiddle. “Let ‘Em Burn” is just Robinson on piano singing a delicate ballad. She says it’s “for anyone who thinks they’ve built a cage  they’ve learned to hate and wondering if they have the courage to ask for what they really want.” A sad but captivating listen.

“Every Day In Faith” is haunting and heartfelt, a hymn to seeing it through. Writing “Things You Learn The Hard Way” was novel. Robinson says she found the song title and chorus and then had to find the verses. In this case it was a list of things you learn the hard way (obvs). A bit stumped she asked her followers on Facebook and the illustrations tumbled in. From this assortment she selected the ones she liked most along with her own mistakes such as not avoiding talking politics with her grandfather! 

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Record Of The Week # 121

Brandi Carlile – In These Silent Days

This may be the most productive and commercially successful period in Brandi Carlile’s career. Her ascension to be the ‘Queen of Americana’ has not been an easy or quick climb, this is her seventh album. If pulling together the songs, the band and the producers isn’t a considerable task, in the meantime she’s been collaborating or producing other, much commended, country music masterworks with the Highwomen and Tania Tucker. Much of what she touches turns to gold and her 2019 By The Way, I Forgive You was worth all the Grammys and still remains one of my personal favourites.

Her voice is an incredible instrument with its range. She’s comfortable fronting an Elton John pastiche rock anthem (Sinners Saints And Fools) or cooing the whimsical lullaby of Stay Gentle. She’s expressive with exceptional poise, phrasing and occasional volume while admitting to relationship failures or continually self appraising her life and behaviour. Lyrically much of it is confessional and intimate and this is where comparisons to her idol and friend, Joni Mitchell, are worth dwelling on. The opener and album highlight, Right This Time, speaks of a contretemps with someone close and the song builds slowly to a dramatic finale. Mama Werewolf again dismantles her own, on occasion, bad tempered behaviour with her young children. She’d have you believe she’s not easy to live with but her insecurities and frankness are disarming along with her passion and selfless sharing. The boldness and directness of Mitchell’s lyrics are a brave template to follow. However, there’s little here that replicates Mitchell’s sound apart from the acoustic guitar and rhythm from Big Yellow Taxi on You And Me On The Rock. It’s an attractive appropriation or tribute. 

Carlile has worked with the Hanseroth brothers, who are part of her band and understand her well, not least by being very close neighbours in Seattle; this is an exceptional partnership. They collaborate on song composition and provide accompaniment on guitars, bass and harmonies. Like her previous album Dave Cobb and Shooter Jennings produce and play. This results in sympathetic arrangements that give her space and ensure each track has a different sound depending on the needs of the song. I’d have liked more strings (only two tracks), I thought this added to the drama and emotion of the last album. They created an epic sweep to songs such as The Joke elevating them from good to instant classics.

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Record Of The Week # 120

Jeremy Pinnell – Goodbye L.A.

Pinnell’s a care worn tattooed troubadour from just south of the Ohio River near Cincinnati. He’s accumulated a loyal following in the USA and UK by constant touring. The sound is electric with a groove and includes excursions into honky tonk, various styles of rock and the Country sound also inhabited by artists like Reckless Kelly (Cody Braun contributes fiddle here) and Boo Ray.

The songs, he says, in an interview with Country Music People’s Chris Smith last month, are about relationships and travelling, which inevitably impacts on everyone’s life. From his lyrics you’ll have no doubt he’s lived every moment. With a tight band he delivers ten songs of personal observations with an insouciance that suggests he’s learned to live with the scars he’s collected along the way. 

Pinnell’s musical charms fall into a number of areas; a lilt and groove that grabs you from the get go, the varied propulsions of Chris Alley on drums, the beautiful electric guitar leads of Junior Tutwiler and Jonathan Tyler that light up the songs between choruses, a fine ear for a hook and, lastly, his off the cuff words. Doing My Best  tackles the problem of a musician trying to make a living and ploughing on regardless of the realities “I ain’t doing no good, I’m just doing my best.” Amen to that.

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Record Of The Week # 119

Ashland Craft – Travelin’ Kind

I must have a word with myself. When I read that an artist has released an album after coming 9th on the US edition of The Voice I worry about their credentials and authenticity. Where are the lonely nights playing to 14 people in bars between Nashville and Chattanooga or the endless poring through their father’s Randy Travis LPs? However, for Ashland Craft it doesn’t matter: she is the real thing.

Snapped up by a major independent label, they’ve pulled together eleven songs of which she’s co-written nine and put her with producer Jonathan Singleton, maybe better known for his song compositions rather than twiddling the knobs. The project has worked fabulously and this is a terrific album. The success is mainly attributable to her complete command of the songs with a confident, ballsy and effortless delivery. It’s a voice that could deliver rock, soul or blues: it’s a force of nature.

The title track kicks off the album with a southern rock vibe. Guitar solos are way behind the beat whilst a harmonica wails throughout. Her slightly rasping voice extracts all you could hope for out of the tune: a paean to movin’ on and no backward glances. Maybe one downside of making your career out of covers is shown on Make It Past Georgia where the vocalisation is pure Billy Currington on People Are Crazy. Pedal steel and a fiddle take it down with Highway Like Me: a beautiful ballad and tune where young bluesman, Marcus King, plays some delicious and very fluid licks in the background. Mimosas In The Morning has a chorus for the radio where she belts out the observation that ‘this ain’t no whiskey conversation.’ Letcha Fly sails along over a fiddle foundation and a snappy snare rhythm before exiting with a picked banjo. Her vocal is pure Jack Daniels and cream in its taste and texture.

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Record Of The Week # 118

Jim Lauderdale – Hope

Lauderdale’s beyond prolific. This clocks in as his 34th album containing 13 tracks. As one of americana’s big names he inhabits the country/rock/pop end of the spectrum but has a number of roots albums in his recent collection. Last year’s When Carolina Comes Home Again was a country release and a homily to the State and it’s music. This album has more mainstream commercial sensibilities but you’ll find some folk, country and even jazz inflections. Lyrically he’s focussed on being positive during the pandemic and mitigating the effect it’s had on peoples’ lives. I think we can all agree that’s a good idea.

With this modus operandii “The Opportunity To Help Somebody Through It” is the first track: it’s a light rock track underpinned by electric guitars whilst Lauderdale exhorts the upside of helping those struggling. It’s an upbeat opening with a memorable chorus and some deft picking. “Sister Horizon” is another easy pop sound with a delightful chorus and an acoustic guitar picking the melody. 

“The Brighter Side Of Lonely “ just emphasises what a nice guy he really must be. He seeks to lift a friend out of a slough of despair. Their “making friends with being sad today” and they should “meet on the brighter side of lonely.” The tune matches the optimism and such a clever lyric is a highlight of the album. Pedal steel introduces “Breathe Real Slow” and it sounds like the Rick Rubin era of Johnny Cash. He adopts a gravelly voice and with a profound delivery advises some retrospection in the face of adversity. The chorus is a another great melody on this pure rock track.

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Record Of The Week # 117

Jacob Tovar – Another Time, Another Place

The camera works it’s way down the side of the train until we find Jacob Tovar standing in the doorway of an open boxcar, he’s stood legs astride, playing acoustic guitar to the wide open spaces that the train’s passing through. “I Felt Love”, with its shuffling beat and the rhythm of a train, fits perfectly. As the shot closes in we see behind Tovar is his four piece band. We immediately know that this must be a steam locomotive upfront as Paul Wilkes is plucking an upright bass. Adding to the atmosphere is a squealing, yet discrete pedal steel, whilst the drums maintain this travelling beat. The words are about a peripatetic musician and the regret he has for being away from home for long stretches. My scene is imaginary but it would have been my video of this first single off the album to encapsulate the magic.

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Record Of The Week # 116

Jesse Daniel – Beyond These Walls

This is a perfect confection of traditional and contemporary country with exceptional lyrics and stories. Daniel released his first album in 2018; this is his third. In this short time garnered praise and awards as a new, authentic talent who can write a fabulous song and deliver it with a magnetic vocal. Here there’s a variety of country sounds from the 60s to the 90s, all drenched in melody and personality. and his partner, and sometime co-writer, Jodi Lyford own their independent record label. He’s clearly an entrepreneur and to complement this acumen he’s assembled a brilliant cast to support him on the record: firstly Tommy Detamore (a seasoned producer with a CV including Jim Lauderdale, Moe Bandy and Sunny Sweeney) was on controls and steel guitar. Detamore’s recruited some ace, veteran musicians to play on the record and they elevate the whole sound. The players include Ronnie Huckaby (George Strait), Kevin Smith (Willie Nelson) and John Carroll (Jim Lauderdale). 

For a millennial Daniel has already lived enough for a lifetime of stories, including beating substance abuse. This shows in his songs: “Gray” tells of a good friend who’s addicted and has begun slipping away. His clear and mellifluous voice tells the story over an acoustic guitar, before a piano contributes a few chords in advance of a viola adding the heart wrenching emotion. Equally bleak but compelling is “Clayton Was A Cowboy”. It’s a story of a successful, swashbuckling rodeo cowboy who’s on the circuit, living fast and loose. A lively dance rhythm, with some fabulous finger-picking and a slapped snare beat, helps recount his life and demise in the ring over five verses.

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Record Of The Week # 115

Jack Ingram, Miranda Lambert, Jon Randall – The Marfa Tapes

These three Texans met in Marfa to perform 15 songs in an informal lo-fi setting. Marfa is known as a cultural hub in West Texas. Randall and Ingram have recording careers but here they’re sat with Lambert as part of a successful occasional writing team on her recent releases. Randall has a CV that stretches back a long way including association with Country royalty as well as being an in demand producer. Ingram’s recording output has had success but it’s his contribution as a songwriter, not least, to some of Lambert’s most memorable songs which seems his métier. If bonds were needed between the three, their composition of the multi-awarded “Tin Man” from her 2016 The Weight Of These Wings album is one; and not to forget their ability to harmonise so sweetly and their love for their home state.

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Record Of The Week # 114

Tylor & The Train Robbers – Non-Typical Find

Tylor Ketchum heads up a band of principally his two brothers and his father-in-law. On their third release they’re joined by another famous brother, Cody Braun of Reckless Kelly who takes up production duties. The sound is similar to their 2019 release The Best Of The Worst Kind. However, here Braun brings more commercial sensibility and some celtic flourishes as he adds fiddle and mandolin.

Ketchum is a terrific wordsmith; on the opener “Equation of Life”, he offers a philosophic take – “There’s bigger places and better things to come / Instead of trading time I think you might try spending some / Because change equals money and money always makes sense /  When you spend time well you get back time well spent.” When you hitch this to the acoustic based americana country sound, with pedal steel in the background, you’ve got a wonderful 50 minutes ahead of you. Ketchum’s voice is commanding and the mix rightly puts it to the fore throughout.

The band is tighter than the lid on a recalcitrant jar of jalapeños: they weave around each other and deliver effortless solos; and predictably the brothers harmonise better than most on the choruses. “Staring Down The North” has an outlaw vibe where the band quickly hit the afterburners. Ketchum picks his acoustic guitar and extols the virtues of adopting a positive attitude. A prowling electric guitar trades punches with a Hammond B3; I can imagine that this must be sublime played live. “Jenny Lynn” is an album highlight and refers to Ketchum’s wife. It’s a paean to his enduring love as he misses her whilst he’s away. Acoustic guitars play the melody with pedal steel and sentimental Irish fiddle adding to this touching lament. 

The title track, “Non-Typical Find”, is a story about the untimely demise of two unfortunates after a car crash on the highway. The driver appears to have been distracted and spaced out and his unlucky female passenger picked the wrong car to flag down whilst hitch hiking. This six minute epic brought to mind the type of engaging story he told on his last album with “The Ballad Of Black Jack Ketchum”, again another misadventure (that ends in a hanging!) “Lemonade” is another lyric that has you concentrating on every word. A beautiful melody enhanced by a picked banjo and insistent snare driven rhythm. 

The air should be black with hats as we celebrate this wonderful album. Mine is airborne.

Record Of The Week # 113

Blood, Sweat & Tears – New City

I was visiting Dave at Castle Electrics. This is not an easy experience. Dave runs a small shop in Acomb where he stands behind a cluttered counter in the absolute chaos of stacked washing machines, refurbished Dyson vacuum cleaners, kettles, lamps, mounds of pieces of paper and a phone he seldom answers. However, what he doesn’t know about appliances isn’t worth knowing. I was attending the Temple of Spark to discuss the swapping of an extractor canopy. Escaping him often necessitates the type of quality excuse such as you’re late for an appointment with the Queen or it’s the final countdown for a nuclear attack. Aside from this chore Acomb offers the best charity shop in York for second hand CD’s and occasional LP finds. After Dave accepted my apologies (and I’d promised to give Her Majesty his regards) I migrated to the next temple.

Historically I’ve found some splendid blues CD’s amongst the copious Cheryl Cole, James Last and Robbie Williams detritus. This time after an unproductive scan through the CD’s I turned my attention to the LP’s. Inevitably budget label classical LP’s abounded plus Engelbert Humperdinck, Jim Reeves and Petula Clark to the fore. I’m often happy to snap up the Country music ones as I add to my knowledge of the history of the genre but that’s not the reason for the search. Lurking in the pile was a tatty sleeve of the above album. A quick glance at the vinyl revealed something in quite good nick. It seemed worth investing £1.

Blood, Sweat & Tears were an American band of nine players who enjoyed their chart success in the late 60s and 70s. In fact they had platinum records in the US and topped the charts with two of their albums. “Spinning Wheel” was probably their most successful song in the UK charts. I like brass led soul jazz but when combined with rock it all seems just a loud and meandering affair where I worry that the players are having a lot more fun than the listener. This album, their eighth, was released in 1975 and saw the return of the Canadian lead vocalist David Clayton-Thomas to a line up that included trumpets, trombones, saxophones, tuba along with the expected complement of drums, keyboards, bass and electric guitar. My speculative purchases hit the record deck at least once and then gather dust thereafter if they’re not worthy.

I’ve now being playing this for weeks. I love it.

It helps that some of my favourite records are by The Average White Band and Tower Of Power and this sound picks up from both these acts although in a strict chronological order B,S&T came first. The two big draws are the vocals of Clayton-Thomas and the brass arrangements that rage and sooth as they work through a variety of styles and tempos. Their intent is laid bare with the first track “Ride Captain Ride” a tour de force of 70s Soul Funk. Clayton-Thomas’ muscular and commanding vocals sweep you along. They reminded me of a very powerful sports car trundling at an easy pace but the burble of the V8 reminds you that at any time they could propel him, and you, seamlessly with volume and emotion to a different place. “Life” follows with a ridiculously funky bass line with all the hallmarks of the New Orleans legendary songwriter’s work, Allen Toussaint. Horns electrify the chorus and Swede George Wadenius takes the spotlight with an electric guitar solo.

“I Was A Witness To A War” could be a show tune such is the wistful melody. The vocal has pathos and impact as the story unfolds of the horror of it all. One of the composers, Danny Meehan, had a varied career as a performing artist and songwriter following service in the Korean War and receiving The Purple Heart. You can safely conclude any ideas in the lyrics were received on the front line. Side One finishes with a traditional sparsely arranged blues song “One Room Country Shack”. Clayton- Smith delivers over a picked acoustic guitar; later on an acoustic slide joins. A quick tour of YouTube shows that this version is head and shoulders above that of John Lee Hooker or Buddy Guy. No small achievement.

Ultimately the album is a covers collection with only three of the ten songs being composed by band members. Janis Ian’s “Applause” is an interesting choice to start Side Two. Ian has become a revered singer songwriter who’s still touring. This whimsical story is about what each artist seeks in a live performance. It’s sad and poignant. The song is populated with some beautiful horn arrangements that demonstrate several styles and paces from baroque chamber music to jazz harmonies with trumpets playing the same tune note for note. Randy Newman arrangements always borders on a comedy style or a straight singer songwriter unadorned piano ballad. “Naked Man” from his 1974 critically acclaimed Good Old Boys is the former and gets the full band on vocals as Clayton-Thomas sounds like Tom Waits. The lyrics get so wacky that he is unable to stop from breaking into a laugh whilst delivering a verse. More predictable and chart orientated is the cover of “Got To Get You Into My Life” from 1966’s Revolver by The Beatles and also covered by several other artists. We play out with a composition by the drummer, Bobby Colomby, “Takin’ It Home”. It’s a brief coda starting with a sensational Bill Tillman saxophone lead but more to the point reminds us it’s Colomby’s sublime sophisticated drumming that has propelled and held this whole wonderful album together.

(If you’re tempted then I can tell you that this lurks on Spotify or Apple Music or at any leading record outlet)

Record Of The Week # 112

Maia Sharp – Mercy Rising

A move to Nashville from LA with the end of a long term relationship and the coming to grips with a new home fostered a desire to move on in many ways. This confessional album muses on relationships coupled with many wry observations and desires about those around her. She’s a great wordsmith and the music nods to several genres with singer songwriter being the most evident although this sits comfortably in the country/americana orbit. Sharp has made her living by being principally a writer for other artists; credits read the (Dixie) Chicks, Trisha Yearwood, Terri Clark and Kim Richey (whose sound she is probably closest to on this latest album.)

Her voice is a siren call: warm with an impressive range that’s conveys emotions that come thick and fast through ten songs. From the sarcasm of “Nice Girl” to the lustful “Not Your Friend” she sings over a sophisticated soundtrack of smooth beats and the varied, sublime guitar sounds of Joshua Grange. The arrangements are uncluttered and you feel that every note has arrived in just the correct place after considerable collaboration. Sharp herself is accomplished multi-instrumentalist and wearing her producer’s hat, she demonstrates impressive mastery of the controls.

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