Has Been (Shout Factory) is a surprisingly successful enterprise.
With musical accompaniment from Ben Folds, and guests like Joe Jackson
and Henry Rollins, Shatners musical oratory format
gives us songs that are honest, sometimes poignant, and often intentionally
looks young on the cover of Anonymous (Stanton Street Records),
but his songs, with Dylanesque harmonica breaks and introspective lyrics, update
contemporary folk for the post-punk crowd.
by Hayden (Badman/Hardwood Records) features original folk songs that
take us into a timelessly remote, rural, and somewhat bleak world of disappointed
love and disasters survived.
not only sounds like early Joni Mitchell, she also writes songs that,
like Mitchells, are based on traditional folk mated to contemporary perceptions.
On Million Year Old Sand (timesbeachrecords.com), her gentle songs are
abetted by her masterful playing of several instruments.
Take one Parisian
chanteuse (Dominique Duval), Fountains of Waynes Adam Schlesinger,
and solo artist Andy Chase and youve got Ivy, whose fourth album,
In The Clear (Nettwerk), is a mixture of bouncy rock and pop
with a decidedly European touch.
The latest relese
from Fat Possum Records (great name) is Wandering Stranger by
Entrance. This trios mix of traditional and original folk/blues takes
the kind of music played in old-time juke joints and gives it a contemporary
sound like a fun bunch of guys on Form Follows Function (timesbeachrecords.com),
playing garage rock with funny lyrics about love, girls, dogs, cars, and Virginia
Dare(girl or cooking sherry?)
is still young, but he plays a mean blues guitar, shades of B.B. King, but a
bit friskier. Check out his chops on Shades of Blue (Delta Groove)
where hes accompanied by a bevy of talented musicians including three
pops up again as one of The Mannish Boys, a blues super-group
on That Represent Man (Delta Groove). This group of blues virtuosos
reminds us that blues, despite its name, can be pure fun (youll crack
up at the snoring sounds on Call My Job and youll call in
sick to stay home and listen!)
Flunk defy expectations on Morning Star (Kriztal). Their dance-pop
contains touches of country and folk, delicate guitar riffs, and the haunting
vocals of Anya, especially on their slowed-down cover of New Orders
Alexander Zonjic plays smooth on Seldom Blue (Heads Up).
The albums mostly instrumental tracks are light fusion reminiscent of
Bob James (who co-produced). Angela Bofill is among the jazz artists
lending their talents to this soothing collection.
Fans of Ben
Kweller will enjoy The Honorary Titles Anything But The
Truth (Doghouse American). The New York-based duo sing and write alt-rock
odes to youthful urban angst. The zoological cover art is not for the faint
Davidson calls himself Don Quixote de Suburbia on his fifth
timesbeachrecords.com release, but hes really a Bob Dylan for the millennium.
With modern rock protest songs speaking out on issues like racism, terrorism,
and globalization, hes a much-needed artist for todays culture.
The Sun by Blue Merle (Island) offers folk-flavored ballads with intricate
guitar and mandolin work. Lucas Reynolds gritty voice lends a 90s alt-rock
touch to this promising debut.
by Australian producer-programmer Davey Ray Moor (Lakeshore Records)
presents sophisticated pop songs that sound like old standards but are mostly
originals. Moor uses several vocalists, both male and female, to create a variety-show
on Never Odd Or Even (Fidelity) jams on instrumentals that are
always jazz and often odd, with eccentric rhythms and bits of world
music and electronica thrown into the mix for dramatic effect.
is a welcome addition to the contemporary blues scene. On Inside The Blues
(Spiritone Records), she pays tribute to many well-loved blues artists and their
songs, adding a unique dimension with her rich, expressive voice.
newest is a live CD. Live At St. Anns Warehouse (SuperEgo) has
great sound quality, bringing out the best in Manns philosophical songs.
For Aimee Mann fans and others, its a great gift-as are the other CDs
in this column.