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Cirque Du Soleil
(Cirque Du Soleil)
[listen] [buy] [download]

Patricia Barber
(Blue Note)
[listen] [buy]

Cirque Du Soleil
(Cirque Du Soleil)
[listen] [buy] [download]

Jim Pearce
“Why I Haven't Got You”
Prairie Dog Ballet
(Oak Avenue Publishing)
[listen] [buy]

Andy Timmons Band
“Gone (9/11/01)”
(Favored Nations)
[listen] [buy]

Ralph Towner
Time Line
(ECM Records)
[listen] [buy]

Anoushka Shankar

Amos Lee
"Arms Of A Woman"
Amos Lee
(Blue Note)

Julius Curcio
"American Pie"
Alligator Shoes
(Electric Roots)
[listen] [buy]

"Come Alive"
Changing Into Me
[listen] [buy]

Kaleidoscope [Issue # 12 ]

By Lynne Bronstein

( )

William Shatner’s Has Been (Shout Factory) is a surprisingly successful enterprise. With musical accompaniment from Ben Folds, and guests like Joe Jackson and Henry Rollins, Shatner’s “musical oratory” format gives us songs that are honest, sometimes poignant, and often intentionally funny.

Kieran McGee 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.

Elk-Lake Serenade 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.

Audra Kubat not only sounds like early Joni Mitchell, she also writes songs that, like Mitchell’s, 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 Wayne’s Adam Schlesinger, and solo artist Andy Chase and you’ve 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 trio’s mix of traditional and original folk/blues takes the kind of music played in old-time juke joints and gives it a contemporary spin.

The Hentchmen 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?)

Kirk Fletcher 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 he’s accompanied by a bevy of talented musicians including three vocalists.

Kirk Fletcher 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 (you’ll crack up at the snoring sounds on “Call My Job” and you’ll call in sick to stay home and listen!)

Norway’s 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 Order’s “True Faith.”

Jazz flautist Alexander Zonjic plays smooth on Seldom Blue (Heads Up). The album’s 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 Title’s 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 of heart!

Ethan Daniel Davidson calls himself Don Quixote de Suburbia on his fifth timesbeachrecords.com release, but he’s really a Bob Dylan for the millennium. With modern rock protest songs speaking out on issues like racism, terrorism, and globalization, he’s a much-needed artist for today’s culture.

Burning In The Sun by Blue Merle (Island) offers folk-flavored ballads with intricate guitar and mandolin work. Lucas Reynold’s gritty voice lends a 90s alt-rock touch to this promising debut.

Telepathy 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 effect.

Kyle Hollingsworth 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.

Mare Edstrom 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.

Aimee Mann’s newest is a live CD. Live At St. Ann’s Warehouse (SuperEgo) has great sound quality, bringing out the best in Mann’s philosophical songs. For Aimee Mann fans and others, it’s a great gift-as are the other CDs in this column.

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