Music Reviews

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posted: February 26, 2014

English Oceans

ATO LP, CD

In his excellent new book I’ll Take You There: Mavis Staples, the Staple Singers, and the March Up Freedom’s Highway, veteran critic Greg Kot discusses the harmonic blend of styles that distinguished the late 1960s/early 1970s era Muscle Shoals sound from every other locale in America. Read More


posted: February 14, 2009

Jakob Dylan – Seeing Things

Once freed from the constraints of the middle-of-the-road sensibilities of The Wallflowers, Jakob Dylan has found himself…on a country road in the middle of Appalachia. Many singer-songwriters are using the traditions and conventions of Americana to express a sort of sincerity and purity these days, but Dylan seems inspired by this genre shift and delivers his first solo album in a way that few music critics predicted. Read More


posted: April 14, 2009

Jane’s Addiction: A Cabinet of Curiosities

The timing behind the release of the new limited-edition Jane’s Addiction’s box set, A Cabinet of Curiosities, couldn’t be more obvious. Reunited again, the band is preparing to head out on a summer tour with Nine Inch Nails that culminates with a headlining spot at Chicago’s Lollapalooza festival. Read More


posted: June 14, 2017

Jason Isbell and the 400 Unit The Nashville Sound

Southeastern Records, LP or CD
Jason Isbell and the 400 Unit

Jason Isbell goes home on the remarkable The Nashville Sound. While the notion of place has always played a considerable role in the singer/guitarist’s music, the comfort, grounding, and direction it provides on his sixth studio album have never been greater. Economically concise and conversationally poetic, this a record on which Isbell lets us see the prairie grass shift in the breeze, hear the gentle rustling of wind, stare at the big sky overhead, smell the sweetness of ripening corn, and feel the settled dirt on the ground of the very spaces he holds dear. Read More


posted: June 8, 2017

Jessi Colter The Psalms

Sony Legacy, CD
Jessi Colter

As a solo artist, Jessi Colter remains best known for her delicate and heartbreaking 1975 single “I’m Not Lisa.” But her life and career have been most deeply defined by her personal and artistic partnership with her late husband, the legendary country outlaw Waylon Jennings. Read More


posted: July 3, 2017

Jim Lauderdale London Southern

Proper Records, CD
Jim Lauderdale

I first interviewed Jim Lauderdale 20 years ago. During the course of our conversation, we went to the Nashville music club the Station Inn. He was eager to catch a set by his dear pal and mentor, bluegrass icon Ralph Stanley. Lauderdale drove a nondescript late-model car—functional, but nothing fancy. Read More


posted: July 15, 2015

Joe Lovano & Dave Douglas Sound Prints

It’s a matter of buoyancy. When jazz improvisers are really, really swinging, all the ensemble action seems to float. Once it’s in play, it can work in innumerable ways. Sometimes musicians bear down and deliver expressionistic ardor. Sometimes they have their most feathery of maneuvers lifted by the collective flutter. Read More


posted: February 25, 2009

John Mellencamp – Life, Death, Love and Freedom

Another big star goes over to Starbucks.  While you might accuse him of selling out, Mellencamp stays true to his rebel roots and offers us his latest release on CD and an extended resolution DVD along with an LP  “to address the analog renaissance”. (Quote from Mellencamp’s website)

The sound quality is a solid A, even on the CD. Read More


posted: June 8, 2017

John Moreland

When John Moreland appeared on “The Late Show with Stephen Colbert” in 2016, the Americana singer-songwriter delivered a hushed tour de force with the solo acoustic ballad “Break My Heart Sweetly.” The performance earned an ecstatic response from the audience—no mean feat given Moreland doesn’t fit the typical matinee-idol frontman mold. Read More


posted: March 21, 2012

Justin Townes Earle

“Hear my father’s voice on the radio/Singing, ‘Take me home again,’” warbles Justin Townes Earle one second into his new Nothing’s Gonna Change the Way You Feel About Me Now. He invokes Steve Earle once again on the closing “Movin’ On,” but only by way of conversation with his mother. Read More


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