Annette Genovese, Dream With Me

Written By: Editor - Jun• 28•14

by Conannette cd coverstance Tucker

Annette Genovese, bandleader, arranger, who has recorded dozens of songs for her own albums, Indie artists, and commercials, this busy Tri-State artist has released a winning release entitled Dream With Me. Managing her own projects, she has created several professionally produced albums ranging from new wave, gospel rock, pop, funk, and jazz. For each project, she has provided primary creative oversight from initial vision through song arrangement/writing, recording, mixing, and final mastering.

Recently, the loss of Horace Silver rocked the jazz world and Genovese’s version of “Senor Blues” is a fitting tribute to this legendary artist. Genovese has a pop infused style that offers the listener and easy way to connect to jazz. The track is driving and upbeat and is a good solid version of this well-covered standard. Genovese does it justice with good pitch, interesting phrasing and pleasing delivery. “Ain’t Nobody” made famous by Chaka Khan/Rufus lends itself to the versatility of styles contained within Dream With Me. The album closes with a P. Mendes composition “So Many Stars,” in almost an ala Burt Bacharach style. Dream With Me is a mix of jazz and pop standards, a perfect recording for reminiscing through a time past or if I may; almost a collection of eras. Genovese truly switches between the jazz and pop jazz renditions with an easy style that has a 70s sensibility to it, which is becoming a popular approach in easy listening and jazz pop genres, a well-crafted listen.

 

Soundgarden, Superunknown (20th Anniversary Super Deluxe Edition – 4CD + 1Blu-ray Audio Disc)

Written By: Editor - Jun• 28•14

soundgardenby Derek P

By 1994, grunge had hit its peak and began to decline in popularity. Bands like Pearl Jam had released material that divided its fanbase, refused to make any music videos, and were battling Ticketmaster over high prices. Nirvana released the brilliant-but-funereal “Unplugged in New York” as its swansong. Alice in Chains released the ingenious acoustic EP Jar of Flies, but frontman Layne Staley’s addictions severely limited the band’s outgoings. Pop punk, art metal, and neo-grunge were now rising in popularity. Kurt Cobain’s death unofficially signified the twilight of an all-too-brief world domination ruled by ingenious, sludgy riffs and flannel-wearing poets. However, the following summer, Soundgarden, who had not only seen it all, but had also SURVIVED the peak-and-burn of the scene, just happened to release their magnum opus. Welcome to the Superunknown….

Production:
Though the album is undeniably Soundgarden, a few key differences immediately set this release apart from both its predecessors and its successors. The album has a more subdued sound to it- not nearly as in-your-face as the ballsy art-metal of Badmotorfinger. Even the rockers have a more balanced edge to them, but that’s not to say that they’ve lost their power. Though the album is more tame at first listen, repeated listens reveal that Soundgarden have not lost their edge. Not by a long shot. If anything, Superunknown is darker and more personal than anything they had released up to this point in their career. Much of this is due to the crisp production, which keeps any single instrument from dominating the mix, instead concentrating on the aura of the band itself- bleak, gray, and wonderfully apocalyptic. Chris Cornell’s vocals are more ghostly and controlled than before, and while the riffs are still heavy, they help to keep the songs afloat instead of racing ahead of them or weighing them down. The atmosphere paints an existence that basks in the black sunshine of its own mortality. The music is borderline uncomfortable at times, but such dissonance adds to its genuine depression, as art. And if you read between the lines, you’ll find a hint of hope in the darkness…

Material:
The material is far more focused than on any other Soundgarden release, and arguably, than any other release by ANY Seattle band. Soundgarden have thrown their murky expositions out the window in favor of the more experimental elements that were merely hinted at in “Badmotorfinger.” Though Cornell’s compositions generally stand head-and-shoulders above the other members’ contributions, every song has its place in this album. The consistency is impeccable, and even the song titles blend well as a whole, as if belonging to some sort of grand, dank concept about the dissatisfaction of life. The album kicks off with the 4-note assault of “Let Me Drown,” a perfect opener to such an album. “My Wave” soon follows, beginning with a simple riff in a not-so-simple time signature. The chorus creates a sort of surfer-ambiance fused with heavy punk, and it’s catchy as hell. Next up, one of my favourite songs in the SG catalog: “Fell on Black Days.” This song slows the tempo a bit and possesses a waltzy, Eastern groove to it. Probably the best single on the album. Other standouts include the meditatively dissonant “Head Down,” the dreamy-but-dreary “Black Hole Sun,” the punk-metal of “Spoonman,” the desperation for escape inside “The Day I Tried To Live,” and the stunningly poetic (and extremely morose) “Like Suicide,” which is arguably the best song on the album. Although some tracks are more drawn-out than necessary (“Limo Wreck” sludges on a bit too long), each song feels like a piece of a puzzle. Each has its own character and purpose, if not immediate accessibility.

Conclusion:
This is, arguably, Soundgarden at the height of their career. Each and every instrument is taken into account equally, every member sounds very comfortable, confident, and satisfied behind their instrument, and the album flows as smooth as butter melting into a scorching pan. This is possibly the best grunge album of all time, and without a doubt, the most focused and mature. If there is one grunge album you absolutely must buy, let Superunknown be it. You won’t be disappointed.

Barbra Streisand, Classical Barbra

Written By: Editor - Jun• 28•14

barbara streisandby Vance

It’s not often I get to use the phrase “sui generis” — fancy talk for “unique” — but this album truly is a genre unto itself … and to Streisand, to classical music, to new age sounds.

In the 1970s, Streisand took on all challenges: Bowie? Check. Post-Beatles John Lennon? Check. Disco? Check. Hard guitar pop? Check. Voice & piano? Check. In an amazing ten-year period, Streisand pushed her beautiful voice in every musical direction to see what she could do outside of the show tunes and quirky cabaret music that defined her 1960s output. So “going classical” was just par for the course of that decade.

Classical purists hated this album. Streisand lovers hated this album. Everyone suspected — as with the equally wonderful 1966 “Je M’appelle Barbra” album — that it would flop. And it did. However, listening to this album 35 years later, commercial considerations are irrelevant. Streisand always said she brought her acting chops to songs and created characters for each number. Most of these songs originated in opera. Doesn’t it make sense that she would be drawn to — and know what to do with — classical material?

The arrangements here are unfailingly lovely and border on the edge of “new age” — and I mean that as a compliment. Think about the best moments of a Win Mertens or a Michael Manring on Windham Hill — not a John Tesch or “Hearts in Space” treacly misstep — and you’ll get the idea of what I mean.

Her singing here is also uniformly restrained. She has nothing to prove, which ironically proves just how good she is when she jettisons irony (her standard ’60s mode) for intimacy and tenderness.

Her takes on Debussy’s “Beau Soir” and Fauré’s “Pavane” are flat-out beautiful. Coming close are Wolf’s “Verschwiegene Liebe” and Claus Ogermann’s adaptation of Pushkin’s “I Loved You” (a rare time when Pushkin also wasn’t being ironic.)

If you leave your expectations aside and think of this album as a set of ten of the best-written songs Streisand ever sang — and sang with out the occasionally overwrought belting or too-coy comic moments — you’ll be surprised at first and, eventually, as pleased as you are with an excellent red wine that leaves a warm, warm glow.

Nancy Goudinaki, I Wanna Be Your Star

Written By: Editor - Jun• 28•14

nancy g web cd

by Constance Tucker

Vocal Jazz is a genre that reaches far and wide and pleases audiences globally, so it is a natural fit that a Greek born young girl would find her desire to pursue the legacy of vocal jazz by moving to New York, taking countless lessons, spending hours of study to create a debut release with a cast of outstanding New York musicians known beyond the confines of the popular New York jazz scene was inevitable.

From the first notes you hear the continental sound infused by Goudinanki’s voice and the muscularity of the cavalcade of today’s stars.  Nancy’s debut album, I Wanna Be Your Star features a stellar line-up of prominent NY jazz musicians. Her record is produced by renowned bass player Richie Goods. Grammy Nominated Pianist, Orrin Evans who arranged several of the compositions on this album and accompanied by three of New York’s finest jazz innovators- the phenomenal bassist Dwayne Burno (passed on in December 2013), soulful tenor saxophonist JD Allen and drummer Rudy Royston, guest appearances by vocalist, Miles Griffith, percussionist Daniel Sadownick and bassist Richie Goods make it all the more sweet.   What is even more impressive is Goudinaki’s talents on acoustic nylon strung guitar. “Milonga” is well-played and Goudinaki soars on guitar, her eloquence and virtuosity is immediately evident. I know this is a vocal jazz review, but I had to mention it – because she truthfully is just that wonderful on guitar. Now back to our programming. Goudinaki has an airy light voice that commands wonderful control and good use of her head voice, her voice exudes femininity, which is a very pleasing virtue and makes her singing that much more appealing. On “Birds of Paradise” a Nancy G original, the listener is transported by the Latin rhythms and upbeat cheery melody. A standard “Just Friends” is augmented by guest vocalist Miles Griffith. The two have such ideally contrasting voices that the lilting voice of Goudinaki is underpinned by the masculine gravel of Griffith’s well-seasoned voice, and the result if magical. The title track “I Wanna Be Your Star” is an English translation of Goudinaki’s tune, written when she was 16 years old, which features Goudinaki on guitar and singing in her native tongue of Greek, giving the disc a further transnational sound. A wonderful debut release by a continental artist who I look forward to watching with each new release, my only comment is – next time, Nancy give us a balance of instrumental and vocal cuts, as you truly are quite talented on guitar too – and it would be very nice to have a full balance of both aspects of your jam-packed talents.

Verdi at the MET: Legendary Performances from The Metropolitan Opera

Written By: Editor - Dec• 27•13

by S. Kohl

verdi at the metVerdi’s 200th birthday provided a good excuse for this boxed set of Metropolitan Opera performances that were broadcast live between 1935 and 1967. These have appeared in other editions, most “unofficial,” though UN BALLO IN MASCHERA and OTELLO were in the Met’s “historic broadcast” series on LP, issued for fund-raising purposes around 1980. All but two of these had been run by Metropolitan Opera Radio on Sirius/XM prior to release of this set, and the AIDA was also heard in 2005 as an “archive” performance during the Saturday network radio broadcasts.

The sound quality varies, and as might be expected the 1935 LA TRAVIATA requires the most indulgence from the listener. The sound has been improved considerably from earlier copies, and while quite a bit of distortion from the source recording remains, noise and speed variation issues have been addressed. Applause after arias has been truncated, possibly when the original transfer was made years ago from the acetate discs, but the defects are worth tolerating to hear Rosa Ponselle’s Violetta, and Lawrence Tibbett when he was still in prime vocal condition.

While sounding far better than the TRAVIATA, there’s a small amount of distortion in the 1945 RIGOLETTO, 1949 FALSTAFF and 1959 MACBETH. The RIGOLETTO seems an odd choice; the sound is a little dim and, as noted by the critics at the time, The Duke of Mantua was not one of Bjoerling’s better roles from a dramatic standpoint. But the voice is splendid, and Leonard Warren supplies plenty of drama. It’s also good to have an example of Cesare Sodero’s competent conducting, since he was busy at the Met in the early 1940′s, and his commercial recordings are not representative of his abilities, made when he worked as music director for the Edison phonograph company.

The MACBETH, from the Met’s first production of the work, invites comparison with the commercial recording RCA Victor made with the same cast. The live performance has a strange acoustic, evidently not sourced from the microphones used for the broadcasts, providing more resonance than usual. The frequency response is good and the voices are captured fairly well, but the orchestra sounds like it was in another room. I’m guessing the microphones were above the stage, without a direct path to the orchestra pit. Distortion levels aren’t extreme, but do unfortunate things especially to Leonie Rysanek’s voice. While the voices and orchestra sound better in the commercial recording, it was made in the early days of stereo, emphasizing separation of the channels, distracting enough that playing it in monaural mode helps. Even so, the balance between singers is better in the live performance.

The two from 1940 are especially attractive, being fine performances with interesting casts, and the sound is quite good with low distortion and a surprising amount of dynamic range. The OTELLO is very impressive, energetic and precisely executed by all forces under Ettore Panizza, with Martinelli’s voice captured far better than it was in the studio-recorded excerpts he made at the same time for Victor.

The sound quality is also fine on the rest of the performances, with the 1950 SIMON BOCCANEGRA and 1952 LA FORZA DEL DESTINO excellent for the time they were recorded, and having little surface noise from the discs.

I have a couple minor gripes about the editing. Scene and act changes happen without a break; I don’t expect commentary by Milton Cross, but a few seconds of silence would have helped. There is also no hint in the notes as to how these were presented in performance “at the Met” where RIGOLETTO and LA TRAVIATA were usually given in four acts. In a couple places the applause has been truncated; it may make some sense at the end of a disc side, such as after the tenor aria in Act III of LA FORZA DEL DESTINO, but there isn’t much excuse for dropping 30 seconds of it after “O patria mia” in the 1967 AIDA. Fortunately this only seems to occur in a few places, so I don’t consider it a major issue.

The 136-page booklet has plot synopses of the operas and some information on events surrounding the performances, with the text in English, German and French, but very little technical detail on the recordings, other than for the 1935 LA TRAVIATA. The cast lists and pictures are probably the most useful parts of it.

Access to the discs is somewhat awkward, since they are in cardboard envelopes arranged as folders. Squeezing the envelope open near the “spine” of the folder usually allows the disc to drop out far enough to grab the center hole, and the cut-out on the edge is an improvement over the similar packaging of the Wagner collection. At least the box doesn’t take up a lot of space, and the envelopes provide plenty of area for identifying the tracks on the discs.

With ten operas in generally fine performances, this is an excellent release, a bargain at the price, and despite a few minor issues it is fully deserving of a 5-star “I love it” rating.

Redmond, Langosch, Cooley – Compared to What

Written By: Editor - Dec• 27•13

by Constance Tucker

cd coverTake a blues chanteuse that has been thrilling audiences for years with an impressive discography, put her with a couple of jazzers and the result is a gritty, rugged, big-voiced belter whose jazz sensibilities shine through in spades. Supported by Paul Langosch on bass and Jay Cooley on keys, this is a truly swinging date that is well worth the shelf space in your prime jazz library.

Born and raised in Richmond, VA, Redmond majored in voice at Virginia Commonwealth University (VCU) and studied classical voice. By night, she performed in various rock and jazz bands on and around the VCU campus. Although the faculty at VCU felt that Redmond had great potential as a classical singer, she decided that a classical career wasn’t for her and opted to concentrate on rock, R&B, and jazz instead. After moving to the Washington, DC area in the early ‘90s, Redmond was hired as a featured vocalist for the soul/funk-oriented band that saxman/flutist Al Williams led in DC and its suburbs. Eventually, the singer left Williams’ employ and formed her own band, which performed a combination of covers and Redmond originals. As a solo artist, Redmond developed an enthusiastic following in the Washington DC area, and along the way, she won quite a few Wammie awards. The Wammies are the local DC equivalent of the Grammies, and in the ‘90s and early 2000s, Redmond won a total of 22 Wammies (including awards for “Best Rock-Pop Vocalist,” “Best Female Jazz Singer,” “Best Roots Rock/Traditional R&B Vocalist,” “Best Urban Contemporary Vocalist,” and “Best Female Blues Vocalist”). Locally, Redmond created enough of a buzz to open for major soul veterans when they passed through DC, including the O’Jays, the Pointer Sisters, Smokey Robinson, Ashford & Simpson, and the Neville Brothers.  Eva Cassidy who was an enthusiastic Redmond supporter, (she died of cancer in 1996), can be heard together on WAMA Volume VII DC101 edition. Redmond’s solo albums have included, Prisoner of the Heart, 1997′s Live!, and 2000′s Here I Am, all of which she released on her own Spellbound label. In 2002, Prisoner of the Heart was re-released by the independent Q&W Music Group, and in 2005 Redmond again released Send the Moon also on Spellbound Records. Now in 2013, Compared to What, Self-Released, offers a strong addition to Redmond’s extensive discography.

“Come Rain or Come Shine” opens the proceedings and immediately signals to the listener this will be a soulful reading with a swingin’ tempo reinforcing the lyric, that is given more of a reverent pledge of love vs. the mournful approach that most vocalist take on this well documented cut. Redmond is divine, her voice is incredibly soulful, and immediately strikes the listener to engage. Langosh and Cooley swing hard, laying out a strong canvas for Redmond to paint her bluesy vocal runs atop. Absolutely superb!! “Dance Me to the End of Time” is a remarkable approach; it yearns, and deepens the lyric’s meaning with Redmond’s mournful reading. The lyric on this cut is already an amazing Leonard Cohen original, but with Redmond at the helm, her rendition just may be one of my favorite interpretations to date. “Storm is Coming” a Redmond original, adorns the almost halfway point of the album, though characteristically a contrast in style, it gives the listener an opportunity to peek into some of Redmond’s additional qualities and talents. Redmond is such a delight to hear; she could sing Twinkle, Twinkle Little Star and make me believe it.

“Ain’t That Peculiar” is where Redmond really lets her blues slip show. It is always a treat when someone really can deliver the blues; it should be the marker for a great jazz vocalist, at times you hear so many modern day vocalists who are wonderful technicians, but they have lost the most important element and role of the vocalist, to convince the listener of the lyric and deliver it with meaning. There are no shortcomings here, as Redmond knows how to treat a song and how to do the most important role of a vocalist – sing with conviction, believability and most importantly deep down soul. Thank you Mary Ann, you have answered my daily pulpit preach.

Overall Compared to What, is a stunning offering of varied styles, all based or underpinned in jazz, blues and sprinkles of Americana. Redmond, Langosh and Cooley serve it up with conviction, maturity, and most importantly authenticity. Something the younger generation could take a bit of advice from these veterans. Mastery is not created in nothing less than years on the bandstand, and these folks have the street cred to pull it off, highly recommended.

Billie Joe + Norah, Foreverly

Written By: Editor - Dec• 26•13

by Jef Fazekas

bilie joe and norahIt goes without saying that some combinations are just unfathomable, among them a Rodham Clinton/Bush ticket in 2016, broccoli and whipped cream, and Kanye West and humility. On the other hand, hard as it is to imagine, some pairings just work, including oil and vinegar, chocolate and peanut butter and Sandra Bullock and Melissa McCarthy.
Believe it or not, we can now add Norah Jones and Billie Joe Armstrong to the latter list. On FOREVERLY, a reimagining of the Everly Brothers’ 1958 release SONGS OUR DADDY TAUGHT US, this disparate pair not only come together, they totally pull it off. (Armstrong, in particular, shines, showing off a whole other side of himself).

Mind you, this is no good-time collaboration….seeped in traditional country, folk and Appalachian roots music, these songs are full of death, loss, death, betrayal, death, regret, death, and….oh, yeah…death. But the pair nails it, never once coming across as posseurs or phonies.

Things kick off on one of the few upbeat notes, with the rollicking “Roving Gambler.” Armstrong and Jones both shine vocally, blending together perfectly in a totally complementary manner. However, it’s the relaxed arrangement that’s the true star here, what with the subtle percussion, shimmering acoustic guitars and spirited harmonica. GREAT way to start things off!
If you didn’t know better, you would swear “Long Time Gone” was a classic recording lifted right from the 50′s. One of the disc’s few love songs, it allows the dynamic duo to really play off of each other, with Armstrong all assured, yet vulnerable, and Jones almost coy and kittenish, yet strong and steely. THIS is what harmonizing is all about! Brilliant.

You might think “Lightning Express” would be a rambunctious rockabilly rave-up, but you would be oh, SO, wrong….the first of those aforementioned odes to death and sorrow, it’s anything but! And yet, with it’s delicate vocals and subdued instrumentation, this sad story/song is a thing of beauty. You can just picture the pair singing this on a front porch as the sun sets and the fireflies start to dance around. Lovely.
There’s a nice lilt to “Silver Haired Daddy Of Mine” that’s both enticing and confounding. Yes, you have more down beat lyrics about regret and atonement, but you also have an arrangement that lopes along at almost a cheerful pace. Anchored by the pair’s confident co-lead vocals, this is one of those things that shouldn’t work….but just does!

“Down In The Willow Garden” is one of my favorite cuts off of FOREVERLY. A dark, gothic tale of greed, murder and paying for your sins, this haunted, haunting tune is just captivating. However, the stand out star here is Armstrong, who seems to be channeling his inner Don and Phil. Seriously….based on this performance, Billie Joe COULD be a long lost Everly! Wow!

Things take a slight dip at this point. It’s not that “Who’s Gonna Shoe Your Pretty Little Feet” and “Oh So Many Years” are bad….it’s just that we’ve pretty much heard (or will hear) both tracks elsewhere on the disc, albeit to slightly stronger effect. That said, “Who’s Gonna Shoe…..” is a master class in harmonizing. Once again, Armstrong comes across as the long lost third Everly brother, while Jones brings a whole other perspective to the song with a feminine vibe. You would swear that these two have been singing together for years! There’s a nice country swing groove to “Oh So Many Years”, but this yearning love song seems out of place at this point (However, a full album’s worth of this style and sound down the line would definitely work!).

“Barbara Allen” is my other favorite cut. Armstrong takes the lead lead on this hoe-down stomper about lost love, death and maybe even a curse or two. The arrangement is mesmerizing, full of fiddle, tamborine and twang, but it’s the lyrics that really get you: “They buried Willie in the old church yard/And Barbara in the new one/From Willie’s grave there grew a rose/From Barbara’s a green briar.” So sad….and so, so SWEET!
The only problem with concept albums like this is that you have to take the good with the bad, and “Rockin’ Alone (In An Old Rockin’ Chair)” isn’t just bad, it’s AWFUL! Trite and chiched, this song has not aged well. Jones and Armstrong are in fine form vocally, but it just seems wasted on sappy lyrics that may have seemed sweet 55 years ago. The disc’s only real misfire.

Jones takes the lead on “I’m Here To Get My Baby Out Of Jail”, and it’s a total winner. Jones has been dabbling in Country for a while now (her guest vocal on “If The Law Don’t Want You” from Rodney Crowell’s 2012 KIN album was especially rewarding!), and the results show here…she wears the track like a fine silk shawl, wrapping herself around in it to pitch perfect perfection. Once again, VERY nice!

There’s almost a tinge of flamenco to “Kentucky”, which brilliantly shakes things up. This longing ode to a deeply-missed home state chugs along, pulling at the heartstrings. Armstrong and Jones’ lead vocals are softly subdued, yet full-bodied. There’s a dreamy quality here, tempered by an undercurrent of whistfulness. Gorgeous….just gorgeous.

Things wrap up with (what some are calling) “another one of those ‘dead baby’ songs.” Yes, the child at the center of the song is dying, and, yes, they even bring his/her last Christmas into the mix, but you can’t help but be in awe at how the pair makes it all so very touching, vs. maudlin and/or creepy. THAT’S singing at it’s most honest, universal and transcendetory.

And it’s singing that leaves you wanting more! Here’s hoping that FOREVERLY is just the first of many collaborations between Norah Jones and Billie Joe Armstrong (personally, I’d like to see everything from Western Swing to 60′s rock!), a pair that shouldn’t work, but, much like peanut butter and chocolate, is oh, so, sweet!
(As with all my reviews, I’m docking the disc half a star for not including the lyrics).

Diane Hubka, West Coast Strings

Written By: Editor - Dec• 26•13

by Constance Tucker

diane hubka cd coverWhen a vocalist is also an instrumentalist, the value of the presentation is that much sweeter.  Hubka’s ability to delivery well-covered standards with a fresh sound is immediately evident in her latest endeavor, West Coast Strings.  Hubka has a very light and easy style, which is extremely pleasing to the listener’s ear from the first notes.  Lending a hand to the proceedings is a myriad of guitar greats, including; Anthony Wilson – tracks 1, 6, 13, Mimi Fox – tracks 2, 12, Peter Sprague – tracks 3, 7, Larry Koonse – tracks 4, 8, Barry Zweig – tracks 5, 9, David Eastlee – tracks 5, 9, John Pisano – tracks 7, 10, Ron Eschete – tracks 10, 11 and a special appearance by Bobby Pierce, Hammond B-3 – tracks 1, 6, 13.  With such an all-star lineup it only cements the recordings enjoyability and listenability.  This is a guitarist’s recording date dream; even Hubka lends her skills to tracks 3, 8, and 11.

“West Coast Blues” a well-known Montgomery tune, is given a true reading with a swinging rendition, while Hubka eloquently states the melody with interesting vocal lines that don’t gloss over the intended lines Montgomery crafted, that made this song the classic it truly is; in the hands of Hubka the song is sweet, cool and filled with melodic delight.  Wilson shows why he is a first call guitarist, lending righteous lines with precision, to the cut.  Wilson takes time to develop motifs throughout the solo; especially nice was the beginning of his 2nd chorus, and his thematic development of his improvisational lines based upon the melody. The cut gets right to the heart of the song, and leaves you wanting more.

“Moondance” has wonderful use of harmonics that is employed by guitarist Mimi Fox, the concept is a nice vehicle to ornament the melody and create wonderful movement under vocalist Hubka on this duet rendition. Fox also employs a nice pedal point during the chorus which further propels the cut, both show mastery of ideas. Another highlight is “Never Let Me Go,” that features guitarist Larry Koonse, creating a softly woven supportive accompaniment. Hubka, has an unaffected style that feels honest and organic, she truly conveys the story of the lyric, which at times the younger generation has lost that art form in the mix.  Koonse and Hubka truly meld together in duo setting that is introspective and lends itself the story of the lyric.

Hubka, turns up the heat on the last track “Someone Else Is Steppin’ In,” a bluesy number that romps and hollers, featuring Bobby Pierce on Hammond B-3, adding the right amount of groove and grease to the cut that keeps it tasty.  Anthony Wilson lays down comfort food style BBQ licks that make your lips smack with the best flavored Blues with grit.   A great ending for an engaging offering that traverses the many sounds of box guitar at its finest.  Hubka has eloquently put together a poignant and lasting recording, that compliments her discography and continued journey of beautiful offerings.

 

ZZ Ward, Til the Casket Drops

Written By: Editor - Sep• 22•13

by P.A.

zz wardCasablanca Records founder Neil Bogart was at the heart of the music movement in the 1970′s. He had a knack for discovering talent that was different from what was out there in the music scene. Among his discoveries were Donna Summer, Parliament and KISS- to name a few. After the dissolution of the label, he started another label named Boardwalk Records. His biggest discovery at the label was the former member of The Runaways Joan Jett. The success of the label would be short lived, as Bogart would succumb to cancer two years after founding Boardwalk. Carrying on tradition- as well as the label’s name- is his son Evan “Kidd” Bogart. A pop songwriter, he wrote songs for the likes of Big Time Rush, Sean Kingston and Britney Spears. His discovery is the Arlington, Pennsylvania singer Zsuzsanna Eva Ward- or simply, ZZ Ward. She released the EP “Criminal” before releasing her major label debut “Til The Casket Drops” in Fall 2012.

Her album was produced mostly by former Dr. Dre session musician Theron “Neff-U” Feemster and the production team Blended Babies. Although she’s been compared to British singer Adele, Ward really sounds like a more accessible KT Tunstall. Her album starts off with the title track “Til The Casket Drops”, a song about staying by her lover’s side even during the rough times. On the bluesy first single “Put The Gun Down”, Ward confronts the other woman responsible for taking off with her man. She’s falls helplessly in love on “Blue Eyes Blind”, while loving a man to accept her who she is on “Home”. Rapper Kendrick Lamar guests on the song “Cryin’ Wolf”, where she deals with an inebriated boyfriend who’s out on a drunken stupor. Fitz & The Tantrums lead singer Michael Fitzpatrick produces the radio friendly “Save My Life”, while OneRepublic members Ryan Tedder and Brent Kutzle produce the lament over a failed relationship “Last Love Song”. Former A Tribe Called Quest member Ali Shaheed Muhammad produces the acoustic track about infidelity “Charlie Ain’t Home”, while Indiana rapper Freddie Gibbs guests on the song “Criminal”. “Til The Casket Drops” is a great pop record from ZZ Ward. Despite her youthful presence, her music is very mature for the music in her field. It’s only a matter of time before she makes her name in the industry.

 

Goldfrapp, Tales of Us

Written By: Editor - Sep• 22•13

by P. Homme

goldfrappTales of Us, the new Goldfrapp album which took almost two years to put together is meant to be heard as a whole. It is a beautiful and haunting collection of music that transports one to a different time/place/space. Reminiscent of their first album “Felt Mountain” along with their 2008 release, “Seventh Tree,” Goldfrapp strips this new collection of their popular electronic sound and takes us on an emotional journey. Other standout tracks on this album include “Jo” and “Annabel” which they just released a breathtaking video to go along with. They also have a video for “Drew.” There was some confusion that “Drew” was going to be made available as a single for sale prior to the album launch but Goldfrapp confirmed that this track was not going to be released separately as a single. I’m personally not sure if any of the tracks that have videos would make for good single releases but nonetheless both are beautiful tracks and the videos are highly recommended as well. The only song that has a beat reminiscent of Goldfrapp’s dancier electro efforts is, my personal favorite track on the album, “Thea.” If they plan on releasing an official single in the US with remixes and the works, this would be my pick.

In a recent interview I read with Alison Goldrapp, she discussed how each song is the story of mostly a female character except for “Alvar” and “Clay” which are tracks inspired by the male experience. “Clay” was inspired by a love letter, Alison read online somewhere, that was written by a soldier to another soldier and “Alvar” was inspired by european cinema, noir, Iceland and myths and legends of Philomena Lee.

Ultimately, this is the type of music you listen to at an art exhibit or possibly with the lights off at home. I promise you will feel transported. There are no songs to twerk to, not really any pop radio singles, though it would be absolutely refreshing to hear something like this on radio. Give this album a chance and you will not regret it.