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ANDY B. AND/My Roots Are Showing: Taking a break from his day job band of long standing, B reaches into his trunk to let a bunch of songs that didn't fit into his regular rotation out for some air. He's been sitting on some pretty dandy roots rock stuff. Coming across with the kind of polish that doesn't feel like polish that you know how to apply when you've been doing this successfully for a while, this is a roots/Americana good time with a modern, inclusive gospel/spirituality sensibility running through it. Chuck Pyle's Zen cowboy thing has been taken to Jersey in just the right measure. Solid stuff sure to turn your head. Well done.

THE ANIX/Ephemeral: Malcontent stuff with the kind of commercial smarts left leaning kids can relate to without feeling like they are selling out, this dark wave electronic crew sound closer to ELO than they do witch's covens. A nice dose of the kind of stuff disaffected kids need to hear to let them rock out and reassure them they aren't the only ones feeling that way. And you can play it at parties as well. Check it out.

STEVE KRASE/Should've Seen it Coming: More than a Brooklyn white boy with the blues, this harp blowing ace shows his winning ways at the top of his form with help from label mates that he's helped as well. No stranger to award winning ways, Krase doesn't need pyrotechnics to blow up a storm in fine fashion. With every thing blazing on all burners, this set that takes the best of Chicago, Memphis and Houston moves and mixes them together for a hot time delivers the good throughout. Well done.

AJ LEE: 19 years old and already a 7 time winner of bluegrass vocalist of the year? Why quit when the next thing you can do is cover Dylan, Doris Payne and Gram Parsons on the same record and bring it all home as your home. Widening her horizon to be more country music inclusive, this tyro is easily going to make this year's models aware of bracket creep in short order. Winning stuff that's hampered only by being ep length when this lass clearly leaves us wanting more. Hot stuff that doesn't quit.

HARPETH RISING/Against All Tides: This ‘bluegrass' trio makes it look and sound so easy which is why we find them reaching higher on this new set than the ones that have preceded it---because they want to keep making things better and better. Still as organic as it gets at it's core, the lyrics reflect the times like a mirror and no matter how you look at things, it doesn't lessen their impact in the least as listening matter. An achingly deep and beautiful recording, this hits the target for anyone that appreciates back porch music with a whole lot of something else on the ball. Killer stuff throughout.

JASON MILES/Kind of New 2-Blue is Paris: Miles, probably the best musician's musician working today, surrounds himself with such a crazy range of sidekicks on this set that your head is going to be spinning even if he's just presenting the same song over and over in different settings, ala George Shearing's "Birdland" album that he enjoyed with his pop as a kid. Building on his landmark collaboration with Ingrid Jensen, Miles whips up a wild jazz date that shows a bunch of the lessons he learned in his time with Miles was obviously farther reaching than just his immediate time with Miles. Revealing just a touch of the inner workings of a real muso's mind, this is probably Miles most personal work in his canon and the breadth of his reach from here is just going to leave all comers in the dust. An absolutely brilliant recording throughout.

SARAH PARTRIDGE/Bright Lights & Promises: If Partridge wasn't the art chick with loads extra, we'd have to be scratching our heads wondering why a jazz tribute to Janis Ian. Well, Partridge brings in Allen Farnham to help with the music and brings in Ian herself to co-write some new ones. Take that homage makers! Long after you've taken Ian for granted, this revival does more than pump air into her lungs. Making music and taking risks? What a concept. Turn your ears Partridge's way for this winner of a set that starts in a good place and winds up somewhere wonderful.

Volume 40/Number 168
April 18, 2017
830 W. Route 22 #144
Lake Zurich, IL., 60047
CHRIS SPECTOR, Editor and Publisher
Copyright 2017 Midwest Record

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