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BILLIE JO SPEARS/C'est La Vie: Recorded after finishing a successful run of straight ahead country for UA that ran a few decades, Spears was in the wrong place at the wrong time recording this set just as crossover had totally crashed and burned. This set has finally escaped from the vaults after almost 40 years. With a lot of Allen Reynolds/Crystal Gayle moves populating the set, down to the songs, it's always hard for an original not to be original---especially when the market sucks. A sure bet for her old fans and her English fans, Spears had a lot to offer, it just wasn't offered at the right place or the right time. Country fans should check this out to see what they missed.

JOHN PRINE/Live at the Singer Songwriter Festival: And if you weren't there in 1996, you missed Prine rocking up his classics, offering up new vintage stuff from coming out of his lost years and a general master class from one of the best songwriters of our time. You've got to be a really rotten kid not to love yourself some Prine---especially when he's out there having a good time himself. Well, it took years to get these souvenirs, don't let them slip away from you. And it's great to hear a live audience give Prine the love he should be getting.

HOAXER/Crash Test: Minnesota tyros that play with an experimental edge wise beyond their years show the jazz listener just what they are made of. Kicking it hard at a make or break showcase last year, the applause is still ringing in their ears as they turn it up a notch here to heat up the frozen north. Not pots and pans music, this is the sound of young ‘uns feeling their oats and harnessing the power. Well done.

JOEL DaSILVA/Everywhere From Here: Want a solid cat that'll spin your head in so many directions you don't know left from right? Seemingly a dark roots rocker, DaSilva has a lot of points on his compass that take off from there but hit a lot of points on the compass in between. A blues/roots kind of set that just keeps the flavors coming and the interest peaked. Hard hitting stuff that hits directly, this is a real after hours set that makes it's own rules. Expertly done, this is the nu coming of what's lurking under the vastness of the Americana blanket.

CHICKENBONE SLIM/Big Beat: A cool cat that's late to the white boy with the blues mode, Slim is white boy with the blues and a sly humor that slips in and out of the seriousness. While coming late to the party, he came strong with his debut set grabbing the gold. Delivering a white boy's fantasy of what it would have been like to be on the west side of Chicago with the greats, this recidivist set takes it back to the day while retaining modern sensibilities. Fun stuff for those who like their blue lights in the basement burning bright, this set never let's you down. Solid stuff throughout.

BETSAYDA MACHADO & Parranda el Clavo/Loe Loe: A collection of nu rural recordings from under the mango tree, this South American set of indigenous world beat gives you an idea of what things sound like after a cat like Paul Simon hands out the session checks and everyone goes home to get the party started. Rootsy, celebratory music that you don't have to understand the words to enjoy, this is killer stuff for the average armchair traveler that wants the good times to come to him. As authentic as it gets, the back streets of Caracas really come to life in your headphones. Check it out.

ANN SWEETEN/Flying Solo Silhouette: Some artists just have that something extra kind of special sauce that puts them in a category all their own and Sweeten is at the head of that class. Offering a different kind of greatest hits set, Sweeten, again with Will Ackerman in the producer's chair, repurposes some of the best stuff from her last five albums, redesigning them into a whole all of their own making you feel like you are hearing them for the first time. A masterful solo piano outing, this is bar raising instrumental music that hit's the target as squarely as possible. Killer stuff throughout for the real muso.

Volume 40/Number 303
August 31, 2017
830 W. Route 22 #144
Lake Zurich, IL., 60047
CHRIS SPECTOR, Editor and Publisher
Copyright 2017 Midwest Record

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