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TIM ERIKSEN/Soul of the January Hills: Truly a cat that you have no idea what to do with since his stock in trade is wandering down the bluest of highways, throughout the world, while still hobnobbing with the titans of the music/film industry. This set finds him fulfilling his John Jacob Niles fantasies with fourteen tracks, all first takes of just him singing. As deep into the folk tradition as you can get, certainly this isn't a set for everyone, but dyed in the wool contemporary folkies that think the Amish are too plugged in will get off on this big time. Wild stuff if you're ready for this kind of ride.

DRAWN TOGETHER/The Soundtrack (uncensored): The totally nuts reality series based on cartoon characters serves up a killer roll off project for fans, a load of the songs from the three seasons of the show as well as songs from the upcoming movie. Often taking things to their outer most illogical outcome, this was a solid slice of head TV at the top of it's game and now it's tunes can follow you anywhere. If you didn't follow the show, you might not catch the nuttiness of the songs out of context, but if you're a fan, this is more than low humor that flies at you fast and furiously. Of course, "La La Labia" might be all it takes to hook you.

MINDY McCREADY/I'm Still Here: Oh, that McCready girl certainly knows how to stir up the tabloids and get people to take a position about her. The nice thing about this contemporary country album is that McCready shows she still has the right stuff and knows how to put it in the grooves. After all the bullshit subsides, you have to give this former karaoke singer the props that she had what it took to scale the heights in Nashville. Put everything aside and listen to the music. She might not have Joe Galante rolling out the A team but her hand picked crew is there and in the moment. Uh, better than a ton of stuff currently on radio, she wears her maturity well here.

PHAREZ WHITTED/Transient Journey: A post bopper back with his long overdue third set (almost 20 years since the last), the fulcrum of the Chicago/Indian-no-place jazz nexus has a crew of hitters from both cities in tow on this outing that almost feels like a tribute to Freddie Hubbard in style and form. Pretty straight ahead in execution, this is simply a fount of wonderful playing that jazzbos looking for a hot one right down the middle will enjoy. Simply a solid set that's on the money throughout. Even though he's an educator by day, he's a swinger by night that can infuse his sitting down jazz with more viscera than mental.

LISA OZ/Us: Sometimes it's "The Secret", sometimes it's Debbie Ford and sometimes it's the creator of the "You " series, but here we have that Oz girl telling you how to cut the crap, cut to the chase and dig in cultivate the relationships that matter the most. Touchy feely all the way, the wife of Dr. Oz confabulates all the wisdom from ancient times to how on how to connect. Check out her take on positive steps if you are looking for the contemporary spin on same.

MARY HIGGINS CLARK (read by Jan Maxwell)/Shadow of Your Smile: Here's a cozy by one of the grand mistresses of the form. Loaded with cross stabbings, revenge, family secrets, nunships, fortunes to be won or lost and all the stuff that makes for summer intrigue at poolside, Clark throws in all into the mix up to and including murder to keep the secrets secret! Why bother downloading at Kindle when you have the full story unabridged on 8 discs loaded with the kind of stuff airport books are made of---and this takes 9 hours to play. Cozy fans never had it so good.

RICHARD PAUL EVANS/The Walk: One of those kind of spiritual storytellers that flies under the radar and sells millions of books in the process, this time Evans tells the tale of a down and outer that loses everything, escapes to Key West and finds everything along the way. Probably more useful than a suicide prevention hotline for those looking for hope, especially these days.

CAROL HIGGINS CLARK (read by Michele Pawk)/Wrecked: Keeping the cozys in the family, this Clark's 13th Regan Reilly thriller in which her first anniversary at the beach is thrown for a loop as the property's caretaker finds a dead neighbor that just arrived in town who no one knows nothing about. Then Reilly has to stick her nose into things and loads of contemporary touches spice the trail up (not like that, like websites, unemployed people opening pillow shops---like that, Jesus, this is a cozy). Fans will not be disappointed with this latest entry in the series

Volume 33/Number 165
April 15, 2010
830 W. Route 22 #144
Lake Zurich, IL., 60047
CHRIS SPECTOR, Editor and Publisher
Copyright 2010 Midwest Record

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