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SI KAHN/Been a Long Time: And the down side of being a fiercely indie indie act? How about making a stellar album that should have been a classic by now created out of serendipity but languishing with it's hidden value basically hidden? Kahn's bluegrass album, made with current all stars that weren't known yet, got new legs when he discovered a batch of pre-printed booklets still looking for a home and decided to press up a new batch of cds to go with them. Yowee! The former organizer that's a direct link to Joe Hill and Pete Seeger really gave it his all back at the turn of the century when this set was originally released. In a direct line to the second line authentic folk music that got a shot in the wake of Kingston Trio opening the masses ears, this is the real deal stuff that has lived on through fad and fashion without being satirized. When something shines this brightly, you still have to call it penultimate because of the promise of what may still come. Welcome it back.
(Sliced Bread 71202)

OCTARINE SKY/Close to Nearby: The debut album from former members of Potter's Daughter and their pals, including Simon Phillips, set course with some nu fusion that moldy figs might write off but will open the ears of young ‘uns new to the game. Relying more on prog rock flourishes rather than fusion pyrotechnics, this is a fine gateway drug for those outgrowing beats but not their music consuming ways. Hitting the mark elegantly, this set can proudly take it's place with coming of age transition albums of the past.

MARCO MATTEI/Out of Control: Born in Italy, Mattei brings his Sicilian sense of ‘it is what it is' to a new bearing outing it in service of inclusionary thoughts. A cat that could easily taken the egghead path rather than diving into music, he sees things with enough of a different perspective that he rounded up the Crimson gang and their pals to bring his sonics to life. It's one of those intriguing little underground albums that develops such heavy duty world of mouth it become a signifier when you meet someone else that knows about it.
(7D Media/Third Star)

CHANTEL McGREGOR/Shed Sessions V. 1: As much as I love Lucinda Williams, I really love this set of songs performances that grew out of McGregor's lockdown web casts originally made to keep in touch with her fans and grew from there. You might say the theme is a heavy reliance on Bonnie Raitt and Fleetwood Mac for the song list but it's really just cool songs McGregor likes that she can give such dazzle to all by herself. Not an oldies set, not a tribute set, just a set of heartfelt performances from someone that just got punched in the mouth and is trying to find normalcy. Can you relate? You will when you hear this.
(Tis Rock Music 4)

CHANTEL McGREGOR/Shed Sessions V. 2: Recorded after the lockdown was lifted and reinstated, McGregor got the chance to change geography, add a piano pal and shift her song stack to some more contemporary and modern stuff along with some originals and other general songs she likes. Possibly a little jarring for anyone that pegged her as a classic pass the hat folkie from her other set, this is still a good pandemic pal to have handy. This is a gal that knows her way around a song like few others as proven by her ability to take it to tyhe4 max with little help or embellishment.
(Tis Rock Music 5)

LOVE BUBBLE/Love Revolution: Being from North Carolina, you'd think they'd be into beach music but these three hippies look and sound like they never outgrew songs like "Lazy Day". Hitting the groovy side of sunshine pop, these two gals and a dude even manage to give Cher some consternation by closing the album with "I Got You Babe" (yikes!, expect some subpoenas to harsh your mellow). Yeah, it really is groovy, kids.

RACHEL FLOWERS/Bigger on the Inside: With a cover that makes us think Flowers can pull rabbits out of a hat, she also makes it clear that she grew up on Zappa's instrumental albums leavened with prog jazzercises to keep her nimble. Giving us little to go on outside the music, the music is all we need to keep it going. Someone knows how to shred!
(RFM 4)

MALCOLM MacWATT/Settler: Well, ain't this a roan mare of a different color? You think "Will Ye Go Lassie Go? is all Scottish music is about? Hell, it's the backbone of a load of Appalachian music. Here we find a Scotsman making heartfelt folk music during the lock down and shipping it to Nashville for some international flair and fusion.. The songs about life, love, loss and moving on are just plain knock outs and the record stands tall side by side with any folk classic. We're seeing stuff that could usher in a new era of modern folk music. A must for people who remember when songs were songs or get reminded of it via play lists. Hot stuff.
(Need to Know 2021)

SYLVIE COURVOISIER-MARY HALVORSON/Searching for the Disappeared Hour: These two improvisers have way too much chops to be called art chicks. Leading off with a track that should be called "The Vindication of David Ackles", they proceed to take their guitar/piano work into dimly lit corners that avoid darkness and could serve as the soundtrack for a lesbian noir thriller (think "Bound") because it just doesn't have the foreboding the male of the species would implant. Labeling itself creative music, that's a fine tag for genre splicing music that's in search of a home. Check it out for when you have a taste for some skilled, darling music.
(Pyroclastic 17)

BEN LEVIN/Still Here: This white tyro with the blues might have been born well after most cotton is recycled rather than picked but he has this killer knack for writing songs that are so knowing. Sounding so real and so unkidly, one hopes he'll age well and keep this going as he grows and evolves. He does such a hard core job
of taking you back to places you've never been that you could easily become a frat boy that goes on to the Supreme Court. Killer stuff.
(Vizz Tone BL004)

COLIN JAMES/Open Road: He may seem like a cult act here but he hit the ground running in Canada and never looked back, except to scan the awards and notice he left in his wake. Hitting the Chess catalog hard here, it comes back here as rocking roots music in high octane fashion. Seemingly just let loose from a roadhouse, he's played with all the greats and knows the ropes. This is a ground zero text book on how to be a roots rocker. Killer stuff.
(Stony Plain 1434)

MICK KOLASSA/Uncle Mick's Christmas Album: Everyone gets to take a busman's holiday, you only hope they come out as good as this one. A bbq soaked Memphis Christmas album, the old, new and original are mixed Beale St style into a bbq party. Blues at the core no matter where the songs were sourced from, this is a real change of pace for your holiday music collection done totally right.
(Endless Blues 102021)

HANNAH COLLINS/Resonance Lines: When these solo classical recitals work, they really work. A deep thinker with a solid connection to cello and the writers that have given it voice, Collins has a focus to match her touch and the end result is a completely engaging session with repertoire that's both from the canon through special commissions. Whether playing it straight or coloring outside the lines, Collins doesn't just play for eggheads, she plays for those who wish to be as well. Hot stuff.
(Sono Luminus 92252)

JESSE TERRY/Peace: After parting the waves of bullshit that keep coming, a folkie that's always loved Christmas music records a fatly tracked set of classics (with a few ringers) at home with family before shipping the tapes off to Nashville for some pro sweetening. A valentine for anyone that thinks we need a little Christmas, this is the real deal.

Volume 45/Number 349
October 20, 2021
830 W. Route 22 #144
Lake Zurich, IL. 60047
CHRIS SPECTOR, Editor and Publisher
Copyright 2021 Midwest Record

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