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HADDEN SAYERS/Rolling Soul: You want to be a pop star but the economy tanks, your wife relocates for work and band members die. You hang it up. You get restless. You say ‘fuck it’ and come back on your own terms delivering such rousing blues/soul that your bat out of hell comeback shoots you right to the top. The follow up? A blistering set that goes way beyond frat house blues/blue eyed soul and all the clichés serving up echoes of all the powerful, semi-underground white boy blues that has touched you over the years. Soulful and direct, this is a throwback to the great stuff you listened to on your transistor radio after bed time on school nights in some dusty past. This cat is going to go from award nominee to award winner very shortly. Hot stuff.

NORTH AMERICAN JAZZ ALLIANCE/Montreal Sessions: This is a wild ride. A touch atavistic, a touch futuristic, a whole lot good vibes and solid chops. A producer’s vision to pull together some first call players and form a vibe/accordion/guitar quintet was backed up with a checkbook and tight arrangements yielding something that sounds like Django might have produced on the side taking a minute or two from his night job. Stunningly groovy, this is the kind of session that will be a break out set and will be talked about for years. The energy, enthusiasm and power make this a winner before you even get to the music. Sit back and it enjoy this mainstream jazz outing while the record does all the work. Hot stuff.

LAPLAND: Is shoe gaze still shoe gaze when it’s backed by some hypnotic, trance grooves? Yeah, it is, but at least you’re distracted from the whiny douchebaggery that only the privileged and entitled can whine about. Not sure where this fits on the spectrum but if you’re a college kid and you feel isolated, spin something like this as a tonic before you go run up some more retail therapy on your dad’s plum card. He’ll appreciate that.

SLV/Dig Deeper: The front woman of Pistolera ditches the Latin thing for more of a world thing with Meshell Ndegeocello at the wheel taking her there. Fueled by grooves and moody, acoustic soul, it looks like this artist is ready to turn the page for greener pastures but has a eye toward doing it with keeping her soul in tact. A nice ear opener.

KAIT LAWSON/Until We Drown: Everybody is so obsessed with being young and youthful that it just makes you want to puke after a while of slogging through a passel of age inappropriate nonsense. Lawson is the anti-Taylor Swift. Singing about life’s ups and down with a wise beyond her years eye view, this isn’t some high school stuff for teenagers and those who want to be them. With her pen dipped in the maturity of young Joni Mitchell, Lawson rounds up some of the top players in her native Memphis and lays her soul bare without it feeling like gossip over smokes in the washroom between classes. This up and comer has marked her singer/songwriter (with a folk/rock edge) territory like a seasoned pro and really delivers the goods. Winning stuff throughout.

STEVE SLAGLE/Evensong: A solid sax man and his equally adept jazzbo pals tee it up for a close to after hours session that feels like the stove won’t be turned off at closing time because things are really cooking. Up to the task of turning in a set of all originals that don’t waver, this crew is hitting on all eight while staying deep in the pocket. Solidly well done contemporary jazz that just begs to accompany you on the ride home after work.

LATIN NOIR/various: Maybe it’s me. This fifth entry in the label’s “Noir” series highlights what they say is the melancholy side of Latin music from various Caribbean sites, New York and the Mediterranean. It isn’t Shakira/Gloria Estafan Latin music but it strikes me as a dandy sampling of Latin listening music. While us gringos don’t know what’s being sung about, the info sheet says this is the music of the new down trodden. Wasn’t blues started as a way to forget how miserable you were? Really, without insulting anyone, it wouldn’t ruin my meal to hear this playing in a Cuban restaurant while I was eating---but hey, I habla Ingless. I could listen to this over cocktails at sunset. Gringos, start your engines, this is a damn fine collection of some sounds you wouldn’t normally hear. Check it out.

JUSSI REIJONEN/Un: I’m gonna get it for this one. I always wanted to tell John Bilezijikian, “Oud, that’s some good playing”, but I never got the chance. Reijonen plays oud and more and does it all in fine style. This is an east/west fusion date that sounds like how it would sound in John McLaughlin’s hands if McLaughlin was more concerned with the white space between notes rather than seeing how much and how fast he could fill those spaces. McLaughlin, huh? Reijonen has played with Jack deJohnette and one of the deLucias. Ok? So, like if Shakti was filtered through a leader from the Arctic Circle… Get it? You should. This is some damn fine world beat. Check it out.

Volume 37/Number 80
January 20, 2013
830 W. Route 22 #144
Lake Zurich, IL., 60047
CHRIS SPECTOR, Editor and Publisher
Copyright 2013 Midwest Record

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