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DANIELLE WOODROW/Turning: Rather than another midlife crisis yielding us another "Eat, Love, Pray", Woodrow's corporate drop out years lead her to making an album with some high profile pals, some of which stretched back to her childhood and have made good on their own since. Dusting off her old guitar, the one that was her pal before corporate drudgery beckoned, Woodrow reverted to her roots and let the music out of her. With enough bitterness to make someone trying to pick her up in an airport bar say "Check, please", this folk flavored kvetch fest will find favor with every female professional/corporate type that hates her job and the rest of her life. We confer this set an award of two fingers to the back of the throat and a bottle of kava kava.

JENNIFER DeFRAYNE/By a Wire: Love a good back story? DeFrayne might have been just another one of those piano playing moms playing Friday nights at Barnes & Noble on her electric keyboard sure that Will Ackerman or Wesley Van Linda would hear her and know she was the next real deal! And then she had a stroke that was pretty high up in the Richter scale of debilitating. And then Will Ackerman found her on the Internet and, viola! She knows her stuff, has great hands and a bunch of cool new friends. When she isn't kicking it out solo, Ackerman rounded up pretty much of a core group of the old Windham Hill mainstays to add color and background. You've been wondering what happened to Liz Story and Barbara Higbie but not enough to really get up off you ass and find out? Well, on to the new, the next generation of contemporary, instrumental music is here and it's delivered in fine style. Well done.

SACRED EARTH/Breath of Life-A Sacred Earth Collection: Uh oh, here's what happens when you get too many new toys at once. Sacred Earth has moved their catalog over to Real Music. Earlier this year, Real put out four of their seven albums all at once. There are three more up their sleeves ready to go. This set, which has a cover very similar to "The Way Home" is actually a round up of tracks from all seven sets. Now that you got hat straight, this is a great way to get introduced to this earthy duo as their sets can vary from kind of world beaty to deep new agy. This collection shows their calming side throughout without a misfire in the bunch. Whether you want to go long or save yourself the trouble of making a play list, anyone in search of some healing music can't go wrong here. Check it out.

FRANKIE VALLI/Selected Solo Works: Since the eight discs in this Valli overview barely scratch the surface of his solo career, pros and cons are going to fly. What everyone can agree on is that these sides cover the meat and potatoes of Valli's solo career, the price is right and in this streaming age, you should be glad you get to hold this much in your hand at once. Other than what's left in and what's left out, this is a no quibble collection that fans who weren't there 50 years ago and want to get in on the fun will enjoy.

AUDIO WITH A G-Sounds of a Jersey Boy-The Music of Bob Gaudio/various: What a cool roll off project from the "Jersey Boys" band wagon. While Gaudio and Valli might be names forever linked in the public mind, it's too easy to forget he also had hits before Valli's falsetto gave his works voice. With stops everywhere from The Royal Teens to Sinatra to Diana Ross to a bunch of soul men and more, Gaudio had more of a magic touch that he's generally given credit for. This twofer covers a lot of bases and covers them well, even when the songs were non-hits that should have fared better. If you loved the story, you might as well take this opportunity to pain the whole picture.

BAD THINGS/After the Inferno: Grunge was merely a crafted, commercial anomaly. Seattle, gentrification be damned, is still a malcontent's paradise. This bunch is proudly a member of that malcontent underground. That doesn't mean they can't play. They play just fine, they just like to keep things off beat in a junk yard culture kind of way that finds swing, tiki, Nawlins from Mars and other things along that trail deliciously ironic. Kitsch for a new generation created in real time, this nutty stuff is a fun affirmation of life in it's own merrily skewed way. Check it out, particularly if this sounds like something right up your alley.

ROGER DAVIDSON/Temple of the Soul: No one can ever accuse Davidson of not knowing his way around a piano and his skills have taken him around the world and around the genres in fine style hitting all the stops of from classical to Brazil. This time around, we find him opening up the spiritual side he's been harboring for himself and his insiders, now opening it up for all. On a solo piano set that has a very impressionistic feel, Davidson plays what he feels reaching for the inner soul sounds like. A crafty sonic mixture of where he's been and where he's probably headed, this is a nice bag breaker of a release for all of you who think you know the multi faceted, multi award winning player well enough to take him for granted. A finely dramatic works that really sets the table for something different.

JULIETTE GRECO/Greco Chante Brel: I was all set to make excuses for Greco and tell you to give an 87 year old broad a break, but she just doesn't need my help. If you know her at all, it's because of her reissues popping up recently at Dusty Groove but that really brushes aside her background as a post WWII, Left Bank intellectual and Miles Davis muse. Currently married to one of Jacques Brel main co-writers, she has a real kinship to this music celebrating Brel. And certainly this week, Elaine Stritch is smiling down that there's an old broad still capable of hitting the boards to deliver a first class, theatrical/cabaret experience. With just enough key tracks like "Le Bougiouse", "Le Flammades" , "Marieke" and several others left off, there's room for everyone to debate the song choices or else anticipate a volume two. Perhaps this year's top cabaret release, this is fine, new cornerstone in Brel's legacy. Well done.

WHEATFIELD/Big Texas Sky: If you wondered why Connie Mims solo album of recent vintage sounded so accomplished while you had probably never heard of her before, here's the proof she's been around this block for the last forty years, so long in fact that this band was one of the first acts on "Austin City Limits". Out of the same pocket of all your fave Texas troubadours that care more about the music than the trappings, this ain't no sippy cup country or faux genre work. This is a band that knows how to put what they want out front and have it reach you. More musical proof that Texas is a whole ‘nother country. Well done.

Volume 38/Number 266
July 23 2014
830 W. Route 22 #144
Lake Zurich, IL., 60047
CHRIS SPECTOR, Editor and Publisher
Copyright 2014 Midwest Record

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