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TOMMY EMMANUEL/It's Never Too Late: If anyone else appropriated Chet Atkins' signature, it would be blasphemy but Emmanuel was a pal of Atkins and he certainly has the right to call his company CGP probably with Atkins good graces. And speaking of Atkins, Emmanuel hits it out of the park like Atkins did on his one-for-me records that he recorded off the clock while running RCA Nashville. An utterly unassailable, note perfect guitar date, Emmanuel undeniably claims his ground as a master and delivers an acoustic guitar date appropriate thereto. Killer stuff throughout.

MARIEA ANTOINETTE/Straight From the Harp (special edition): Sure the modern touches are in evidence, but if Dorothy Ashby was kicking it today, you can bet she'd be all over these modern tips as well. Taking harp to places you have only heard in dreams, this is only smooth jazz if you don't listen too closely. A revamp of a set that had no trouble making it's bones the first time around, this inspirational/aspiration player hits it out of the park so strongly the ball might never come back to earth. This set hits that sweet spot commercial music and from the heart playing come together in a way that blows your mind. Well done throughout.

MICHAEL CAIN/Sola: You can't have worked with Jack deJohnette and not have some of that Miles stuff rub off on you. Having worked with a lot of diverse cats and having a pretty extensive discography, Cain seems focused on the deJohnette period of the Miles world here as he brings in a load of other players as a counter point to his last set, a solo set. Not nearly as spacey as Miles space jazz period, this is a more calmed down side of the sound and it'll be a winner with jazzbos that still appreciate that time and tide. Check it out.

SACRED EARTH/kuTumba: When people walk it like they talk it you can't go wrong giving them room to do their thing. These Aussie new agers are the real deal and nothing like a Saturday Night Live skit. The heart they put into their mantra music is the real deal that you can tell isn't a cash grab. Lovingly, calming music that weaves it's spell around you, this is the kind of stuff to give you a welcome break from the daily stresses that pile up so clandestinely you don't realize that a heart attack is just a few heartbeats away. This is the next best thing to being able to get away from it all...NOW! Check it out.

DAVE DAVIES/Rippin' Up New York City: The venue might be cleaner and smaller than the arenas where he helped kick start heavy metal 50 years ago, but this set shows he really still has a hold on you. Taking you more places than just down a victory lap of the old days, he knows what the crowd wants, but he gives them more. Certainly not ready for a rocking chair, this boomer bad boy can still shake up his audiences dormant corpuscles. A welcome return for those who were there the first time out.

TOKYO ROSENTHAL/Afterlife: Look out because here comes another winner in from left field. Tilling the Americana soil, Rosenthal is a wonderful surprise for those that haven't encountered him before. A solid storyteller that must have once aimed for selling out 200 seat coffeehouses, he's organic, natural and on the money throughout. Super solid adult music, he straddles a bunch of genres easily and stirs them up into a delightful mixture. Not exactly back porch, not exactly folk, not exactly country, Rosenthal writes ‘em and sings ‘em like no one else and that's what makes this set so special. Check it out.

AMY BLASCHKE/Opaline: We seem to be headed back to the 60s a lot lately and Blaschke makes the trip easily and comfortably. Plopping singer/songwriter chops right into the middle of jangly folk/psych/pop, she reminds boomers of all those wonderful albums they found combing the bargain bins that had them wondering why the record never happened. Crafty enough that you don't have to be a moody college girl to get it, she's got the chops and the smarts to cut through the dross and come out on top. Sure, it's kind of moody but she's not throwing a pity party. Anyone that gets the wink at Leonard Cohen in the credits will know exactly that this is the kind of music they've been looking for. Check it out.

DAVE BRYANT/Garden of Equilibria: A long time, unabashed hell raiser and left leaner, this piano jazzbo has so much civil rights jazz going on here that you might think this is a long lost set from some church basement or loft. Far from mainstream, this progressive date is loaded with surprises and unexpected twists and turns that you can feel weren't just put there by a dilettante that's acting out. Wild stuff tailor made for wild ears.

DAPHNE LEE MARTIN/Fall on Your Sword: The hype sheet says this is for fans of Lana Del Rey, St. Vincent, Feist and Florence & the Machine. Are other music scribes that unimaginative that they need that kind of info? Bah! Martin is our kind of modern film noir gal that's seen the good and the bad and reflects on all of it. She does have a lot of film noir from outer space but she tills the new ground in a way that makes you encourage her exploration of the future as opposed to overly revere the past. Clearly for left leaning tastes, Martin doesn't need to be compared to anyone else because she got it going on all on her own. Killer stuff.

FRANCESCA BLANCHARD/Deux Visions: Francoise Hardy meets Nico and does in a few in English anyway? This gal might seem moody, but there's nothing about her that screams art chick. Blanchard has the chops to be a wily entertainer to take you places you haven't imagined and you'll get there on her own particular magic carpet ride. Certainly a left leaning, modern pop date, this is no yeah yeah girl looking for fling. Deep music fans will appreciate someone is still out there that wants to fan their flames with high octane, high quality stuff that's delightfully out of the ordinary. Well done throughout.

Volume 38/Number 303
August 29, 2015
830 W. Route 22 #144
Lake Zurich, IL., 60047
CHRIS SPECTOR, Editor and Publisher
Copyright 2015 Midwest Record

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