JENNY SHAWHAN/Don't Be Afraid: You can only live in a youth obsessed world for so long before some backlash starts creeping in. This mature vocalist brings some nice depth back to country from her Colorado aerie much like the new traditionalists did after the collapse of crossover. This set was born out of an attitude change brought on by the world wide shut down that gave her a nu positivity. A solid set with smart moves throughout, welcome to the sound of finding your way back.
(24 Angels 2101)
GRETA GAINES/Pale Star: If you like Lucinda Williams at her most dour, this is going to hit you like it's "Big Old World". The snowboarding pot advocate pays tribute to a fallen comrade in fine folkie fashion with extended touches and Ethan Hawke in tow. A down mouth celebration in the finest alt tradition.
SHAWN MAXWELL/Experience & Expectation: The Chicago sax man schleps all the way to Germany to get his experimental jazz release about the last year released. With titles that'll make any thinking person smirk as this looks back at alternative reality, this is almost guilty pleasure jazz as it's nothing like the typical linear stuff that's easy to dig but there's something about it that's easy to dig. Equal parts weird and wonderful, it's well worth checking out.
LANSDOWNE SYMPHONY ORCHESTRA/American Discoveries: Let's face it, Paley and Sarnoff were as hellacious paper clip counters as the private equity schmendricks currently disrupting the music business but the thing with them is that prestige did have a place in the equation. CSO records didn't even have to be profitable as long as they were the envy of the high brows in 5th Avenue duplexes that didn't need a map to stroll the Guggenheim. This set of debut, premiere recordings by 20th Century women composers that weren't born yesterday is a throwback to the glory days of when Masterworks and Living Stereo knew how to pay fealty to their lieges. A glorious collection of heretofore unheard material that had to be researched from manuscript, if you're still too intimidated to dive into classical music, let this be your gateway drug. This is the kind of stuff that's record of the year material.
(New Focus 286)
JOSIE BELLO/Have Purpose Live Long: A perfect example of protest music for people that just take any more kvetching, Bello magically strings together a bunch of in vogue words and concepts but doesn't make them come out sounding like a word salad served up by Oprah. I'm already ready to call Bello a genius. A most right on folk rocker throughout.
JULIA KASDORF/Motel: From punk to roots, Kasdorf has seen and done it all but now she's firmly in the roots rock camp and delivers all the right moves with all the right swerves. Smart songs written and delivered with a rocker's heart, you can taste the dust from the back roads she takes you down here. A totally solid set.
(Tiki Sounds 1)
DEB RYDER/Memphis Moonlight: Go rattle your files, Deb, we've been there from the beginning for you. Adept at coming out of nowhere on the run right from the start, it's easy call this Ryder's arrival album but with her trajectory, you have to hold the line and call it her penultimate album---at least for now. A barn burning, roof raising blues/R&B showroom set, it's hard to imagine things getting any better than this. Flat out killer stuff backed by an all star crew that can‘t be beat.
(Vizz Tone DR05)
JOHANNES WALLMANN/Elegy for an Undiscovered Species: Don't you just love it when something looks like it should be for eggheads but it isn't? How about if it seems like it should be arty but it isn't pretentious? The jazz educators 9th album is his most ambitious yet bringing crucial New Yorkers to the Midwest, loading the deck with a bunch of strings and showing off some really great, new compositions that really set jazz and instrumental music back on their heels. Fresh and lush, it's delightfully mind blowing throughout.
(Shifting Paradigm 164)
REGGAE ANGELS/Remember Our Creator: No one ever said God and gage is a bad combination, did they? No matter, now that's it's legal, this set encourages you to step up and receive your sacrament. With Sly & Robbie providing the skank and the dub, this smoking set could deliver more people to the way than all the fire and brimstone combined over time. A dandy set of uplifting spirituality, the word is delivered here in a welcoming, fine style.
KELLY'S LOT/Where and When: 30 years in and this white gal with the blues can still deliver an acoustic performance that feels like it's filled with the spirit of teenaged Rory Block discovering Gary Davis. It's delivered with a voice that feels like it off loaded some of mature Maria Muldaur's sass all tempered with an innate knowledge of the importance of keeping it real. Stick a candle in a Chianti bottle, light up something to smoke and let this set's hypnotizing effect wash over you. Well done.
Volume 45/Number 197
May 16, 2021
830 W. Route 22 #144
Lake Zurich, IL. 60047
CHRIS SPECTOR, Editor and Publisher
Copyright 2021 Midwest Record
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