Archive for the ‘Americana’ Category

Never Turn Back – Mavis Staples | CD

(Anti/Shock) 5 stars On this extraordinary album, gospel-soul matriarch Mavis Staples, aided by Ry Cooder, revisits music that inspired the early 1960s US civil rights movement, along with traditional and original songs. Many of the tunes accompanying Dr. Martin Luther King and his fellow marchers through those racist southern states were provided by the Staples [...]

Dylanesque – Bryan Ferry | CD

(Virgin/EMI) 4 stars Bob Dylan has inspired generations of musos, from Joan Baez and the Grateful Dead to Bryan Ferry, whose first effort was a soulful 1973 version of ‘A Hard Rain’s A-Gonna Fall’. Since then the elegant Brit has added occasional Zimmerman staples to what he terms his “ready-mades’’ – including two on 2002’s [...]

Leave The Light On – Chris Smither | CD

(Mighty Albert/Shock) 4 stars Chris Smither, with that deep, muscular voice and agile guitar style, has been a familiar performer on the folk-blues circuit since the early ’80s. The New Orleans-born Smither actually started performing in the late-‘60s, until alcohol led to a decade-long recording hiatus.

West – Lucinda Williams | CD

(Universal) 5 stars `West’ – Lucinda Williams’s most satisfying recording to date – exemplifies the singer/songwriter’s ability to transmute intimate experiences into ballads with a universal connection. She accomplishes this through raw, confessional lyrics and a willingness, through that heartbreakingly honest vocal technique, to expose her emotional core.

The Road to Escondido – JJ Cale-Eric Clapton | CD

(Reprise) 4.5 stars ERIC Clapton is the first to admit he owes an artistic debt to J J Cale. Clapton’s first hit single, in his post-Cream solo career, was a 1970 cover of Cale’s `After Midnight’ and his adaptation of the Oklahoman’s rough-hewn, laidback country-blues style helped transform Clapton from blues-rock “god’’ into an FM [...]

Harry Smith Project: Anthology of American Folk Music Revisited – Various artists | CD/DVD review

(Shout Factory/Shock) 5 stars The sheer wealth of material alone on this splendid boxed set is worth a five-star rating. Two CDs, two DVDs and a 40-page booklet are all dedicated to the work of Harry Smith, whose original seminal folk `Anthology’, released on Folkways in 1952, helped transform the American musical landscape.

Modern Times – Bob Dylan | CD review

(Columbia) 4.5 stars Despite its title – or perhaps perversely – `Modern Times’ is rooted in American traditional music, continuing in style and mood where Dylan left off on 1997’s `Time Out of Mind’ and 2001’s `Love and Theft’. Another stripped-back, loosely structured self-production (under his Jack Frost pseudonym) and backed by the “never-ending’’ tour [...]

Adieu False Heart – Linda Ronstadt-Ann Savoy | CD review

 (Vanguard) 4.5 stars Linda Ronstadt’s vintage voice has ripened and matured over the years into a rich, expressive instrument and on the beguiling `Adieu False Heart’, she found a kindred spirit in Cajun folkie Ann Savoy. Dubbing themselves The Zozo Sisters, the duo first combined on Vanguard’s excellent 2002 compilation `Evangeline Made: A Tribute to [...]

American V: A Hundred Highways – Johnny Cash | CD review

(American) 4 stars Cash recorded these dozen songs in the months up to his death in September 2003. There’s a dignified strength about the ailing musician’s performance and choice of material (from Hank Williams to Gordon Lightfoot, Bruce Springsteen and Ian Tyson) that transcends the wasted voice.

This Old Road – Kris Kristofferson | CD review

 (New West) 4 stars There’s a lifetime of Sunday mornings coming down in Kris Kristofferson’s voice, but at 70, this former Oxford don-turned helicopter pilot, troubadour, actor and activist remains a potent performer. In his new recording the old dog sticks to the basics: honest ballads of love, loss, hope, despair and redemption, delivered with [...]

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