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 fierce intelligence.

1000 Years of Popular Music – Richard Thompson | CD/DVD review

(Cooking Vinyl DVD/2CD) 4 stars

Richard Thompson’s `1000 Years of Popular Music’ is an inspired DVD/CD concert set.

Apart from RT’s delicious spoken intros to each song (but on the DVD only) the diversity of this collection intrigues.

Playboy magazine asked musos to select 10 favourite songs of the millennium, but Thompson took them literally and submitted 20, from `Sumer Is Icumen In’ (circa 1260) to Britney Spears’ `Oops! I Did It Again’.

Sail Away: Songs of Randy Newman | CD review

(Sugar Hill/Shock) 4.5 stars

Randy Newman is a great American songwriter, in part because he has never underestimated his audience’s intelligence, although the satirical edge to his lyrics has escaped some people.

Take the title song (covered by Tim O’Brien) of this terrific tribute CD.

Living with War – Neil Young | CD review

(Reprise/Warner) 4.5  stars

Well before Neil Young’s dynamic, anti-war CD was officially released, his fans had already previewed the album in its entirety, via internet streaming.

So `Living With War’ is a contemporary, cyber-savvy project.

We Shall Overcome: Seeger Sessions – Bruce Springsteen | CD/DVD review

(Columbia CD plus separate video disc) 5 stars

This affectionate tribute to folk legend Pete Seeger (who’d just turned 87 at time of first publication) is a joyous celebration of the genre’s hootenanny tradition.

As Bruce Springsteen remarks in the 30-minute video segment on the DualDisc (much better value, with its bonus material, than the CD-only edition): “You don’t just get the sound of music being played, you get the sound of music being made.’’

Little Big Men – Geoff Achison | CD review

 (Jupiter Records) 4 stars

Australian singer/guitarist Geoff Achison is off on another tour of the US.

Since 1989, Achison has graduated from lead guitar-slinger with Dutch Tilders’ Blues Club to a solo headliner, while his guitar technique has been honed to an elegant, jazzy finish with subtle musical textures.

On an Island – David Gilmour | CD review

(Columbia) 3.5 stars

If the  2005 Live 8 concert reunion was a one-off, David Gilmour’s atmospheric third solo CD is as close as we’ll get to a new Pink Floyd recording.

That’s not such a bad compromise, since Gilmour and his Fender Stratocaster, with that melodic vibrato and heroic sound, have been at the Floyd’s musical heart since Roger Waters’ 1985 departure.

Separate Ways – Teddy Thompson | CD review

(Verve Forecast/Universal) 4.5 stars

Singer-guitarist Teddy Thompson, son of Richard and Linda, has an enviable musical pedigree to live up to and on Separate Ways he doesn’t disappoint.

Probably his most notable achievement up to now has been writing and performing on mum’s transcendent 2002 comeback CD, `Fashionably Late’ (Rounder/Shock), and singing on several of dad’s records.

The Body Acoustic – Cyndi Lauper | CD review

(Sony&BMG) 4 stars

Ho-hum … or so I thought.

Reworking old hits with the help of guest artists may have become a familiar, safe option for performers past their prime, but Cyndi Lauper succeeds in imparting a fresh spin to her music with spare, exhilarating arrangements, strong on acoustic guitars, organ, dulcimer and harmonium.

The Waking Hour – David Francey | CD review

(Red House/Shock) 4 stars

Scots-born and Canadian-raised, David Francey is one of the best things to happen to folk music in the past decade.

On `The Waking Hour’ Francey’s introspective, emotionally-charged songs exert a powerful spell, backed on assorted guitars and other stringed instruments by Nashville pros Kieran Kane, Kevin Welch and Fats Kaplin (with whom local audiences would also be familiar).

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