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    Album of the week

    Album of the Week: Rosanne Cash - The River & The Thread

    This weeks album of the week is Rosanne Cash - The River & The Thread and here is what www.pastemagazine.com had to say.....

    Like a good claret or damp moss, Rosanne Cash’s singing is something to sink into. Surrender to the tones—mostly dark, but marked by the occasional glimmer of light—and let the emotions they contain seep inside.

    For Cash, the emotions on The River & The Thread are complex and tangled. Beyond what she sings about—the ghost of Emmett Till on the haunting “Money Road,” the widow of The Tennessee Three’s bassist Marshall Grant on the acoustic-picked “Etta’s Tune,”—there is the Grammy-winner’s own difficult relationship with the South, her roots and her own musical journey.

    What emerges, beyond a woman grappling with a legacy, as much in the rich bottomland as her father Johnny’s iconic presence as the voice of America, is a knowing embrace of the conflicts in the things we love. The chooglin’ “World of Strange Design,” strung with a neon fishing wire guitar solo from Derek Trucks, addresses the notions of problems and things we refuse to acknowledge for that embrace.

    Still, the 11-song cycle is mostly a meditation on the textures and musical forms that emerged south of the Mason-Dixon line. The title track suggests each piece does not create a whole, yet the essence can be found in any little piece—just as the Mississippi River serves as a metaphor for the blood in her veins.

    Whether tender—as the almost lullaby of “Night School” or the aching “Tell Heaven”—or savoring the moment—the roiling invocation of a religious AM station “50,000 Watts” that saunters like an alley cat on the prowl—Cash has never sounded as comfortable or engaged. These songs are plumbing something deep inside, something she doesn’t need to flex or open a wound to inhabit.

    Finding not just resolve, but acceptance, is a gift. Cash, who’s sidestepped her heritage, and eschewed a career as a country star with 11 No. 1 hits, a marriage to a country writer/producer/artist Rodney Crowell and the city and industry where she found prominence, savored her wandering the Manhattan life she built. With The River & The Thread, she comes home with the warmth reserved for knowing where we’re from.

    As powerful a witness for the region—Memphis, Mississippi, Alabama, Arkansas—as it is a lovely quilt of musicality, braiding blues, folk, Appalachia, rock and old-timey country, this is balm for lost souls, alienated creatures seeking their core truths and intellectuals who love the cool mist of vespers in the hearts of people they may never encounter

     

     

     

    RTÉ Radio 1 Album of The Week: Tales From The Realm Of The Queen Of Pentacles – Suzanne Vega

     The weeks RTÉ Radio 1 Album of the week is Suzanne Vega - Tales From the Realm of The Queen of Pentacles.

    Here is what Cooking Vinyl had to say....

    Vega’s much-welcomed first new material in seven years.

    By Andy Fyfe February 3, 2014 MoJo.com ( Also their Album of the Week that week)

    Whatever made Vega spend her last four years re-recording her own back catalogue as four themed albums – like someone re-filing their CDs from alphabetical into ‘feel’ – it seems to have unblocked whatever was preventing her from releasing new material. And to celebrate, here is the folky singer-songwriter in totally new guise: Suzanne Vega, Rock Chick. Well, not quite, but in a career more noted for hushed moments it’s still a surprise to hear electric guitars played in anger. And it’s a good look. Vega dips into the Tarot for songs about spiritual growth, death, the afterlife and Vaclav Havel, while an array of session superheroes – among them Larry Campbell and Gail Ann Dorsey – fill the album with crackling electricity that even gets a little menacing on live showstopper I Never Wear White. It’s hardly Dylan goes electric, but the intent is much the same.

     

     

    Album of the Week: The Henry Girls - Louder The Words

     

    This weeks album of the week is Henry Girls Louder Then Words and here is what MusicandEverything.com had to say....

    The Henry Girls have been around for quite some time despite the recent peak in interest, possibly spawned by the increased popularity in folk music. Names after their grandfather, the Donegal sisters have been performing together for more than a decade, with their first release “Between Us” gracing the Irish music scene in 2002.

    This month sees the release of their 5th album ‘Louder Than Words’ , a warm, ten track album that comes across polished and professional, without succumbing to an overly commercial sound.

    On the whole, this is a consistently strong album with a few tracks that stand just a little further out than the others. Reason To Believe is particularly notable; a soothingly harmonic track in which the sisters vocals intertwine beautifully, it is a signature of their light and airy sound.

    The harmonies are what really sell this album. There is something wonderfully perfect when siblings sing together and this is especially true in the case of the Henry Girls. The Light in The Window and Here Beside Me are rendered magical by the heart wrenching harmonies; the former instilling some fantastic traditional Irish musicianship in the form of a fiddle and bodhrán.

    This is an exquisite album with highs and lows in terms of tempo, mood and vocals throughout. It is compelling and moving; masterful in the sense that it truly draws the listener in to the atmosphere of each song. If you have not yet heard The Henry Girls music, this album would be a great place to start

    Review written by Claire Kane. Visit her website for more great music reviews: musicandeverything.com

     

     

     

    Album of the Week: Bruce Springsteen - High Hopes

    This weeks album of the week is Bruce Springsteen High Hopes -

    Here is what Alan Corr of RTÉ Ten had to say about it,

    40 years on and at 64 years of age, Bruce elevates this re-ordering of odds and sods onto a higher level altogether.

    Welcome to the Bruce and Tom show. Rage Against The Machine guitar firebrand Tom Morello is not just Springsteen’s musical foil on this enjoyable rag bag collection of b-sides, covers and previously un-recorded tracks; he also became his muse, providing the impetuous for Bruce to finally put these ghosts and lingering half-finished songs from his vast back catalogue to rest.

    Morello features on seven of the 12 tracks here and High Hopes also marks a series of firsts for Springsteen. This is the first album he’s recorded on the road and the first Bruce album beginning and ending with cover versions.

    As bookends go, they reveal a lot about the spirit of this 18th album. The first is a sturdy reworking of High Hopes, a song by LA act The Havelinas originally covered by Bruce in 1996 for his Blood Brothers EP. Here it becomes a brass- drenched, righteous rumble full of lashings of Morello’s wah-wah guitar. The closing song is a cover of Dream Baby Dream by New York proto-punks Suicide, a seemingly unlikely choice that keeps its original form but also turns into a burnished torch song in Bruce’s hands.

    What lies between is a collection split between Springsteen heart-on-blue-shirted sleeve redemption songs and some knocked-out knockabouts, all bristling with the bedrock musicianship of E Streeters but truly enlivened by Morello’s spitting, aerobatic guitar moves.

    There’s even a blast of Celticism on This is Your Sword as Cillian Vallely's uileann pipes and high and low whistle build to a typically rousing chorus about self-belief in the face of adversity. There’s fun to be had with Frankie Fell in Love and the spare and haunting Down in The Hole features Clarence Clemons and Danny Federici's last ever recordings.

    The lean Harry’s Place, originally recorded for 2003's post-911 album The Rising, has all the backroom menace of The Sopranos or a poker game in Joe Pesci’s basement. A lively cover of The Saints' Just Like Fire Would is also very good and very welcome indeed but perhaps Hunter of Invisible Game is late period Springsteen at his best. It overtures with an Elmer Bernstein-style string thing and is the most plangent and gorgeous song here. Raw emotion leaks out on The Wall, a moving lament for fallen comrades on the Jersey music scene who died needlessly in the Vietnam War.

    However, the seven-and-half-minute re-recorded version of the celebrated Ghost of Tom Joad towers above even that. It’s owned by Morello as he trades verses with Springsteen and fires off some extraordinary note-bending pyrotechnics which sound like machine gun rattle one second, wired turntablism, and, then, police sirens the next. It's spine-tingling proof of the genuine connection between the pair.

    40 years on and at 64 years of age, Bruce elevates even this re-ordering of odds and sods onto a higher level altogether. This kind of heroism and undaunted self-belief would be clichéd if it wasn’t so damn passionate. It’s further testament that he remains hungry after all these years. Clearly, Springsteen is still guided by hidden forces

      

     

    Album of the Week: Robbie Williams - Swings Both Ways

    This weeks Album of the week is Robbie Williams Swings Both Ways and here is what Natalie Palmer had to say...When it comes to British solo stars Robbie Williams is one that stands out from the crowd. Never in fear of offending anyone he takes risks (we all remember Rudebox) and nine times out of ten they pay off.

    Robbie first released a swing album over ten years ago, and now he is at it again, revealing: “First of all, I wanted to do a Swing album because I wanted to do a Swing album. I always knew I’d do another and I think now is the perfect time to do it,” and with the help of a few great showbiz pals he’s hit the nail on the head once more.

    Shine My Shoes

    The opening track is written by Robbie himself and his old pal Guy Chambers and it’s a great opener to the album. It starts with the typical swing click and then grows with the sound of trumpets and a full blown brass band. It’s very much a big band track and shows signs of a new Robbie as he refrains from swearing as he says ‘happy as a pig in shhhhh.’

    Go Gentle

    This track was performed by Robbie on last week’s X Factor and is his new single. A song that is quite clearly directed at his little girl Teddy as he sings of dancing with boys but not having to kiss them and stating he will always be there for her. A song most dads out there would be able to relate to about, a sweet and charming look at fatherhood.

    I Wanna Be Like You Ft Olly Murs

    Here we see two artists who are often compared joining forces on a classic Disney hit. Does Olly want to be just Like Robbie? He is definitely heading that way. Both stars are known for their cheeky chappy personalities so putting this into a fun light hearted song has worked really well and you can hear in the recording that they had a ball doing it.

    Swing Supreme

    A slower track that unfolds into Robbie classic ‘Love Supreme’ but as a swing version. This is a genre he has mastered but taking a track many fans know and love and changing it into a big band number could be a risk but his voice is so smooth and it becomes a really good listen. A little bit of old school RW regenerated into something new.

    Swings Both Ways Ft Rufus Wainwright

    Rufus who is potentially unknown in the UK makes a welcome appearance on this track which he also co wrote. Their voices are very similar and the song is a little tongue in cheek which is something everybody is used to with Mr Williams as he sings: ‘And after I’ve done her’ to which Rufus replies: ‘You can do me.’

    Dream A Little Dream Ft Lily Allen

    First John Lewis, then ‘Hard Out Here,’ now dreaming a dream with Robbie. It’s nice to see Lilly back on the music scene in a selection of different styles. This song is sung beautifully and it sounds incredibly classy and romantic as the two sing it together. An unexpected but gorgeous rendition of a classic love song.

    Soda Pop Ft Michael Buble

    It’s instantly clear from the first note that this is going to be a fun, upbeat song. You can hear the jazzy piano and the trumpets are a wonderful big addition throughout the entire song. Buble’s vocal is flawless as always and to see them do this together on a stage with a huge band would be a real treat.

    Snowblind

    From fun with Buble to a calming song written by Guy Chambers and Williams himself. Jazzy piano gone and twinkly sounds brought in; maybe Robbie has become a softy at heart now. A song about love and relationships is made more magical as the strings echo in towards the end. As it is a ballad type song the vocal isn’t mind blowing but it still sounds lovely.

    Puttin On The Ritz

    The album then goes back to some more toe tapping swing with ‘Putting On The Ritz.’ It’s hard not to imagine him swinging around the stage and putting on a fabulous show when you hear this track. It’s one that really oozes the swing genre with lengthy musical interludes that make you want to chuck on a flapper dress and go dancing in a big jazz hall.

    Little Green Apples Ft Kelly Clarkson

    Here we see Williams join forces with one of world’s most loved female vocalists, newly married Kelly Clarkson is a surprise collaboration but his big personality and her big voice makes for an endearing musical moment.

    Minnie The Moocher

    Opening with some big notes that prepare you for a strong swing vocal, Robbie's voice has a huskier tone and he is joined by some manly backing vocalists. There would be a lot of crowd interaction at a live show with this one, his voice gets, dare we say it sexier as the song goes on and takes on a faster pace as it comes to an end.

    If I Only Had a Brain

    A song from the ever popular Wizard Of Oz is the penultimate track on Robbie’s second swing album and it’s songs like this that show his voice for what it is capable of. Not a huge ballad but a sweet sentimental song that requires heart. However we all know he has a brain because he’s mastered making millions out of a genre that many current artists approach anymore.

    No One Likes A Fat Popstar

    “I come from a land of kebabs and curries,” isn’t an opening line anyone would expect to hear, but that’s what happens here. He also sings of how showbiz is a single chin game, and munching on a thimble of self esteem. He’s then joined by an operatic choir who sing about how no one likes a fat popstar. It’s great to see someone (especially a bloke) having a go at the industry as it is one that can be so fickle and shallow when it comes to looks.

    Our Verdict

    It’s rare to see an artist poke fun at themselves and others whilst still remaining respectful but Robbie Williams does just that. It’s clear to see people want to work with him and his songwriting efforts with Guy Chambers are fantastic. His vocals, although not always flawless are charming and listenable. This album has the swoon factor and proves once again that Robbie is one of our best entertainers.

    ALBUM OF THE WEEK: David Burke - Where Colours Swim

    David Burke is delighted to announce that his debut album ‘Where Colours Swim’ is now available to pre-order on iTunes for €4.99. The album will be officially released on November 1st.
     
    The first 2 releases taken from the album – ‘Love Hate’ (Single) & ‘Clothes on the Floor’ (EP) both went in at No.1 on the iTunes Singer/Songwriter charts.
     
    Beautiful Mind (track 8) is the lead single to accompany the album. David wrote the song 10 years ago after being inspired by the movie of the same name.

    Checklist!
    Write & record debut album – Check
    Busk in L.A. & New York’s Central Park - Check
    Guest artist to Declan O’Rourke, Wallis Bird, Mundy, Kila, Paddy Casey, Alabama 3 & Hothouse Flowers amongst others – Check
    Record with Chris Elliott – string orchestrator on Amy Winehouse’s ‘Back to Black’ – Check
    Record on Freddie Mercury’s ‘Bohemian Rhapsody’ piano – Check
    Run the original marathon course in Athens – Check
    Climb Carrauntoohil & Croagh Patrick (barefoot) – Check
    Law degree – Check

    To Do:
    Keep making the music I love
    Climb Ben Nevis (Scotland), Mount Kilimanjaro (Africa).........Everest??
    Run another marathon
    Positive living & positive people

    Watch the video for 'Beautiful Mind' here.

    Watch the video for "Clothes on the Floor" here.

    Watch the video for "Love Hate" here.

     

     

     

    ALBUM OF THE WEEK: Zervas and Pepper: Lifebringer

     

    This Weeks album of the week is Zervas and Pepper: Lifebringer

    and here is what Nick Dent Robinson had to say: 

    Zervas & Pepper are attracting a lot of interest in the music press and on radio with their exquisite vocal harmonies, interesting arrangements and highly original songs.

    Paul Zervas and Kathryn Pepper are about to release their second album, 'Lifebringer', following the success of their debut release 'Somewhere in the City' which they recorded in 2011.

    The pair first met in the Toucan Club, Cardiff in their native Wales and soon decided to write and perform their own original songs as a duo. “That was a very exciting time for us,” Paul Zervas recalls. “We were still finding our feet as songwriters, pushing each other and digging ever deeper musically, determined not to be constrained by current trends in musical style. We realised we'd found our ultimate soul mates in each other. As our romance blossomed, the harmony in our music increasingly reflected the harmony in our lives – at times it felt almost otherworldly to us. And our audiences picked up on that.”

    BBC Radio 2's Janice Long and Terry Wogan have heaped praise on the pair.

    'Lifebringer', the new album, includes some of Wales's finest musicians. The material – which Zervas & Pepper describe as “sunny, cosmic, retro folk rock music” - is “more of an escape from reality” than the band's previous work, Paul Zervas says. Critics have been very positive, calling it “perfect festival music” with “an exquisite sound”. Comparisons have been made with Fleetwood Mac and Crosby, Stills, Nash and Young. But this may be misleading as it downplays the originality and beauty of the best of Zervas & Pepper's work. 'Lifebringer' is a very satisfying listen. It is well worth making the effort to see Zervas & Pepper perform live with their highly versatile and impressive current line-up including Andrew Brown on bass, Jack Egglestone on drums and Simon Kingman on lead guitar.

    The sounds of Laurel Canyon permeate deeply an album of original songs that draw inspiration from their travels, Kathryn says about the album “There are times when our music is a reflection of our lives but mostly we like to create an escape from reality. We wrote the bulk of this album whilst staying in LA last year, taking as much inspiration from art, music and characters we ran into as we could” and Paul adds “We’ve been somewhat selfish when it comes to the song writing for this album, certainly when it comes to subject matter, there aren’t many Welsh singer-songwriters writing material about round-eyed cult leaders, dystopian futures or mystic Indian shamans! So while not intentionally we do tend to write music that flies in the face of our everyday surroundings and lives”

     

     

    ALBUM OF THE WEEK: Paul McCartney - New

    This weeks album of the week is 'New' by Paul McCartney

    Here’s a review from Michael Gallucci on ultimateclassicrock.com 


    None of the four producers who worked on Paul McCartney‘s 16th album, ‘New,’ were even around when he was making music with the Beatles that would shape both his career and the past 50 years of pop culture. And that’s a key factor to the success of McCartney’s first album of new material in six years.

    Working with secondhand knowledge, or remembrances formed after the fact, of McCartney’s storied career, Paul Epworth, Mark Ronson, Ethan Johns and Giles Martin (son of Beatles producer George Martin) don’t try to re-create the legend’s legacy so much as they piece it together by their individual perceptions of it. The results make up McCartney’s best album in 30 years.
    And McCartney, doing his part, takes a cue from his forward-thinking producers and cooks up a batch of songs that sounds very much part of the 21st century while still rooted in the nostalgia that has driven his career from the start. ‘Early Days’ may sound like it stems from any one of the acoustic ballads McCartney has written since ‘Yesterday’ — and it does, make no mistake. But the subtle production touches by Johns (whose father, Glyn, mixed the Beatles’ troubled ‘Get Back’ sessions before they were shelved and later resurrected by Phil Spector as ‘Let It Be’) also lend it a spark of modern-day electricity.

    ‘New”s best songs expand on McCartney’s pop and rock pasts without ripping them off: the opening fuzz-drenched rocker ‘Save Us,’ the late-Beatles bass-and-drums bounce of ‘Queenie Eye,’ the bubbly harpsichord-graced title track. They, along with a handful of other songs on the album that glide along similar paths, make the obvious Beatles/Wings connections without hanging onto them like a crutch.

    But they don’t try to completely reinvent McCartney either, which is a credit to the producers’ willingness to step back and let a master do his thing from time to time while consistently nudging him out of his comfort zone. After spending the past few years getting reflective on records like the 2007 album ‘Memory Almost Full’ and the 2012 standard collection ‘Kisses on the Bottom,’ McCartney sounds revitalized on ‘New,’ ready for a future he helped pave all those years ago. 

     

     

     

    Album of the Week - Drew Holcomb & The Neighbors - Good Light

     This weeks album of the week is Drew Holcomb & The Neighbors - Good Light and here is what newstown.com had to say about it....

    For Drew Holcomb and The Neighbors, their fourth studio album, "Good Light, represents their highly underrated understanding of emotion rather than their growth as a group over the past year.

    If these guys are strangers to you, consider jumping right in and hitting play to get acclimated to their full-hearted sound. It's just that easy.

    Needing little introduction, Holcomb’s voice is very full and heartwarmingly tender, but equal amounts of time are spent listening to his Tennessean accent click into action. “Another Man’s Shoes” best illustrates his innate ability as he draws, “If you ain’t learn that by now/Go ahead, walk another mile.” With the help of his wife, Ellie, this track is destined for a coffeehouse playlist. Feel free to add it to yours.

    Holcomb’s wife, who shares vocal responsibilities, has a certain warming quality herself. Now and again, her voice is faintly heard but as a buttery echo to her husband’s ever-softening tone.

    “Good Light” is clearly the album’s most captivating effort. “Hey there’s a good light/Shining through/And I need it tonight,” Holcomb sings on Good Light’s second glimpse of the bands personality. Feelings of compassion and wonder arise, as Holcomb, now, more than ever, illuminates some very uplifting themes of open-mindedness and cheerfulness in times of despair.

    Further down, “Wine We Drink” is about as vulnerable as Drew Holcomb gets. Forgetting the words to songs and laughing at the wrong time are touched upon in this fragile track that lightly crumbles with its tenderness. Holcomb has never seemed more human, though. If you're in the mood, this one is an effortless listen.

    This year is definitely going to be Holcomb’s, as "Good Light" is destined to grab the attention it deserves. Is it in my album of the year conversation? Probably not. It could creep into my top 10 if it avoids the dreaded pit radio created for folk-rock artists. And don’t act like I’m the only music critic in the country to ever throw those words on a page. I don’t have the numbers to back this up, but plenty of folk-rock bands have lost more than just their appeal after taking the plunge into the icy radio controlled waters. I’m glancing slyly out of the corner of my eye at you, Lumineers…

    This album is now available on iTunes, so pick up a copy today.

    4/5 stars

     

     

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