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CD: Sarah Jarosz – Undercurrent | New music reviews, news & interviews | The Arts Desk

CD: Sarah Jarosz – Undercurrent. Country-tinged US singer-songwriter’s fourth matches musical virtuosity with emotional punch. Review by Thomas H Green.

Kilde: CD: Sarah Jarosz – Undercurrent | New music reviews, news & interviews | The Arts Desk

20 Best Folk Music Albums of All Time

Think of folk music and you think of acoustic guitars, singing with your finger in your ear and sad, tragic stories of failed romance all washed down with a tankard of real ale. However, there’s quite a bit more to it than that. From the Dust Bowl balladry of Woody Guthrie in the 1940s through to Fairport Convention plugging in and rocking out in the 1960s and Laura Marling’s reinvigoration of the singer-songwriter genre in the mid-2000s, folk is a many textured thing, constantly reinventing itself but always staying true to its roots. Here are the 20 best albums ever to come out of folk.

The Singer Becomes The Song: The Transformation Of Hayes Carll

To get a sense of what Hayes Carll has been up to the past few years, just listen to both versions of his song “Love Don’t Let Me Down.” The first, a duet with Caitlin Rose released as a stand-alone single in 2012, features Carll as the consummate country professional, singing harmony with Rose behind a gorgeously slick pedal-steel meets piano accompaniment. “Watched my dreams all turn and run/ They left me alone, thinking they’d come back someday,” Carll croons, holding out the last syllable of “someday” with the suave intimacy of a Sinatra ballad.

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Brandy Clark



Excitement over «ace songwriter» (Cosmopolitan) and critically acclaimed, four-time GRAMMY Award nominee Brandy Clark’s new album is building as the singer-songwriter offers Big Day in a Small Town for pre-order available here «This record is a musical journey that has stretched, inspired and moved me artistically,» Clark said. «I hope that it moves fans when they hear it half as much as it moves me when I play it every night.» Big Day in a Small Town tells the stories of the football star, the father, the homecoming queen and the hairdresser because those are the stories and people that Clark grew up knowing in Morton, Wash.

Big Day in a Small Town Track List – Songwriters:

1. «Soap Opera» – Brandy Clark/Bryan Simpson

2. «Girl Next Door» – Brandy Clark/Jessie Jo Dillon/Shane McAnally

3. «Homecoming Queen» – Brandy Clark/Luke Laird/Shane McAnally

4. «Broke» – Brandy Clark/Shane McAnally/Josh Osborne

5. «You Can Come Over» – Brandy Clark/Jessie Jo Dillon/Mark Narmore

6. «Love Can Go to Hell» – Brandy Clark/Scott Stepakoff

7. «Big Day in a Small Town» – Brandy Clark/Shane McAnally/Mark D. Sanders

8. «Three Kids No Husband» – Brandy Clark/Lori McKenna

9. «Daughter» – Brandy Clark/Jessie Jo Dillon/Jeremy Spillman

10. «Drinkin’ Smokin’ Cheatin'» – Brandy Clark

11. «Since You’ve Gone to Heaven» – Brandy Clark/Shane McAnally

Elizabeth Cook: Exodus Of Venus.

I am releasing a new album and would like to invite you to be a part of it as it happens!


Hey beautiful outlaw people, my name is Elizabeth Cook and I’ve made a new album called Exodus Of Venus. It’s been 5 years since I put out my last record and I’m hoping you’ll join my team to get this record out in June.

I’ve got 12 new original songs dealing with everything from drug abuse to scandalous love affairs. These past few years have been challenging. There’s been death, divorce and rehab. I deal with it all on this record. I’m hoping you’ll go on this journey with me for Exodus Of Venus.

Trond Andreassen: Ingen Ting Hele Tiden

Østfoldingen Trond Andreassen har lenge vært en synlig skikkelse på den norske rockescenen. Som vokalist og frontfigur i band som Ricochets og Navigators har han herjet rundt i mange konsertlokaler og på flere plateutgivelser. På Ingenting hele tiden står han derimot på egne bein med sitt eget navn på omslaget og med norske tekster, riktignok skrevet av Christian Bloom.


Mr. Van Zandt, six foot two
with your sharp voice and guitar sing out the blues
Tales of desperate gamblers, whores and ramblers
about people who try to break free
Songs of love and hate and what’s in-between

Slik går det iørefallende refrenget til «Six Foot Two», en av ti særs stilsikre sanger på Paul Henriksens debutalbum Time To Grow Wings, om den gangen han var så heldig å se Townes Van Zandt varme opp før en av de tre gangene han rakk å se ham. I og med at Henriksen er godt voksen – 48 år gammel – er Time To Grow Wings en kledelig platetittel, og det som dessuten følger med alderen er en fiks ferdig singer/songwriter som har brukt god tid på å skrive og polere et knippe låter som låter deretter. Dette er simpelthen en svært gjennomarbeidet og imponerende debut – av det slaget som kun høres sjelden. Her er det mye å glede seg over for den som setter pris på låtskriverfagets edle kunst. Les mer


Tunge tårer og brunt brennevin

Ut i fra intet gunner Paul Henriksen på med et album som er skreddersydd for Popklikk-redaksjonen. ”Time To Grow Wings” er så vellykket at man skulle tro at vår herre på en god dag bestemte seg for å sende Henriksen innpakket i purpurfarget silkepapir til menneskeheten.

Les hele saken

Robert Ellis: ‘Robert Ellis’

Robert Ellis’s new album, Robert Ellis, comes out June 3.

The anti-heroic American landscape is cluttered with men moving around. John Updike’s Rabbit Angstrom burns down the turnpikes in his shiny American car; John Cheever’s Neddy Merrill «swims the county» in his Northeastern suburb, making his way from swimming pool to swimming pool. These embodiments of postwar anomie were soon joined by a cinematic horde: motorcycle hippies, hitchhikers, criminals and others who took the stories of lost boys nationwide. Bruce Springsteen turned the central observation of those films — «The highway is alive tonight» — into a rock ‘n’ roll myth about migration and masculinity, celebrating the romance of turning escape into a mission. Forty years of steel-horse anthems, cop shows and space operas later, guys are still drifting off into new atmospheres of solitude, via Mars or the rough historic landscapes of The Revenant.

Robert Ellis enters this artistic realm on his self-titled fourth solo album, which considers the tilted fulcrum of a dissolving marriage to confront the allure and the cost of restlessness. In gorgeous arrangements that span a wide range of singer-songwriterly approaches to rock and soul, Ellis builds stories of love pursued, deflected, damaged and submerged — though never totally lost — as a way of confronting the limits human imperfection places on all kinds of intimacy, including self-knowledge. «Why can’t I tell you the way I feel?» he sings in the bluegrass-stained «Elephant,» which is about the boxes lovers, and also artists, construct for themselves. «Like my dishonesty and my ego made a deal.»

Robert Ellis, Robert Ellis

Taking a hard look at his ego, Ellis risks making himself appear unsavory throughout this song cycle: alternately jealous and philandering, unable to let go of his ideals about sex and emotion even as he grows angry at what those expectations are doing to the women upon whom he hangs them. «The high road is wearing me down,» he moans in his best Hank Williams tenor in the pensive waltz that bears that title; he’s lamenting the vagaries of artistic success, but he uses the language of morality because he realizes that the search for such set terms compels him, even as he continually violates them.

Robert Ellis is very apparently a breakup album, a challenging endeavor in this year of Beyoncé‘s gauntlet of women’s blues, Lemonade. From a different corner of the musical universe, in an utterly different voice than one Jay-Z would ever employ, Ellis (who, it happens, hails from Beyoncé’s hometown of Houston) speaks for the man who strayed, betrayed and regretted. Instead of returning to the nest, however, he accepts his exile. Other women besides the obvious central one present new problems. The album’s 11 songs confront all kinds of betrayals and misunderstandings, with our antihero accruing wisdom that he discovers he can only fitfully employ. Ellis has pushed the clouds away; he’s more self-aware, but hardly recovered. «Maybe I’m destined to repeat myself,» he snaps. «Don’t you think I’d learn from my mistakes?» There’s no reconciliation here; only more work to be done.

If this sounds like a bitter journey, Ellis’s musical daring and impeccable songcraft render it beautiful. He’s the kind of artist that a descriptive like «Americana» can only partially serve; what he takes from obvious inspirations like Paul Simon, Charlie Richand Joni Mitchell is as much a commitment to musical eclecticism as a facility for storytelling. Songwriters bent on upholding «quality» music can often fall into a pastoral rut; into a refinement that becomes banal. Not Ellis. The restlessness that his characters exhibit also underlies his musical impulses. He’s worked with his band (especially guitarist and occasional co-writer Kelly Doyle) to develop a sound that taps into rock, R&B, bluegrass and country without cutting corners. He’s also found peers who push him further, including Angaleena Presley, Jonny Fritz and Delta Spirit‘sMatthew Logan Vasquez, who all contribute here.

Robert Ellis should put Ellis on the same level as recent guitar auteurs like Sturgill Simpson and Jason Isbell, but his true soulmate might be the L.A. songwriter Jenny Lewis (Rilo Kiley, The Postal Service, et al), who also grasps the usefulness of an acid tongue, and who’s just as likely to push out of the safe space of simple balladry. In «California,» Ellis puts aside his own urge to ramble and imagines a woman’s instead; she’s packing up plates, remembering fights and dreaming of California. Lewis might have written this song; she might as well be its heroine. Like her, Ellis gets that the unbroken part of the heart will always push its owner toward another border. That’s a hard reality not only antiheroes can grasp.


Paul Simon, ‘Stranger To Stranger’

 Paul Simon’s latest album, Stranger To Stranger, is due out June 3.
Myrna Suarez/Courtesy of the artist

When we first meet the Street Angel, three tracks into Paul Simon‘s new Stranger To Stranger, he uses a bebop riff to describe what he does. «I make my verse for the universe … I write my rhymes for the universities, and I give it away for the hoot of it … A tree is bare, but the root of it goes deeper than logical reasoning.» No one talks to this person, so Simon, longtime champion of underdogs, lends a sympathetic ear. Naturally, he discovers not just a homeless person, but a thinking man, a soul prone to reflection.

A few songs later, this character returns as the star of a drama in some unlucky ER. There’s a boisterous carnival groove with lots of percussion — the soundtrack of a celebration in his head? Riding atop this pulse is an anxious mantra: «I can’t talk now / I’m in a parade.» This could be the Street Angel jabbering into a make-believe phone, or a medical professional’s jargon for peak ER traffic; either way, the phrase grows more surreal with each repetition. Soon enough, reality intrudes. Simon switches his voice to monotone to evoke the procedural call-and-response of official paperwork:

Paul Simon, Stranger To Stranger

 When the parade roars back up again, it’s newly chaotic, more defiant and weird. We’re never quite sure what’s happening inside this character’s head, or what’s occurring out in the world. We’re also unclear about what happens: Does he survive to rhyme another day? Or is the Angel destined for the queue in heaven’s waiting room, a place Simon sketched brilliantly in «The Afterlife» from 2013’s So Beautiful Or So What?

The slight «In A Parade» has much less description than «The Afterlife»; it’s more dramatic vignette than deep commentary. But its portrayal of that fine line between madness and genius is startlingly visceral — it’s a scene, a slice, a rendering of mental imbalance from deep within the maelstrom in progress; one that makes no judgment and draws no conclusions.

That’s pretty much the game throughout Stranger To Stranger, Simon’s 13th solo album. It’s more opaque than Simon’s recent works, less forthright and declarative, less locked onto linear tracks. Its tales unfold in shards and mumbled asides, oddly unsettling repeated phrases and strange prophecies. These don’t always seem haunting at the start, but they become that way — as the details fill in, or don’t, as Simon’s telegraphic shorthand implies multiple meanings. You can’t read the lyrics to these songs and expect to «get» them; you have to surrender to the slurpy backward vocals, the sharp crack of drumsticks, the whole experience.

Most of the time, the jitters live in and travel happily through the musical accompaniment, lifting the upbeat lyrics and animating the dour ones. Since at leastGraceland, Simon has built his songs around specific rhythms — or short, Morse-code-like rhythmic phrases that acquire their power through churning repetition and subtle variation. Some of these are descended from funk or gospel: The trance pulse of «Wristband,» which evokes a memorable scene from Birdman, celebrates the simmering tension of ’70s cop-show soundtracks. Elsewhere, Simon weaves trace elements of rhythms from around the world into music that’s deep and powerful yet somehow not self-consciously «global.» It’s not easy to connect the relentless whomp of samba to the nimble-fingered chop of flamenco guitar to the chatter of salsa’s metallic percussion, but Simon makes it sound that way. This herding of disparate ideas into a cohesive whole has become one of his enduring sonic signatures — pop as a language of exuberant dances and polyrhythmic upheavals.

As inventive as these tapestries are, there’s a quiet sense here that Simon, composer of hundreds of profound and enduring songs, is battling himself and his catalog every time he sits down to write. Simon discussed this in a recent interview with Bob Boilen for All Songs Considered, suggesting that he may now seek creative outlets beyond music. And he refers to his artistic struggle in the enigmatic title track: «Most of the time it’s just hard, working the same piece of clay day after day, year after year.» This confession comes after he’s described his work in a series of short, almost dismissive disconnected lines — first «words and melodies,» then «easy harmonies,» followed by the sad clincher, «old-time remedies.»

Even within the few Stranger To Stranger songs that hearken back to moods and chord sequences Simon has used before, there’s no rewriting going on. His music still pulses with the feeling of invention; he’s still discovering new ways to communicate, new percussive beats, challenging new frameworks for observations about joy, death and everything in between. These new songs are not as easily parsed as «Bridge Over Troubled Water,» but that doesn’t mean they’re not as artful. They’re just remedies and salves of a different sort. They’re just the isolated vision-bursts and flashes of clarity that sometimes occur when you look up and realize you’re trapped in the middle of a parade.