GuideReviews Index - page 2
Dan Bern - Anthems
Certainly not the strongest record Dan Bern has ever made, but the point is not lost. [i]Anthems[/i] does exactly what it was intended to do: preach to the choir with evangelical poise. His choice of Woody Guthrie tunes to cover is right on target too.
Nickel Creek - Why Should the Fire Die
Sara and Sean Watkins and their childhood friend Chris Thile (aka Nickel Creek) have been making great bluegrass music together practically since the day they stepped out of diapers. Their skills have raised eyebrows on both sides of the aisle, but based on their performances on Why Should the Fire Die?, they've decided to strike out in some more daring directions. These directions take them through the realms of rock & roll, alternative country, and even through their roots in Bluegrass.
Carole King "The Living Room Tour" CD Review
King's candid, lovely lyrics and well-humored onstage persona absolutely shine on this record, which features pretty much every great ballad from the last thirty years - and of course they're all written by King herself.
Railroad Earth - Elko
Railroad Earth is a great live band. Like any band that's usually great live, their CDs have always left a little something to be desired, but "Elko" manages to capture some of that concert energy.
Rosanne Cash - Black Cadillac
It may be too soon to say this, but I think Rosanne Cash's [i]Black Cadillac[/i] could be my favorite record of 2006. I reckon that being the daughter of Johnny and stepdaughter of June Carter, Rosanne has probably had a big cloud of expectations following her wherever she's gone in the music world. But if "Black Cadillac" does anything, it shows that Cash knows how to meet, and even surpass, expectations.
Susan Werner - I Can't Be New
On her fourth nationally-distributed CD, "I Can't Be New" (Koch Records, 2004), singer/songwriter Susan Werner takes us deep into the throes of her fierce exploration of jazz crooning.
Shawn Mullins - 9th Ward Pickin' Parlor
Shawn Mullins put out a really great record several years ago. There was something innovative about it, even though it was nothing we hadn't heard before. His lyrics were clever and his melodies were memorable. It was honest, earnest, and smooth. But what often happens after a record like that is that artists tend to try too hard to retain the fame they earned. Unfortunately, this is one of those records that comes across that way.
(Various Artists) "I Am The Resurrection: A Tribute to John Fahey"
John Fahey is one of the greatest guitar players ever. His career has spanned several decades and has showcased an impressive cannon of innovative guitar work. His influence has been felt not only by all the artists on this record, but also that of other great guitar innovators.
Janis Ian - Folk is the New Black
Janis Ian is one of those artists that could make a record about mayonnaise and her emphatically dedicated fanbase would love it. Luckily for the rest of us, though, she's always made a point of using that artistic power to create some of the most beautiful, timeless folk songs around.
Sean Watkins - Blinders On
Sean Watkins delivers great work with [i]Blinders On[/i], his third solo effort. His songs are more demure and earnest than those of his Nickel Creek bandmates, and more whisperingly pretty. His voice is sweet and calm, and his guitar playing is, of course, fantastic. The songs on this record stand out as being truly unique from what you may be used to. His bluegrass roots are mostly left behind in exchange for the stylings of an earnest folk singer/songwriter.
Sonya Kitchell - Words Come Back To Me
Sonya Kitchell writes some incredible songs, especially considering she's only 16 years old. The best way to describe her sound is to say it's sort of a combination of Joss Stone, Norah Jones, and Fiona Apple; and then there's a folkiness to it, as well. Her lyrics are beautiful poems about everyday life, and her melodies are simple, memorable, and very sing-along-able. There's little on this record to not like, if you're looking for something completely new.
Various Artists - Classic Railroad Songs
Smithsonian Folkways does it again - with the recent release of a compilation of classic railroad songs, featuring Doc Watson, Woody Guthrie, The New Lost City Ramblers, Rosalie Sorrels, and more.
The Chieftains - Essential Chieftains
This greatest hits collection features not only The Chieftains' finest work, but also stellar guest appearances by Sinead O'Connor, Sting, and more.
Zoe Lewis - Small is Tremendous
Provincetown folksinger Zoe Lewis integrates latino horns, jazzy pianos, and traditional Americana into her most recent release on Judy Collins' Wildflower Records.
Michael Meldrum - Open Ended Question
When I arrived in Buffalo in 1997, Michael Meldrum was one of the kindest, most encouraging souls I encountered; and I was impressed by his dedication to great songs. It's this honest dedication that shines on his long-awaited debut.
John Fahey & Friends - Friends of Fahey Tribute
Guitar legend John Fahey may be gone, but his music prevails. On this Friends of Fahey Tribute CD, Fahey's work is recaptured on piano, harmonica, acoustic guitar, and harp guitar.
Subdudes - Behind the Levee
On their sixth studio album, Behind the Levee, New Orleans' Subdudes pull out all the stops to make sure you get your booty moving. Their blend of blues, folk, roots rock, and straight-up New Orleans funk is enough to get you out of your chair and moving.
Neko Case - Fox Confessor Brings the Flood
On Fox Confessor Brings the Flood, her fourth studio album since her debut in 2000, Neko Case fashions her beautiful brand of alt.country into old folk tales from around the world.
Greg Brown - In the Hills of California
Greg Brown's 25th CD is one of the most comprehensive collections of his work. Recorded over a couple of years at the Kate Wolf Music Festival, this CD captures Greg in his element - live on stage.
The Wilders - Throw Down
When I caught The Wilders at Wintergrass this year, I thought they were the best new group at the festival. [i]Throw Down[/i]'s brightest moments are when the group tosses their cares into the wind and just ... well, throws down.
Sandi Thom - Smile ... It Confuses People
Sandi Thom is just one among a slew of young woman singer/songwriters coming from the US and UK these days, innovating folk-rock by integrating the genre with unique rhythms, melodies, and approaches to the craft. On [i]Smile ... It Confuses People[/i], Thom kicks off the album with one of these great, wholly unique tunes.
The Waybacks - From the Pasture to the Future
With their fourth studio album, From the Pasture to the Future, San Francisco's crabgras warriors The Waybacks bring a new slant to their already undefinable work.
The Weepies - Say I Am You
The Weepies have mastered the integration of everything that makes a song good. "Say I Am You" is absolutely wrought with intuitively poetic lyrics, calm and easy vocals, and hooks so catchy you sing along without realizing you're doing it.
k.d. lang - Reintarnation
For anyone that's only mildly familiar with kd lang's early roots, [i]Reintarnation[/i] serves as a worthy introduction to this undefinable artist.
Carol Ames - Shades of Indigo
Carol Ames isn't much of a folk poet, but she can sure carry a tune. Aesthetically, [i]Shades of Indigo[/i] brings to mind songwriters like Catie Curtis and Heather Eatman, but Ames is certainly her own artist.