Sunday, 30 April 2017

Lisa Knapp - Till April Is Dead A Garland Of May, album review

New Sweet Scented Reality

It is a shame Lisa Knapp was unable to reinterpret or realign or reinvent Theresa May as an actual caring and honest human being in the same way she has taken these traditional folk songs about the season of May and recast them into modern and invigorated alternatives.

Still, I guess Theresa May reinvents herself daily in the way telling complete lies become the new actuality, these alternative realities her way of usurping the tradition of sticking to pledges and truth with a new politics of corrupted democracy.

In this polarisation of creative joy against destructive cynicism, I take refuse in the bright hope Knapp brings in the former to a world otherwise withering to the touch of Theresa May and string-puller Lynton Crosby.

Knapp’s album is sweetly scented musical honesty, and I like it for that.

Two Faces Music 14

Sarah Shook & The Disarmers - Sidelong, album review

Vegan Fucking Country

Characterised as ‘outlaw country’ on Shook’s Facebook page, that is near enough but it is also straight Country, good old-fashioned Country – with an edge; with a freshness that is both authentic and original – something in the, respectively, vocal drawl and lyrical content, perhaps also the contemporary ‘outlaw’ attributes of being a vegan, or perhaps to put it in her own fuller context: But full disclosure, I'm a fucking civil rights activist, and I'm a bisexual, and I'm an atheist, and I'm a vegan, you know what I mean? That's a whole lot of non-redneck shit right there.

So not redneck outlaw old time Country, but vegan outlaw country. And it is fucking good, to take a leaf from her own linguistic book where 10th track is titled Fuck Up, though this is the only one on the album not self-penned, being written rather by drummer John Howie, Jr. But it is like the rest of the songs: Country rock, really, cowboy guitars and rock guitars, mentions of whippoorwill and whiskey as on second track Heal Me. The lap steel of Phil Sullivan on the album’s title track extends the Country theme, Shook’s vocal offering such an unadorned yet perfect Country inflection, and the self-deprecation of the lyrics ringing honest. This is a great track.

‘New’ Country is alive and well from the likes of Angaleena Presley, recently reviewed here, and this excellent roots album from Sarah Shook, the latter sticking more to rockier, if vegan, meatiness. A homage to DY titled Dwight Yoakam furthers the strong sense of an innate allegiance to the authenticities of Country music, new and old, and this drawled ballad with those occasional classic Big C vocal inflections is also a great track. They are all great. A great band in support. It is a great album.

You can get it here.

Saturday, 29 April 2017

Harmonica Music 2

Alice Coltrane - World Spirituality Classics 1꞉ The Ecstatic Music Of Alice Coltrane Turiyasangitananda, album review

Spiritual Statement

I have always been inclined to like such chanting musicality, probably first enthused by Quintessence, some George Harrison, then a host of others who over the past 40 years have taken on the ‘Krishna’ mantra from its most natural [just chant] to psychedelic wrappings.

This collection from over those same years by Alice Coltrane is therefore inherently beautiful to me, but it is also a gorgeous collection of ensemble chanting and musical embellishment, like opener Om Rama that is bathed in sweeping electronica, like spiraling sirens to pun a little, before moving into solo male vocal chant, echoed by the vocal ensemble, before ending on a heightened synth, so to speak.

Alice Coltrane leads on the second Om Shanti, a church organ setting an ironic, though not badly so, background for her beautiful chant, a fulsome and soulful wording. This then merges into the ensemble whole which is simply gorgeous, again. Third Rama Rama is similarly sweet with more orchestration and sitar with synth running the focal strain; fourth Rama Guru returns to an ensemble, with handclaps, setting. It is the mix of ‘studio’ and ‘live’ sounds that give variation, though it is all naturally set, naturally.

Further chants have a more distant sound, but the whole is exquisite and conveys such a wonderful sense of joyous community delivered through faith and music, a spiritual state of seemingly fundamental innocence as opposed to the fundamentalist proclivities elsewhere in our world today.

Wednesday, 26 April 2017

Guitar Music 2

Six Organs of Admittance - Burning the Threshold, album review

Finger Plucked Beauty

This is a beautiful folk album by Ben Chasny as Six Organs of Admittance. Whilst mainly gentle fare [rather than other band Comets of Fire psychedelic rock], it is the finger-plucked guitar playing that stands to the gorgeous fore, especially instrumental Reservoir that rolls down from a repeated single high note in one of the simplest but soothing melodic lines. Another superb instrumental is the acoustic duet Around the Axis between Chasny and Ryley Walker, reminding of Jansch and Renbourn. 

There is some fuzz and other rock on the excellent Taken by Ascent, if you want a bit of this as well. And why not.