Monday, 29 April 2019

Kelly Finnigan - The Tales People Tell, album review

Whatever, It's Soul

Kelly Finnigan, lead singer with soul-infused group Monophonics [reviews here], goes solo soul-infusion on this album simply oozing its traditional tropes. Fitting into the nu-soul/retro-soul [whatever version…] revival where with other similar individual artists/bands I find myself stressing the original sounds of their old sounds in trying to give credit where credit is due, but to be honest these are sublime facsimiles of a broad spectrum of classic soul music we have all heard before but revel in hearing again. On this album I hear so many touchstones/echoes/familiars [whatever synonym…] that I haven’t the in-depth nous to make exact reference but I hear them all the same. And as ever – though I’m not going to try and mention names – these repetitions are compliments to the originals and to, in this case, Finnigan for being able to deliver/redeliver [whatever…] these. He sings with gritty soul and falsetto soul and ensemble soul and gospel soul [penultimate track Freedom a glorious female chorus with some gospel ensemble] emotive soul and funk soul.

I’m on the second and with some tracks third plays and it is all so soul cool. Sweet soul. Soul soul. Whatever.

Listen then get it here.

Fruit Music 4

Kiefer Sutherland - Reckless & Me, album review

Synonyms and Similes

When faded needs a monosyllabic synonym, or perhaps the simile needs re-thinking: in a Country album with consistently fine tunes – nothing yee-haw, but generic – the song Faded Pair of Blue Jeans is the most clich├ęd lyrically but disrupts more, relatively speaking, when it just doesn’t scan in the chorus.

Yep, that’s a nit-pick. Only one. Ironic too really because the album’s strength, and certainly selling point, will be its formulaic quality, that which gives actor Kiefer Sutherland his Country credibility because these are authentic and hugely listenable songs, played superbly throughout, especially and for example Reckless & Me which follows Faded…, as strong and solid a country rock number as a brand new pair of Levis.


Monday, 22 April 2019

Bird Head Music 5

The O'Jays - The Last Word, album review


You can’t call music on The O’Jays’ latest old-school because it is quite simply their-school, Philadelphia-school, and welcome for this.

Their first release for fifteen years, and as the title signals, it is going to be their last: a swan-song gliding gracefully along familiar currents and habitat.

And its soul-conscience – by this I mean hope for a universal love and peace through the exhortations of music – is as softly and sweetly romanticised as ever, simply taking in the here and now with those same beliefs in the power of any Love,

Even if the sky begins to fall
And even if they try to build that wall
And even if the bombs go off
And the world is set on fire, oh

I got your back, I will be near
My love will last, I'll be right here
I got you, I got you
I got your back, I will be near
My love will last, I'll be right here
I got you, I got you

[‘I Got You’]

A Marvin Gaye-esque funk on Above the Law does pump up some emotive anger too, and there is no questioning the sincerity and purpose of these offerings.

The nearest perhaps they and we will ever get to that Shangri-La is through its soul-nostalgia, reminding for those old enough to recall those falsetto peaks and doo-wop bass lines and harmonious days of melody and optimism,

Love is a revolution
It twists and it turns
It burns but it heals
When it steals it returns
Join in the rebellion
Is this how we save the world, oh-oh

As for ’68 Summer Nights I am delighted to revel in its gorgeous, upbeat remembering. 

Saturday, 20 April 2019

Friday, 19 April 2019

Sherrick - Sherrick

Brilliance in its Moment

Idly watching TV, channel hopping, dipping into a sweet and nostalgic The Good Life, and when this finished I dropped into a Top of the Pops from 1987, saddened to be reminded of the demise of two genuine greats since – Whitney Houston and Prince – and then they had a brief clip of someone called Sherrick who I don’t recall at all: and what a wonderful singer with a wonderful falsetto on the track snippet Just Call.

So now listening on YouTube to his one and only eponymous album from that year, not entirely to my liking as mid-80s formulaic slap-bass funk, but that vocal is exquisite and sublime and phenomenal, lost sometimes in the lavish production values of the time. I am reminded of Luther Vandross in many of those same elements – how the vocal excellence rises above the punching synths and the rest.

What a tragic life, however, this his only album, an adulthood plagued by what has been described grotesquely as a ‘gorilla-esque’ cocaine habit as well as compulsive philandering – these you can take or leave as negatives – but by all accounts, and not surprisingly, having a detrimental impact on his musical career which struggled to get to this one high point but didn’t survive beyond.

Saturday, 13 April 2019

Damhnait Doyle - Liquor Store Flowers, album review

Exposing the Shallow 

Shoot to Miss is a stand-out on this excellent collection of Country-esque songs, the hint of Emmylou in the vocal here that elsewhere has further individual strengths and tonal variations delivering lyrics with emotional gusto, as with So Clean

That’s something that Jesus wouldn’t do
I don’t know who's feeding this shit to you …

…Why do you wanna be so clean
When all the good hands are getting dirty

seeming a song about sham and duplicity, and it must be an attack on the political appropriation of righteous posture over actual and hypocritical practice: we know the sort. This is potent in a song as wrapped in the ordinary, if superb, musicality of a Country rock melody.

The title track deals in another kind of shallow gesturing, an incisive and intelligent expose of how pathetic another’s failure is – not one remedied by delivering those kind of cliched flowers.

Doyle wrote four of the eleven songs on the album and collaborated with friends on the rest. This is a collective and collection of fine writing and musicianship that sparkles as the familiar - with which we can identify - and made memorable in its honesty, lyrically and in the performance.

Check out the country blues of closer Had to Have Him, such gorgeous solo vocal and gospel tinged harmony, the wail of guitar joining the choir of lament.

An early listen, but I am already impressed. 

Tuesday, 9 April 2019

No Face Music 22

Steve Earle & the Dukes - Guy, album review

Honest Homage

As homage goes, this is as exacting as it can be: the inimitable sound of Earle playing the inimitable [paradox excused] songs of Clark.

What I mean is these are clearly Earle and these are clearly Clark, singer and songwriter - both are both of these, but here they are, respectively, one and the other.

A favourite on this fine collection is Desperado Waiting for a Train, such an iconic song that Earle delivers with warmth and gravel and fiddle all in the mix,

So we just closed our eyes and dreamed us up a kitchen
And sang another verse to that old song

Next Rita Ballou has Earle in semi-yodel form, pedal-steel and fiddle swarming with warm Clark Country. That Old Time Feeling is another wonderful cover, Clark’s poetry plaintively apt in more pedal-steel and a slowed overall rendition,

And that old time feelin' limps through the night on a crutch,
Like an old soldier wonderin' if he's paid too much.
And that old time feelin' rocks and spits and cries,
Like and old lover rememberin' the girl with the clear blue eyes.

And that old time feelin' goes sneakin' down the hall,
Like an old gray cat in winter, keepin' close to the wall.
And that old time feelin' comes stumblin' up the street,
Like an old salesman kickin' the papers from his feet.

Having recorded his Townes album, Earle’s other significant musical mentor, this is Earle’s observation on recording this one for Clark,

No way I could get out of doing this record, says Earle. When I get to the other side, I didn’t want to run into Guy having made the Townes record and not one about him.