Signup for a folk alley account

Cookin' With New Releases; Here's What's On The Stove. (Better Read This Before You Order)

September 16, 2007

Loreena McKennitt, Nights From The Alhambra
If someone invited you over for dinner and served up this album; you would be able to tell an effort was being made to impress. Mckennitt's epic musical narratives are always of grandeur, offering arrangements including instruments from all over the world (Uilleann pipes, Kanoun, cello, Lyra, etc.). On this 2 CD/DVD combination, the presentation is even more spectacular. The concert was recorded in the most important Renaissance building in Spain: The Palace of Charles V on the grounds of the Alhambra. You'll hear the words of Yeats and Tennyson embellished by Loreena's unmatched delivery. You may have seen part of this as a PBS-TV special. Included are highlights from her recent studio recording, "An Ancient Muse," and several taste treats from earlier in her career. If you invite someone over for dinner, you can play it as you dine, and then watch it afterwards. You'll make an impression too.

buddy greene.jpg
Buddy Greene, Happy Man
Who is Buddy Greene and why is he smiling? I was encouraged by our David Fuente to move this up on the list and now I see why. Buddy toured with the legendary Jerry Reed playing harmonica. On this collection he also plays fingerstyle guitar and sings with a lot of style. He choose sideman well: Bryan Sutton, Pat Flynn, & Aubrey Haynie. The songs are mostly traditional, with a few gospel numbers to create excitement. I was worried when I saw a couple songs which have been over-cooked (Darlin' Corey, Sugarfoot Rag, Walkin' in Jerusalem) but Buddy has added his own spices; you'll won't feel like you've been to this restaurant too many times. I'm also betting you'll smile through his entire menu.

kt tunstall.jpg
K.T. Tunstall, Acoustic Extravaganza
Have you ever ordered up an omelet at a diner, raved about it, returned to order something else and it was flat? This CD is like that experience. The first two songs are catchy, even filling, despite the bad language. The album drops off seriously after that. Tunstall doesn't have much to say and the melodies are dull or same-sounding. Based in England, she outsold every other female singer in that country in 2005. She quotes Kahlil Gibran. She sounds like she ought to sound good. In order to play "Ashes," the best song, we had to edit out the F-word twice. She should go back and re-read Gibran and learn not to rely on cheap and cliche words. I'd recommend buying the 1st song and not the album, but you'd have to do your own editing. Eat somewhere else.

over the rhine.jpg
Over The Rhine, The Trumpet Child
The mark of a good band is when you don't compare them to anyone else. With Linford Detweiler's piano and arrangements and Karin Berquist's knack for turning a phrase, no one sounds like Over The Rhine. Sometimes criticized for albums of sound alike songs, "The Trumpet Child" is different. They cover politics, the environment, and sex; Karin sings of confidence in one offering, and desperation in another. For a country sound they use pedal steel; in the next song that sound is absent in favor of cello and violin. The last song is a real gem: "If a Song Could Be President." It's very clever, and you'll have to listen to discover which governmental offices would belong to Emmylou Harris, Steve Earle, & John Prine. I thought this group was making a comeback, but now I think they're just hitting their stride. Order from this menu without hesitation.

Kerfuffle, Links
Barely in their 20s, this English band is already working on their 4th album. They are rooted in tradition - their parents all played, but they are full of youthful invention. So why don't we know about them? I can think of two reasons. One, there are MANY talented young bands sprouting up. Two, there is a glut of new releases, many by amateurs, crowding out the good CDs. Mere numbers tend to cause delays in finding talent. We can thank our Chris Boros for discovering Kerfuffle. He saw them at the Cropredy Festival outside of London this summer. (Read his blog entires) Hannah James plays accordion and sings. No leftovers here, and they offer a full meal.

hottest state.jpg
Jesse Harris, Rocha, Willie Nelson, others, "The Hottest State" soundtrack
I haven' seen the movie, but I believe it's a road film about a young actor and a young singer trying to find their way in life and love. Jesse Harris wrote all the songs and had the guts to ask Willie Nelson to sing one. Willie hopped off his bus, asked Harris to sing "Always Seem To Get Things Wrong" to him and then he sang it back. Two takes. Norah Jones played piano. Rocha sings for the actress in the film. The songs are all full of angst and missed opportunities. Since our lives are full of the same, Harris was smart enough to leave the songs open-ended so we could jump in. If we continue with the food analogies, this album is like a cookbook: lots of recipes, but everyone who uses them makes the meal their own. This album is sad but very real.

Michelle Shocked, To Heaven You Ride
Shocked brought a big band and several singers from churches from inner-city LA to the high peaks of Colorado to play Telluride in 2003. The Festival normally records the concerts, but in this case management left strict orders not to. Everybody agreed but nobody reminded the sound crew. Four years later Michelle's people changed their mind and asked if the tapes did exist.
The festival couldn't lie, so we have an album. (Is there a message here?)
The songs are primarily gospel, and Shocked gets a little preachy, but the album is very authentic. It sounds like we're evesdropping on what happened that night (or that Sunday). The reggae number "Can't Take My Joy" is quite danceable and "The Weight" always makes people smile. Nick Forster sits in on steel guitar. I wouldn't suggest the entire menu, but 3 or 4 choices would be just enough spice.

Posted by Jim Blum at 4:38 PM | Comments (2)

Download September's Alleycast

September 6, 2007



On September's Alleycast, we feature many of the interviews conducted at Cropredy 2007 with Dave Pegg and Chris Leslie from Fairport Convention, plus the young sounds of Kerfuffle. We also listen to a Folk Alley exclusive recording with Peggy Seeger and get an update from F.J. McMahon. We reported on his only album in 1969 called “Spirit of the Golden Juice” in the August Alleycast. For this month, hear our exclusive interview with a F.J. about his record, why he decided to re-release it on CD, and just what he's been up to for the past thirty years. Download the Alleycast today.

Posted by Chris Boros at 5:06 PM | Comments (1)

Patti Scialfa is a Singer/Songwriter

September 4, 2007

Not to be obsessed with Bruce or anything but...

Patti Scialfa performed this morning on The Today Show in support of her new release, "Play It As It Lays." With every introduction it was emphasized that she was, of course, the wife of Bruce Springsteen. Not once did they add that she was a member of the E Street Band well before she and Bruce tied the knot. They did mention her other albums and comment that the new songs were good. But, it was almost as if the announcers felt that they had to justify her being on the program, "Really, it's a legitimate CD - not simply the vanity project of a bored housewife."

Patti is not Linda McCartney, Paul's wife and professional photographer, who showed up in his later band Wings after the dissolution of the Beatles. When she tours (as she did with the Seeger Session Band), Patti is a contributing member of the ensemble. She has been a musician since her earliest days and was in Springsteen's band for 7 years before they married. If anything, the marriage has probably stalled her solo career as a talented singer/songwriter whose 1993 release, "Rumble Doll," received rave reviews.

So, let's judge musicians married to musicians on their own merit. Win or lose, they deserve to be treated as freestanding artists and not curiosities.

Posted by Ann VerWiebe at 11:14 AM | Comments (8)

Support Folk Alley During Our Spring Fund Drive!


Recent Topics



November 2015
Sun Mon Tue Wed Thu Fri Sat
1 2 3 4 5 6 7
8 9 10 11 12 13 14
15 16 17 18 19 20 21
22 23 24 25 26 27 28
29 30               

November 2015

October 2015

September 2015

August 2015

July 2015

June 2015

May 2015

April 2015

March 2015

February 2015

January 2015

December 2014

October 2014

September 2014

August 2014

July 2014

June 2014

April 2014

March 2014

February 2014

January 2014

December 2013

November 2013

October 2013

September 2013

August 2013

July 2013

June 2013

May 2013

April 2013

March 2013

February 2013

December 2012

November 2012

October 2012

September 2012

August 2012

July 2012

June 2012

May 2012

April 2012

March 2012

February 2012

January 2012

December 2011

November 2011

October 2011

September 2011

August 2011

July 2011

June 2011

May 2011

April 2011

March 2011

February 2011

January 2011

December 2010

November 2010

October 2010

September 2010

August 2010

July 2010

May 2010

April 2010

March 2010

February 2010

January 2010

December 2009

November 2009

October 2009

September 2009

August 2009

July 2009

June 2009

May 2009

April 2009

March 2009

February 2009

January 2009

December 2008

November 2008

October 2008

September 2008

August 2008

July 2008

June 2008

May 2008

April 2008

March 2008

February 2008

January 2008

December 2007

November 2007

October 2007

September 2007

August 2007

July 2007

June 2007

May 2007

April 2007

March 2007

February 2007

January 2007

December 2006

November 2006

October 2006

September 2006

August 2006

July 2006

June 2006

May 2006

April 2006

March 2006

February 2006

January 2006

December 2005

November 2005

October 2005

September 2005

August 2005

July 2005

June 2005

May 2005

April 2005

March 2005

February 2005

January 2005

December 2004

November 2004

October 2004

September 2004

August 2004

July 2004

June 2004

May 2004

April 2004

March 2004

February 2004

January 2004

December 2003

November 2003

October 2003

September 2003

August 2003