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October 28, 2010

New Music for October

It's been a long time since we compiled a list of CDs that have been recently added to the Folk Alley playlist. And, since autumn is generally one of the busiest times of the year as far as new releases go, there's a lot to talk about!

The Weepies are finally out with a new CD. It's not that Deb Talen and Steve Tannen were slacking - the married pair spent their time away from touring welcoming a new baby. And, they made some spending money adding songs to commercials last Christmas for JC Penney and Old Navy. We're happy to have them back in the stream with Be My Thrill.

Jim Blum's pick of the month is the self-titled EP by Jill Andrews. Folk Alley first met Andrews when we produced an installment of Sessions with her old band, The Everybodyfields. Her voice has only gotten stronger since she's struck out on her own - with a sound that Jim calls a perfect blend of Americana, folk and country with a little mystery thrown in.

We're always excited when the new Jack Williams CDs arrive (his latest is The High Road Home). Jack is the consummate storyteller - combining humor and poignency to really place listeners in the world his songs create. He is certainly a songwriter that deserves wider recognition. We're happy to oblige!

Although many people know Chris Hillman as a member of The Byrds, he has had a long musical life since that band dissolved. He's been involved with recording projects including bluegrass picker Herb Pedersen (the two met in 1963) since the '70s. The collaboration is a musical demonstration of the folk roots of '60s rock. Their new live album is At Edwards Barn.

The rest of the giant pile (for now):

Bob Dylan - "The Witmark Demos 1962-1964" and "The Original Mono Recordings"
Peter Ostroushko - "When the Last Morning Glory Blooms"
Jimmy Lafave - "Favorites 1992-2001"
Kristina Olsen - "Quiet Blue"
The Steel Drivers - "Reckless"
Hey, Mavis - "Red Wine"
The Reverend Peyton's Big Damn Band - "The Wages"
Great Big Sea - "Safe Upon the Shore"
Putamayo Presents - "South Africa"
Terence Martin - "The Last Black and White TV"
Grant Dermody - "Lay Down My Burden"
Katie Geddes - "We Are Each Others' Angels"
Rex Fowler & Tom Dean - "Imagined: The Road to John Lennon"
Frazey Ford - "Obadiah"
Neptune's Car - "Strawberry Moon"
Suzanne Vega - "Close Up: Volume 1 Love Songs"
Paul Kamm & Eleanore MacDonald - "From the Fire"
YaYas - "Paper Boats"
Eric Clapton - "Clapton"
The Grascals - "The Famous Lefty Flynn's"
Honey Dewdrops - "These Old Roots"
The David Wax Museum - "Carpenter Bird"
Luka Bloom - "Dreams in America"
Clare Burson - "Silver and Ash"
Kim Richey - "Wreck Your Wheels"
The Once - "The Once"
The Kruger Brothers - "Forever and a Day"
Oliver Schroer & The Stewed Tomatoes - "Freedom Row"
Heidi Talbot - "The Last Star"
Peter Rowan Bluegrass Band - "Legacy"
Hanneke Cassel - "For Reasons Unseen"
Posted by Ann VerWiebe at 6:24 PM | Comments (0)

Review: Jack Williams ~ The High Road Home

October 21, 2010

jack williams high road home.jpgby Jim Blum

Jack Williams
The High Road Home

(Wind River)

If you were to ask a contemporary songwriter to pass a test these are some of the qualities you'd probably be expecting: Thoughtful viewpoints, a variety of subjects, catchy melodies, impressive playing, passionate singing, and unusual arrangements. This is really not a lot to ask of our contributors, but not everybody can deliver. Jack Williams certainly can, and after sampling another stellar release, it's a wonder why he is not known in the north as well as he is in the south.

The album begins with its title song - a directive on how to make choices, regardless of the circumstances. He can play country blues with ease - sample "Bad Feeling." Jack offers insight into the plight of the homeless; "Hand Me Down" was written for a play.

He is funny, even when carrying a sharp stick: "Cavewoman Betty" is a curiosity about a Neanderthal female time traveling to witness modern man; "When You're Gone" makes it clear that the world will probably do fine without you. Towards the end the album offers a perfect wedding song: "No Longer Headed Nowhere."

A highlight is "Atlantis Going Down," a spirited and critical analogy to Hurricane Katrina. Half way in, his arrangement surprises you with a little New Orleans Jazz. William's use of a bluesy back up chorus with the deep bass voice of Wayne Manning cleverly emphasizes and entertains in many of these songs.

Though Jack is being played on Folk Alley, he may not be on your frontal lobe. Find any of his CDs and you won't be disappointed.

Posted by Linda Fahey at 4:31 PM | Comments (4)

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