Wow. It has been one hectic week, and at this stage it doesn’t look like there’s any sign of easing up. Which is disappointing, as it means blogging has had to take a back seat, and I’ve received some cracking pitches recently from some great bands flying Under The Radar. Hopefully (!), I’ll be able to follow these up next week. For now though, I thought I’d slip in a quick “Wednesday Music Round Up”, featuring tunes from Jason Reeves, Justin Currie, Matt Bauer and Ray Lamontagne.
Jason Reeves – Just Friends
Jason Reeves (Image credit: Stacy Blue)
After a stellar 2007 – wherein Jason Reeves spent nine months as the number one unsigned MySpace Folk artist, in addition to being named one of the Top Indie Singer-Songwriters of 2007 by iTunes – it looks like 2008 is finally the year for this 24 year old singer/songwriter from Iowa City, as he’s recently signed a deal with major label Warner Bros.
His album, “The Magnificent Adventures of Heartache (and other frightening tales)” is being released August 12, and it’s a fun ride. The songs are generally simple affairs, but ones that are all the richer for that… that simplicity allows the sincerity in Jason Reeve’s brand of soul to shine through. The tune below is the single, “Just Friends“, and it’s one of my favourites off the album. Definitely worth a listen.
Sigh. Aah, Del Amitri. Easily, and without a shadow of a doubt, one of my favourite bands for close on twenty years. So it was with much trepidation that I finally received my copy of the Justin Currie – founder and the voice of Del Amitri – solo debut, “What Is Love For?“. I should never have been worried.
Justin Currie has always been one of my favourite songwriters. The guy simply knows how to craft a masterful song, with great melodies and poignant, forthright lyrics. His efforts on “What Is Love For?” are no different. While this solo effort – put out by the always brilliant Rykodisc label – is certainly a conscious step away from the Del Amitri signature sound, I can’t help but feel that this tune, “No, Surrender” is something of a follow-up to one of my favourite Del Amitri song, “Nothing Ever Happens”. There’s a resignation and cynicism there that has always been unmistakably Currie.
Should you stand and fight?
Should you die for what you think is right,
so your useless contribution will be remembered?
If you’re asking me, I say
surrender, surrender – Justin Currie, “No, Surrender”
“No, Surrender” is a 7-minute-plus indictment of modern-world ills, and it’s simply beautiful. I may still be holding out on DA putting out a new album, but Justin Currie’s solo efforts look like they’ll be more than enough to keep me going. Here’s hoping to far more of this from one of the music world’s most under-appreciated artists.
Hat tip to Captain Obvious for turning me onto Matt Bauer‘s tunes; some of the most enticing new music I’ve heard this year. There’s a somewhat anachronistic feel to Bauer’s release, “The Island Moved in the Storm“, which makes all the more sense considering that the album is loosely based, and placed, in both the historical context of the unsolved murder case of “Tent Girl“ – which occured near Matt Bauer’s home in Kentucky – and a semi-autobiographical look at Bauer’s childhood in the area.
Appropriately, there are a lot of dark shadows in this release… an ominous, weary beauty, that infiltrates its way into your soul. I won’t go into too much more depth here, as Captain Obvious really sums it all up in his review, so I’d suggest you give that a read…
… But, ultimately, the point I’m making is: this is good stuff.
I’ve been impatiently awaiting Ray Lamontagne‘s upcoming release, “Gossip In The Grain” (due out September 30) for months now, and the sneak preview in the form of this track, “Let It Be Me”, has only served to aggravate that impatience.
From the moment that the exhalation starts the track, to the second that that voice starts crooning… man, it’s killer.
It’s a smoke-filled, seductive, soulful voice that really is, these days, all Ray’s. It’s a tune that brings a wistful tear to your eye, and prompts murmurs of, “Amen, brother. Amen.” It’s perfection.
So, following on from yesterday’s post, there are two more quasi-hip-hop songs that I think you should hear. The first of those was here, and now the second (pushing the bounds of the term “quasi-hip-hop songs”), is:
Ray Lamontage – Crazy (Gnarls Barkley Cover)
Ok ok… it may not be a strictly hip-hop song, but I had to include this here. Ray Lamontagne is a ridiculously talented artist, yet one that still seems to be criminally underrated outside of the “music critic” scene.
He has a soft, raspy voice, but one that still cuts like a razor. And, backed just by an acoustic guitar here, that voice is able to shine.
As with any great cover, it’s not simply a remake; it’s a retelling, with different ingredients.