Friday, April 30, 2010

Janiva Magness | The Devil Is an Angel Too

Janiva Magness does just what you want her to do on her new CD "The Devil Is An Angel Too", her second outing on Alligator Records. She gives us more proof that she is one of the best recording artists and entertainers working today.

Her live shows are electric. Janiva won the 2009 Blues Music Awards for B.B. King Entertainer of The Year and Contemporary Blues Female Artist of the Year. She has been able to bring that excitement and energy to the new record, just as she did with 2008's "What Love Can Make You Do". Passionate, throaty, up-close-and-personal vocals, inspired song choices and great backing players. She reaches inside every song, finds the heart and then delivers a world of hurt, or a world of joy.

I'm going to feature several tracks from the album on mvyradio's Uncharted Waters tonight at 9 PM ET on http://www, Talk to you then!


Wednesday, April 28, 2010

Jeff Beck | Emotion and Commotion

If an artist is lucky enough to have a long career, the musical world that he or she creates over the years can be vast, ever evolving and revealing. Who would have guessed that monster, master guitarist Jeff Beck would name "Over The Rainbow" as one of his favorite songs? But then again, given his penchant for inspired interpretations of a beautifully eclectic assortment of songs, it's absolutely no surprise.

In the liner notes to his new album "Emotion and Commotion", Beck calls the song, that became Judy Garland's signature, one of the most beautiful ever written and says "I finally figured out what it is about Judy Garland's voice that gets straight to you; her vibrato is unsteady. Anyone else with an unsteady vibrato would make you cringe, but not her." No surprise, either that he notices and understands what it is about an instrument and an artist that gets to you.

Beck seems to simply love sound, and voices in particular, and all of the possibilities that present themselves when musicians gather to play. Joss Stone, Imelda May and Olivia Safe all provide guest vocals and Beck includes two Jeff Buckley songs because of being "amazed" by "the beauty of the way he sounded." The orchestration by Peter Murray is stunning and the perfect setting for Beck's guitar.


Thursday, April 22, 2010

Patty Larkin | 25

It really wasn't planned at all, that Patty Larkin's celebration of her twenty-five years of making records, would be so comprehensive, so expansive and so poignant. But that's what happened.

Patty's "25" is a collection of her songs, re-visited by her and re-fashioned by the personal crafting of twenty-five musicians that Patty has admired and worked with over the course of her career. She recorded the songs, unplugged and sent them out, and they came back, surprising musical gifts in every package.

The record is dedicated to her mother, Mary Jeanne, a painter and Patty's biggest fan, who passed away last September. Two weeks after her mother died, Patty started work on the record and she says that the emotions she was feeling opened her up "to the moment" and a raw and sometimes more mature vocal sound emerged.

The project has re-united her with many old musical friends like David Wilcox, Jonatha Brooke, Chris Smither and John Gorka. She is playing out on tour with many of them and will be at The Regent Theater in Arlington this Saturday, April 24Th with Birdsong at Morning.

Today on The Lunch Hour (about 12:15 PM ET) on, I feature part of a conversation with Patty and give away some tickets to Saturday's Arlington show. Full interview with Patty will be posted later today in the mvyradio Archives.


Tuesday, April 20, 2010

Angus and Julia Stone | Down The Way

Musical partnership is the bedrock of music making and no matter what the relationship of the partners, the sound of the bond has traveled far and deep by the time it reaches our ears.

Australian sister-brother team Angus and Julia Stone have just released their second full album "Down The Way" and I find myself thinking about the sibling aspect of their association because all I know about it is what is revealed in the songs. It's an aural entree into a connection that only the two can begin to understand.

A gentle feel and a quiet, sweet wondering keeps on throughout. The record has a long-ago tint; the sepia photos (of their family? other families?) inside the liner notes add to this. Self-produced, recorded in different locations all over the world, a perfectly realized album.


Friday, April 16, 2010

Jonsi | Go

What do you do when you're sitting on a pack of breathtaking songs that don't quite work with your current band? Jonsi, lead singer and cello bowing guitarist of Iceland's Sigur Ros, answers the question with his solo debut "Go"and an ambitious tour. Sweeping, sometimes bleeping, earnest vocals against a back drop of high-flying, dramatic arrangements. The majority of songs are sung in English. Descriptions of his live shows indicate that the production elements match, support and blow the roof off, just like the music.

Listen tonight at 9 PM ET to mvyradio's Uncharted Waters on as I feature tracks from Jonsi's "Go", plus new music from Angus and Julia Stone, Justin Currie, and Ruth Moody.

Sample some clips from "Go" here:

Tuesday, April 13, 2010

Freelance Whales | Weathervanes

An emerging sound palate. A new sound scape. Same language, different dialect. With a name like Freelance Whales, the sky's the limit, right? And the deep blue sea.

Listening, I say to myself, "I like this." After a few songs I ask myself, "Where's this going?" Then I feel the direction. It's kind of vertical, swooping up then down, then up again. And it's more in than out. Quiet joy. Some of the sounds are toy-like, popular these days, and this underlines the child-like quality that washes over the whole record. There's a great mix of acoustic and electronic, lovely vocals, and...the glockenspiel. Nice! Magical, spacey private world. Available today.


Friday, April 9, 2010

Natalie Merchant | Leave Your Sleep

It's been seven years since we've had a studio album from Natalie Merchant and "Leave Your Sleep", her new collection of songs adapted from the works of a wide spectrum of poets, is, in Merchant's words "the most elaborate project I have ever completed or even imagined." Indeed! Over 130 musicians playing on 26 tracks in multiple musical styles- Cajun, reggae, chamber, jazz, Celtic, r&b and early music. The songs were recorded in live ensemble settings and the spontaneity and live feel come through beautifully.

The project was inspired by a "long conversation" between Merchant and her daughter during the first six years of her life, with Merchant bringing the characters of obscure poems to life as she read aloud. Five years of research ensued and in the process, Merchant, who has never thought of herself as a poet despite her years of writing song lyrics, became absolutely enthralled and "used music to enter these poems." The CD will be available April 13th. Album cover and Natalie picture here by the amazing Mark Seliger!

I'll play tracks from "Leave Your Sleep" along with new music by Josh Ritter, Jonsi, and Doug Wamble today during mvyradio's The Lunch Hour (12 noon ET) and on Uncharted Waters tonight (9 PM ET) Tonight's featured artist on UW is Angelique Kidjo.

Wednesday, April 7, 2010

Kenny White | Comfort In The Static

He's the go-to guy for lots of musicians, producing Peter Wolf and Shawn Colvin, and going out on the road with Cheryl Wheeler, Jonathon Edwards, and Judy Collins. After a listen to his new record "Comfort In The Static" (his second on Collins' Wildflowers label), it's SO clear why so many people want to work with him and why he is so respected by his peers.

His stated aim, to give an honest account of what's in his heart, is true. He has a sharp eye for the details of everyday life and brings this to bear in his lyric writing. And musically, his melodies, great chord changes, arrangements and dynamic piano playing create an intimate setting for his songs. Shades of Mose Allison, Randy Newman, and Ben Folds.