Friday, February 25, 2011

The Low Anthem| Smart Flesh

An 40,000 square foot abandoned pasta sauce factory proved to be a worthy challenger and container for "Smart Flesh", the new album from The Low Anthem. Most of the record was recorded at Porino's in Central Falls, Rhode Island, where, incidentally, the band will re-claim the space for a one-time performance on March 12th.

Amazing that a album that is so warm could come in from the reported cold of that building. The songs that were forged there would certainly have been different if they had been recorded in a more comfortable studio setting and that's the point. The space inside of these songs is vast and alive, and in the experience of listening, a world of hurt and wonder wafts in on the wind and takes a deep and gentle hold.

Friday, February 18, 2011

Over The Rhine | The Long Surrender

Over The Rhine's Karin Bergquist and Linford Detweiler, along with collaborator/producer Joe Henry have left me riding high in the vast expanse of their brilliant expression and openness to the artistic process. This lofty language is sorely lacking and doesn't come close to describing the impact and value of their new release, "The Long Surrender".

An supremely able musical crew was assembled last May at Joe Henry's studio in Pasadena, CA for a week of recording. Henry enlisted Greg Leisz, Keefus Ciancia, Patrick Warren, Levon Henry, David Piltch, Jay Bellerose, Niki Harris, Jean McClain, James Gilstrap and special guest Lucinda Williams for the album that was financed with the support of close to a thousand of the band's fans.

The excellence of the musical compositions and performances, and the layers of life experience that are reflected are only part of the story. It's the gentle, genuine invitation to enter their sweet 'ole world world that touched me the most. I found it impossible to resist. Great exchange, precious gift.

Wednesday, February 9, 2011

Robbie Robertson| How To Become Clairvoyant

The title track of Robbie Robertson's new album "How To Become Clairvoyant" seems to offer some insight into where the 67 year old musician is at in this time of his life and career. World weary, yet still searching. Investigating, confessing, coming to terms. All with a wry, peaceful and forgiving touch.

Robbie Robertson started "seeing around corners" with the nylon and steel as a teenager in his native Toronto, and made an everlasting mark in the hearts of many as singer, guitarist and primary songwriter for The Band. Now, after 4 solo albums and multiple soundtracks, including many for "bad boy" buddy Martin Scorsese, his former housemate during the editing of The Last Waltz, Robertson has a new solo record, his first in thirteen years.

It all began a couple of years ago when Robertson's and Eric Clapton's guitars started "talking" and the two came up with material that Robertson returned to last year. He knew he had something. Clapton was delighted to do anything on the record. He co-wrote three of the tunes and plays on six, taking lead vocals on "Fear of Falling". Guitarists Tom Morello and Robert Randolph join in. Robertson praises the two, saying "they do something that I don't understand at all; they play a different instrument". Trent Reznor, Steve Winwood and producer Marius De Vries round out the amazing supporting cast. The CD is set for release in April.

Listen for tracks from the album on mvyradio's new music show Uncharted Waters Friday (2/11) at 9 PM ET (repeats Sunday 2/13 at 9 PM ET) on

Friday, February 4, 2011

Amos Lee | Mission Bell

The quiet soulfulness of Amos Lee's new album "Mission Bell" offers a sweet and deep listening experience and a mainline connection to the heart of one of America's best singers and songwriters.

This is Lee's fourth album and a number of elements have lined up to make it his best yet. The clarity, soft resonance and round tones of Lee's voice combine with his unwavering commitment to delivering every note as if his life depended on it.

Lee's producer and band on the record support his vision to a T. Joey Burns of Calexico produced "Mission Bell" and he and Calexico band mates, drummer John Convertino and trumpet player Jacob Valenzuela, along with Jaron Olevsky on keyboards and Greg Leisz on pedal steel are a perfect match for Lee.

The songs are lyrically and musically well-defined and spacious. Each one has a spiritual element, with the underlying sentiment being one of compassion for and connection to humanity. Amos Lee rings his mission bell for us all.