Kevin Bryan reviews the best new music releases.
Loudon Wainwright III: Haven’t Got The Blues (Yet)
This sardonic singer-songwriter’s 26th album represents a fine addition to the very impressive body of work he’s assembled since he was one of the many acoustic balladeers hailed as “the new Bob Dylan” in the early 1970s.
The subject matter of Wainwright’s latest is typically wide-ranging too, exploring topics as diverse as gun control, pet ownership and the ageing process with the familiar blend of humour and pathos which has become his trademark.
In A Hurry, Harlan County and his tender tribute to the late Kate McGarrigle, I Knew Your Mother, are particularly fine efforts.
Various: In The Shadow of Sun
This fascinating three-CD set traces the output of the plethora of well-intentioned indie labels which sprang up in the Memphis area during the 1950s in the vain hope of emulating the success of Sam Phillips’ legendary Sun operation.
Compiler Dave Penny has unearthed a string of highly sought-after collectors items from the archives of long-defunct record companies such as Ekko, Peak, Moon and Sky,including some classic examples of robust rockabilly and rhythm and blues from the likes of Billy Riley, Johnny Burnette and veteran Arkansas piano player Roosevelt Sykes. Splendid stuff.
Martin & Eliza Carthy: The Moral of the Elephant
The Carthys may have recorded together many times over the years but The Moral of the Elephant is the first album which bills them as a duo, and the results are predictably little less than superb.
The mainly traditional contents are presented with the minimum of fuss or frivolous adornment as Martin’s guitar and Eliza’s fiddle weave their spell on stand-out tracks such as Her Servant Man, Molly Drake’s wistful Happiness and Queen of Hearts, which a youthful Martin first tackled on his debut album half a century ago.
Jane Kramer: Break & Bloom
Exposure to Jane Kramer’s bittersweet musical creations has been likened to drowning in molasses, and this captivating performer’s first full length solo album should certainly be required listening for anyone who enjoys the work of similarly gifted singer-songwriters such as Natalie Merchant, Guy Clark or the criminally under-rated Malcolm Holcombe.
Eloquent honesty and a rare ability to conjure timeless melodies out of the ether are the hallmarks of Jane’s endearing approach to music-making, with the beguiling opener, Georgia, and Mourning Dove capturing the Oregon-based artist at her brilliant best.
Charly 40 Years Volume One: Classic Hits
Re-issue specialists Charly celebrate their 40th birthday with the release of this wide-ranging anthology, drawing on an impressively eclectic selection of tracks from their extensive back catalogue.
The superior 1960s pop of The Yardbirds, Chris Farlowe and the Small Faces rubs shoulders with a classic slice of garage band rock from The 13th Floor Elevators and the compilers have also found space for hit singles from such unlikely bedfellows as Johnny Cash, Bobby Womack and George Clinton’s Funkadelic to name but a few.