Thursday, December 18, 2014

Anne McCue: “Blue Sky Thinkin’” (2015) CD Review

When I saw Anne McCue perform recently at The Hotel CafĂ©, she focused her set mainly on material from her upcoming release, Blue Sky Thinkin,’ and it was this new material which made that show one of the best concerts I’ve attended this year. It also made me truly excited to hear the new album. And now that I have heard it, I’m even more excited. This is my personal favorite of Anne McCue’s CDs. It has a delightful old-time feel that raises my spirits without being the least bit hokey or artificial. This is just really good music, and all but one track were written or co-written by Anne McCue (the one cover being Regis McNicholas Jr.’s “Knock On Wood”). Anne has an incredible group of musicians backing her on this release, including Dave Raven, Carl Byron and Dusty Wakeman, and is joined on one track by Dave Alvin on vocals. Every track here is a winner.

Blue Sky Thinkin’ opens with one of my favorites, “Dig Two Graves,” a song she played when I saw her in concert last month. It’s a tune about revenge and the effect it has on the one seeking it, and yet has such a great, happy vibe. Anne McCue so naturally inhabits this musical world. There is some really nice work on guitar, plus some delicious stuff on drums and violin. Here is a taste of the lyrics: “Please dig a grave for me, mister/And one for my so-called friend/If your back should get sore/And you can’t dig no more/Feel free to jump right on in.”

“Things You Left Out In The Rain” is an absolutely beautiful, sweet, jazzy gem, with delicious vocals. “Long forgotten dream/Doesn’t matter now, it seems/There’s no need to explain/I’m just one of those things/Things you left out in the rain.” This is another she did at the concert I attended, but she had no horn section that night, and it’s the horns that really make this track a highlight. Seriously, the horns couldn’t be better. Horn arrangements on this disc are by Jim Hoke. John Hinchey plays trombone on this track. “Things You Left Out In The Rain” has been released as a single and a video, so you don’t have to wait for the album’s release to hear this one.

She follows that with “Spring Cleaning In The Wintertime,” a very cool folk tune that has a nice touch of blues. I love her vocal delivery here. She does a lot of interesting things vocally, and it all works perfectly. There is something kind of sad to the tale of this song, and yet it has an oddly uplifting effect, as it looks forward to something new while looking back at what’s gone. “You are gone/Gonna throw away my old dreams/Gonna drag ‘em way outside/Leave ‘em by the side of the road/Someone else can find.”

“Devil In The Middle” is a real treat. Even after the delight of the three previous songs, I wasn’t expecting “Hideehi” vocals. Anne McCue is joined on this track by the always-appreciated Dave Alvin on vocals, and he turns in a particularly excellent vocal performance here. He’s cooler than cool. You’ll know what I mean when you hear this track. And they sound great together. “The Devil’s in the middle/And he wants your soul/Grab him by the horns/Pull him by the tail/Poke him in the eye/Just to hear him wail.” And again, the horn section is excellent, taking you straight to New Orleans in the time it takes your heart to beat once.

Another favorite of mine is “Long Tall Story,” which is sweet and fun little love song. Anne then takes things in a different direction with “Little White Cat,” which has a country rock roadhouse vibe, with backing vocals echoing her (“Hey hey, ho ho”). It will get you dancing, or at least tapping your feet.

“It Wasn’t Even Fun While It Lasted” has my favorite title on this release. This one is a delightful and unusual tale of Paris; unusual, in that it doesn’t fall for the romance generally thought of as inherent to that city.  There is a great deal of flavor, and it mixes in some French words to humorous effect.

“Save A Life” will right away call to mind “Fever,” with that great, cool bass line at its heart and those finger snaps. But while it does have kind of a sexy sound and vibe, this is one of the most serious tracks on this release. Here is a taste of the lyrics: “You’ve measured out your life in verses and choruses/You’ve been called a liar, you’ve never been a thief/But now you’re standing on the bridge/Ooh, looking for a reason to save a life.” Dave Pomeroy plays bass on this track.

“Uncanny Moon” transports you to another time and place, and Anne’s vocals are smooth and sexy, powerful, almost haunting. I also love what she does on guitar. There is some really nice work by Carl Byron on piano.

Blue Sky Thinkin’ concludes with its title track, a happy, jazzy tune with a positive, sweet bent that you can’t help but love. Check out these lines: “I don’t know why but that breeze in the sky/Keeps blowin’ those storm clouds away/Since I met you, all of my blues have/Turned into a blue sky day.” It is such a good, positive note to end on.

CD Track List
  1. Dig Two Graves
  2. Things You Left Out In The Rain
  3. Spring Cleaning In The Wintertime
  4. Devil In The Middle
  5. Long Tall Story
  6. Little White Cat
  7. It Wasn’t Even Fun While It Lasted
  8. Save A Life
  9. Uncanny Moon
  10. Cowgirl Blues
  11. Knock On Wood
  12. Blue Sky Thinkin’
Blue Sky Thinkin’ is scheduled to be released on February 10, 2015 through Flying Machine Records.

Wednesday, December 17, 2014

Matt Lavelle, John Pietaro: “Harmolodic Monk” (2015) CD Review

Harmolodic Monk, the new CD from Matt Lavelle and John Pietaro, is an interesting jazz album taking the musical philosophy and approach of Ornette Coleman and applying it to compositions by Thelonious Monk. The results are sometimes soulful, sometimes emotional. These tracks often have a loose, exploratory feel that gets a bit trippy at times, but is always interesting. They mainly stick to Monk’s most well-known material, such as “Round Midnight,” “Ruby My Dear” and “Blue Monk,” but also tackle lesser known work, such as “Pannonica” and “Green Chimneys.” And it’s worth noting that on an album of Monk compositions, there is no piano. Matt Lavelle is on cornet, flugelhorn and alto clarinet; John Pietaro is on vibraphone and percussion.

Harmolodic Monk opens with “Epistrophy,” which begins with a thoughtful, lonesome horn, and soon adds little touches on percussion that make me think of an alley late at night. Then it’s as if the sounds themselves gather confidence, dare to express more, becoming more sure of their surroundings. Interestingly, there is some work on the vibraphone that is almost haunting, whereas I usually associate that instrument with a happier tone. And those happier tones do exist in this piece as well. The voices of the instruments on this track aren’t always pretty, but are always expressive.

Things get a bit more wild and energetic on “Green Chimneys.” This track has a loose, celebratory feel, like a shout to the gods, with the percussion designed to send dancers into a whirling joyful madness, and the horn like a proclamation.

“Round Midnight” begins slowly, almost tentatively, with largely mellow work on the vibraphone. The horn comes in beautifully, with a gentle, romantic bluesy bent, then rising at moments to passionate, unbridled heights before the song ends softly, drifting off.

A really nice horn solo makes “Let’s Cool One” one of the highlights of the disc, with Matt Lavelle dropping hints of that main theme, then going fully into it as John Pietaro comes back in on vibraphone. “Blue Monk” is another highlight for me, for it is at times playful, with a sense of humor, but also with some great work from both musicians, particularly by Matt Lavelle. Even the pauses are interesting. Monk is of course known for working dramatic pauses into his compositions, and Lavelle and Pietaro are able to make their own effective use of that device. And toward the end there are great short bursts like joyful shouts.

Harmolodic Monk concludes with a cool take on “In Walked Bud,” with moments when they cut loose, trading solos.

CD Track List
  1. Epistrophy
  2. Pannonica
  3. Green Chimneys
  4. Round Midnight
  5. Crepescule With Nellie
  6. Ruby My Dear
  7. Let’s Cool One
  8. Blue Monk
  9. Monk’s Mood
  10. In Walked Bud
Harmolodic Monk is scheduled to be released on January 6, 2015 on Unseen Rain Records.

Tuesday, December 16, 2014

Josh Lederman And The Cambridge-Somerville All Stars at The Plough And Stars, 12-13-14

Josh Lederman is one of my favorite singers to see in concert. I was a big fan of Josh Lederman Y Los Diablos, one of the best live bands I’ve ever seen. When that group disbanded, Josh Lederman created The Cambridge-Somerville All Stars, a group which changes members depending on who is available on a given day. This keeps things interesting, and provides different spins on even the most familiar of material.

Josh Lederman did two shows at The Plough And Stars last week. For the first show, on December 7th, the band included a couple of horns, a violin, an accordion, a stand-up bass and female backing vocals. Then on the 13th, Josh had a smaller band: stand-up bass, drums, accordion and female vocals. So while some of the material was the same, the approach was different.

Saturday’s show was an afternoon affair, starting at 4 p.m. After running over a few pedestrians in Harvard Square, we made it to The Plough And Stars, and miraculously found a parking spot right in front. It was a sunny day, but still cold, so I appreciated the heater under the bench inside the venue. Josh kicked off the first set with “The Leaving Of Liverpool,” with the accordion coming in toward the end of the song. To give the show a festive spirit, there were some Christmas lights on the kick drum. For me, the highlight of the first set was “The Town’s Old Fair,” a song from the Los Diablos days, and always one of my favorites. Josh quickly taught the song to the group as he began. The first set also included a cool cover of “Jackson.” The second set began with a brief instrumental rendition of Gloria Gaynor’s “I Will Survive,” and concluded with “Long Black Veil” and “New Year’s Day.” It was a wonderful show at a good venue. If you live in Massachusetts, I highly recommend checking out this band when you get the chance. You will not be disappointed.

Here are a few photos from the show on December 13th:


And here are a few photos from the show on the 7th:



Chris Trapper at The Center For Arts In Natick, 12-11-14 Concert Review

"Into The Bright Lights"
Last week I caught a Chris Trapper concert at The Center For Arts In Natick (or T-CAN, as they call it). It was my first time at that venue, and I was impressed. The sound was good; the staff was friendly; and the layout of the place provided enough leg room and an excellent view from all seats. Nick Young, a singer/songwriter from Rochester, New York, opened the show with a good set. Folks continued to stream in during his set, and by the time Chris Trapper took the stage at 9 p.m. the place was fairly full.

Chris Trapper kicked off the show with “Into The Bright Lights,” the title track from his 2010 EP, and followed that with “Gone Again,” the title track from his 2011 release. Chris Trapper always has a really good rapport with the audience, and it wasn’t long before he was joking. “This is the first time I’ve been here since the last time I was here,” he said, then talked a bit about touring, and about being mistaken for Rick Astley at the airport. And as it’s the season, he performed “Black And Blue Christmas,” a song from his 2008 Christmas album. And of course he did “Everything Shines,” a Push Stars song featured in the film There’s Something About Mary. He followed that with one of my favorites, “Starlight,” a seriously sweet song, and then a couple from his 2011 release The Few & Far Between: “Not Normal” and “Skin.” He introduced “Skin” as a song about staying in love.

“Boston Girl” is a fun tune, and one that really speaks to me these days. Here is a bit of the lyrics: “But you see Boston Girls know how to deal with the traffic/And Boston Girls don't have attitude 'cause they have it/They can be dressed up or they can be dressed down/They know just what to do when their man's in town.” Oh yes! He joked about how as it was a Thursday he knew folks had to get home early so he said he’d rush through the song. He followed that with another of my favorites, “Away We Go,” which he played on ukulele, tossing in a bit of Led Zeppelin and Deep Purple toward the end. After that he moved to the piano for “I’ll Count You.” I don’t recall ever seeing Chris Trapper play piano in concert before, so this was a treat.

Ariel Strasser joined Chris for “The Accident,” a track from his 2013 release Technicolor, and then Chris wrapped up the set with “This Time.” Well, sort of. He joked that “This Time” would be his “pretend last song,” and after it, he hid behind the piano while the audience clapped for the encore that he had promised anyway. Someone called out for “Keg On My Coffin,” which is kind of a waste of a request because he always does that song. He ended the show with it, but first played “Look What The Wind Blew In.”

Set List
  1. Into The Bright Lights
  2. Gone Again
  3. (I'm not sure of the title of this one)
  4. Black And Blue Christmas
  5. Ever Since That Day
  6. Avalanche
  7. Sea Of No Cares
  8. Everything Shines
  9. Starlight
  10. Not Normal
  11. Skin
  12. Boston Girl
  13. Away We Go
  14. I’ll Count You
  15. The Accident
  16. This Time
Encore
  1. Look What The Wind Blew In
  2. Keg On My Coffin
The show ended at 10:35 p.m.

Here are a few photos from his set:

"Not Normal"
"Boston Girl"
"Boston Girl"
"Away We Go"
"Away We Go"
"I'll Count You"
"I'll Count You"
"The Accident"

Tuesday, December 2, 2014

Greg Spero: “Electric” (2014) CD Review

Greg Spero’s new jazz album, Electric (which follows 2011’s Acoustic), features mostly instrumental tracks (apart from two songs) and mostly original material. Greg is once again joined by Makaya McCraven on drums, and this time by Junius Paul on bass. It honestly took me a little while to get into this one. On my first time through, it was some of the later tracks that really grabbed me, such as “Song 21.” But on repeated listening, I’ve become quite fond of this disc.

The album opens with “Introduction: Turn It Up,” a short electronic piece. The first time through, I wasn’t that into it, but the second time I did as its title suggested, and cranked up the volume. And that did the trick. The heavy vibration works on your chest, your heart, and the piece quickly envelops you.

It’s followed by “Raga,” which begins with a chaotic burst, with strange, almost angry tones. But then the piano gives you a base and place to hold onto or land when you find it necessary. A place from which the song builds to its unhinged heights, and a place to where it returns to at times. It’s interesting, because depending on what you latch onto on this track, you could easily find yourself dancing, or just as easily cowering in the corner, batting at imaginary electronic demons. And then, when perhaps you least expect it, the song emerges briefly in a place of beauty.

The Beatles’ “Blackbird” is the first cover song on this CD, and the first to feature vocals. It begins the way you’d expect it to, with that familiar and pretty theme, here done on piano. And it sounds sweet. Where it becomes different is when he repeats “Blackbird fly.” And soon there is a cool exploratory instrumental section, which I really like. It features some interesting stuff from both Junius Paul on bass and Makaya McCraven on drums. And you get the sense that this blackbird is flying in a different direction than perhaps most covers of this song find themselves going. There is something glorious in it, and it is a bit jolting when Greg’s vocals come back in.

“Song 21” then begins beautifully on the piano, and soon seems to also fly, gently, peacefully. Then the song picks up in intensity, the journey becoming more focused. I love the way the piano and bass interact in one section of this tune nearly halfway through, before that intensity and drive return. This song is one of my favorites, and it slides directly into the following track, “Interlude 21.”

The lyrics to “No Rest For The Weary,” the other song to include vocals, were written by Peter Yastrow. This is a sweet song, that has kind of a folk feel. Here is a taste of the lyrics: “To the east the sky is lighter/It’s the start of a brand new day/Together we will make it/And we know it will be okay.”

“Fly” has something of a wild aspect, but is also precise, like a carefully calculated unburdening. It reminds me a bit at times of Emerson, Lake And Palmer. The album then ends with a cover of “Somewhere Over The Rainbow,” which begins delicately, prettily on piano. This is a really nice instrumental version.

CD Track List
  1. Introduction: Turn It Up
  2. Raga
  3. Up Too Late
  4. Interlude 3
  5. Blackbird
  6. Song 21
  7. Interlude 21
  8. No Rest For The Weary
  9. Interlude 4
  10. Fly
  11. Somewhere Over The Rainbow 
Electric was released on October 28, 2014. 

Sunday, November 30, 2014

Grateful Dead: “Dick’s Picks Volume Fourteen” (1999/2014) CD Review

Like a lot of Grateful Dead fans, I am especially fond of the recordings from 1973, one of the band’s best years. It was the year of Wake Of The Flood, when the band had created its own record label, and was really trying to do everything independently. It was a year of some really great jams. Dick’s Picks Volume Fourteen is a four-disc set containing much of two shows the Dead did in Boston toward the end of that year. The Grateful Dead did a three-night stand at the Boston Music Hall. This set contains the first show (November 30, 1973) and the third show (December 2, 1973).

Disc One: 11-30-73 First Set

The first disc opens with the beautiful “Morning Dew.” When I saw the Grateful Dead, this excellent song was always placed near the end of the second set. But here the band kicks off the show with it. (Read the liner notes included in this set for interesting information on the start of this concert.) And as you’d expect, there is some good jamming on this tune. After “Morning Dew,” Bob Weir says, “We’re making adjustments, as you can see,” and mentions that Donna Jean Godchaux wouldn’t be at these shows. She was pregnant at the time. And the band launches into the fun “Mexicali Blues.”

After a nice “Dire Wolf,” the disc skips to “Black-Throated Wind,” so we’re missing “Beat It On Down The Line” and “Brown-Eyed Women.” Interestingly, Phil comes in a bit late at the beginning of “Don’t Ease Me In.” And there is some cool stage banter after that song. “Big River” is placed next on the disc, though “El Paso” and “They Love Each Other” followed “Don’t Ease Me In” at the show. Because “Loser” is also cut, the disc then gives us “They Love Each Other,” to keep the Jerry-Bob-Jerry-Bob order of material. And it’s a really good version of “They Love Each Other,” with that great loose groove and that wonderful extra section they did in those days. (That extra bridge makes the 1973 versions of this song my favorites.)

The band then wraps up the first set with “Playing In The Band.” It’s somewhat odd to hear a “Playing” from the mid-1970s without Donna Jean’s vocals, but this track is definitely the highlight of the first disc, with plenty of great jamming. They explore without getting messy. It’s not a spacy “Playing,” but it is an exciting one, with lots of energy and passion.

Disc Two: 11-30-73 Second Set

The second disc contains most of the second set from November 30, apart from the first four songs. As the disc is only approximately sixty-six minutes, I can’t help but wonder why at least one more song wasn’t included, such as “Jack Straw,” which immediately preceded “Here Comes Sunshine.” But what is included is excellent, focusing mainly on material from Wake Of The Flood, including an excellent and interesting version of “Here Comes Sunshine” (probably one of the best versions of this tune I’ve heard). It’s followed by the entire “Weather Report Suite,” also from Wake Of The Flood. I love how it begins so sweetly, so delicately, and builds from there. It then slides right into “Dark Star Jam,” a very loose jam, which gives way to “Eyes Of The World,” one of my absolute favorites, and one of the songs that make 1973 my favorite year for Dead tapes. “Eyes Of The World” was always great, always welcome, but in this first year (the band debuted it in February of 1973), it sounded just perfect. I love the groove of this song. It always makes me happy. And at nearly twenty minutes, this version has a lot of great jamming, including that fantastic bridge they only included in these early renditions. This is the highlight of the second disc for me. They then wrap up the show with “Sugar Magnolia.”

Disc Three: 12-2-73 First and Second Sets

The third disc begins with goofy stage banter before the band gets things underway with “Cold Rain And Snow.” This dis contains some of the first set from December 2, plus the beginning of the second set. Just a couple of beats open this fun version of “Beat It On Down The Line.” A couple of tunes are then skipped, and the disc goes right to a sweet rendition of “Brown-Eyed Women.” And it’s followed by some playful stage banter and interactions with the audience, and a little bit of both “The Merry-Go-Round Broke Down” and “Beer Barrel Polka.” After a good version of “Jack Straw” and an excellent “Ramble On Rose,” we go to the end of the first set, with “Weather Report Suite.”

The second set opens with “Wharf Rat,” and you can hear the understandably excited crowd. This is an excellent, heartfelt version of one of the band’s best songs. Jerry’s vocal performance here makes it a highlight for me. And it moves easily into “Mississippi Half-Step Uptown Toodeloo.”

Disc Four: 12-2-73 Second Set

The fourth disc contains most of the rest of the second set from December 2, 1973. There’s just one song missing – “Sugar Magnolia.” This disc opens with “Playing In The Band,” which starts as a seriously fun version (listen to some of what Bill is doing on drums), and then just a few minutes in turns to a good jam. The band gets out there, but it’s also kind of intense, especially toward the end just before it goes into “Mind Left Body Jam,” or as it’s titled on this release, “Jam.” And that’s when things get really interesting. This jam provides the spaciest material on this four-disc set, and it’s fantastic – at some moments beautiful, at some moments pained. It’s nine minutes in when it gets to the familiar “Your Mind Has Left Your Body” theme (that’s probably when the second track should have actually begun), and it sounds so sweet. It leads to “He’s Gone,” which had a different tone at that time, due to Pigpen’s death earlier that year. It’s absolutely beautiful and moving, one of my favorite tracks. And then suddenly the band bursts into “Truckin.’” The groovy jam has a bit of “Nobody’s Fault But Mine,” and slides gently into one of my favorite songs, “Stella Blue.” And this is a truly gorgeous rendition. The band ended this third show the way the first show began, with “Morning Dew.” And this is one of the best versions I’ve heard. This whole fourth disc is excellent, the band at its best.

CD Track List

Disc One
  1. Morning Dew
  2. Mexicali Blues
  3. Dire Wolf
  4. Black-Throated Wind
  5. Don’t Ease Me In
  6. Big River
  7. They Love Each Other
  8. Playing In The Band
Disc Two
  1. Here Comes Sunshine
  2. Weather Report Suite >
  3. Dark Star Jam >
  4. Eyes Of The World
  5. Sugar Magnolia
Disc Three
  1. Cold Rain And Snow
  2. Beat It On Down The Line
  3. Brown-Eyed Women
  4. Jack Straw
  5. Ramble On Rose
  6. Weather Report Suite
  7. Wharf Rat>
  8. Mississippi Half-Step Uptown Toodeloo
Disc Four
  1. Playing In The Band >
  2. Jam>
  3. He’s Gone>
  4. Truckin' >
  5. Stella Blue
  6. Morning Dew
This re-issue of Dick’s Picks Volume Fourteen is scheduled to be released on December 2, 2014 through Real Gone Music. 

Thursday, November 27, 2014

Slow Leaves: “Beauty Is So Common” (2014) CD Review

Last year Slow Leaves released their debut EP, Second Chances, and those three tracks were among the best songs of the year. That EP made me excited for the full-length CD, which was released in September of this year. Beauty Is So Common, the new CD, is an absolutely wonderful collection of tunes, somewhere between folk and rock, with some gentle grooves and 1970s influences. All of the tracks were written by Grant Davidson, and performed by him and Rusty Matyas. There is some really good, honest songwriting here, without artifice, without airs. This is one of my favorite albums of the year. By the way, if you missed last year's EP, this CD contains two of those songs.

The album opens with one of my favorite tracks, “Everybody Wants To Be In Love.” It begins as folk, but grows from there into something gorgeous and moving, with that steady pounding on the drum working in time with our hearts. When that drum comes in, it’s like we are ourselves are moving toward love. Before it, it’s like a distant wish to be in love, but when it comes in, it’s like we’re now actively seeking love. There is movement toward joy, and by the end, this song has us all feeling hopeful. “How does it feel when the world like a wheel/Spins fast under your legs, and your hips turn to steel/You rush to find the woman before whom to kneel/Everybody wants to be in love.” Dany Joyal joins them on bass for this track.

The second track, “Nostalgia,” seems to pick up from there, with a good, but more relaxed beat, and with country elements and smooth, beautiful vocals. This song has a friendly, laid-back vibe. “Every woman and every man/Holding onto someone the best they can/We were leaning, backs to the wind.”

Then “Life Of A Better Man” kicks off with a great rock groove. This is one of the two tracks that also appeared on last year’s EP. It clearly takes influence from some of the 1970s music, but in the short instrumental moments reminds me of a Belle And Sebastian song. Here is a taste of the lyrics: “Got to start life over to end up like this/There’s a creek in the floor, and a shadow at my door/And a fear of what’s at hand/It’s a ghost in the hall, an image that I call/The life of a better man.” Slow Leaves follow that with “Dreamer,” a delightful acoustic tune with a very positive vibe in lines like “Where no one has to ride alone/And those that fall behind will be waited for.” But when Grant sings, “And if we’re wrong, we’re wrong,” that’s when the song becomes even more effective for me, with a stronger emotional core.

“Second Chances” sounds like the very best of 1970s soft rock. It’s so beautiful, and yet so catchy too. This is the other song that was included on the EP, and is one I love more and more each time I hear it. “Neighborhood Watch” has a different feel from the other tracks, with a cool, meaner blues vibe that is delicious. I really like the guitar on this track.

“Only Sound To Hear” has a more intimate sound, particularly in the way the vocals are presented. It sounds like he’s so close, and there’s no need to project. There is a relaxed feel, like among friends. And even after the song kicks in, it’s able to retain a kind of intimacy that is sweet and moving. “I don’t have much money/And nothing to say/Just secondhand stories I’m offering free/And some old ideas I’ve forgotten to tell you/And stars that shine dimly and too far to see.”

I also really love the feel of “Institution,” another highlight of this CD. “Will the morning light see us through/Chase the shadows from the room.” Then “Country Of Ideas” is more of a country rock number, with kind of a bluesy rhythm.

Slow Leaves wrap things up with a nice country folk tune, “Rearview,” that even includes harmonica. There’s a humor there as well, for while he sings, “The lifelong drive to the gallows” (a great line in itself), there are backing vocals singing “sha-dooby-doo,” giving it a playful quality. Clearly, Grant Davidson is not taking himself too seriously. Toward the end, he sings, “Maybe you can take me along.” Absolutely. I imagine this disc will remain close to my CD play for quite a while.

CD Track List
  1. Everybody Wants To Be In Love
  2. Nostalgia
  3. Life Of A Better Man
  4. Dreamer
  5. Second Chances
  6. Neighborhood Watch
  7. Only Sound To Hear
  8. Institution
  9. Country Of Ideas
  10. Rearview
Beauty Is So Common was released on September 9, 2014.