Tuesday, October 21, 2014

Palaye Royale: “Get Higher” (2013) CD Review


In March of this year I went to see Dreaming Bull at Lexington Social House in Hollywood. I was also treated to a set of music by a band called Palaye Royale. A young band with a young and eager audience. Their single, “Get Higher,” was the tune that really got their fans dancing that night. I got a copy of it on CD, listened to it a few times, then set it aside (not because it wasn’t good, but because of the large number of CDs that I have here). But today I felt a need to play it again.

“Get Higher” is a fairly straight-ahead rock song, with a good driving beat, some effective guitar work, and a ton of energy. It’s not what I normally listen to, but when I put it on, I can’t help but want to turn this one up and dance around my apartment. “I’m getting higher/I’m going to set this house on fire.” It has that special youthful force that has always been associated with rock and roll.

It’s followed by “White,” and I actually think this is a better song. It’s certainly a more interesting tune, with a good lyrics like, “Lost in your eyes, your big blue eyes/They can paint a sky/Don’t be so scared to be yourself.” There is something really catchy about the vocal line to this tune, and it's the vocals that pull me in.

CD Track List
  1. Get Higher
  2. White
Palaye Royale is Remington Leith, Sebastian Danzig and Emerson Barrett. They are based in Las Vegas.

Get Higher was released on May 22, 2013.

Sunday, October 19, 2014

Ray Charles: “Genius Loves Company: 10th Anniversary Deluxe Edition” (2014) CD Review


If you like music, you like Ray Charles. There’s just no way around that. In June of 2004, this world lost one of its greatest singers and musicians. That summer also saw the release of his final studio album, Genius Loves Company, a CD of duets with some of music’s great talents. Now, to mark the tenth anniversary of that release, we are treated to a deluxe edition of the album, with a couple of bonus tracks, expanded liner notes and a DVD.

Norah Jones

Norah Jones’ voice begins this CD, as she takes the first verse of “Here We Go Again.” This song was released as a single and earned a much-deserved Grammy Award for Record Of The Year. It’s a wonderful duet, and a great rendition of a fantastic song, one which Ray Charles first recorded in 1967. Both Norah and Ray play keys on this track, and Billy Preston joins them on Hammond B3. I love the playful quality in Ray’s voice on the line “I’ve been there before, you know what, I’ll try it again.” And then they sound gorgeous together at the end.

James Taylor

It might seem like an odd combination – Ray Charles and James Taylor – but they do a surprisingly delightful take on Taylor’s own “Sweet Potato Pie.” This song has such a cheerful sound, and there is a horn section.

Diana Krall

One of my favorites is “You Don’t Know Me,” a gorgeous gem. Ray Charles has always owned this song, and here he does a sweet version with Diana Krall. Ray’s vocal performance here is absolutely perfect, and Diana’s voice works so well with Ray’s, making this track one of the CD’s highlights.

Natalie Cole

“Fever” is a song I always dig (except for Madonna’s awful version), and of course Ray Charles does it right. Natalie Cole is a great choice to join him on this tune. She has some fun responding to him late in the song (“Oh, it’s your story?” and “I'm listening”). And listen to the way Ray Charles sings “What a lovely way to burn” toward the end. Perfect! And the band backing them really grooves.

Willie Nelson

I’m a big fan of Willie Nelson’s work and his voice, but one of the odder duets is Ray and Willie Nelson’s take on “It Was A Very Good Year.” There are great orchestral swells, which seem strange with Willie Nelson’s vocal style. But it's a track that has definitely grown on me. Willie Nelson also appears on Friendship, Ray Charles’ 1984 album of duets (they do “Seven Spanish Angels”).

B.B. King

One of the highlights of this CD is the blues tracks, “Sinner’s Prayer,” which finds Ray Charles working with B.B. King. Billy Preston also appears on this track, playing the Hammond B3. This is some delicious and glorious blues, with some very cool playing by Ray Charles.

Van Morrison

The original album concludes with the only live track, a nice rendition of Van Morrison’s “Crazy Love,” sung with Van Morrison. This track was recorded on June 12, 2003 in New York.

Bonus Tracks

This 10th anniversary edition CD includes two bonus tracks. The first is “Mary Ann,” the only track actually written by Ray Charles to appear on this CD. On this version he performs with Poncho Sanchez on percussion. Dale Spalding provides some nice work on harmonica, helping to make this a really fun track.

The second is a version of “Unchain My Heart” performed by Take 6, an a cappella group. Ray Charles is actually not on this track.

DVD

The DVD contains the documentary The Making Of Genius Loves Company, which is just under an hour in length and includes interviews with many of the people involved in the project. It opens with Ray Charles saying, “If you can sing what’s in your heart and keep time, that’s it.” It includes some still photographs, but also lots of great footage of the production of the album. Each track is discussed, with a focus on certain songs (like “It Was A Very Good Year,” “Sorry Seems To Be The Hardest Word” and “Here We Go Again”). Norah Jones mentions that she chose “Here We Go Again,” and that she added her piano part after the rest of the instruments had been recorded. There is also some footage of Ray Charles talking about Norah Jones.

In addition to Norah Jones, there are interviews with Bonnie Raitt, Johnny Mathis, Willie Nelson, Michael McDonald, Elton John and Poncho Sanchez. There is some very cool footage of “Sinner’s Prayer” being recorded, and some footage of the performance of “Crazy Love” with Van Morrison. There are also interviews with John Burk (producer), Joe Adams (Ray Charles’ manager), Victor Vanacore (arranger, conductor), Phil Ramone (recording producer, engineer) and Al Schmitt (recording engineer). And there is a bit of footage from the Grammy Award ceremony.

CD Track List

  1. Here We Go Again
  2. Sweet Potato Pie
  3. You Don’t Know Me
  4. Sorry Seems To Be The Hardest Word
  5. Fever
  6. Do I Ever Cross Your Mind?
  7. It Was A Very Good Year
  8. Hey Girl
  9. Sinner’s Prayer
  10. Heaven Help Us All
  11. Over The Rainbow
  12. Crazy Love
  13. Mary Ann
  14. Unchain My Heart

Genius Loves Company: 10th Anniversary Deluxe Edition was released on September 30, 2014 through Concord  Music Group and Hear Music.

Tuesday, October 14, 2014

Madeleine Peyroux: “Keep Me In Your Heart For A While: The Best Of Madeleine Peyroux” (2014) CD Review


Madeleine Peyroux has such a distinct voice. Comparisons have been made to Billie Holiday, and those comparisons are apt, and are also interesting in relation to some of what is revealed in the liner notes to the new compilation of her work, Keep Me In Your Heart For A While: The Best Of Madeleine Peyroux. Yves Beauvais, who produced her first album, writes about how early on she was given a cassette of Billie Holiday material and asked to learn the songs. And learn them she did.

There is something relaxed and comfortable about her delivery, giving an intimate feel, like she doesn’t have to stretch to reach your ear, to reach you. Most of the tracks on Keep Me In Your Heart For A While are covers, including songs by Leonard Cohen, Warren Zevon, Bob Dylan and Randy Newman. The disc features one previously unreleased song, which gives this collection its title.

The CD opens with one of her original songs, a happy-sounding jazzy tune title “Don’t Wait Too Long,” co-written with Jesse Harris and Larry Klein. This is from her 2004 release, Careless Love. It’s a song about seizing moments and taking chances. And there is something so bright, so pleasant in the sound of this song, that you get the feeling everything will work out well if you do seize whatever opportunities come your way. “When your morning turns to night/Who’ll be loving you by candlelight/If you think that time will change your ways/Don’t wait too long.”

Bob Dylan

Madeleine Peyroux covers “You’re Gonna Make Me Lonesome When You Go,” one of my favorite Bob Dylan songs. There are two lines in this song that always make me smile: “I could stay with you forever and never realize the time” and “You’re going to make me give myself a good talking to.” There is something a little odd about a serious, jazz vocal delivery of those lines, and the song in general. It certainly gives the song a very different feel. I’m not sure if it quite works as well as the original, but I enjoy this rendition nonetheless.

She does an excellent rendition of Elliott Smith’s “Between The Bars,” sounding almost like a strange sort of adult lullaby. There is a delicious, late-night haunting quality to this track. It’s followed by “(Getting Some) Fun Out Of Life,” a playful, delightful track with an absolutely excellent lead spot by Cyrus Chestnut on piano. I also really like Steve Kirby’s work on bass. This is a song that was recorded by Billie Holiday, written by Joe Burke and Edgar Leslie. There is a joy in Madeleine’s vocals, and in the overall sound of this track.

Leonard Cohen

Madeleine Peyroux covers “Dance Me To The End Of Love,” the song that Leonard Cohen opens his concerts with, a fantastic song from Various Positions (one of my two favorite records). Madeleine gives it a cool, European vibe. And there is a brief instrumental section that conjures images of a gorgeous couple moving across a smoky dance floor, the rest of the world falling away.

She also covers “Half The Perfect World,” a song written by Leonard Cohen and Anjani Thomas. Her rendition features a really nice lead spot by Gary Foster on alto saxophone. She does change the perspective of the song, singing “Every night he’d come to me/I’d cook for him, I’d pour his tea/I was in my thirties then” instead of the original “Every night she’d come to me/I’d cook for her, I’d pour her tea/She was in her thirties then.” (The original version of this song is on Anjani’s Blue Alert.)

“Smile” is one of my favorite tracks. It has a relaxed groove, with ukulele and trumpet. And Madeleine’s delivery is comforting, like a sweet gift to the listener. “That’s the time you must keep on trying/Smile, what’s the use of crying/You’ll find that life is still worthwhile/If you’d just smile.” “Smile” was written by Charlie Chaplin and Geoff Parsons.

Warren Zevon

Madeleine does a couple of Warren Zevon tunes, including a gorgeous, slow rendition of “Desperadoes Under The Eaves,” complete with strings as in the original. This is the extended version, which was originally included on the deluxe edition of The Blue Room. The lines of this song that strike me every time I listen are “And if California slides into the ocean/Like the mystics and statistics say it will/I predict this motel will be standing ‘til I pay my bill.”

The second Warren Zevon song is “Keep Me In Your Heart,” which Zevon co-wrote with Jorge Calderon. This CD, which takes its title from this song, marks the first time this recording has been issued. It was used in the film Union Square. It’s a really sweet, pretty recording of one of Zevon's best and saddest songs.

“The Kind You Can’t Afford” is a song Madeleine Peyroux co-wrote with Bill Wyman. It has a kind of sly, bluesy edge right from the start, which comes as a surprise, and there are nice, kind of comical touches on electric guitar. Meshell Ndegeocello plays bass on this track. “You got art collections/I got comic books/You use plastic surgery/I stay the way I look.”

CD Track List

  1. Don’t Wait Too Long
  2. You’re Gonna Make Me Lonesome When You Go
  3. Between The Bars
  4. (Getting Some) Fun Out Of Life
  5. Dance Me To The End Of Love
  6. Smile
  7. La Vie En Rose
  8. Half The Perfect World
  9. Guilty
  10. I’m All Right
  11. Desperadoes Under The Eaves (Extended Version)
  12. The Kind You Can’t Afford
  13. Instead
  14. Keep Me In Your Heart
  15. This Is Heaven To Me 

Keep Me In Your Heart For A While: The Best Of Madeleine Peyroux was released on October 14, 2014 through Rounder and Concord Music Group.

Monday, October 13, 2014

Barbara Lynn: “The Complete Atlantic Recordings” (2014) CD Review


Barbara Lynn’s The Complete Atlantic Recordings is an excellent collection of soul tracks from the late 1960s and early 1970s. In addition to having a damn good voice, Barbara Lynn Ozen is an accomplished songwriter, and there are several original tracks here. There are also some nice choices of covers, like an excellent rendition of Clarence Carter’s “She Ain’t Gonna Do Right,” here titled “He Ain’t Gonna Do Right.” And several songs were written by Cliff Thomas, Bob McRee and Ed Thomas, who arranged her album. To my ear, most of the best tracks are the ones Barbara Lynn wrote herself. But basically all the songs here are really good (the exception for me being “Mix It Up, Baby,” which is one of those songs that lists all the popular dances, with lines like “Do the skate/And do the funky Broadway” and so on).

The Complete Atlantic Recordings opens with “This Is The Thanks I Get,” a groovy original composition that begins quietly, almost sweetly, with the line “I heard that you’re going to leave me.” But then what she’s saying really hits her, and the power behind her vocals increases as she makes her case: “I worked my fingers down to the bone/To try to make you a happy home/So now you’re leaving me/This is the thanks I get, baby.” She can no longer keep her emotions in check. It was released as a single, reaching #39 on the R&B chart.

The flip side to the single is an oddly intense track titled “Ring Telephone Ring.” There is a kind of sexy heartache in her voice, which strangely at a couple of key moments reminds me of Janis Joplin (not so much in the actual voice, but in the emotion, in the feelings behind the voice), like on the lines “Why won’t he call/He could be out having a ball.”

“You’ll Lose A Good Thing” was a big hit for Barbara Lynn in 1962. She recorded this newer version for inclusion on her sole LP for Atlantic. It’s a wonderful tune, with that classic R&B vibe. Her vocals are so bloody good on this song, which she wrote. By the way, the original version was included on the soundtrack for John Waters’ film Hairspray.

There is something absolutely delightful about “Only You Know How To Love Me.” I think mainly it’s those little touches on horn, but this song also has a nice rhythm and some sweet backing vocals. This one was written by Cliff Thomas, Bob McRee and Ed Thomas.

“Until Then, I’ll Suffer” is such a great slower number, with gorgeous vocals. And I believe her when she repeats, “Until then I’ll suffer.” I believe everything she sings, as there is something so honest, so genuine in her delivery. “But one thing I can say, I’ve been good woman/I’ve done everything for you.” Barbara Lynn wrote this one. It was included on her 1968 record, and then released as a single in 1971, reaching #31 on the R&B chart. This is one of my favorite tracks.

Another of my favorites is “Sufferin’ City.” It has a great vibe, and a strong vocal performance by Barbara Lynn. “Can you find it in your heart to show a little pity/And help me get away from this sufferin’ city/I’m tired of being stepped on, pushed round and scorned/My heart is broken and my pride is torn.”

“Unloved, Unwanted Me” is another strong track in which she opens her heart to a man who doesn’t love her in return. She hopes one day to be over it: “So I’ll just go on my way/And tell my heart I tried/And baby, maybe someday/I can take it all in stride/Tears roll down my face/ I can hear my poor heart say/Unloved, unwanted by you.”

“You’re Gonna See A Lot More (Of My Leaving)” is a highlight of this collection. I love her vocal performance, as she tells her man, “And your good times, your good time days are numbered/And it’s shaky ground you’re standing on/You’re gonna see a lot more of me leaving/And a whole lot less of me coming back home.” She does so much with this song, and all of it rings so true. This is a delicious recording, with a really nice ending.

The collection’s previously unreleased track is a cover of “Soul Deep,” a song that was a hit for The Box Tops in 1969. Actually, it’s possible – as this disc’s liner notes point out – that Barbara Lynn’s recording is the original version of this song, which was written by Wayne Thompson. Either way, it’s a really good rendition.

“You Better Quit It” is a seriously cool tune with a good energy and the right amount of attitude. Oh yes, this is not a woman who will be pushed around. “You can’t love me and other girls too/That kind of arrangement just won’t do/You better quit it, baby, before you push me too far.” This song was written by Cliff Thomas, Bob McRee and Ed Thomas.

“You Make Me So Hot” is a very groovy, sexy song, with some nice work on horns. It was written by Barbara Lynn, and released as a single in 1973. “There's a her for every sir/And a sister for every mister/There's a he for every she/And baby, you're for me.”

CD Track List

  1. This Is The Thanks I Get
  2. Ring Telephone Ring
  3. You’ll Lose A Good Thing
  4. Take Your Love And Run
  5. Maybe We Can Slip Away
  6. Sure Is Worth It
  7. Only You Know How To Love Me
  8. Until Then, I’ll Suffer
  9. You’re Losing Me
  10. Sufferin’ City
  11. Multiplying Pain
  12. Why Can’t You Love Me
  13. Mix It Up Baby
  14. He Ain’t Gonna Do Right
  15. Love Ain’t Never Hurt Nobody
  16. People Like Me
  17. Unloved, Unwanted Me
  18. You’re Gonna See A Lot More (Of My Leaving)
  19. Soul Deep
  20. You Better Quit It
  21. Nice And Easy
  22. I’m A One Man Woman
  23. (Daddy Hot Stuff) You’re Too Hot To Hold
  24. You Make Me So Hot
  25. It Ain’t Good To Be Too Good 

The Complete Atlantic Recordings was released on September 30, 2014 through Real Gone Music.

Sunday, October 12, 2014

Stories: “Stories Untold: The Very Best Of Stories” (2014) CD Review


Stories Untold: The Very Best Of Stories is the first compilation of music by Stories, and is an interesting mix of rock, pop and prog rock (like “Please, Please,” for example, which reminds me a good deal of Rush at times). This is an unusual compilation, for not all the tracks here are attributed to the band in question. In fact, the first couple of tracks are really Left Banke songs, though released under singer Steve Martin’s name. And the final several are from Ian Lloyd solo albums. It really shows the evolution of these songwriters and musicians over a specific and relatively short period of time, and so isn’t simply a “best of” compilation. But of course it contains the band’s big hit, “Brother Louie.”

Stories Untold opens with “Love Songs In The Night,” one side of a single released in 1971 by members of The Left Banke. It’s kind of a catchy tune with an interesting vocal delivery by singer Steve Martin. “Two By Two (I’m Losing You),” the other side of that single, is a good song that seems to owe something to the late 1960s folk groups in the way the vocals are tackled in the verses. But it is the sound of the chorus that I particularly like in this track.

There is a light, breezy feel to “I’m Coming Home,” the first song of the compilation actually attributed to Stories. I love the totally delightful sound of the keys on this track. And there is clearly a Beatles influence in the vocal approach (particularly Paul McCartney). Released as a single in 1972, the band’s first single, this song reached #42 on the Billboard Hot 100.

Another very playful and fun tune is the fast-paced instrumental “Circles,” composed by Michael Brown and released under his name, not as a Stories single. This is actually one of my favorite tracks, and it makes me smile every time I listen to this CD. “Darling” is also a really good tune. The version presented here is the single version, released in 1973. It didn’t do all that well, but is a catchy song written by Michael Brown and Ian Lloyd.

“Brother Louie” is the song the band is really known for. It’s their big hit, reaching #1 on the Billboard Hot 100. Interestingly, it’s the first song of the compilation not written by Michael Brown or Ian Lloyd. It’s a cover, written by Errol Brown and Tony Wilson, and originally recorded by Hot Chocolate. The song has a nice dance rhythm, a good message, and memorable vocals.

“Stories Untold,” the song that gives this compilation its title, is an interesting tune written by Ian Lloyd. I particularly like its instrumental section.

A song I can’t help but love is the happy, cheerful “If It Feels Good, Do It.” It has a simple, but positive message about following one’s own counsel, one’s own feelings. “Let your senses be your guide/Forget about the rules/If it feels good, do it/Do it if it’s what you feel.” Plus, it’s a fun song, reminding me a bit of Sweet.

Interestingly, that is followed by a song about a bisexual man confessing to his girl that he’s got another lover. Titled “Another Love,” it features lines like “But girl, I think it’s time you knew where I go when I leave you.” He assures her that his love for her is just as strong, telling her “You’re the only woman for me.” Written by Bobby Flax and Lanny Lambert, this song was released as a single in 1974.

“Slip Away” is a fun song written by Ric Ocasek, with a bit of a new wave feel and a bouncy vibe. Released as a single by Ian Lloyd, this song reached #50 on the chart.

I was nine years old when the first couple of Joan Jett records came out, and I couldn’t get enough of them. A lot of those tracks were covers, and she did a great job with them. At the time, I had no idea who Gary Glitter was, but I loved “Do You Wanna Touch Me (Oh Yeah).” The same year that Joan Jett included that song on her first album (soon re-released as Bad Reputation), Ian Lloyd released his own version of the song on an LP and as a single. It’s a good rendition, fairly similar to Joan Jett’s take, and it’s this track that closes this compilation.

CD Track List

  1. Love Songs In The Night
  2. Two By Two (I’m Losing You)
  3. I’m Coming Home
  4. Take Cover
  5. Circles
  6. Darling
  7. Love Is In Motion
  8. Please, Please
  9. Brother Louie
  10. Mammy Blue
  11. Bridges
  12. Stories Untold
  13. Earthbound/Freefall
  14. If It Feels Good, Do It
  15. Another Love
  16. She Broke Your Heart
  17. Slip Away
  18. Love Stealer
  19. Do You Wanna Touch Me (Oh Yeah) 

Stories Untold: The Very Best Of Stories was released on September 30, 2014 through Real Gone Music.

Saturday, October 11, 2014

Faith Hope & Charity: “Life Goes On (Expanded Edition)” (2014) CD Review

Faith Hope & Charity’s second record for RCA, Life Goes On, originally released in 1976, finally sees an official CD release, thanks to Real Gone Music. This expanded edition includes four bonus tracks. With only thirteen tracks, you might be surprised to find that this disc contains more than 76 minutes of music. But this was the era of disco, and some of these songs were made for dancing, particularly the bonus tracks.

These songs contain a lot of positive, fun vibes. Check out “Just Wanted To Say I Love You,” for example, the chorus of which has a gloriously, unabashedly happy vibe which I can’t help but love. The album has an odd flow, often returning to its title track. Most of the songs were written by Van McCoy, who also produced and arranged the record. He’s probably best known for “The Hustle,” but he also wrote tunes for Jackie Wilson and Gladys Knight And The Pips, among others. The trio of Brenda Hilliard, Albert Bailey and Diane Destry surrounded themselves with some excellent musicians for Life Goes On, including Hugh McCracken on guitar and harmonica, and Steve Gadd on drums. This expanded edition includes liner notes by David Nathan.

“Life Goes On”

The album’s title track opens with strings creating a pleasant, magical sense, then settles into a good, slow soul groove, with the title being the only line sung. Then suddenly a disco beat comes in, and the song has a very bright, happy mid-1970s feel, with lines like “Don’t you know that life goes on/The sun keeps shining/Every cloud does have a silver lining.” I love the way the energy builds toward the end.

The bonus tracks include the 12” version, which is actually shorter, cutting that orchestral intro and beginning with the disco beat. It also has a cool percussion section.

“Gradually”

“Gradually” features a good rhythm, including some cool work on bass by Gordon Edwards and of course some nice stuff by Steve Gadd on drums. The song has a very full sound, with strings and all. It was co-written by Van McCoy and Charles H. Kipps, Jr. Here is a taste of the lyrics: “I always thought I was strong/But then you came along/And I gave you my heart for a song/And before I knew it, love got the best of me/But it happened so gradually.” Interestingly, at the end the group returns to the opening of “Life Goes On.”

The bonus tracks include the extended 12” version, which opens with percussion, and then toward the end has an excellent section of vocals and percussion, with the vocals slowly fading as the rhythm takes prominence. I actually prefer this version. “Oh, and I know I’ll stop hurting/Though I know it’s going to be ever so gradually.”

“I Want A Man”

The slower “I Want A Man” really focuses on the excellent vocals of Brenda Hilliard, and because of that is one of my personal favorites. Listen to her on lines like “I want a man who loves with a gentle touch/Because to a woman, yeah yeah yeah, tenderness means so much/And when I find him, I’ll never let him go.” It’s a powerful performance. The backing vocals are also delightful. Zulema Cusseaux (an original member of the group) provides backing vocals on this track. After the song fades out, there is just a few seconds of “Life Goes On.”

“Positive Thinking”

Things are much more firmly in the disco realm with “Positive Thinking,” and as you might guess, this one is full of positive vibes. “Positive thinking, that’s the key to making dreams come true/So try a little positive thinking/It worked for me, and it can work for you.” This one really has smooth backing vocals, plus such a ridiculously optimistic message that you’d feel like a jerk for disliking the song.

The bonus tracks include the extended 12” version. I dig the bass in the groovy instrumental section.

“You’re My Peace Of Mind”

Some cool, bright work on harmonica by Hugh McCracken kicks off the happy dance song, “You’re My Peace Of Mind.” “You’re my peace of mind/That's what you are to me/Baby, you’re my sanity.” This one is a lot of fun, with some great energy to the vocals, and more delicious work on harmonica later in the tune. This is definitely one of the album’s highlights. Add this track to the playlist for your next dance party.

Or, better yet, add the 12” version, which is included in the bonus tracks. It is nearly ten minutes long, with a seriously cool extended percussion section, leading to a groovy full-band instrumental section, a highlight of this CD.

“Cherish/Monday, Monday”

The group does an odd disco medley of “Cherish” and “Monday, Monday.” I like what they do vocally on “Cherish,” which works in this dance realm. The vocals sound good on “Monday, Monday” as well, but I’m just not sure how I feel about a dance version of this song. Something in me is fighting it, bristling against the very idea of it.

The only track I don’t care for is the patriotic dance number, “A Time For Celebration,” with lines like “Show the pride that you feel in the nation/Raise up your flag with elevation” and “Now we’re number one.” Ugh. It even includes touches of “America (My Country ‘Tis Of Thee)” and “America The Beautiful.” It’s an awful song. Fortunately, it’s one of the shorter tracks, at less than four minutes.

CD Track List
  1. Life Goes On
  2. Gradually
  3. I Want A Man
  4. Positive Thinking
  5. You’re My Peace Of Mind
  6. Cherish/Monday, Monday
  7. You’ve Gotta Tell Her
  8. Just Wanted To Say I Love You
  9. A Time For Celebration
  10. Life Goes On (12” version)
  11. You’re My Peace Of Mind (12” version)
  12. Gradually (12” version)
  13. Positive Thinking (12” version) 
Life Goes on (Expanded Edition) was released on September 30, 2014 through Real Gone Music.

Wednesday, October 8, 2014

Honey County at The Federal Bar, 10-5-14



Sunday morning I went to see James McMurtry perform at The Federal Bar in North Hollywood. This was part of the Mimosa Music Series, hosted by Gary Calamar (who will be performing with his own band this coming Sunday). I arrived quite early. In fact, the venue wasn’t really open for business yet as I took my seat up front. Honey County, the opening band, was setting up for its sound check. The first thing I noticed was the banjo case, so I was immediately interested. And when they sang, I was drawn in. Their harmonies are beautiful. They checked two songs – “A Little More Friday Night” and “Looking Around For You” – and afterwards introduced themselves to me. I told them, “I’m looking forward to seeing your set.” “You just saw it,” Danni joked.

They took the stage at 11:45 a.m., and did a seven-song set, including “Blood From A Stone,” a song featured in the television series True Blood. My favorite is probably “Looking Around For You,” partly because it features Molly on banjo, and partly because of the way that Danni and Whitney trade off on lead vocals, then blend beautifully on certain sections. “And I want to fall so badly/But baby, if he only knew/I keep looking around for you.” Honey County is Danni Rosner, Whitney Fenimore and Molly Miller. I’m looking forward to their first CD release.

Here are a few photos from their set: