Monday, December 20, 2010

Christine Dente: Voyage

Album/CD review

Christine Dente
and Out of the Grey: “Voyage”

(This appears to have been released December 2009, but I was only recently made aware of it through Facebook.)

Quick Spin:

Beautiful balladesque techno-pop (with big-piano and hints of jazz) by one of gospel music’s premier vocalists, anchored in an uncommon source…the poems and prayers of the Puritans. Christine penned these songs while interacting with the book “The Valley of Vision; A collection of Puritan Prayers and Devotions.” Dente’s verse is a blend of adaptation and direct quote.

I’ll develop this theme deeper down, but the source material for this album is what makes it utterly distinctive, truly ear-worthy, and even slightly ironic – in a good way.

Highly recommended. (I have already loaned my disk to coworkers.) Ends too soon.

(Sorry, couldn't find any better existing art.)

Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Kemper Crabb: Reliquarium

Kemper Crabb: Reliquarium Review

Quick Spin.  Ten "future hymns from an anchient world" as “messed with” by the marvel that is Sir Crabb and his band of merry friends. Think of your favorite medieval, period-instrument band. Then think of Radio head. Throw the two together. Whalla. (or something like that.)

Once a decade or so, the atoms in the universe conspire in such a way-- Or, God...who is working in and through the atoms that are in the minds that are in the universe, conspires with those atoms in such a way -- as to produce music of such extraordinary power, loveliness, and mystique, that one wonders how the universe should have survived without it.

About a week ago, I sent a Facebook message to Kemper Crabb in which I said that his newest release “Reliquarium” must be among the top ten albums in the history of the world. (And that was just my impression from the 30 second promo samples.) He replied “thanks for the hyperbole” or something of the sort. But I meant no hyperbole. Should I pack my suitcase with everything we’ll need at the end of the world to restart civilization, I will throw in -- along with Some Kind of Blue by Miles Davis, and Satellite Sky by Mark Heard -- a copy of Reliquarium. And while we might quibble about which other seven albums belong on that list, Reliquarium easily makes the top 10 Hymns albums in the history of the world. Really. It’s that good.

Friday, August 20, 2010

Audrey Assad: This House You are Building

Devotional pop, “rainy day” worship.
Sparrow Records. July 2010

Audrey Assad, The House You are Building.

Quick Spin:  this is something of an audio diary and Christian worship album (but not a corporate worship album) with a literary nod, by singer songwriter Audrey Assasd.  Sound ranges from polished pop (with some drop dead gorgeous melodic lines) to moments in the foggy meadow parlor (or something like that).  Overall, a little heavy on production for my ear, but the stuff that works is so beautiful that I push through the gloss to multiple moments of exquisite loveliness.

I picked this one up on a lark, with no sense whatsoever what I would hear or find. Special price and cover art pulled me in. I’m an easy sell when it comes to bookish looking girls with dweeb glasses, illumined by a nice North light. The package pretty much shouted - dangerous, minor chord, introverted poetry from a woman of striking intelligence.

And the verdict ...

Friday, July 30, 2010

Jesus' Blood never failed me yet: New-Old Find

Ps... I am working on this post.  It isn't finished yet.

Odd discovery: Jesus’ blood never failed me yet

I knew, when I heard the plaintive song of the "tramp" that I had heard this tune... these words before...But not these words, or in this setting.

Turns out, I was introduced to the song "Jesus' blood never failed me yet" by way of modern techno-pop band called Delerious - but that is kind of like finding the song "American Pie" by way of Madonna.  (A good take,  but I had to tell one of my daughters that the Madonna version, played on the radio a few years back, wasn't the original.)

From time to time I come across something that seems to be part of “art culture knowledge” about which I am totally clueless. Actually, all kinds of things fall in this category for me, as major portions of my life have been marked by almost Amish like distance from popular culture, and certainly from minimalistic choral or art-house film culture. 

Tuesday, April 27, 2010

Mo Leverett: Shards of Light

Mo Leverett: Shards of Light
(Hymns and Spiritual Songs – (Pirate Edition*)

I think this came out real late 2009.
Genre: Rogue Folk, at the intersection of Creole blues and the great Awakening.

Synopsis: Original and “Old-School” hymns, as sung by a poet-pirate. Lean production, mostly guitar and small ensemble. One of the finest “New-Hymn” collections ever created on the Face of the Earth.

Mo Leverett: Shards of Light (order)

Mo Leverett is one of those guys whose music you just have to know about – or you will never find. He doesn’t seem to show up in any kind of stores, or lists, or even reviews…..and he even dumped me on Facebook. (Truth is, he may have dumped everyone. For whatever reasons, I stopped seeing his post, then went to see if perhaps I had been relegated to Facebook purgatory, only to find that Mo doesn’t appear to be there right now. You can however, follow him through one of his ministry music outlets, or on a Facebook page. You can even read him on this defunct blog, or read a charming review of the process behind Shards of Light.

Tuesday, February 23, 2010

Joanna Newsom: Have One on Me.

It probably isn’t much of review to say: Read this review (Paste Magazine), but I am listening to the NPR temporary “free-listen” of Joanna Newsom's new release "Have One on Me" and am kind of blown away by her and the whole process. Who ever heard of harp-based grunge-hyper femme folk? Sure, it sounds like a kind of two hour mono-song experimental car sing*.. with chamber orchestra (the kind of stuff you sing when you are driving alone in your car.), but the textures, ad lib, audio dallies, and poetry are like the ramblings of wonder drunk faire. I wonder how much of it written down, and how much she is just singing as she goes?   I don't know much about her, or those things that push her heart, but am her newest fan.

Monday, February 15, 2010

Phil Keaggy/Randy Stonehill: Mystery Highway (Review)

Phil Keaggy/ Randy Stonehill, Mystery Highway
(or, Sunday’s Child Part 2)

(This came out in June 2009, but I just found it.)

Rowdy fun-loving Jesus rock, with heavy nods to the Beatles, Cream, rockabilly, Bob D, and the blues.

Warning: do not listen to this disk if you would avoid catchy galloping-guitar tunes playing the repeat cycle in your head. "Riding Backwards on her Bike" has cut a permanent groove between my ears and into my kid-like psychedelic soul.