Blue Rodeo – 1000 Arms
Here’s the problem with Blue Rodeo, it’s their catalogue of great music from the previous 15 studio albums, a Greatest Hits package and “Live” recordings over 30 years. 1000 Arms is the first collection of new music since 2013’s In Our Nature; in between there was the Christmas release A Merrie Christmas to You and their 3rd Live Lp recorded at Massey Hall. Oh yeah, there a single released during the 2015 federal election which caused me to (temporarily) hold a personal protest of Blue Rodeo music.
1000 Arms stands so well on its own, however with the catalogue of material that the band is competing with, many of these songs will go unheard live. I’d like to see Blue Rodeo tour and unapologetically not play anything from before 2000. The set list would be just as vibrant and eclectic.
1000 Arms should be a great addition to cottage porches, patios and car rides this summer.
Standout tracks: Superstar, Long Hard Life, 1000 Arms and So Hard to See.
Michelle Branch – Hopeless Romantic
From the opening refrain of ‘Best You Ever’ Hopeless Romantic signals the return of Michelle Branch. Her song writing remains the same, but has matured. The stronger songs are a result of years of collaborations while trying to come up with material her record company would stand behind. It should be no surprise that she has stepped up her game by sitting in and composing with some of the best in LA, Nashville and London.
With less acoustic guitar work, her sound has filled out and her vocals reflect the sensitivity of the material filled with the fragile emotion of a break up, ‘Fault Line’ is a great example of this. However when she breaks out the acoustic it is solid, ‘Knock Yourself Out’ is not out of place on this 14 track set.
It is so good to have a first rate female singer-songwriter of Branch’s caliber with new material. Hopeless Romantic has been in rotation on my iPod since April 7th and likely will be there for the summer.
Standout tracks: Fault Line, Knock Yourself Out, Hopeless Romantic and Heartbreak Now
Ryan Adams – Prisoner
This one is for the long haul; it’s been playing since February of this year. New Lp’s from other artists have tried to squeeze it out, but none have succeeded.
Prisoner follows the release of a complete remake song by song of Taylor Swift’s 1989. Creatively, Prisoner is Adams’ most complete work of music on one disc since his work with The Cardinals. Like Michelle Branch’s Hopeless Romantic, the music here reflects his divorce, health and disillusion of the music business.
Through a renewed interest in music, via his own label PAX-AM, Prisoner has the hooks of what Bryan Adams would have recorded at his career zenith (you need to hear his version of ‘Summer of 69’ to get this connection), the thoughtfulness of Dylan and good American rock of Tom Petty. His swings from rock, to country folk and back are so easy to listen to – his voice lends to being able to commit to any style wants. His musicianship shines throughout this disc, he loves his guitars and different sounds he gets from the many he owns. It brings diversity not on many discs.
It will be a sad day when I pull this entire disc off the iPod, trying to find individual tracks to act as a highlight of Prisoner will be difficult.
Standout racks: Do you still love me, Prisoner, Doomsday, Outbound Train
Linda Carone – Black Moonlight
What may seem like the odd duck in these four discs is really not, Black Moonlight is just really good music performed by very good vocalist. Linda Carone is a Toronto Jazz pianist-vocalist. She is self-described as a vintage jazz and blues singer. While Black Moonlight is her debut disc, but by no means has she just popped up. Linda can be found often on the jazz circuit in Toronto.
The choice of songs is just as important as her voice. In the tradition of Diana Krall and Harry Connick Jr., Carone has chosen well and clearly played these songs live enough to be able to ‘own’ them. So, when listening to Black Moonlight, close your eyes and just try to image you are not in a club – it will be impossible.
With a sultry and velvety voice Black Moonlight going to be perfect on our balcony this summer with the candles, balcony lights and a glass of wine after the sun has sent.
Standout Tracks: Black Moonlight, Guilty, Under the Spell of the Blues, Livin my Way of Life
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