Tag Archives: Michelle Branch

My Best of 2017: Music

The end is coming, the end of 2017.   With it comes the best of what I have come across in 2017; the best of book; the best of my blog posts and today the best of music I have listened to.  What follows are some of the best discs of the year, according to my ears.

Michelle Branch – Hopeless Romantic

Hopeless RomanticThis is my album of the year!

From the opening refrain of ‘Best You Ever’ Hopeless Romantic signals the return of Michelle Branch. Her song writing 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.

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.

It was so good when it came out in April; Hopeless Romantic has not diminished at all in the past year. What was a summer album; Hopeless Romantic is a permanent go to for a good listen.

You can read my post on the return of Michelle Branch here: The Return of Michelle Branch

Beatles – Sgt. Peppers Lonely Hearts Club Band

IMG_20170601_1205497Okay, so it’s not new but it is still relevant. The 50th Anniversary of the Sgt. Pepper was like the return of an old friend. We all know the music, but the re-issue brought back the lore and history and my love of not only this Lp, but the entire Beatles catalogue (something that still baffles Liz).

George Martin oversaw the original and the 25th Anniversary remixes, for #SgtPepper50, Martin’s son Giles was in charge of the mixes, which produced a new stereo mix from the original mono masters. I still have yet to take the shrink-wrap off the double vinyl package, though I have heard that as good as the new mixes sound on CD, the vinyl is even better. It may only be a matter of time before the wrap comes off and I get see all the extras that first appeared in June 1967.

My post on #SgtPepper50 is here: Sgt Pepper at 50

Ryan Adams – Prisoner

Ryan Adams PrisonerPrisoner 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. For whatever reason, Adams’ creativity and energy towards his music has been incredible. Prisoner captures that energy as has the tour he embarked on through 2017.

Prisoner swings from rock, to country folk and back, 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’s not too late to catch on to Prisoner and a masterpiece from Ryan Adams.

Lindsey Buckingham & Christine McVie – Buckingham/McVie

BuckinghamWhat drove the musical dynasty that propelled Fleetwood Mac in the ‘70’s, still has a presence 40 years later. Lindsey Buckingham and Christine McVie put together a good collection of songs, contributing their own and collaborating on other songs.

Fleetwood Mac fans; this is a something for you. It can be called, though it wasn’t, a reunion album for the band with everyone from “the Mac” performing with the exception of Stevie Nicks. Listening to this album took me back to 1975’s Fleetwood Mac Lp, the beginning of a good run of discs.

Ruth B – Safe Haven

Safe HavenIt took me forever to learn that it was Ruth B behind the song ‘Lost Boy’, only after seeing her perform the song at the Juno Awards did it click just how good the song was. On that performance I went and purchased the EP “the Intro”, then “Safe Haven came out. Ruth B has an amazing voice and just might be the soul/r&b singer that Canada has been waiting for. In fact the comparisons to Alicia Keys are very much warranted.

Through Safe Haven, Ruth B surprises and presents a sound that may have been in the works for years. It is a maturity that could be equal to, yes – Alicia Keys. With key tracks like ‘Dandelions’, ‘World war 3’, ‘First Love’ and ‘Superficial Love’ make Safe Haven a Summer Album for me.

Ed Sheeran – Divide

DivideAlong with Michelle Branch, Divide has been playing all year for me. It is refreshing to hear this modern troubadour consistently bring great music. Divide is a gift that keeps on giving hit singles. Divide started with ‘Shape of you’, ‘Castle on the Hill’, ‘Galway Girl’ and now a Christmas Number 1 on Billboard this week with the wonderful ‘Perfect’. Haven’t caught on to Divide? It’s not too late.

 

Up Next: My Best of 2017 Blog Posts

Thank you for reading this post; to catch all my posts and be notified as new ones come up please follow me on WordPress. I can be found Twitter @robertdekker, @rdmediaottawa and on Facebook at http://tiny.cc/n5l97. I can be reached at rdmedia@bell.net

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What’s Shufflin’ on my iPod

 

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


 

Thank you for reading this post; to catch all my posts and be notified as new ones come up please follow me on WordPress. You can also see me on www.redheartbluelife.wordpress.com where I am celebrating #Canada150 with a daily post of an event celebrating our sesquicentennial in Canada.

I can be found Twitter @robertdekker, @rdmediaottawa and on Facebook at http://tiny.cc/n5l97. I can be reached at rdmedia@bell.net.

Where are you now: The return of Michelle Branch

Hopeless Romantic

There are not many artists that I keep watching for, for the release of new music. From the 60’s I always have an interest in what Paul McCartney is putting out or if there is something new coming from the vaults of Abbey Road and EMI Studios with the Beatles, the face of the 70’s will always be Elton John and I’ll always have an eye and ear out for anything new he produces.

At the turn of the century there was a burst of new female singer-songwriters. Of the new breed hitting the charts, names like Vanessa Carleton, Avril Lavinge, Ashley Simpson all had opportunity to have long rewarding careers. In that mix is the new singers was Michelle Branch who release The Spirit Room spawned hits like “Everywhere”, “All You Wanted” and “Goodbye to You” The Spirit Room also had very strong inventory of album cuts. The Spirit Room was followed two years later in 2003 with Paper Hotel with hits like “Breathe” and “Are You Happy Now”. Like The Spirit Room, Hotel Paper was also stacked with great album tracks like “Where are you now” and “Find Your Way Back”.

And then that was pretty well it.

There was a collaboration that became The Wreckers’ Stand Still and Look Pretty in 2005 and an EP Everything Comes and Goes (2010) that got my hopes up for something new. New music almost came with the single “Loud Music” that was released before a full set called West Coast Music was due to be released but was ultimately shelved. I recall listening the webcast of a Q & A with Michelle that preceded the audio premiere playing of “Loud Music”. If not for online music services, that song would be buried along with the other 10-12 tracks that might have been part of that album.

The escapade that she went through with her record label has been recalled many times leading up to the new tapes coming out.

My excitement has peaked since a new collection of songs; Hopeless Romantic is set to come out April 7th.  Three songs have been pre-released; “The Best You Ever”, “Fault Line” and the title track. There is no chance now that we’ll have what happened to West Coast Music will take place with Hopeless Romantic and I could not be happier. This weekend I shuffled the three new tracks with her previous music. Not only did they stand up to The Spirit Room and Hotel Paper, they stood miles apart.

I do not think any musician would recommend waiting 14 years to release a full set of new music. In the case of Michelle Branch, working on new music for those years, a divorce and raising a daughter has given a whole new world for her capture in song. I don’t want to wait another 14 years for more from her, I might look silly as a 70 year old standing in line at the record shop to purchase it.

All I know is that April 7th, will be a great day! I will be sure to post a review Hopeless Romantic for #RedHeartBlueSign once I pry myself away from listening to the disc on repeat.

I am Happy Now

Thank you for reading this post; to catch all my posts and be notified as new ones come up please follow me on WordPress. You can also see me on www.redheartbluelife.wordpress.com where I am celebrating #Canada150 with a daily post of an event celebrating our sesquicentennial in Canada.

I can be found Twitter @robertdekker, @rdmediaottawa and on Facebook at http://tiny.cc/n5l97. I can be reached at rdmedia@bell.net.