Review: Three Day Weekend CD Reviews!
I can’t remember a Memorial Day when there have been so many good albums out – or at least, albums that I like. OK then: albums that are fairly universally acclaimed. How’s that? Anyway, let’s go through a handful of new ones then at the end of this post I’ll recap the best albums released so far this year.
Anders Osborne is a transplant from Sweden who settled in New Orleans in 1985 and since then has released albums of increasing quality. American Patchwork, his first record for venerated blues label Alligator Records, is a sensational collection of tuneful blues/rock with heaping helpings of Osborne’s sizzling guitar work. Osborne has a soulful voice and it’s showcased to perfection on “Echoes Of My Sins” and “Acapulco.” You get some rockin’ guitar on “On The Road To Charlie Parker” and so on – this album is a powerful statement of purpose that can be a great starting point for Anders Osborne. His backing band is sharp – Galactic’s Stanton Moore is the drummer and producer – and Osborne’s songs are an apt metaphor for his reborn adopted home city. I love this album, and upon first listen I think you will too.
YouTube: Anders Osborne doing a live in-store at New Orleans’ Louisiana Music Factory
Jam warriors Widespread Panic have released their 11th album, Dirty Side Down, and I must admit I wasn’t as impressed with this one as I have been with some of their other albums. You only get to hear this band’s jam chops when they’re live – the studio albums contain songs that will allow the musicians to stretch out in person. The album opener “Saint Ex” sounds like what would have been considered retro in the 1990s but “North” is a fairly decent rock howler. The band goes all mellow with “This Cruel Thing” (written by the late Vic Chesnutt) then gets almost pop-rock with the fine guitar solos in “True To My Nature.” There are nice moments, but Dirty Side Down is just a little too spotty to be a keeper.
Singin’ surfer dude Jack Johnson is a big favorite of my college-age daughter, and listening to his newest To The Sea I can understand why. Johnson’s songs are simple, acoustic-driven love songs that have a strategic splash of tasteful rock guitar and drums in just the right places. I would hesitate to call this music “slick” because it’s well-played, well-sung and pretty darned ingratiating – you wish the songwriting was a bit sharper but you cannot help but like this shaggy dog of a record. And he gets bonus points in my book for donating 100 percent of the proceeds from his upcoming U.S. tour to charity. Face it, Jack Johnson is this generation’s Beach Boys.
OK, as promised, my playlist of great albums you can (and should) buy right now:
- Midnight Souvenirs – Peter Wolf
- Brothers – Black Keys
- American Patchwork – Anders Osborne
- On Approach – Everest
- Thank You Mr. Churchill – Peter Frampton
- Tears, Lies and Alibis – Shelby Lynne
- I Am What I Am – Merle Haggard
- Country Music – Willie Nelson
- True Love Cast Out All Evil – Roky Erickson & Okkervil River
- Women + Country – Jakob Dylan
And if you’re throwing a party or a barbecue this weekend, don’t forget the rock and roll rampage of Slash followed by the smooth chaser of Jack Johnson’s To The Sea or the live Jackson Browne/David Lindley Love Is Strange. Happy Memorial Day! See you next Tuesday.