Katie Glassman & Snapshot – Dream A Little Dream

When I first ran across Katie Glassman a couple of years ago (review here), I noted her album was exploring a lot of genres.  Her latest release, Dream A Little Dream, hit the streets earlier this week featuring her now-permanent band, Snapshot.  She’s taken a significant step forward as a recording artist with this project.  While still dipping into all kinds of music that touch jazz and country, there’s a cohesion to the album that keeps things flowing from one song to the next and lights up the overall effort.

Glassman is perhaps the queen of modern fiddle players, having won just about every fiddle playing championship west of the Mississippi worth winning.  With Snapshot, she’s surrounding herself with musicians of like skill and, perhaps more importantly, mindset.  It just seems the whole band is bent on cutting a new swathe down the western swing musical prairie.  The opening number, Liza Jane, sets the mood appropriately with piano, bass, and fiddle combining with Glassman’s vocals to take the piece to a place Bob Wills never even dreamed of reaching.  My Window Faces the South pursues this as well with some sweet accordion parts and guest Tim O’Brien on vocals.  In case you think a youngster doesn’t realize where their roots come from, there’s a super take on the Duke Ellington number, Jubilee Stomp.

Glassman’s vocals carry some of the other songs on the album, where the sound is a little more traditional.  I could totally hear Patsy Cline in Good Times Gone By, and Sweet Lies is a nice country ballad with just a touch of blues to color it.  Little Dream Of MIne is an accordion accented country waltz.  As you would expect, there are also a few instrumental pieces that showcase the musicianship of all the band members, including Rutland’s Reel and Pampas Envy.

Katie4paneldigipakwtrayDALD2 With spring finally just around the corner, it’s time to think about what’s going to be on your playlist for those first warm nights in the backyard.  You’d be hard pressed to find something more in line with that elevated mood than Dream A Little Dream.

The Twangville 2014 Release Preview, Boston Edition

This is shaping up to be a great year of music in Boston. All the albums below will be unleashed to the world in January and February. Here’s hoping the following ten months are just as fruitful.


Sarah Borges

RADIO SWEETHEART

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SARAH BORGES

If there’s such a thing as a rock star quality then Sarah Borges has got it. She has a way of commanding attention, cracking one-liners one minute and cutting loose with a rousing rock song the next minute. Radio Sweetheart, her first release since 2009, was produced by Steve Berlin (Los Lobos) and is filled with swagger, attitude and musical punch.

Borges will be celebrating the release with a special co-headlining show with Girls Guns and Glory at Sinclair in Cambridge, MA on 7 February. (Info and Tickets )


Susan Cattaneo

HAUNTED HEART

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SUSAN CATTANEO

(21 January)

Last month we had the pleasure of previewing the stinging “Lies Between Lovers,” an early favorite from Susan Cattaneo’s forthcoming release. Since then we’ve had time to dig into the full album to enjoy how the singer-songwriter displays a restrained confidence as she shifts effortlessly from country gems to pop standards.

Among the standouts are the trio of songs that take a scorned lover to task. In addition to the aforementioned track, these include the country blues “Worth the Whiskey” (“every time you feel the burn I hope you miss me, ‘cause I’m worth the whiskey”) and the beautiful ballad “Done Better” (“You said you did the best you could, you should have done better.”)


Sacred Shakers

LIVE

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THE SACRED SHAKERS

(21 January on Signature Sounds Recordings)

The Shakers are best described as more a collective than a band. Born out of an casual country hootenanny, the group performs old-time country gospel that is authentic and true. Anchored by the Eilen Jewell Band, the collective also includes members of the Tarbox Ramblers and talented friends like Greg Glassman, Daniel Fram and Eric Royer. If you’re hankering for something old school, and I mean truly old school, then the Sacred Shakers have got you covered.


The Curtis Mayflower

EVERYTHING BEAUTIFUL IS UNDER ATTACK

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THE CURTIS MAYFLOWER

(28 January)

What’s not to like about a band that draws its name from the late, great Curtis Mayfield? These guys do the master proud with a collection of songs that are dark, brooding and full of soul. They’ve been generating quite a bit of buzz and their debut release more than lives up to the hype.

The Curtis Mayflower will be celebrating their release at Beatnik’s in Worcester, MA on January 24th. (Info)


Girls Guns and Glory

GOOD LUCK

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GIRLS GUNS AND GLORY

(4 February on Lonesome Day Records)

Singer-songwriter Ward Hayden has the kind of voice that is made for honky-tonks. In that sense it shouldn’t come as a surprise that he and the band love to pull out Hank Williams songs in their live shows. For their latest release, the quartet traveled to Brooklyn to work with Eric “Roscoe” Ambel. The result is an album that brilliantly straddles the line between classic country and 1950’s rock and roll.

Girls Guns and Glory will be celebrating the release with a special co-headlining show with Sarah Borges at Sinclair in Cambridge, MA on 7 February. (Info and Tickets)


Amy Black

THIS IS HOME

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AMY BLACK

(4 February)

Black teased us last fall with a covers ep that she recorded at the legendary FAME Studios in Muscle Shoals, Alabama. It was the perfect prelude to her new full-length release. Black hits stride on This Is Home, injecting her songs with a healthy dose of gospel-tinged soul. The real power of the release comes from Black’s voice, which is as enchanting as ever.

Black will be celebrating the release at Johnny D’s in Somerville, MA on Friday February 7th (Info and Tickets) and Saturday February 8th (Info and Tickets).

Download Black’s Muscle Shoals ep for free here.


Lake Street Dive

BAD SELF PORTRAITS

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LAKE STREET DIVE

(18 February on Signature Sounds Recordings)

It doesn’t seem right to call Lake Street Dive a jazz group even though that is the cornerstone of their sound. Sure, singer Rachael Price’s silky voice and the band’s delicious grooves are undoubtedly the envy of many a jazz ensemble. Yet their music also incorporates folk and pop qualities. The results are mesmerizing.

Macy Blackman & The Mighty Fines – I Didn’t Want To Do It

Macy Blackman’s piano playing is a treat for those who enjoy swampy, down home boogie-woogie. His new album, I Didn’t Want To Do It, takes a page from Dr. John’s playbook, featuring spirited New Orleans style boogie-woogie piano – but without the trippier side of the Dr. John experience.

Macy Blackman

Originally from Wilmington, Delaware, Blackman did not have much exposure to the sounds of New Orleans. But in the mid-1970s, playing with drummer Charles “Hungry” Williams, Blackman was exposed to a new world of music that eventually led to an opportunity to meet and perform with Dr. John. Echoing piano legends like Fats Domino, Huey Smith and Dr. John, Blackman adopted a playing style that colors his music to this day.

Blackman lived in New York City until 2000, working as a performer, music instructor, and piano technician. He moved to the San Francisco Bay area to teach classes at the University of California Berkeley and also recharged his performing career. He recorded his first album with the Mighty Fines, 24 Hours a Day, in 2005.  Their second album, You Just Don’t Know It, was released in 2011.

I Didn’t Want To Do It contains no originals, but it is a strong collection of covers and traditional tunes that is bound to tease a smile from the most relentless curmudgeon.  Blackman’s own colorful vocals are complemented by the saucy lead vocals of Nancy Wright on several numbers.  The Mighty Fines feature Ken “Snakebite” Jacobs, a Hurricane Katrina refugee, and Wright on saxophones, as well as Bing Nathan on bass and Jack Dorsey and Adam Goodhue on drums.

 

 

 

 

 

Ali Holder – In Preparation For Saturn’s Return

I can’t say I ever thought about going to a smoky jazz lounge and hearing something twangy.  After listening to Ali Holder’s solo debut, In Preparation For Saturn’s Return, I can now picture that happening.  There are certainly artists fusing jazz and country or bluegrass.  See our coverage of Phoebe Hunt’s latest for an example, and oh by the way she plays violin on this record and contributes vocals to several songs.  But it’s Ms. Holder’s smoky voice that really pushes this into Village Vanguard or Green Mill Lounge territory.

Falling Up starts the disc with a Miles Davis-kind of cool number that just oozes hipness, not to mention some nice instrumental riffs including violin and trumpet.  I Saw A Wolf features some nice organ parts and a vocal duet with guitar Daniel Thomas Phipps.  Blood In the Basement is the darkest song on the album with Holder singing about “just trying to wrap my head around this thing we call love.”

For more of a twangy flavor I recommend Drinking Double.  With it’s steel guitar presence it has that cheating-heart feel that any Hank Williams fan will appreciate.  All With Your Help is a little funkier, but with some nice picking.  Mourning Dove picks up some Appalachian sounds and with a production value that comes across as having the band sitting around your living room, very nice.

Holder cover In Preparation For Saturn’s Return refers to an astrological event associated with one’s transition to adulthood and maturity.  It’s a nice milestone for a songwriter to celebrate with stories of what life has taught them.  Ali Holder shares some of her perspective, supported by a crack team of musicians, and turns the whole thing into a really enjoyable album.

Mayer’s Playlist for July and August 2013, Part 1

ALBUMS OF THE MONTH

American Ride, by Willie NileWillie Nile
Willie Nile is on a roll. After playing the major label game twice in his nearly 35-year career, Nile quietly self-released 1999’s outstanding Beautiful Wreck of the World. Since then he has delivered three more compelling albums filled with high energy rock songs and touching ballads. Well, he’s done it again with the American Ride, the latest addition to the Nile canon.

Nile writes a lot about what he knows: life in New York City. “Bleecker Street” sets vingettes from Nile’s Greenwich Village neighborhood against a bustling melody. “This is life on Bleecker Street where the tourists shuffle to a boom-box beat,” he sings, “old men sit and stare at their feet, this is life on Bleecker Street.”

Nile hits the road for the melancholy “American Ride,” a celebration of the rich beauty and history of the United States. While the song is ostensibly about a cross-country trip, the chorus is a gentle plea for companionship as Nile pleads, “ride with me baby come on.”

“If I Ever See the Light” and “She’s Got My Heart” are quintessential Nile. The former features verses that build to an anthemic chorus while the latter is a mature love song with a gentle sway. There’s just an infectious energy to his Nile and his music. It’s as if he is defying you to not break out into a grin and sing along.

The lone cover is a rousing take on Jim Carroll’s legendary “People Who Died.” As a rock and roll survivor with New York City street cred, Nile is among the few who can do the song justice. The song also serves as a showcase for his formidable band. These guys know how to rock, and they rock this one hard.

The tempo slows on the beautiful ballad “The Crossing.” Accompanied only by a piano with some light string flourishes, Nile reflects on the immigrant experience:

Sing we of our kin and kind
All those we have left behind
Ever in our hearts and minds
We who made the crossing.

It seems apropos that the opening track is titled “This is Our Time.” Keep on waving the rock and roll flag, Willie, ‘cause this is your time.


Audio Stream: Willie Nile, “American Ride”

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THE PLAYLIST


Elegy (In a Distant Room), Cold Satellite (from the Signature Sounds release Calvacade)
What happens when a poet Lisa Olstein joins forces with a folk singer Jeffrey Foucault? They make a killer rock album, of course. There are a couple of ballads in the mix however it’s the bruising guitar-driven rockers that caught my ear. The songs have a great road-worn feel to them, in fact they’re the perfect soundtrack for long drives down rural highways.

Audio Download: Cold Satellite, “Elegy (In a Distant Room)”

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When the Drugs Kick In, The Del-Lords (from the GB Music release Elvis Club)
After a 13(!) year hiatus, New York City’s Del-Lords went back into the studio and picked up right where they left off. This is an album filled with amp’d up guitars and pounding beats, weathered vocals and rebellious lyrics. What’s not to like? This is rock and roll the way it was meant to be played.


Audio Stream: The Del-Lords, “When the Drugs Kick In”

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Box I Take to Work, Mike Stinson (from the self-released Hell and Half of Georgia)
After 18 years in Southern California, singer-songwriter Stinson relocated to the musically inviting climate of Houston, Texas. Damn if it doesn’t suit him well. He reminds me of Steve Forbert both in voice and writing style. His songs are filled with colorful stories that will bring a smile to your face. Even the sad ones radiate humor and warmth.

I love this song that finds Stinson reflecting on a traveling musician’s tools of the trade. “I got a torn envelope that says band money,” he sings, “let me tell you that’s an oxymoron, honey.”

Audio Download: Mike Stinson, “Box I Take to Work”

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Dreamin’, The Please Please Me (from the self-released Shake a Little Harder)
This was one of those glorious random discoveries when I stopped by my local late one Saturday night a year or so ago. I gotta imagine it was tough for the band to be playing to a talkative club crowd far from their Austin home. Well, they earned at least one fan that night.

Singer Jessie Torrisi has a bit of edge that she channels through her earnest songwriting. Torrisi’s bandmates, percussionist Agustin Frederic and cellist Alissa McClure, add their touch to create a soundscape that has a compelling tension yet is immediately engaging.

Audio Download: The Please Please Me, “Dreamin’”

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Treme Second Line, Kermit Ruffins (from the Basin Street Records release We Partyin’ Traditional Style)
Ruffins has become something of a New Orleans institution, a musician whose regular weekly gigs across town always draw a fun-seeking crowd. And for good reason: Ruffins and his band know how to throw a party. As the album title suggests, his latest hearkens back to the classic era of jazz. Alongside covers of Louis Armstrong and others from the bygone era is Ruffins’ own rollicking “Treme Second Line.”

If you’ve been to New Orleans and haven’t seen Kermit, then you haven’t been to New Orleans.


Audio Stream: Kermit Ruffins, “Treme Second Line”

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Homesick Tributaries, Christopher Paul Stelling (from the self-released False Cities)

Armed with just his guitar, Stelling packs his songs with enough energy and intensity to be the envy of a full-on rock band. Of course, having said that, I picked a ballad for the playlist. Well, whether fast or slow, his songs have a depth that command attention.

Audio Download: Christopher Paul Stelling, “Homesick Tributaries”

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Mayberry, I Can Lick Any SOB in the House (from the self-released Mayberry)

How can one not like a band with a name like this? Even more so, how can one not like ‘em when they sing a rock song about Andy Griffith? Singer-songwriter laments a loss of innocence, telling the tale of a boy with an abusive father and a troubled life. “They don’t make men like Andy Griffith anymore, Mayberry is dead and gone.” If you like your Americana infused with Jack Daniels, then this is the band for you.

Audio Download: I Can Lick Any SOB in the House, “Mayberry”

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Like a California Wildfire, Deadstring Brothers (from the Bloodshot Records release Cannery Row)

Lead Deadstring Brother Kurt Marschke relocated from Detroit to Nashville and absorbed the Nashville influence into his music. His music still has the rough edges and freewheeling attitude of the band’s earlier work, but now has a more laid back country feel.

Audio Download: The Deadstring Brothers, “Like a California Wildfire”

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Ain’t Gonna Let the World, Dan Israel (from the self-released Live On)
The prolific Minneapolis singer-songwriter has unleashed the 12th release of his 22-year career. While many of the songs reflect on falling short despite the best of intentions, they are fortified with a delicate optimism. “I ain’t gonna let the world get me down… sayin’ no to the sorrow, no to the pain.”

Audio Download: Dan Israel, “Ain’t Gonna Let the World”

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