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Devendra Banhart

Vast Ovoid

    Devendra Banhart releases a four-song EP, Vast Ovoid, as a limited-edition 12” coloured vinyl 45. The EP features ‘Let’s See’, as well as Helado Negro’s remix of ‘Love Song’, and is a follow-up to Banhart’s latest studio album, Ma, which was released to critical acclaim in September 2019.

    "Banhart’s singular world remains as intoxicating as ever, as if all human life is here." – Q.

    FORMAT INFORMATION

    Ltd 12" Info: White 140 gram Vinyl.

    The Magnetic Fields

    Quickies

      Nonesuch Records releases the Magnetic Fields’ Quickies, a set of five vinyl EPs that features twenty-eight new short songs by Stephin Merritt, ranging in length from thirteen seconds to two minutes and thirty-five seconds. Quickies also will be available on CD.

      Merritt explains his thinking behind the Quickies concept: “I’ve been reading a lot of very short fiction, and I enjoyed writing 101 Two-Letter Words, the poetry book about the shortest words you can use in Scrabble. And I’ve been listening to a lot of French baroque harpsichord music. Harpsichord doesn’t lend itself to languor. So I’ve been thinking about one instrument at a time, playing for about a minute or so and then stopping, and I’ve been thinking of narratives that are only a few lines long. Also, I had been using a lot of small notebooks, so when I reach the bottom of the page, I’ve only gone a short way. Now that I’m working on a different album, I’m enforcing a large notebook rule so that I don’t do Quickies twice in a row.”

      Quickies features Merritt and other Magnetic Fields band members Sam Davol, Claudia Gonson, Shirley Simms, and John Woo. They are joined by longtime friends and collaborators Chris Ewen, Daniel Handler, and Pinky Weitzman.

      To date, Stephin Merritt has written and recorded twelve Magnetic Fields albums, including the beloved 69 Love Songs and the 2017 critically acclaimed Nonesuch box set, 50 Song Memoir, which chronicled the first fifty years of the songwriter’s life with one song per year. New York magazine called the box set ‘a celebration of Merritt’s sky-high range as a writer and a player, through the exploration of the circumstances that helped cultivate it … a delightful flip through the untold back pages of one of rock’s most singular voices, and, all in all, the best damned Magnetic Fields album in the last ten years.’ Merritt has also composed original music and lyrics for several music theatre pieces, including an off-Broadway stage musical of Neil Gaiman’s novel Coraline, for which he received an Obie Award. In 2014, Merritt composed songs and background music for the first musical episode of public radio’s This American Life. Stephin Merritt also releases albums under the band names the 6ths, the Gothic Archies, and Future Bible Heroes.


      FORMAT INFORMATION

      CD Info: Softpak with one disc.

      5x7" Box Set Info: Vinyl boxset with five 7” vinyl discs.

      Devendra Banhart

      Ma

        Devendra Banhart's new album, Ma, is due September 13, 2019, on Nonesuch Records. This is Banhart's first album since 2016's Ape in Pink Marble. Ma, bursting with tender, autobiographical vignettes, displays a shift from the sonic experimentation of his previous albums to an intricate, captivating story-telling and emotional intimacy. Banhart favors organic sounds to accompany his voice and guitar, the arrangements bolstered by strings, woodwinds, brass, and keyboards. 

        "Kantori Ongaku" translates from Japanese to "country music" and is a nod to experimental pop legend Haruomi Hosono, a founding member of the influential electronic band Yellow Magic Orchestra. The song's video features a full circle journey of vignettes that play on the dream-like quality of intimate activities. The video, colorfully directed by Giraffe Studios, also features guest cameos and a brief infomercial pleading for donations to the I Love Venezuela Foundation.

        David Byrne

        True Stories, A Film By David Byrne: The Complete Soundtrack

          In conjunction with The Criterion Collection’s special-edition DVD and Blu-ray release of David Byrne’s 1986 film True Stories, Nonesuch and Todomundo Records release a comprehensive soundtrack, collected for the first time in one package and in film sequence: True Stories, A Film by David Byrne: The Complete Soundtrack. David Byrne was inspired by tabloid headlines to make his sole foray into feature-film directing, an ode to the extraordinariness of ordinary American life and a distillation of what was in his own idiosyncratic mind. Byrne plays a visitor to Virgil, Texas, who introduces us to the citizens of the town during preparations for its Celebration of Specialness. As shot by cinematographer Ed Lachman, Texas becomes a hyper-realistic late-capitalist landscape of endless vistas, shopping malls, and prefab metal buildings.

          In True Stories, Byrne uses his songs to stitch together pop iconography, voodoo rituals, and a singular variety show. Byrne calls the record “an immersive audio voyage into the little town of Virgil, Texas, in the mid-eighties.” He continues, “I always imagined that the music written for True Stories should be heard as it is in the film. It makes the most sense this way. Me singing the song that was written for John Goodman’s character, Louis Fine, always felt weird to me. It was written for that character, not for me.”

          FORMAT INFORMATION

          2xLtd LP Info: Heavyweight 140 gram high-performance double vinyl.

          American Utopia fits hand-in-hand with Byrne’s vision for his series ‘Reasons To Be Cheerful’ - an ongoing series curated by Byrne of hopeful writings, photos, music, and lectures – named for the song by the late Ian Dury. Over the last year, Byrne has been collecting stories, news, ideas, and other items that all either embody or identify examples of things that inspire optimism, such as a tech breakthrough, a musical act, a new idea in urban planning or transportation – something seen, heard, or tasted. Just as the album questions the current state of society while offering solace through song, the content of the series recognizes the darkness and complexity of today while showcasing alternatives to the despair that threatens us. 

          While David Byrne has collaborated on joint releases with Eno, Norman Cook (aka Fatboy Slim), and most recently St. Vincent over the past decade, American Utopia is Byrne’s first solo album since, 2004’s Grown Backwards, also on Nonesuch. American Utopia morphed during the writing and recording process, beginning with longtime collaborator Eno, and eventually growing to include collaboration with producer Rodaidh McDonald (The xx, King Krule, Sampha, Savages) alongside a diverse cast of creative contributors including Daniel Lopatin (aka Oneohtrix Point Never), Jam City, Thomas Bartlett (St. Vincent producer, aka Doveman), Jack Peñate, and others. The album was recorded in New York City at David’s home studio, Reservoir Studios, Oscilloscope, XL Studios, and Crowdspacer Studio and in London at Livingston Studio 1.

          Speaking about the album, Byrne said:
          Is this meant ironically? Is it a joke? Do I mean this seriously? In what way? Am I referring to the past or the future? Is it personal or political?

          These songs don’t describe an imaginary or possibly impossible place but rather attempt to depict the world we live in now. Many of us, I suspect, are not satisfied with that world – the world we have made for ourselves. We look around and we ask ourselves – well, does it have to be like this? Is there another way? These songs are about that looking and that asking.

          This album is indirectly about those aspirational impulses. Sometimes to describe is to reveal, to see other possibilities. To ask a question is to begin the process of looking for an answer. To be descriptive is also to be prescriptive, in a way. The act of asking is a big step. The songs are sincere – the title is not ironic. The title refers not to a specific utopia, but rather to our longing, frustration, aspirations, fears, and hopes regarding what could be possible, what else is possible. The description, the discontent and the desire – I have a feeling that is what these songs touch on.

          I have no prescriptions or surefire answers, but I sense that I am not the only one looking and asking, wondering and still holding onto some tiny bit of hope, unwilling to succumb entirely to despair or cynicism.

          It’s not easy, but music helps. Music is a kind of model – it often tells us or points us toward how we can be.


          STAFF COMMENTS

          Barry says: From what I garner from reading Byrne's comments on his newest release, he is commenting (possibly) sarcastically on the duality of American life... or possibly he wasn't. What is less ambiguous is just listening to the album, taking in the excellently written songs and the latent, wry politicism peppered throughout. It's wonderful, that's all you need to know.

          FORMAT INFORMATION

          Ltd LP includes MP3 Download Code.

          Sonny Smith

          Rod For Your Love

            Sonny Smith, of Sonny And The Sunsets, will release his tenth studio album, Rod For Your Love via Dan Auerbach's new label, Easy Eye Sound. The record, produced by Black Keys front man Dan Auerbach at his Nashville studio, roots itself in old-school, guitar-driven rock & roll, and is equally built for the garage and the dance floor, with big-hearted melodies and thick harmonies. "I think a lot of albums are made in reaction to the one that came directly before," says Smith, whose earlier recordings were released by labels like Fat Possum and Polyvinyl. "By the time we got to Nashville and began working with Dan, I was thinking 'let's just make a fun, guitar-driven record. I don't want to have any extracurricular stuff here. I just want it to be really pure.’” The album’s first single is ‘Pictures of You’.

            Rod For Your Love was recorded at the end of a cross-country tour, and features Smith and his band firing on all cylinders, their rough edges sanded down by weeks of nightly shows. Hearing that The Arcs, Auerbach's side-project, had covered one of his own songs during their own tour, Smith reached out to the Black Keys singer. From there studio time was booked, and when Smith wound up finishing his countrywide tour in Nashville, he and his road band tracked the album at Auerbach's studio. The result is a deeply personal album, filled with heart-of-sleeve songwriting, which shines a light on the songs and the band, without many overdubs or assorted clutter.


            FORMAT INFORMATION

            Ltd LP Info: Heavyweight 140 gram high-performance vinyl, with download card and insert.

            Nonesuch Records releases the Magnetic Fields’ 50 Song Memoir, a five-CD/five-LP set that chronicles the 50 years of songwriter Stephin Merritt’s life with one song per year. It was produced by Stephin Merritt with additional production by Thomas Bartlett and Charles Newman. The Magnetic Fields performed the 50 Song Memoir over two nights per city, beginning November 18 & 19 at Mass MoCA in North Adams, MA, and continuing at the Brooklyn Academy of Music (BAM) on December 2 & 3. Further dates begin in spring 2017. 50 Song Memoir is available in five-LP and five-CD editions including an extensive interview by Daniel Handler and facsimile handwritten lyrics by Merritt, and as a standalone bound book with a full-album download card.

            Merritt began recording on his 50th birthday: February 9, 2015. Unlike his previous work, the lyrics on 50 Song Memoir are nonfiction – in Merritt’s words, “a mix of autobiography (bedbugs, Buddhism, buggery) and documentary (hippies, Hollywood, hyperacusis).” As he says in the album’s liner note interview with Handler, “I am the least autobiographical person you are likely to meet. I will probably not write any more true songs after this than I did before, but it’s been interesting working on it.”

            In addition to his vocals on all 50 songs, Merritt plays more than one hundred instruments on 50 Song Memoir, ranging from ukulele to piano to drum machine to abacus. In concert, the music will be played and sung by a newly expanded Magnetic Fields septet in a stage set featuring 50 years of artefacts both musical (vintage computers, reel-to-reel tape decks, newly invented instruments), and decorative (tiki bar, shag carpet, vintage magazines for the perusal of idle musicians). The seven performers each play seven different instruments, either traditional (cello, charango, clavichord) or invented in the last 50 years (Slinky guitar, Swarmatron, synthesizer). The stage extravaganza will be directed by the award-winning Jose Zayas (Love in the Time of Cholera, Aunt Julia and the Scriptwriter).

            To date, Stephin Merritt has written and recorded eleven Magnetic Fields albums, including the popular and critically acclaimed 69 Love Songs. A song from that record, ‘The Book of Love’, has been covered by Peter Gabriel and has appeared in numerous TV shows and films; notably, the Nairobi Chamber Orchestra performed the song at an official state dinner in Kenya, before Presidents Barack Obama and Uhuru Kenyatta delivered their toasts. Merritt has also composed original music and lyrics for several music theatre pieces, including an off-Broadway stage musical of Neil Gaiman's novel Coraline, for which he received an Obie Award. In 2014, Merritt composed songs and background music for the first musical episode of public radio’s This American Life. Stephin Merritt also releases albums under the band names the 6ths, the Gothic Archies, and Future Bible Heroes. 


            FORMAT INFORMATION

            FREE SHIPPING This item has FREE UK shipping!

            ‘Fans take for granted that Mr. Oberst will reveal his every thought to them, from romance to personal philosophy to politics. He’s the image of sensitivity... Yet [he] isn’t just singing his diary… He also measures out every musical and verbal effect. The craftsmanship makes him seem even more unguarded.’ – New York Times

            In the winter of 2016, Conor Oberst found himself hibernating in his hometown of Omaha after living in New York City for more than a decade. He emerged with the unexpectedly raw, unadorned solo album Ruminations. “I wasn't expecting to write a record. I honestly wasn't expecting to do much of anything. Winter in Omaha can have a paralyzing effect on a person but in this case it worked in my favor. I was just staying up late every night playing piano and watching the snow pile up outside the window. Next thing I knew I had burned through all the firewood in the garage and had more than enough songs for a record. I recorded them quick to get them down but then it just felt right to leave them alone,” says Oberst.

            Oberst began publicly releasing music in 1994 at the age of 14. Those early recordings, made in Omaha on four-track cassette by Oberst and his friends, were an introduction to the work of a prodigious songwriter whose creative outpouring would soon be widely lauded. Writing and recording prolifically over the next two decades, first with his band Bright Eyes and later under his own name – and at special moments as a member of Desaparecidos and Monsters of Folk – Oberst became known, the Los Angeles Times said, as an artist who ‘sees the world with fresh and fearless eyes’. The Times continued, ‘He weaves his findings into intimate songs whose melodies are as timeless as a hymnal and whose images are hauntingly poetic... He can command your attention with long narratives that have more words than a pocket dictionary, or stop you cold with a single line.’

            In Nebraska last winter, songs that hark back to that earlier era unexpectedly began to take shape. Oberst went to ARC, the studio he built with his Bright Eyes bandmate and longtime friend Mike Mogis, to record that music. With the help of engineer Ben Brodin, he recorded all the songs in the span of 48 hours. The results are almost sketch-like in their sparseness, and they ultimately became the songs that comprise Ruminations. These tracks do not have the multi-layered instrumentation of the most recent Bright Eyes and solo albums: This is Oberst alone with his guitar, piano, and harmonica; the songs connect with some of the rough magic and anxious poetry that first brought him to the attention of the world, while their lyrical complexity and concerns make it obvious they could only have been written in the present.

            Devendra Banhart was born in Houston, Texas, and moved with his mother to her native Caracas, Venezuela, when his parents separated. The family relocated to Los Angeles during his teenage years; it was there that he learned to speak English, skateboard, and play music. Banhart first began to perform in public while attending the San Francisco Art Institute. He has since lived in New York City, Paris, San Francisco, and Los Angeles, where he currently resides.

            Banhart first attracted international notice with his 2002 debut album, Oh Me Oh My… The Way the Day Goes By the Sun Is Setting Dogs Are Dreaming Lovesongs of the Christmas Spirit – a collection of recordings he had made for himself. Subsequent albums include Rejoicing in the Hands (2004), Niño Rojo (2004), Cripple Crow (2005), and Smokey Rolls Down Thunder Canyon (2007), and What Will We Be (2009). Mala, his Nonesuch debut, was described by Q as a ‘career-best’ and by the Wall Street Journal as his ‘most concise, hushed and winsome effort to date’. Banhart has collaborated with fellow musicians including Anohni (formerly known as Antony) and the Johnsons, Beck, Vashti Bunyan, Os Mutantes, and Vetiver. He also has performed with both Gilberto Gil and Caetano Veloso, and was part of a David Byrne–curated concert at Carnegie Hall.

            An accomplished visual artist, Banhart’s distinctive, minutely inked, often enigmatic drawings have appeared in galleries all over the world, including the Art Basel Contemporary Art Fair in Miami; the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art; the Palais des Beaux-Arts in Brussels; and Los Angeles’ Museum of Contemporary Art. In 2015 Prestel published I Left My Noodle on Ramen Street, a collection of his of drawings, paintings, and mixed media pieces. He has created the cover art for most of his records, and in 2010 his artwork and packaging for What Will We Be was nominated for a Grammy.

            Ape in Pink Marble, Devendra Banhart’s ninth album, was written, produced, arranged, and recorded in Los Angeles by the singer/songwriter/guitarist with his longtime collaborators Noah Georgeson and Josiah Steinbrick, both of whom also worked on Banhart’s most recent album, Mala (2013). 




            Natalie Merchant

            Paradise Is There - The New Tigerlily Recordings

            Natalie Merchant’s Paradise Is There: The New Tigerlily Recordings is a collection of all-new recordings that revisits Merchant’s multi-platinum solo debut, Tigerlily, originally released in 1995 following her departure from 10,000 Maniacs. 

            Tigerlily was described by the New York Times in 1995 as ‘an anomaly in a music scene in which reckless female performers reign supreme’. The album sold more than five million copies worldwide and featured the popular hit singles ‘Carnival’, ‘Wonder’, and ‘Jealousy’. Paradise Is There presents the songs as they have evolved over the past two decades of live performance. Joining Merchant on the album, which she produced herself, are her long-time band members Gabriel Gordon (guitar), Jesse Murphy (bass), Uri Sharlin (piano & accordion), and Allison Miller (drums), as well as a string quartet – Scot Moore (violin), Shawn Moore (violin), Marandi Hostetter (viola), and Stanley Moore (cello) – plus Sharel Cassity (saxophone), and guest vocals by Simi Stone, Gail Ann Dorsey, and Elizabeth Mitchell.

            “Tigerlily is the most significant album I’ve made because it defined me as an independent songwriter after 12 years in 10,000 Maniacs,” Merchant explains, “It also created a bond between me and an audience that has supported and sustained me for 20 years. I decided to make the Paradise Is There album and film for them, to honor the journey that we, and these songs, have all taken. Songs have new life breathed into them every time they are sung. Time has changed them as much as it has changed me.’” She continues, “I wanted to record these songs again because it seemed unfair to confine them to the way that they were performed in the studio in 1995. They are so versatile, whether I strip them bare or enhance them with strings, and they lend themselves so well to re-arrangement. There are several songs from Tigerlily – ‘Carnival’, ‘Wonder’, ‘Beloved Wife’, ‘River’, and ‘Cowboy Romance’ – that remain at the core of my live shows. They still have relevance to me and, by the response they receive, I can tell that they still resonate with my audience,” Merchant says. “I’ve spent a full year preparing this album and film, and the process gave me a chance to take the measure of everything that’s happened because of Tigerlily. The distance this music traveled once it left my hands is humbling, and I am moved by how many lives it has touched along the way.”

            Merchant’s career began in 1981 when, as a college student, she joined the seminal alternative rock band 10,000 Maniacs, which signed to Elektra Records in 1984. As lead vocalist, lyricist, and sometimes pianist, Merchant released six critically acclaimed studio albums with the band, including the platinum-certified In My Tribe (1987), Blind Man’s Zoo (1989), Our Time in Eden (1992), and MTV Unplugged (1993). She left the group in 1993, and in 1995 released her multi-platinum solo debut, Tigerlily, followed by the platinum Ophelia (1998) and Motherland (2001). In 2003 she independently released an album of traditional and contemporary folk music, The House Carpenter’s Daughter, which also coincided with the birth of her child. For the next seven years she lived quietly in New York’s Hudson Valley devoting herself to family and community, while taking opportunities to collaborate with other musicians and strengthen her commitment to activism and philanthropy.

            In 2010, Merchant returned with a thematic double album, Leave Your Sleep, her debut for Nonesuch Records. For this meditation on childhood and mothering Merchant set 19th- and 20th century American and British children’s poetry to music. She also collaborated with award-winning children’s book illustrator Barbara McClintock for a picture book based on the album. In 2014, Nonesuch released Natalie Merchant, her sixth solo album and first of entirely original songs in 13 years, which the New York Times called a ‘set of dark, brave, thoughtful and serenely startling songs’ and the Daily Telegraph praised for the ‘intelligence of her writing, and piercing character studies that thicken with each musical brushstroke’. Merchant remains dedicated to a wide array of social justice and environmental causes. Recently, she spearheaded the making of the protest concert film Dear Governor Cuomo (2013) with New Yorkers Against Fracking, actors Mark Ruffalo and Melissa Leo, and filmmakers Jon Bowermaster and Alex Gibney, and she directed and produced SHELTER: A Concert Film to Benefit Victims of Domestic Violence (2014).

            STAFF COMMENTS

            Andy says: Her finest hour, even better than 10,000 Maniacs. Possibly! Either way: superb songs, gorgeous voice. Brilliant.

            FORMAT INFORMATION

            2xCD/DVD Info: The CD is accompanied by a documentary DVD. The memoir-style film contains live performances, archival footage, and interviews with musicians, friends, and fans about the influence the songs of Tigerlily have had over the past 20 years.

            Yours, Dreamily, is the debut album by The Arcs, who are Dan Auerbach, Leon Michels, Richard Swift, Homer Steinweiss, and Nick Movshon. Also featured on the album are Kenny Vaughan, and Mariachi Flor de Toloache. Yours, Dreamily, includes the singles ‘Stay In My Corner’ – about which NPR Music wrote, ‘It's got a slinky, timeless feel, propelled with alluring ease by Auerbach's falsetto and a lush instrumental backdrop befitting The Arcs' roster’ – and ‘Outta My Mind’, ‘A great of slab of loose, catchy, psych-rock blues,’ in the words of the NME. 

            The Arcs collaboratively wrote and recorded 13 tracks for Yours, Dreamily, with the musicians playing a large array of roles both vocally and instrumentally. Co-produced by Auerbach and Michels, the album was recorded in roughly two weeks through spontaneous, informal sessions across the country at the Sound Factory in Los Angeles, the Diamond Mine in Queens, Auerbach’s Easy Eye Sound in Nashville, and in a lounge room at Electric Lady in Manhattan. Tchad Blake mixed the album on his horse farm in Wales.

            "Here Lies Love" is a double-disc song cycle, improbably poignant, decidedly surreal, surprisingly thought provoking - about the rise and fall of the Philippines' notorious Imelda Marcos. It was conceived by David Byrne; composed by Byrne and Fatboy Slim, AKA Norman Cook; and performed by a dream cast drawn from the worlds of indie rock, alt country, R&B and pop. Byrne's taste in collaborators is as imaginative as it is impeccable, including Cyndi Lauper (who recounts, to light-hearted disco beats, Imelda's courtship with Ferdinand Marcos), Steve Earle (as the power-hungry Ferdinand), Dap-Kings vocalist Sharon Jones (recalling Imelda's introduction into New York society) and Natalie Merchant (as spurned Imelda confidante Estrella, anticipating the onset of martial law). Along with vocals turns from such stars as Tori Amos and the B-52's Kate Pierson, Byrne works with rising indie rockers St Vincent and My Brightest Diamond; New York chanteuses Nellie McKay and Martha Wainwright; and dance-music divas Roisin Murphy and Santigold. Byrne himself appears as the voice of imperialistic America on "American Troglodyte", a send-up that wouldn't have seemed out of places in Talking Heads' "True Stories".

            FORMAT INFORMATION

            2xCD/DVD Info: Deluxe with 104 page cloth-bound book with 2 CDs & bonus DVD.

            Another uber-hyped album from a band that deserve all the impressive praise they've rapidly garnered, this beguiling record remains unrelenting in its sheer beauty. Appetites whetted by the absolutely stunning five-track EP "Sun Giant" (which, thank the lord, is included on the second record of the lovely double-vinyl package) this soon became a nailed-on Piccadilly album of the year, happily uniting all staff with its assured accessibility. Whilst many have been swift to dismiss their sound as too derivative – doubly accusing the Foxes of committing flagrant musical theft and lacking authenticity due to the tender age of lead singer Robin Pecknold - this record can be much better understood as a group of very talented music fans/singer-songwriters crafting effortlessly stellar tracks that, yes, borrow heavily from country-rock, gospel, baroque pop and the soft A.O.R of America, Dan Fogelberg and CSNY, yet make these influences sound utterly fresh and relevant today.

            Listening to Laura Veirs is like looking up into the night sky and suddenly witnessing a meteor shower: there's something startling and magical, both intimate and awesome, about her songs. The nature-obsessed images Veirs conjures up and the mesmerising sound she creates are as indelible as the blaze of shooting stars. "Saltbreakers", her third album release in three years, is her most beautifully realised band-oriented disc yet. Produced by Tucker Martine (Decemberists, Built To Spill), it is by turns haunting, playful, tender and fierce, embracing everything from machine-driven beats, to angelic gospel choirs, to fuzzed-out guitars and driving alt-rock rhythms. "To The Country", was recorded in the Nashville cabin once occupied by June Carter and Johnny Cash, with Veirs backed by an eight-member Baptist choir, some of whom had previously performed on the soundtrack to O Brother Where Art Thou? With its gorgeous shape notes singing, it is the stunning centrepiece of an album that is as entrancing as staring at the sea or gazing at the stars, waiting for the next one to fall.

            Sam Phillips

            A Boot And A Shoe

            "A Boot And A Shoe" is produced by T Bone Burnett, and includes Phillips' distinct vocals and vintage guitar sound, plus piano vamps and string arrangements by Patrick Warren, electric bass by T Bone Burnett, and drums by Jim Keltner, Jay Belarose, and Carla Azar (Autolux). The New York Times said of Phillips that she possesses 'touches of Kurt Weill via Tom Waits, and of the Beatles via Elvis Costello, all turned inward,' and that she sings 'torch songs banked down to a low but persistent simmer, evading melodrama by keeping quiet.'

            Robin Holcomb

            The Big Time

            Robin Holcomb is a genre-defying singer/songwriter similar in many ways to Jane Siberry, who mixes folk and classical elements in her songs and layers a jazz sheen over them. Clever, literate lyrics and vituoso piano work makes "The Big Time" another intelligent and at times daring collection featuring contributions from artists of the calibre of Bill Frisell, Kate and Anna McGarrigle and husband Wayne Horowitz. Two traditional folk songs "A Lazy Farmer Boy" and "Engine 143" are included in the twelve tracks on display here but their treatment is anything but traditional and as with most of her own compositions they feature arrangements that have an edge and intelligence about them that makes this album rather special.

            Joni Mitchell

            Travelogue

            To hear a major artist of the stature of Joni Mitchell reinterpret 22 of her greatest works is a true revelation. In these new orchestral arrangements her lyrics shine like diamonds and her voice, aged like a fine wine, brings out new nuances in the words. There is a symphonic dimension to the arrangements, they are both sympathetic and melodious, and this acts as the perfect foil for Joni's new look at her tremendous body of work.

            FORMAT INFORMATION

            2xCD Info: Deluxe packaging includes two booklets plus enhanced CD content.

            Sam Phillips

            Fan Dance

            Sam Phillips (aka Mrs T Bone Burnett) has made a darkly atmospheric Americana album that owes much to Gillian Welch (who sings and plays on the album) and Lucinda Williams. M Burnett and Marc Ribot play on it too, the album is always interesting as she explores the darker side of the American dream like a female Tom Waits or Johnny Dowd.


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