Review : Andy Michaels “Revisited” by M. Lezjuande
Though Andy Michaels belongs in the adult contemporary genre by society’s standards, his
newest album, Revisited, released on February 8 th of this year, expands beyond this genre. Every
melodious song on this album is beautifully unique in its distinctiveness. They are practically
separate worlds that are defined with messages that everyone, even children, can walk away
from. Forget about the messages being of the mature or X-rated nature because that couldn’t be
farther from the truth. Instead, these messages deal with everything from a better “tomorrow” to
appreciation to love to grief and loss. These defined messages are just one aspect that makes this
album phenomenal. The second aspect has everything to do with Michaels’s indirectness…and
Michaels has the ability to make his songs about particular subjects…without being direct. For
example, consider Where are you Now, one of his personally written masterpieces. Judging from
the lyrics, it’s apparent that Michaels is referring to a child, perhaps his child, that he lost due to
death. But, on the other side, he could be referring to a child that someone close to him has lost.
This analysis alone is what makes this song emotionally mysterious. In other words, the song’s
meaning would be left to the listener’s mind’s imagination.
In addition to Michaels’s incredible indirectness, he also has a way with poetry and using it to its
advantage. Take, for example, Home, which tells the story of what home means to him, both
figuratively and personally. Though there was more than one aspect utilized in this song, the
“metaphorical” aspect is what made it epic. It’s very rare for a songwriter to compare the “home”
to what “sea” is like, hence the lyric: “Home is where the sea is calling me.” This is perhaps the
one song, in which Michaels becomes direct about the message he’s conveying…but direct in a
peculiar manner. As mentioned before, Michaels indirectness is what makes this album
phenomenal. But, it’s also his subtle directness in songs, like Home, that gives this album the
touch of magic that it deserves.
The great thing about this album is Michaels’s utilization of style versatility. It’s borderline impossible
to fit Michaels in one genre because he doesn’t belong in one genre, especially not in the adult
contemporary genre. In other words, Michaels utilizes (and combines) styles of soft rock
(acoustics), subtle pop and gospel, and international sounds. What’s meant by international
sounds? Well, take Back to Me, for example. This is one of the album’s most memorable songs,
due to its Egyptian and Asian combined sounds. It’s enough to make any listener forget that they
are listening to an album that society limits to one genre strictly because of it. For an artist like
Michaels, that’s something to be proud of.
Overall, Revisited is one of 2018’s must-hear indie albums. As an all-around music fanatic,
you’ll want to “revisit” it time and time again.
And Youtube videos
https://youtu.be/aI311P67fMw Where are you Now
https://youtu.be/9EZp4gEhi_g Just Because You Love Someone
https://youtu.be/6JrTkbXJAU0 White Lies
https://youtu.be/FI_0GBAEqUM I just Want to be the One
Soulful, Cosmic, and Lovely, Valerie June’s ‘Astral Plane’ strikes the heart as otherworldly.
Blending folk, soul, blues, and Appalachian traditional elements into a refreshingly timeless sound that sits outside any particular musical era, @TheValerieJune stands in a long and storied line of unique performers in Memphis, a city with a still vibrant music scene even during the 21st century. The daughter of a brick cleaner from Humboldt in the flatlands of West Tennessee, June took quickly to the various local roots music styles in the area, teaching herself guitar and developing her own stylistic mix, interpreting traditional material like it was still alive and breathing, and writing her own material with an eye to the influences of passionate and socially minded songwriters like Bob Marley.
“From other worlds, but you can’t say what keeps you here” – Valerie June
.@ClareMeans is known in the LA music scene for her smoky voice, memorable melodies and thought provoking lyrics. She’s about to release her fourth studio album, Sidewalk Astronomy, a cohesive patchwork of musings on life in Los Angeles, love, forgiveness, and the recent loss of her estranged father. As Clare says, “Most of the songs were written over the course of a couple years and were sparked by a variety of moments in my life… the day I found out my father was sick, when I fell in love, when I knew my relationship was doomed, when I got my heart broken, the day my father died, and when I woke up from a strange dream about sheep.” Clare’s quirky take on life is fresh and comforting at the same time.
Part of what makes Clare stand out as a performer is the unconventional path she has taken. Always a go-getter, Clare has made a name for herself as one of LA’s most popular, hardest working street performers. She’s built a dedicated following by being one of the very few performers to perform almost exclusively original music. While most depend on covers to stop foot traffic, Clare learned to work on her songwriting craft and challenged herself to capture audiences using her own songs. Clare’s street performances are musical experiments in which she interacts with the colorful and chaotic scene of the environment. In September of 2015 Clare began live streaming her daily performances on Periscope. She is now one of Periscope’s most watched musicians and has made it onto the Periscope trending list multiple times. Clare has independently sold thousands of copies of her albums through her live streaming, street performances and while playing shows at various venues across Los Angeles and touring the US, Canada and Europe.
@Johncraigie weaves heartfelt tunes with tales only a troubadour could spin. He plays this Saturday 4.28.18 at @RockwoodNYC Stage 2. Check out his #musicnews360 interview at the link below. We chatted about fractals, astrology, the apocalypse, and hanging out with @jackjohnson.
“I guess I should have put quotes about ‘Apocalypse.'” – @JohnCraigie
Singer-songwriter’s first new material since 2015 arrives on streaming platforms today
Indie-Folk artist Daniel Pearson returns with Pieces Of A Puzzle, his first new release since 2015’s Alone, Together album. The new single combines Springsteen-esque melodies with reverb-laden keyboards and dustbowl guitars in three minutes of emotive country-folk.
“I guess this song, like a lot of my new material, is trying to make sense of the world in 2018” explains the singer-songwriter & multi-instrumentalist. “Like everyone else I’m asking questions, looking for answers, hoping for optimism in pretty dark times – and there’s no fast track or easy way to doing or finding those things. Pieces Of A Puzzle feels like a part of that search, and the music has this new-frontier, big-canyon vibe to it that fits the idea of a journey.”
With two more new singles set to drop in February and March and a highly engaged fanbase on streaming and social media, Pearson is a 21st-century digital artist steeped in analogue musical heritage. In coverage of his three studio albums so far, writers for Uncut Magazine, Drowned In Sound, The Daily Mirror, No Depression, PopMatters, Baeble Music & more have been quick to praise timeless songwriting and poetic lyrics that draw on classic country and indie rock influences. His songs have also been aired by influential DJs on BBC Radio 2, BBC 6Music, KROQ, Lightning 100, Triple J Radio & more, and he’s toured the UK and USA in recent years.
For more info, head to twitter.com/daniel_pearson or danielpearson.net.
The album opens with bluegrass singer Jimmy Martin (1927-2005) singing Hylo Brown’s ‘Grand Ole Opry Song’, which pays affectionate tributes to the stars of the Opry past and present. The song’s subject sets the mood for the whole project. This was one of the singles released to promote the album. It is very charming, but wasn’t very commercial even in the 1970s. Martin’s former boss Bill Monroe had declined to take part in the sessions, distrusting the young men from California, and reportedly regretted that decision once he heard the end result; but Martin’s piercing tenor is a strong presence on a number of tracks. ‘Sunny Side Of The Mountain’ and ‘My Walkin’ Shoes’ are a bit more standard pacy bluegrass – brilliantly performed, but they don’t really hit the heartstrings. The plaintive ‘Losin’ You (Might Be The Best thing Yet)’ is more affecting, and ‘You Don’t Know My Mind’ is also good.
Roy Acuff (1903-1992) was also dubious about the project, but having agreed to take part was quickly won over by the long haired youngsters’ genuine love of country music and their musicianly skills. Known as the King of Country Music, Acuff was the biggest star in country in the 1940s, and one of the influences on artists like George Jones. Even after his commercial star had faded, he remained a very visible presence in the genre, as a stalwart of the Opry and as co-owner of the music publishing company Acuff Rose. He sings some of his signature gospel-infused tunes ‘The Precious Jewel’, the gloomy ‘Wreck On The Highway’, plus the lonesome love song ‘Pins And Needles In My Heart’. He also takes the lead on Hank William’s joyful country gospel classic ‘I Saw The Light’, enthusiastically backed by the NGDB and Jimmy Martin on the chorus.
Mother Maybelle Carter (1909-1978) represents the earliest country recordings and the crystallization of country as a genre from Appalachian folk and the popular music of the day. She sings the lead on the optimistic ‘Keep On The Sunny Side’, a turn of the century religious tune which was one of the Carter Family’s first recordings in the 1920s. Her vocals are thickened with age (and she was never the lead voice in the original Carter Family, taking second place vocally to sister in law Sara), but backed by a chorus of other participants there is a warm familial atmosphere which is quite endearing, and the playing is impeccable. ‘I’m Thinking Tonight Of My Blue Eyes’, another Carter Family classic, and ‘Wildwood Flower’ are also charming.
Flatpicking guitarist Merle Travis sings ‘I Am A Pilgrim’, the coalmining ‘Dark As A Dungeon’ and ‘Nine Pound Hammer’; these are delightful and among my favorite tracks, particularly ‘Dark As A Dungeon’. Another guitar legend, Doc Watson, who surprisingly only met Travis for the first time at these sessions, takes on vocal duties for Jimmie Driftwood’s always enjoyable story song ‘Tennessee Stud’ as well as the traditional ‘Way Downtown’.
The Nitty Gritty Dirt Band harmonise nicely on a tasteful version of A P Carter’s delicately pretty ‘You Are My Flower’. Their vocal style betrays their folk-rock roots, but the instrumentation is perfectly authentic. They also picked out some Hank Williams classics to spotlight their own vocals. Jimmie Fadden leads on ‘Honky Tonking’, and Jeff Hanna gives ‘Honky Tonk Blues’ a Jimmie Rodgers style edge with his voice sounding as though at any moment he’s going to break into a fully fledged yodel. Jimmy Ibbotson takes on ‘Lost Highway’ (penned by Leon Payne but most associated with Hank)..Their vocals sound a little tentative compared with their more confident later work, but the songs are beautifully played. That is actually a reasonable assessment of the whole album – there is nothing to criticise musically, but the vocals, while honest and authentic, are not up to the standard of, say, today’s best bluegrass.
Pretty much the entire lineup participates in the title song, an inspired choice. The song’s own message is a spiritual one but in the context of this project it has a metaphorical second meaning. The messages of unity and tradition are underpinned by the cover art with its use of US and Confederate flags, and the legend “Music forms a new circle”.
This album is a towering achievement and one of the most significant in country music history. It united two generations, linking the up and coming country rockers with the men and women who had in effect created country music as a unique and definable genre. If you have any interest in music history, it’s a must-have.
There’s a sense of a man laying out his heart with no apologies.
Langhorne Slim has always seemed like a dude with a pretty comfortable perspective of things. Even heartbreak, as 2012’s The Way We Moved showed. But The Spirit Moves shows Langhorne Slim out of the woods — maybe momentarily, maybe for good. That easy tension is what makes Slim, his band, The Law, and his music so compelling. He’s a guy you can watch from the floor of a crowded concert hall or in a dark room by yourself and think, “I’d buy anything this guy is selling.”
As the album shifts seamlessly into “Changes,” it’s confirmed: this is the wide-open heart of a songwriter and a band possessed by possibility. “I’m going through changes, through all of the strangeness,” he sings, with a lilt and hope.
In a recent teaser set in the Philadelphia area that gives him his name, Slim’s performance hinted of the confessional exhilaration of the soon-to-be-dropping album. Lots of falling to knees, lots of direct pleas to the crowd with hips and jutting chin. And it all seems a natural and giddy part of the show. Even in the few awkward moments of the album like the early-‘60s-style number “Whisperin’,” Slim’s somewhat cheeky, somewhat earnest, and somewhat scary delivery draws you in, warms you up, sets you back down, and leaves you wondering what just happened.
If The Way We Moved gave a glimpse of the fully released potential of an artist, The Spirit Moves is the promise fulfilled. In songs like “Wolves,” where he annunciates like he needs you to hear every syllable of the story, the vocal track is right out in front. There’s no muddy, uneven, buried mix anywhere here. No apologies.
The abandon of a song like “Strangers” does what the best pop songs are meant to do: make you joyously bang your head long enough to hear the undercurrent of fear and hope that connects you to the ether. If it’s not picked up as the theme to something — anything — the industry has no ears.
The comforting drumming of long-time collaborator Malachi DeLorenzo grounds the proceedings like a heartbeat. And the rest of the excellent Law sets down an understated fervor that Slim shimmies on top of. There’s more steady depth, conviction, and resonance in his voice than the sometimes tinny moments of earlier offerings. On The Spirit Moves, Langhorne Slim sounds like a man fascinated by and satisfied with happiness, or unhappiness.
I lost my direction, from the day I was born
I felt disconnected since they cut the cord
If I learned my lesson
To find me some peace
Cause I need protection from this heart on my sleeve.
“Airplane” might be the best of the voice-catching, full-frontal emotion that Slim somehow pulls out of himself. It could be a showstopper — it fills with those little tropes that crack your resolve:
Some people live trying to be forgiven
That might be life, but that ain’t living.
This is the album that you recommend to all segments of your friends without reservation. If you’ve got half a heart, it’s likely to break and pulse and soar.
Blitzen Trapper’s more cohesive approach has yielded something that is becoming increasingly rare these days: An essential 13-song LP with no filler. There isn’t an extraneous verse, much less a superfluous track here. Though they have more clearly defined their shambolic Americana this time around, they still show great range and unpredictability with their songwriting. The harmony-laden, 40-second pastoral coda to “Love U” and the entirety of the drawling, honeyed pedal-steel showcase “Stolen Shoes & a Rifle” make a convincing argument that the dominant sound of Sub Pop in 2008 owes more to the country-rock poignancy of CSNY than the label’s punk past (see also: Fleet Foxes, Hardly Art’s Moondoggies). The first two and a half minutes of “Love U”, however, are a fuzzy, howling soup of reverberating guitars and jittery drum fills set amidst a molasses-slow dirge. And “Echo/Always On/EZ Con” pulls their organic, earnest sound into strange territory, bleeding a “See The Sky About to Rain”-like piano weeper into a brief, burbling mess of tech sounds that evolve into a funky disco strut. It is those sorts of unexpected flourishes that keep the album crackling with excitement and separate Blitzen Trapper from the rest of the bands that are trying their hands at a similar throwback sound.
It would have been hard to follow Wild Mountain Nation with anything as sprawling, expansive, or diverse, so Blitzen Trapper didn’t try. Instead, they settled down, focused, and managed to create something even better. This imaginative, heartfelt collection is more intimate than its predecessor, reveling less in boundless stylistic freedom and more in the creativity afforded by structure. Blitzen Trapper are no longer talented jacks-of-all-trades, but a master of one, and Furr is proof that this already-great band gets even better as they define themselves more specifically.
Back in 1977, Jones was a folk singer at the Los Angeles Troubadour. “This fella, Chuck E, was working in the kitchen of the club, and that’s how I met him,” she recalled. “A little later on, Tom saw me there, and he and Chuck E and I started hanging out together.” They formed a sort of latter-day beat trinity, with the same sense of humour and adventure. “She and Waits and I used to steal the black lawn jockeys from homes in Beverly Hills and hop freight trains together,” said Weiss.
By 1979, Waits was a successful recording artist and was dating Jones. Weiss, in turn, was beating a musical path of his own, playing with Waits in a touring band called the Nocturnal Emissions. Waits name-checks him in a couple of songs, describing him as “the kind of guy that would steal his own car”.
When Jones finally secured a recording contract, she remembered the phrase Waits had used after that phone call. She had the first song for her debut, self-titled, album; a fertile blend of boho songwriting and bereted jazz. The Warner Bros producer Russ Titelman recalled her sessions as spontaneous and explosive: “She was just a kid with a guitar, but she knew exactly what she wanted. At the end of the session, we played through the album and she sat there and asked, `Is that me?’.”
Trailing the album as a seven-inch, “Chuck E’s in Love” got both Jones’s and Weiss’s names known, but it also marked the end of the three-way partnership. Waits left Jones for New York and new challenges, while his ex picked up a Grammy for Best New Artist. Weiss took a regular gig at a Hollywood dive called the Central, and later opened the nightclub with Johnny Depp where River Phoenix died in 1993. He’s had a sporadic recording career, releasing just a couple of albums over the last two decades, but never quite escaping Waits’s musical shadow.
And who was Chuck E in love with? “His cousin,” said Jones. “I mean, that’s what I heard.”