What a bountiful crop of new releases this fall. I can’t recall the last time, at the end of a decade, when I’ve had so many quality CD’s to listen to.
Stephen Kellogg and the Sixers The Bear (Vanguard Records)
The CD cover looks like most of the albums in my collection from the 1970’s. Worn, but comfortable; just like the music on this CD. The title track, “Oh Adeline” and “Satisfied Man” stand out. Stephen Kellogg and the Sixers opened up for Toad the Wet Sprocket in May. I do pay attention to the supporting acts; in fact, I’ve been known to go to concerts, just to see the opening act. This CD is on my 2009 best of list.
WPA Works Progress Administration (WPA Music/Umami Music/Red Distribution)
You will find this album in the top 3 of my best of 2009 list. “Always Have My Love”, the first track and first release proves that Glen Phillips continues to write those catchy lyrics and melodies. My new favorite track, especially after hearing the acoustic version during their studio session at WYEP, is “Already Gone” with Sean Watkins singing lead and Glen Phillips on backing vocals. The other core WPA member Luke Bulla wrote the touching “Remember Well”, after a visit to a nursing home with Alzheimer’s patients. My wish is that this talented group of musicians will follow up this debut release with even more songs that take us on another ride beyond a single genre of music .
Will Hoge The Wreckage (Rykodisc)
A singer-songwriter out of Nashville, TN who caught my ear. I’ve been asking myself why I’ve never heard of Will Hoge until now. It took 10 months for Hoge to recover from an accident that left him seriously injured and “The Wreckage” is the end result. A song like “Even If It Breaks Your Heart” resonates loud and clear not only for the performer but for us music fans as well. I can absolutely say that I-love-every-song on this album. This CD is in the top 5 of my best of 2009 list.
Brandi Carlile Give Up the Ghost (Columbia)
Talented with anuber-amazing voice. I turn up “Dreams” every time I hear it on the radio. “Dying Day” is another great song. Carlile will be in Pittsburgh in January. What a great way to start off the new decade, hearing Carlile belt out tunes. This CD is also made my list for best of 2009.
The Swell Season Strict Joy (Anti)
The follow up to the “Once” soundtrack. I’ve been waiting for more from Glen Hansard and Marketa Irglova. I fell in love with “Low Rising” the first time I heard it. “The Rain”, “Feeling The Pull” and “Back Broke” are vintage Hansard songs. Oh yeah you know this CD made the top 5 in my best of 2009 list.
Peter King Dancing on a Long Leash (Raincheck)
This is the sophomore release (the follow up to the 2006 “The Road to Ubatuba”) by local writer and musician Peter King. I had the pleasure of attending the CD release show for “Dancing on a Long Leash”. King assembled an amazing set of local musicians to showcase his latest effort. The smile on King’s face was infectious. He was enjoying himself and so was the audience as he drew us in to his music. The dominant themes in King’s songs: his wife, his dog and samba music. I must confess that my favorite track on the new CD is the tongue and cheek “Number One in Liechtenstein." What fun.
John Mayer Battle Studies (Columbia)
This is only the 4th studio album for 32-year old John Mayer. I was hooked immediately by “Who Says”. Newly crowned CMA Entertainer of the Year Taylor Swift joins Mayer on “Half of My Heart.” Mayer does catchy pop well and there's nothing wrong with that.
Livingston Taylor Last Alaska Moon (Whistling Dog Music)
Hearing a new CD by Livingston Taylor for the first time is like putting on an old pair of flannel pajamas. It’s soooo comfortable. I had a smile on my face the whole time I listened to “Last Alaska Moon” all the way through. The first song I previewed was “Kitty Hawk”. Taylor has been singing this tribute to The Wright Brothers in concert for years and it has always been a show highlight (Taylor is also a pilot). "I'm in a Pickle" is certain to be another of those lovable quirky songs that fans will request he sing live. "Call Me Carolina" is one of the most beautiful songs I've heard in a long time. The only cover on the album is 1982’s “The Girl is Mine” (Michael Jackson and Paul McCartney) and Taylor even gives that a magical touch, with some help from his nephew Ben Taylor. Members of Union Station (Alison Krauss) join Taylor. This CD is a gem.
Barb S. - Sunday Mix Host