Category Archives: Music

Jake Blount’s Spider Tales

Jake Blount‘s Spider Tales exists on a couple of different planes simultaneously. On one level, the level of the music itself, it’s as simple and straightforward as all the best stringband music. A few simple instruments, old songs, played and … Continue reading

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Bror Gunnar Jansson’s Cotton-Eyed Joe

Nordic musicians are some of the best Americana musicians around. Witness from 2019 alone the top-notch releases by Swede Daniel Norgren, Norwegian Jens Carelius, and Finn H.C. Slim. One has to wonder whether the ghastly mid-90s Eurovision hit of the … Continue reading

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The Philip Glass Ensemble’s A Retrospective

The Philip Glass Ensemble: A Retrospective isn’t, actually. Granted, it covers Glass’ music, and the Ensemble’s history, over more than thirty years, but it is, in reality, a live recording done in 2004 in Monterrey, Mexico, the Ensemble’s first actual … Continue reading

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Arvo Pärt’s In Principio

Arvo Pärt, like so many contemporary composers (particularly, for reasons that may have something to do with domination by officially atheist regimes, those of Eastern Europe), finds great inspiration in the liturgy. Something like the Passio, of course, will count … Continue reading

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Terry Riley and Kronos Quartet’s Kronos Quarter Plays Terry Riley: Salome Dances for Peace

Terry Riley begins the notes for Salome Dances for Peace by stating that the idea for the work came from “an improvisation on a theme from The Harp of New Albion. Around that time, David Harrington called me and asked … Continue reading

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Doc Watson and Gaither Carlton’s Doc Watson and Gaither Carlton

“Sui generis” is one of those terms that gets tossed around when discussing certain musicians. The Latin term means something like “of its own kind,” a fancy way of saying “unique.” But if it applies to anyone in American music … Continue reading

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Teddy Thompson’s Heartbreaker Please

It’s hard to believe that this year marks the 20th anniversary of Teddy Thompson’s recording career. He’d been singing and playing guitar on mom Linda’s and dad Richard’s recordings since the mid ’90s when he released his self-titled debut (which … Continue reading

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Giuseppe Verdi’ Messa da Requiem

Giuseppe Verdi is one who should need no introduction. However, not as many people as should know that in addition to writing many, possibly even most of the most popular operas in the repertoire, he also wrote a stunning requiem … Continue reading

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Otis Redding and His Orchestra’s Live on the Sunset Strip

This 2 disc set of live recordings from one of Soul musics icons has been getting rave reviews everywhere. Even before it was released the buzz was buzzing and the spin was spinning. People were right to be excited. These … Continue reading

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Florilegium’s Bolivian Baroque, Vol. 2

When we think of baroque music, we are likely to hear in our mind’s ear the towering architecture of Bach, the brilliant conceits of Handel, perhaps the shimmering confections of Scarlatti or Corelli or Vivaldi, played against a carved and … Continue reading

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Silvius Leopold Weiss’ Weiss Lute Concerti

Silvius Leopold Weiss (1687-1750) was, during his lifetime, hailed as the greatest lutenist and composer for the lute in Europe, known among connoisseurs for the largest surviving body of solo works for the lute. Lutenist and Weiss scholar Richard Stone … Continue reading

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Angela East’s Bach: The Cello Suites; Baroque Cello Illuminations

Angela East is the cellist for Red Priest, the baroque chamber ensemble noted for its innovative approach and flamboyant public style. In the two recordings presented here, East has gone solo, pretty much, and brought this approach to the smaller-scale … Continue reading

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Red Priest’s Johann, I’m Only Dancing; Pirates of the Baroque; Nightmare in Venice; Priest on the Run

As you can tell from the titles to these collections, the approach adopted by baroque ensemble Red Priest (Piers Adams, recorders; Julia Bishop, violin; Angela East, cello; Julian Rhodes, harpsichord) is not what you’d call “reverent.” It’s not slapstick, or … Continue reading

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Miriam Makeba’s Welela

If any single performer can be said to have created “world beat” music, it is Miriam Makeba. Exiled for twenty-five years from her native South Africa for her outspoken opposition to apartheid, Makeba countered by becoming an icon with a … Continue reading

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Morgonrode’s Du milde verden

The Norwegian alt-trad band Morgonrode has released its second album Du milde verden as a follow-up to their critically acclaimed self titled debut album from 2019. I haven’t heard that first one yet, but it received a nomination for best … Continue reading

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Peatbog Faeries’ Faerie Stories

Chris Woods penned this review. When I first heard this album, I assumed the Peatbog Faeries were from the Northern Isles of Scotland. Somehow, probably because of Shooglenifty and the slightly less trance-styled Drop the Box, I have come to … Continue reading

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Dervish’s Harmony Hill & Playing with Fire

Brendan Foreman penned this review. Dervish have been around since 1989, but apparently they didn’t bother recording themselves until 1992. This is perfectly acceptable, since it is clear that they used the time well, getting their chops and building a … Continue reading

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Calexico at the Aladdin Theater

It was a night of sublime “desert noir” for the fans of Calexico at Portland’s Aladdin Theater. The seven members of this road-tested Tucson, Arizona-based combo seemed relaxed but energized as they performed nearly 20 songs old and new in … Continue reading

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Jean-Louis Matinier and Kevin Seddiki’s Rivages

This may be too personal a way to start a review, but I was listening to this album when I got word that John Prine had died. In particular, the haunting, elegiac cover of French film composer Philippe Sarde’s “Chanson … Continue reading

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Oysterband’s 25

25 years of the Oysterband. Can it be that long? Well, it must be, and it seems that it is. This EP of four new tracks and three previously unreleased tracks didn’t grab me at first, perhaps because the boys … Continue reading

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James Elkington’s Ever-Roving Eye

There’s no way James Elkington could have known about the trauma that we’d all be feeling in the midst of a pandemic when he tracked the 11 songs on his sophomore “solo” release Ever-Roving Eye. But somehow he put out … Continue reading

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Tamikrest’s Tamotaït

“Tamotaït means hope for a positive change,” says Ousmane Ag Mossa, the singer, guitarist and songwriter for the Tuareg (or Kel Tamasheq as they prefer) rockers Tamikrest. They, like their fellow creators of “desert blues” out of Northern Mali, see … Continue reading

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Down the Track’s Landscapes

There is, in the history of “classical” music a — call it a “genre” — of what is known as “program music” going all the way back to Vivaldi’s Four Seasons (at least), and including works by such luminaries as … Continue reading

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Steeleye Span’s Horkstow Grange

Chuck Lipsig penned this review. It has been almost 30 years, and Steeleye Span has finally recorded “Horkstow Grange”, the song they took their name from as their title track. And for the first time, Maddy Prior is not with … Continue reading

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Steeleye Span’s Cogs, Wheels And Lovers

It doesn’t seem so very long ago I was lending an ear to Steeleye Span’s Live At A Distance collection, and now here we are with a brand new studio album from the folk rock veterans. You might expect a … Continue reading

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Steeleye Span’s Back in Line and Lark in the Morning

Recording 101: How To Wreck A Good CD With Bad Production Well, damn it. I’ve just finished a complete listen to Steeleye Span’s 1986 Back In Line, and I’m cranky. Frankly, I want to take the producer out behind Maddy … Continue reading

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Steeleye Span’s Bloody Men

It is lovely to have Steeleye Span back in business again, with what seems to be a stable line-up. After all, this is their third studio album in a row with the same five members, something we are not used … Continue reading

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Western Centuries’ Call The Captain

Western Centuries is built around three acclaimed singer-songwriters, all of whom contribute equally and have an equal say in the band … thus the title of this third release Call The Captain, an off-hand reference to the fact that this … Continue reading

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Steeleye Span’s Sails of Silver

Sails of Silver was originally slated to be a sort of triumphant return, the listening public did not respond well to the sound. The album was a commercial failure. And that’s truly a shame. Because artistically, it’s a distinct – … Continue reading

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Steeleye Span’s Time

Steeleye Span found itself at one of its career high points. Even if one of the reasons was borne from misfortune, that is the return of original member Gay Woods to help relieve Maddy Prior’s fluctuating voice problems, the resultant … Continue reading

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Steeleye Span’s Storm Force Ten and Live At Last!

It’s hard to remember so long ago, but back in 1978 eight years must have seemed like a pretty decent lifetime for a band. Nowadays, it’s becoming increasingly common for groups to have anniversaries marking several decades of existence; indeed … Continue reading

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Steeleye Span’s Present: The Very Best of Steeleye Span

Steve Power penned this review. One cold November night in the mid 1970s, I stood in line extending halfway around the ‘Liverpool Stadium’ (a large capacity venue originally built as a boxing arena) eagerly waiting to be given entrance for … Continue reading

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D1V1N1T1’s Terra Divina

I’ve encountered several collaborations between Canadian musician Tim Clément and other artists — readers here may remember Wolfsong Night, in which Clément and guitarist Kim Deschamps delivered a complex and multi-facted album that stands up under repeated listenings. Clément’s latest … Continue reading

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Steeleye Span’s They Called Her Babylon

Steeleye Span must have more lives than a cat. Every so often the group seems to have called it a day, but, like a phoenix, they rise again. So here they are, for the umpteenth time, with They Called Her Babylon that … Continue reading

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Steeleye Span & Maddy Prior’s A Rare Collection 1972-1996

Raven Records is a label set up by Australian rock historian Glenn A. Baker. Although he has been collecting and compiling recordings for over 25 years, it was in the late Eighties that he won the BBC competition “Rock Brain … Continue reading

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Steeleye Span’s Winter

Folk rock and Christmas always seem to go well together. There is a long line of successful seasonal albums incorporating singers and musicians from that field. There have been three from different guises of the Albion Band, two from St … Continue reading

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Oysterband’s Rise Above

Vonnie Carts-Powell penned this review. “Get your head up, gonna rise above!” The title song of Rise Above would make an Oysterband fan of me, even if I’d never heard another song by the British folk-rockers. It isn’t the sound that … Continue reading

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Nap Eyes’ Snapshot of a Beginner

Frontman, singer and songwriter Nigel Chapman gives himself a good talking to on Snapshot of a Beginner, the new album by Nap Eyes. And what he tells himself is something that we all might learn from too. This is the … Continue reading

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Avishai Cohen and Big Vicious’ Big Vicious

This debut recording by Avishai Cohen’s Big Vicious is such a fun record. It’s a bit unexpected after the rather serious affairs of his quintet album Into The Silence (2015), and his quartet’s album Cross My Palm With Silver (2016), … Continue reading

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The Unthanks’ Diversions Vol. 5 – Live And Unaccompanied

Rachel and Becky Unthank grew up in a musical family in Tyneside, North East England, and came up singing unaccompanied traditional folk songs. With Diversions Vol. 5 they’ve come full circle, making their first album of unaccompanied songs as a … Continue reading

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Anna Lynch’s Apples in the Fall

Anna Lynch has been around a bit, even though by some standards she’s still quite young. Starting in small-town California, she’s since lived in Alaska, where she honed her songwriting craft; and Portland, Oregon, where she first recorded her songs … Continue reading

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Wolfgang Muthspiel’s Angular Blues

Austrian guitarist Wolfgang Muthspiel continues his run of top-notch dates for ECM with Angular Blues. He leads a trio that’s new in the sense that this particular threesome of Muthspiel, Scott Colley on double bass and Brian Blade on drums … Continue reading

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Moby’s Innocents

I admit, it took me a couple of days to get a handle on Moby’s Innocents. Maybe that’s because it arrived when I was just coming down with a bug that pretty much knocked me out for two or three … Continue reading

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Divahn’s Shalhevet

Through the ages many traditions have sung hymns and worship songs based on the popular music of the day with the  secular lyrics replaced by religious themes and words. It’s also a tradition called piyyut among the Mizrahi, the Jews … Continue reading

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Nous’s NOUS III

Experimental music composer Christopher Bono is a busy man. This latest recording from his Nous ensemble already his second release of 2020. (The first was from his all-acoustic ambient drone Tsyphur Zalan project.) It follows multiple releases in 2019 including … Continue reading

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Sunny Jain’s Wild Wild East

Brooklyn-based jazz drummer Sunny Jain dives deep into what it means to be an immigrant, a first-generation American of South Asian descent, and a member of the global community of marginalized people, in Wild Wild East. It’s as wild a … Continue reading

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Machtelinckx/Badenhorst/Cools/Gouband’s porous structures

porous structures was the third part of a 2019 triptych for Belgian multi-instrumentalist and avant garde composer Ruben Machtelinckx. First came the debut album of Poor Isa, his duo with his countryman Frederik Leroux, who also plays guitar, banjo and … Continue reading

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Oded Tzur’s Here Be Dragons

Oded Tzur, a New York based, Tel Aviv born tenor saxophonist, has been intensively studying Indian classical music since 2007 with Hariprasad Chaurasia, master of the Indian bamboo flute known as the bansuri. He and his jazz quartet bring that … Continue reading

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Johnny Clegg’s King of Time

In the fall of 2017, South African singer Johnny Clegg released what he knew would be his last album.  Clegg had been diagnosed with pancreatic cancer, and while he’d already managed to complete a world tour after getting the diagnosis, … Continue reading

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Ludwig van Beethoven’s Symphony No. 5 in C Minor, Op. 67, Symphony No. 6 in F, Op. 68

There isn’t much to be said about Beethoven: there he is, take it or leave it. It is doubtful that anyone had more influence on the music of the 19th century than he did — even the archenemies Brahms and … Continue reading

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