Wednesday, February 06, 2013

Singer, Songwriters and Slide Guitar Greats Shine

Singer-songwriter Ron Sexsmith’s 13th full-length album Forever Endeavour highlights a crop of fantastic new releases that also includes the first-ever album featuring The Slide Brothers, the latest sonic chapter courtesy of singer-guitarist Bob Bennett and an impressive debut from 17-year-old Scott James.

Artist: Ron Sexsmith
Title: Forever Endeavour (MRI Associated)
You might be interested if you like: Ray Davies, Paul McCartney, Aimee Mann, Elvis Costello
Tell me more: Few modern-day songwriters probe the deepest recesses of their soul with the intelligence and emotional heft of Ron Sexsmith. On his newly-released album Forever Endeavour, the acclaimed Canadian has issued yet another brillian collection of original songs. He tackles the haunting territory of self doubt with melodious depth on “Nowhere To Go” while elsewhere celebrating the joys of romantic love on “She Does My Heart Good” that is served with an undercurrent of melancholy via the sparse acoustic soundscape. Sexsmith can make even the routine magical, as evidenced on “Me, Myself and Wine” where he sings of the simple joy of playing vinyl albums while drinking a good glass of red wine. At other times the tone is darker; on “Sneak Out the Back Door” Sexsmith sings of quietly slipping out the back rather than take a farewell tour as is the fashion nowadays. The album closes with the beautiful “The Morning Light” with Sexsmith addressing his own mortality even while celebrating the simple joy of waking to enjoy another day. Information:

Artist: Robert Randolph and The Slide Brothers
Title: Robert Randolph Presents: The Slide Brothers (Concord Records)
You might be interested if you like: Jeff Healey, Derek Trucks, Duane Allman
Tell me more: February 19 will mark the first-ever commercial release featuring The Slide Brothers, a group of fabled musicians who continue to champion the sacred steel tradition that was developed in the House of God Church more than 80 years ago. From a beautiful reworking of George Harrison’s “My Sweet Lord” to the fiery blues track “Praise You” (featuring guest songstress Shemekia Copeland on vocals) and the gospel powerhouse “Catch That Train,” there is no denying the passion that The Slide Brothers bring to the 11 tracks on the collection. The virtuoso musicianship is amazing, and listening to Calvin Cooke, Chuck Campbell, Darick Campbell and Aubrey Ghent perform is breathtaking. Information:

Artist: Bob Bennett
Title: Joy Deep As Sorrow (Whitewater Productions)
You might be interested if you like: Doyle Dykes, Dan Fogelberg, Glen Campbell, Bob Bennett's previous albums
Tell me more: One of the founding voices of the modern-day Christian music movement, singer-songwriter Bob Bennett has returned with a beautiful acoustic album that includes breezy folk rock (the heartful “Strange Joy”), lush folk (“Fairthful,” “Broken Beauty”) and even Americana-styled ballads (a cover of Steve Bell’s “Birth of a Song” and his own “Panhandled at the Western Wall”). Bennett’s voice is as sweet and emotive as ever, with his lyrics capturing the depth of his faith and complexity of the struggles faced by people regardless of where they worship. Information:

Artist: Scott James
Title: Destinesia (Scott James Music)
You might be interested if you like: Gavin DeGraw, Allen Stone, Amos Lee
Tell me more: Why is Scott James’ debut Destinesia so impressive? The EP features only six songs, but the mix of fantastic and original songwriting, pleasing vocals and strong musicianship are especially noteworthy since James is only 17. This album is not the product of any slick marketing campaign; James makes his mark immediately with a deeply-affecting guitar line at the beginning of “My Road” and further seals the artistic deal accompanied by his piano on the sparse “Garden.” Definitely an artist to watch, James lyrics and songcraft carry the weight of an artist much older. Add that he has a potent touch on both guitar and piano, well it’s supernatural. Information:

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