Wednesday, January 04, 2017

Album reviews: Jeff Healey, Hope Sandoval and the Warm Inventions, Enigma, Katie Kim

This column showcases several late 2016 releases worth adding to your music collection.

Artist: Jeff Healey
Title: Holding On: A Heal My Soul Companion (Provogue)
You might like if you enjoy: Alvin Lee, Joe Bonamassa, Walter Trout
Tell me more: When Jeff Healey passed away after a battle with cancer in March 2008, the 41-year-old Canadian artist left a lasting legacy as an outstanding singer-songwriter and guitar virtuoso. Now, previously-unreleased recordings from Healey are showcased on Holding On: A Heal My Soul CompanionThe release features five rare Healey studio tracks that were recorded during the same time period (1996-1998) as the recordings that were featured on his acclaimed Heal My Soul album (released on what would have been Healey's 50th birthday) as well as a concert recorded in Oslo, Norway in 1999. "Love Takes Time" is a flat-out blues rocker that explodes with heartfelt vocals and fiery guitar work; "Every Other Guy" is a more confessional song, with a melodic chorus and nuanced lead fills. Healey's guitar prowess is showcased across the disc (particularly on the studio version of  "Dancing With the Monsters") and throughout the exhilarating concert recording. Information:

Artist: Hope Sandoval and the Warm Inventions
Title: Until the Hunter (Tendril Tales)
You might like if you enjoy: Mazzy Star, Cowboy Junkies
Tell me more: As the voice of '90s alt-music pioneers Mazzy Star, Hope Sandoval championed a dream pop sound blending neo-psychedelia, blues, alt-folk and Americana. The Los Angeles native went on to form the Warm Inventions in 2000 and that troupe released several albums including 2009's Through the Devil Softly, and returned from a five-year hiatus late in 2016 with a fantastic new album titled Until the Hunter released on the group's own independent record label Tendril Tales. Sandoval's overall style continues to mine the quieter and more introspective reaches of alternative folk rock. The new 11-track album features a tuneful duet "Let Me Get There" featuring Kurt Vile, the rootsy "The Peasant," the baroque folk of "The Hiking Song" and relatively buoyant "Isn't It True." Information:

Artist: Enigma
Title: The Fall of a Rebel Angel (Republic Records)
You might like if you enjoy: Moby, Enigma
Tell me more: More than 25 years after the release of Enigma's multi-platinum debut MCMXC a.D. composer-musician Michael Cretu has released "The Fall of a Rebel Angel." The first new Enigma release since 2008's Seven Lives Many Faces, the new album will certainly please fans of Cretu's previous releases, especially his 1990 debut. There is a rich mix of neo-classical, new age, worldbeat and electronica styles across the concept album, which "tells the story of a symbolic journey to redemption with everyone to define his individual path," according to Cretu. The mix of sound effects, song, spoken word, instrumentals and new age-meets-rock impulses is enhanced by guests such as Brazillian singer-songwriter Mark Josher, Indonesian singer Anggun and English pop duo Aquilo. Information:

Artist: Katie Kim
Title: Salt (independent)
You might like if you enjoy: Mazzy Star, Cat Power
Tell me more: Katie Kim is the the pseudonym of Irish singer Katie Sullivan, whose third album Salt provides a thrilling and intense listen across its 9-track span. Kim uses her rich soprano in the service of ambient material that evokes haunted sonic spaces. Kim's voice is lush and lovely on the shimmering "Day is Coming," while low notes on a piano enthrall on "Body Break." The distorted droning on "I Make Sparks" recalls the darkest reaches of The Cure and The Jesus and Mary Chain. "Beautiful Human" is a fragmented journey, the artist's voice distant and alluring in the vast distance of sound. Information:

Robert Kinsler

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