Artist: Andrew McMahon
Title: Upside Down Flowers (Fantasy)
You might like if you enjoy: Andrew McMahon, Jack's Mannequin, Roger Joseph Manning Jr.
Tell me more: One of the most insightful and talented artists of his generation, Andrew McMahon has scored success fronting Something Corporate, Jack's Mannequin and Andrew McMahon in the Wilderness. On his newly-issued solo LP Upside Down Flowers, McMahon uses his uncanny ability to examine and exhume the world around him and put it all into song. The disc's opening tracks find the singer-songwriter-pianist revisiting his past, from his family's move from Ohio to Southern California ("Ohio") to his formative teenage years in Orange County breaking through with his indie rock troupe Something Corporate (courtesy of the wistful "Teenage Rockstars"). McMahon has the ability to create songs that are both literate and musically enthralling as evidenced by the evocative "Monday Flowers," chamber pop of "This Wild Ride," melodic rocker "Goodnight, Rock and Roll," the introspective "House in the Trees" and Beatlesque "Penelope." McMahon embarks on his highly-anticipated "Upside Down Flowers" North American tour on January 23, 2019. Information: AndrewMcMahon.com.
Artist: Paul Kelly
Title: Nature (Cooking Vinyl)
You might like if you enjoy: Neil Finn, Bruce Cockburn, John Hiatt
Tell me more: Paul Kelly's new LP combines poetry from five literary masters (Dylan Thomas, Walt Whitman, Sylvia Plath, Gerard Manley Hopkins and Phillip Larkin) as well as his own prose with a shared theme reflecting the disc's title Nature. The songcraft is as glorious as the verse with a diverse soundscape encompassing folk rock (the propulsive "With the One I Love"), Celtic-tinged folk ("And Death Shall Have No Dominion," "A Bastard Like Me"), baroque pop ("The River Song") and Americana ("Little Wolf," "Morning Storm," "The Trees"). The lush neo-classical "Bound to Follow (Aisling Song)" features soprano Kate Miller-Heidke and further captures the exhilarating spirit of this special project that simultaneously and magically celebrates the power of poetry, song and the natural world. Information: PaulKelly.com.au.
Artist: Glen Campbell
Title: Sings For The King (Capitol/UMe)
You might like if you enjoy: Glen Campbell, Elvis Presley
Tell me more: Fans of both Elvis Presley and Glen Campbell will be in amazed after hearing the astounding new collection Sings For The King. From 1964 to 1968 – an especially productive time for Campbell highlighted by his touring duties with the Beach Boys, high-profile studio work as lead guitarist with the Wrecking Crew and a burgeoning solo career – Campbell was recruited to record songs for Elvis Presley. Now more than a half century after Campbell made these recordings, 18 of the rescued tracks have been released as Sings For The King (available on audio CD, vinyl and digitally). A dozen of the songs on the disc would ultimately be recorded by Presley, but these versions feature Campbell and he uses his voice to showcase how they would sound if sung by Presley (who did ultimately record his own versions of a dozen of the songs heard on the set). Beginning with the gospel-flavored "We Call On Him" where the voices of Presley and Campbell are both featured to clearly demonstrate how closely the Rhinestone Cowboy could mirror the King of Rock and Roll's tone, the collection offers a great mix of strong material. There are rousing rockers ("Spinout," "Magic Fire" and "Anyone Can Play"), Southern soul ("All I Needed Was The Rain"), and tender ballads ("Cross My Heart And Hope To Die," "There Is So Much World To See"). One of the most interesting songs is "I Got Love" which begins with Campbell sounding like himself against a sparse guitar backdrop before the song picks up and his voice adopts Presley's signature styling. The collection concludes with the lovely "Restless," a ballad never covered by Presley; how wonderful to hear the song sung by Campbell as he conjures up the legacy of both artists. Information: GlenCampbell.com.
Artist: Dennis Roger Reed with Don Reed
Title: Before It Was Before (Plastic Meltdown Records)
You might like if you enjoy: Mumford & Sons, Bob Dylan
Tell me more: With an artistic spirit directed at the strength of a song rather than its specific genre, singer-songwriter Dennis Roger Reed and his brother Don Reed have crafted a freewheeling album (Before It Was Before) mixing up originals and covers spanning country-western, folk, western swing, blues and even a bit of bluegrass. There is an intimacy and warmth across the 21-track collection with ballads and uptempo cuts exuding an inviting touch. The driving "I Had to Ride," affecting "Reconciliation," and country ballad "Up Until Now" all wonderful Reed-penned originals. Among the joyful covers is a countrified take on Bob Dylan's uptempo "If Not For You," a reflective reworking of Michael Hall's "River of Love" an artful reading of the traditional instrumental "Corrina Corrina" and a country rock version of Randy Meisner's "Hearts on Fire." Information: DennisRogerReed.com.