Monday, November 18, 2019

Groundbreaking artists shine on new collections

There is something for just about every listener via a wide range of new releases available this fall.

Artist: Sarah Brightman
Title: HYMN: Sarah Brightman in Concert (Eagle Vision)
You might like if you enjoy: Sarah Brightman, Idina Menzel
Tell me more: A year after Sarah Brightman's 12th studio album Hymn was released, the multi-format companion release HYMN: Sarah Brightman in Concert has been issued and provides a fully immersive experience for fans of the English soprano. Indeed, the visual/audio recording was captured at the Festspielhaus in the Bavarian Alps; the two-act performance features a musical film in the first act followed by a live concert. Brightman's three-octave voice remains a wonder and is used to perfection as she is accompanied by her band as well as the Bavarian Philharmonic Orchestra, a 50-voice choir and the Ludwig Ensemble of dancers. Guest performers on the title include Japanese keyboardist Yoshiki, and singers Vincent Niclo, Mario Frangoulis and Narcis. Brightman's signature vocals hit their mark on the rich mix of material, ranging from classical crossover selections ("Sogni," "Figlio Perduto") to Broadway hits (particularly "Phantom Of The Opera") and rock- and pop-mining selections (Brian May's "Who Wants To Live Forever" and La Bionda's "There For Me"). Beyond the stunning audio and visual featured on the title is the power of the choreography of dancers, use of state-of-the-art lighting and other theatrical effects that add power to the concept film and concert that follows. One of the early highlights of the film is where Brightman performs "Beautiful" near a reflecting pool, and the bending of her image in the creatively-lit water offers an artful look to the performance. Bonus features on the DVD and Blu-ray include behind the scenes footage, interviews and photo galleries. HYMN: Sarah Brightman in Concert is available on DVD+CD, Blu-ray+CD and via digital formats. Information:

Artist: Harry Nilsson
Title: Losst and Founnd (Omnivore Recordings)
You might like if you enjoy: Randy Newman, Ringo Starr, Jimmy Webb
Tell me more: This year has seen a slew of deluxe reissues, concert recordings and lost treasures, none greater than the final album from legendary singer-songwriter Harry Nilsson. Set for release on Nov. 22, 2019  more than 25 years after he was struck down by a fatal heart attack at the age of 52  Nilsson's aptly-titled Losst and Founnd finds the late American artist joined by a number of top-tier guests on nine original songs along with his versions of Yoko Ono's inviting "Listen, the Snow is Falling" and Jimmy Webb's beautiful "What Does a Woman See in a Man." The signature sound that had Nilsson scoring a number of radio hits in the late '60s and early '70s abounds across the new disc, from the New Orleans rhythm and blues romp of "Animal Farm" and infectious title track to the tender "Love is the Answer." Guests on the outstanding album include famed drummer Jim Keltner (Ringo Starr, John Lennnon, George Harrison), pianist Jimmy Webb, bassist Klaus Voormann, and Harry's son Kiefo Nilsson. Album producer Mark Hudson is featured everywhere, contributing vocals, percussion, guitar and bass guitar to the ambitious project; his poignant liner notes add depth to the collection. Information:

Artist: David Ball
Title: Thinkin' Problem (Omnivore Recordings)
You might like if you enjoy: George Jones, Merle Haggard, Uncle Walt's Band
Tell me more: The 25th Anniversary edition of singer-songwriter David Ball's 1994 hit album Thinkin' Problem includes all 10 songs from that LP as well as eight bonus tracks adding up to an essential collection celebrating traditional country music. Ball, who had previously been a member of the Austin-based trio Uncle Walt's Band, found much-deserved commercial success with Thinkin' Problem, which featured the title track (his first major hit) as well as subsequent hit singles "When The Thought of You Catches Up With Me," "Look What Followed Me Home," "What Do You Want With This Love" and "Honky Tonk Healin'." Listening to the album in 2019, it's easy to believe that all of the songs could have been radio staples, especially the lovely ballad "12-12-84." The bonus material shines as well, with the sparse 2019 acoustic take of "What Do You Want With This Love," spirited "Give Me Back My Heart" (a 1993 studio demo) and the breezy "Circle of Friends" and "I've Got My Baby On My Mind" among my favorites. Information:

Artist: Kinky Friedman
Title: Resurrection (Echo Hill Records)
You might like if you enjoy: Bob Dylan, Kris Kristofferson 
Tell me more: Texas-based singer-songwriter Kinky Friedman has released a profound album of original songs that serve as a bona fide reminder of the power of music and song craft. Resurrection is an album that shines a welcome light on Friedman, 73, who is writing and crafting songs that draw on his life experiences along with his ever-keen observations at the world around him. The songs have an authentic and timeless feel to be sure, from the utterly beautiful moodscape he paints on "I Love You When It Rains" and acoustic tapestry of "The Bridge That Wouldn't Burn" to the Latin-flavored "Al! Mariachi," countrified blues of the Kris Kristofferson-flavored "Resurrection" and Texas-styled ballad that looks at a beloved pet ("A Dog in the Sky"). Friedman's deep baritone is the perfect instrument to lead the charge when unleashing his songs, and the album is bolstered by the production talents of Larry Campbell and guest vocals from Willie Nelson on the title track. This is one of 2019's outstanding new albums, one that will resonate as deeply generations from now as it does today. Information:

Robert Kinsler

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