Monday, November 09, 2020

New Music: John Lee Hooker, Michael Gurley, Suzzy Roche and Lucy Wainwright Roche, Evan Wardell, Bob Gentry

A parade of news releases including a multi-format celebration of the late blues hero John Lee Hooker as well as new studio albums from Michael Gurley, Suzzy Roche and Lucy Wainwright Roche, Evan Wardell and Bob Gentry are available now.


Artist: 
John Lee Hooker and the Coast To Coast Blues Band
Title: John Lee Hooker Live at Montreux 1983 & 1990 (Eagle Rock Entertainment)
You might like if you enjoy: John Lee Hooker, Otis Taylor 
Tell me more: The late John Lee Hooker was one of blues music's most beloved and important voices. A new stellar collection celebrates the work of the Mississippi native with two significant appearances at the Montreux Jazz Festival in Switzerland. John Lee Hooker Live at Montreux 1983 & 1990 has just been issued as a 2-LP set, digital video & digital audio release. Hooker (who died in June 2001) was notable for his innovative style of breaking away from the 12-bar format and developing a hypnotic style of driving boogie blues where he used his hammering style on his fretboard and deep baritone vocals to sing powerfully of romance  be it lust, bliss or loss. The 1983 set features plenty of enticing moments, including the simmering opener  "Serves Me Right To Suffer," propulsive "Boom Boom" and the set-ending cut "Boogie Chillen," the latter an extended jam where a number of musicians (including guitar great Luther Allison, harmonica master Sugar Blue and a killer three-man horn section) join Hooker and his own amazing band on stage. 

The 1990 concert is just as impressive; for this outing an additional guitar player, sax player and female vocalist Vala Cupp provided even greater depth to the Coast To Coast Blues Band's sonic arsenalTracks performed included classics from his appearance six years earlier as well as the heartfelt soulful blues ballad "Mabel" and playful "I'm In The Mood" along with a couple of winning selections from his seminal 1989 Grammy® winning album return "The Healer" ("Baby Lee" and the inspired title track). Blues fans will want to get this release for its historical significance, as well as the excellent audio and video quality of the title. Indeed, the two-concert showcase is the perfect addition  or introduction  to the artistry of the four-time Grammy® Award winner and Grammy® Lifetime Achievement Award recipient. Information: JohnLeeHooker.com and eagle-rock.com.



Artist: 
Michael Gurley
Title: Ultrasound (Smoke Street Records)
You might like if you enjoy: dada, Jason Falkner, Blur's "The Magic Whip," the Beatles' "Abbey Road" and "Magical Mystery Tour"
Tell me more: As a member of the groundbreaking American rock trio dada, Michael Gurley's gifts as a top-tier vocalist, songwriter and guitar virtuoso have been impressing audiences since the early '90s. Along the way, the talented SoCal artist has also showcased his wide-ranging music abilities in a number of other projects including modern rock outfit Butterfly Jones, the jazz standards ensemble Mike Gurley and the Nightcaps  and until recently  lead guitarist for country music great Kiefer Sutherland. Now Gurley has released a full-length solo album Ultrasound, one of my favorite albums of 2020. As listenable as it is inventive, Ultrasound is filled with songs bolstered by soaring melody, dynamic choruses, nuanced lead vocals and Gurley's incredible lead guitar work. The atmospheric "I Don't Know Much" is an ambitious and spectacular opening, mixing folk and art rock styles along its alluring run. The stylish title track is a super cool rocker albeit with an exhilarating power pop-styled chorus that explodes amidst a sea of lush harmonies. The driving "Yes Yes Yes" boasts a dazzling British blues rock vibe complete with a searing guitar solo backed by the strong rhythm section of bassist Sean Hurley and drummer Victor Indrizzo. Turning on a dime, the gentle Baroque folk offering "Good Morning Girl" is enhanced by Gurley's subtle work on guitar as well as piano, organ, Mellotron and Wurzlitzer. "I Had A Dream Last Night That I Had A Dream" is flat out amazing; similarly the chamber pop gem "Madison Ellington" finds Gurley singing to the accompaniment of keyboards and a string section. Other standouts on this brilliant LP include the psychedelia-tinged "I Love Your Guitar," hypnotic rocker "Everything All The Time," '60s-mining "Tibetan Proverb" and beautiful guitar-anchored ballad "Under The Moon." Make sure to listen to this album with headphones everybody! Information: michaelgurleymusic.com.



Artist: 
Suzzy Roche and Lucy Wainwright Roche
Title: I Can Still Hear You (StorySound Records)
You might like if you enjoy: Suzzy Roche, Lucy Wainwright Roche, the Indigo Girls, Martha Wainwright, folk music
Tell me more: Suzzy Roche and her daughter Lucy Wainwright Roche have recorded an album of immense depth and beauty created amidst a year of challenges and uncertainty. I Can Still Hear You is filled with songs that help the listener decipher the myriad of emotions that came crashing in throughout 2020 along with an even more universal look at loss and the human will to persevere even in the darkest of times. Indeed, Suzzy Roche lost both her sister Maggie and mother in 2017, and that loss was reflected in a number of songs that she penned and planned to record with her daughter in spring 2020. The sessions with producer Jordan Brooke Hamlin had just started when the growing COVID-19 pandemic mandated the women return to their homes in New York for the lockdown. The duo were able to ultimately complete I Can Still Hear You, which is bound by the two artists' beautiful voices and wonderful songs that tackle pain, love, evil, mortality and joy with candor and courageousness. The mix of originals, poignant covers and even a traditional Irish song ("Factory Girl") are magnificent; Amy Ray and Emily Saliers of the Indigo Girls lend their vocal and instrumental talents on several of the album tracks. Information: storysoundrecords.com.


Artist: 
Evan Wardell
Title: In Like A Lion // Out Like A Light (Moo Moo Records)
You might like if you enjoy: Color Theory, John Carrillo, The Lucy Show 
Tell me more: Written, recorded and produced by San Francisco-based artist Evan Wardell, his solo debut In Like A Lion // Out Like A Light is a chronicle of a single artist's view on the world and the rich musical translation of that vision as captured over the past seven years. Indeed, Wardell even created the album cover artwork! From the decidedly indie rocker "Gettin Across" and '80s-flavored New Wave ballad "Love Song" to the eager electronica-meets-pop romp "Get By" and zealous title cut, Wardell's album is an electrifying listen. Other highlights across the impressive 11-track disc include the indie rockers "Healthy Wise Free" and "Giving Up," evocative "With Teeth" and eerie "Like A Ghost." Information: moomoorecordsmusic.com/evanwardell


Artist: 
Bob Gentry
Title: Back On The Horse (Blue √Član Records)
You might like if you enjoy: Andrew McMahon, America, Toad the Wet Sprocket
Tell me more: After a 10-year hiatus from the music industry, Palm Springs-based singer-songwriter Bob Gentry is back with the aptly-titled Back On The Horse. A number of fateful decisions led to the artist's exit from his path as a recording artist, but his new EP makes a clear and compelling case his original music has a welcome place in the here and now. The breezy "20 Years To Life," lovely "My Mistake" (featuring guest Roan Yellowthorn), probing piano-anchored jewel "Now That You're Gone" and affecting tale of loss "Living With Your Ghost" are among the solid originals on the new set. Information: BobGentry.com.


Robert Kinsler


1 comment:

Unknown said...

My fav song on Bob Gentry’s Back on the Horse is Lead Me On. Live the entire EP though. Thanks for the review!