Wednesday, March 13, 2019

Blues, roots and rock excellence on display

A mix of well-known and emerging artists have outstanding new albums out now.

Artist: Leo Bud Welch
Title: The Angels in Heaven Have Done Signed My Name (Easy Eye Sound)
You might like if you enjoy: Robert Johnson, John Lee Hooker, Otis Taylor
Tell me more: Delta bluesman Leo Bud Welch was born in Sabougla, Mississippi in 1932 but didn't embark on his commercial recording career until 2014 when he was in his eighties! Sadly, he was only able to record over a three-year span before passing away at home in Bruce, Mississippi in December 2017; his third full-length album (and first posthumous release) The Angels in Heaven Have Done Signed My Name has just been released by Dan Auerbach's label, Easy Eye Sound. The album reveals Welch to be an impactful artist, his resonant baritone vocals and electric guitar work transporting the listener to another time. The stirring material includes the sparse "I Know I Been Changed," spiritual-blues gem "Jesus is on the Mainline," buoyant "Let It Shine," the trance blues of "I Want to be at the Meeting" and infectious "I Wanna Die Easy." Those wanting to learn and hear more about Welch can view the award-winning 2018 documentary "Late Blossom Blues," which captured the artist's late-in-life move to the limelight. Information:

Artist: Dylan Rodrigue
Title: Cat's Game (Palomino Records / Bad Paintings)
You might like if you enjoy: Neil Young, Pete Yorn, Courtney Barnett
Tell me more: With a focus on diverse soundscapes, thoughtful lyrics and a definite real world vibe,  26-year-old singer-songwriter/multi-instrumentalist Dylan Rodrigue's Cat's Game is an enthralling listen. The melodic "Self-Love" (an original track about creating a lover out of thin air to combat loneliness), art damage folk foray "Some Kind of Heaven," indie rocker "The Money Game" and the beautiful "Living This Way" (the vocals for this song were recored in a bathtub) reflect Rodrigue's honest quest to grapple with the far-flung world around him and put it into song. Each and every track on the disc is worth hearing multiple times, with the songs' layers and musical shades coming more clearly into focus over time. Information:

Artist: Dennis Quaid & the Sharks
Title: Out of the Box (Omnivore Recordings)
You might like if you enjoy: Huey Lewis & the News, the Doors
Tell me more: Once upon a time it was fashionable to dismiss the music-minded ambitions of well-known actors; less-than-convincing album efforts from acclaimed thespians including Leonard Nimoy (Mr. Spock's Music From Outer Space), Don Johnson (Heartbeat), David Hasselhoff (David Hasselhoff) and Jeff Bridges (Be Here Soon) over the past 50 years have not helped dispel that perception. But the critical acclaim that greeted Kiefer Sutherland's astounding 2016 debut Down in A Hole has helped reverse that tide. Another addition to the win column includes the debut from Dennis Quaid & the Sharks, the winning Out of the Box. Quaid is a strong lead vocalist and solid tunesmith. The freewheeling rockers "I'm In Love" and "Peaches No. 9," reggae-styled "You're So Fine," blues tune "Good Man, Bad Boy" and affecting religious confessional "On My Way to Heaven" are among the original standouts on the 13-track disc; artful and memorable covers of the Doors' "L.A. Woman" and "Riders on the Storm" as well as Van Morrison's "Gloria" showcase the signature musical chops of the troupe (Quaid on lead vocals and rhythm guitar; Jamie James on lead guitar and harmony vocals; Tom Mancillas on bass; Ken Stage on keyboards and harmonica; Tom Walsh on drums). A joyful run through Larry Williams' early rock song is the best this writer has heard since the Beatles' 1964 recording. Information:

Artist: John Fusco and the X-Road Riders
Title: John Fusco and the X-Road Riders (Checkerboard Lounge Recordings)
You might like if you enjoy: Moreland & Arbuckle, Tab Benoit, Gregg Allman
Tell me more: "Crossroads" screenwriter John Fusco is well known for his film-related projects ("Young Guns," "Hidalgo") but has now used his bona fide talents as singer and keyboardist to celebrate Southern blues, soul and R&B most closely identified with Louisiana on John Fusco and the X-Road Riders. Fusco has collaborated with Cody Dickinson of the acclaimed group North Mississippi Allstars. The songs featured on the LP will appeal to blues lovers along with admirers of literate and poignant lyrical song craft. The breezy "A Stone's Throw," aptly-pegged "Boogie on the Bayou" and inspired blues harp-adorned "I Got Soul" reflect the richness of Fusco and the X-Road Riders' vision. Closing out the set is an ambitious gospel-layered reworking of Robert Johnson's "Crossroad Blues" featuring guests Cody Luther Dickinson (lead guitar) and Memphis rap pioneer Al Kapone. Information:

Robert Kinsler

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