Tuesday, January 03, 2023

Catching up with 2022 releases: First Aid Kit, Freedy Johnston, Mamas Gun, Early James, Larkin Poe

It's not too late to catch up on some of 2022's most exciting new albums.

First Aid Kit
Title: Palomino (Columbia Records)
You might like if you enjoy: First Aid Kit, The Cowsills
Tell me more: First Aid Kit returned with their fifth studio album Palomino in November. Sisters Klara and Johanna Söderberg wrote and recorded the 11-track album in their home country of Sweden. The duo's shining harmonies and bewitching songcraft shine across Palomino with the sweeping "Ready to Run," soaring title track, Laurel Canyon-flavored "Turning Onto You" and romantic "The Last One" among the gems that showcase their artistry. The gorgeous "29 Palms Highway" and yearning "Angel" (the latter featuring a truly unforgettable chorus) are other standouts on the album. Palomino is available digitally as well as in various physical configurations including standard black LP, translucent green D2C exclusive LP, white indie retail exclusive LP and audio CD. Information: FirstAidKit.com.

Freedy Johnston
Title: Back on the Road to You (Forty Below Records)
You might like if you enjoy: James Taylor, Susanna Hoffs, Aimee Mann, Bird Streets, Julian Lennon
Tell me more: Singer-songwriter Freedy Johnston returned in spring 2022 with Back on the Road to You, a winning album of 10 stellar originals bolstered by well crafted arrangements, terrific musicianship from his studio band and smart contributions from guests Aimee Mann, Susanna Hoffs and Susan Cowsill. An artist able to conjure up the magic of classic melody-adorned songcraft, Johnston's latest album also benefits from a contemporary authenticity that serves as the perfect bridge between the past and present. The buoyant Americana-flavored title track, opulent "Somewhere Love," chamber pop gem "That's Life" (featuring Hoffs' lovely vocal harmonies), melodic rocker "The Power of Love," and instantly-infectious "There Goes a Brooklyn Girl" are among the wonderful songs on the set. But it's important to note that each and every track adds to the artistic depth of the collection. Information: FreedyJohnston.com.

Mamas Guns
Title: Cure the Jones (Candelion)
You might like if you enjoy: Marvin Gaye, Curtis Mayfield, Bill Withers
Tell me more: British pop soul outfit Mamas Gun's fifth full-length album Cure the Jones is a full-on celebration of 1970s soul. The 11-track album was written and produced by Mamas Gun front man Andy Platts during the global pandemic, and also features the talents of Terry Lewis (guitar), Dave Oliver (keyboards), Chris Boot (drums) and Cameron Dawson (bass). The sound of the album thrives on slick grooves, emotional performances and a sonic spirit that draws favorable comparisons with the likes of Marvin Gaye, Curtis Mayfield and Bill Withers. The tender "When You Stole The Sun From The Sky," infectious "Good Love" and up-tempo "Winner's Eyes" are among the wonderful originals to be heard on the disc. Information: mamasgun.co.uk.

Early James
Title: Strange Time To Be Alive (Easy Eye Sound)
You might like if you enjoy: Tom Waits, John Prine, Townes Van Zandt, Dan Auerbach
Tell me more: Early James  the moniker for Troy, Alabama native Fredrick James Mullis Jr.  fuses old-time Americana, roots and blues on his aptly-titled second studio album What A Strange Time To Be Alive. From the experimental-styled opener "Racing to a Red Light" and 1940s-flavored "Straitjacket For Two" to the beautiful piano-anchored "Pigsty" and freewheeling blues nugget "Dance In The Fire," the decidedly atmospheric collection of blues, rockabilly and roots is a sumptuous listen. Information: EarlyJames.com.

Larkin Poe
Title: Blood Harmony (Tricki-Woo Records)
You might like if you enjoy: Samantha Fish, The Record Company
Tell me more: Larkin Poe  sisters Rebecca Lovell and Megan Lovell  are one of today's leading Southern blues rock troupes as evidenced across the duo's fantastic 11-track album Blood Harmony. There are a slew of fiery tracks on the LP, all enhanced by the sisters' dynamic Southern swagger and solid songwriting. Rebecca Lovell is a powerful singer, and the tandem sound of her guitar along with the firepower of Megan's lap steel guitar work constantly dazzles. Standouts abound on the title, including the rousing "Strike Gold," bewitching title track and shimmering "Southern Comfort." Information: LarkinPoe.com.

Robert Kinsler

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