New Albums from Loretta Lynn and Margo Price (with a little Jack White backstory)

Loretta Lynn released “Full Circle” on March 4th, her first new album since 2004.  Work on the album began in 2007 under the guidance of daughter Patsy Lynn and John Carter Cash. Its fourteen tracks were culled from hundreds of recordings made in those past eight years.  At 83 Lynn’s voice is still pitch perfect, and the duet “Lay Me Down” sung with her contemporary, Willie Nelson, is sure to be a favorite. The song was written by Mark Marchetti, the husband of Patsy’s twin sister Peggy.

I’ll wager that both the album and the duet will win Grammys this year. If they do, it would be a repeat of the success of Lynn’s last album, “Van Lear Rose”. Here’s the Grammy-winning duet “Portland Oregon” from that album, featuring its producer, Jack White.

Margo Price has been singing in Nashville for a dozen years, and her debut album “Midwest Farmer’s Daughter” is reportedly the first by a new country artist for Jack White’s Third Man Records. This album doesn’t feature White or bear his production imprint though, Price recorded it at Sun Studios in Memphis and Third Man released it just as Price recorded it.

Here’s the upbeat first official video from the album, “Hurtin’ (On the Bottle)”. Perhaps she’ll sing it when she performs on Saturday Night Live on April 9th!

Women Vocalists Review – Björk, Rhiannon Giddens and Kandace Springs

Before we start, a couple of notes on last night’s Grammy Awards.  Happy to see Roseanne Cash take home three in the American Roots categories for “The River & The Thread” (see our earlier post), Beck take home two for “Morning Phase” (see our earlier post), and Jack White score one for “Lazaretto”.

But that’s old musical news.

Björk (she of the infamous swan dress) is a unique and esoteric vocalist with an international following, putting out top selling solo albums since 1993.  Her latest, “Vulnicura” (meaning “Cure for Wounds”), was to be released in March to coincide with an exhibit on her career opening at the Museum of Modern Art in New York.  But the album leaked on the internet in January, so the album dropped early.  Lush with string arrangements, the album is a meditation on her breakup with American artist Matthew Barney.  Spend a few minutes getting into the hypnotic feel of the album’s first track “Stonemilker”.

In a completely different vein, Rhiannon Giddens has been working with uber-producer T Bone Burnett on a few projects, including her first solo album “Tomorrow is My Turn”. The album includes covers of a number of great artists, features great backing musicians, and most of all introduces us to a great new singer. Listen to these covers of Patsy Kline and Joan Baez.

And in another completely different vein, Kandace Springs is a singer and pianist bringing a soul look and style that’s a little bit retro and a whole lot of fun. Check out “Love Got in the Way” from her eponymous debut EP. Then, to tie back to last night’s Grammy’s, listen to her cover of Sam Smith’s “Stay With Me” which won him Record of the Year and Song of the Year.

 

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New Albums from Classic Women Vocalists and a Newcomer – Rosanne Cash, Chrissie Hynde, and Rachel Price

Some famous female vocalists have new music out, and a great new singer has arrived on the scene.

Rosanne Cash, eldest daughter of Johnny and superstar in her own right, released “The River and the Thread” in January.  The album has received its share of good reviews, and the first track is “A Feather’s Not a Bird”.  The album’s producer is Rosanne’s husband John Leventhal, who also co-wrote all the songs and plays lead guitar on this performance. If you like the video below, check out this studio performance of “The Long Way Home” with John backing Rosanne on acoustic guitar.

Perhaps the best Rock & Roll frontwoman ever is Chrissie Hynde of the Pretenders. Almost 35 years after “Brass in Pocket” launched the band’s career, Chrissie is about to release her first solo album. “Stockholm” is due out in June, and the first single “Dark Sunglasses” has been released. Unfortunately, the video shows us no Chrissie, just a bunch of folks wearing – you guessed it. If you want to see Chrissie front the Pretenders in their heyday, 30 years ago, check out the other video too. The video quality isn’t great, but don’t you wish you’d been there?

Back in October we wrote about Lake Street Dive covering a Jackson Five tune. The band is now out with a new full-length LP “Bad Self Portraits” that is fresh and absolutely delightful from start to finish. The band’s lead singer, Rachel Price, has a great voice and a unique style that propels the band’s range of jazz, soul and R&B tunes. Here is the title track from the new album, and “You Go Down Smooth”.

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2014 Grammy Awards – Mining Gems in the Lesser Known Categories

Last night’s Grammy awards may have delivered a few surprises in the major categories, but our enthusiasm for Daft Punk’s “Random Access Memories” and its hit song “Get Lucky” were matched by the Recording Academy’s. It was also nice to see a couple of awards go to Dave Grohl for the “Sound City” CD, including one to him and Paul McCartney for the track “Cut Me Some Slack”.

But scrolling way down the nominees and winners list on the Grammy website, you can find some gems that didn’t make the telecast or the mainstream media coverage.

In the Best American Roots Song category, comic genius and banjo player Steve Martin teamed up with Edie Brickell, wife of Paul Simon and former chanteuse of the New Bohemians, to write and perform “Love Has Come For You”.

In the category of Best Instrumental Arrangement, Gordon Goodwin put out a very nice take of the jazz classic “On Green Dolphin Street” performed by his Big Phat Band. Goodwin has won a Grammy before and picked up 13 nominations, and is also a three-time Emmy Award winner for his compositions and arrangements.

Twenty years after the release of Hootie and the Blowfish’s “Cracked Rear View”, the 16th best selling album in U.S. history, frontman Darius Rucker won this year’s Best Country Solo Performance for “Wagon Wheel”.

And finally, Best Traditional R&B Performance went to Gary Clark, Jr. for “Please Come Home”. Though most celebrated for his guitar playing (the solo comes at about 1:35), he shows off a fine falsetto on this tune. To hear Clark at his bluesy, guitar-slinging best (sans falsetto), check out his performance at the White House.

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RIP Phil Everly

Phil Everly, with his older brother Don the Everly Brothers, died on Friday in California.  Famous for a string of hits that began with “Bye Bye Love” and “Wake Up Little Susie”, both released in 1957, the massive influence of the duo’s vocal harmonizing was recognized with inclusion in the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame’s inaugural class in 1986. Here are the Everly Brothers performing those hits.

Many of their hits were written by others, including the two in the videos above, but Phil wrote 1960’s “When Will I Be Loved” which also became Linda Ronstadt’s second highest charting single in 1974.  Interesting note: Ronstadt was just elected to this year’s Rock and Roll Hall of Fame class.

Phil and Don also wrote “Gone Gone Gone”, covered by Robert Plant and Alison Krauss on their 2007 collaboration “Raising Sand”.

Phil did live to see Billy Joe Armstrong of Green Day and Norah Jones release “Foreverly” this past November, a song-for-song reinterpretation of the Everly Brothers’ second album “Songs Our Daddy Taught Us”. Here’s the first single released from that album.

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