Death’s Dateless Night By Paul Kelly and Charlie Owen

July 10, 2017

Paul Kelly has been a superstar in his native Australia for several decades. He has produces numerous albums of reflective and cerebral pop/rock. He is also known for his creative approaches to presenting his music. A little over a decade ago he embarked on a series of concerts where he sang his original song catalogue in alphabetical order. He followed it with an eight disc CD set containing the songs in the same order. Early last hear he created an album of music using the love sonnets of Shakespeare as the lyrics.

Charlie Owens has been an Australian instrumental mainstay. His work with several bands and as an in-demand session musician has kept him in the public eye. Now he has joined Kelly in the creation of an album with a very unique theme.

There are concept albums and then there are concept albums. Death’s Dateless Night is an album of songs that they have performed at funerals.

The music is basic and for the most part acoustic. It is usually Owns on piano, dobro, or pedal steel and Kelly on guitar and vocals. The song-selection is more philosophical than depressing. Well known tunes such as Leonard Cohen’s “Bird On A Wire,” Lennon/McCartney’s “Let It Be,” and Townes Van Zandt’s “”To Live Is To Fly” are given simple renditions.

It is the less-known songs that make the biggest impact. The traditional and century old “Pallet On The Floor” and the near acapella Irish song “The Parting Glass” are stunning despite their simplicity. “Meet Me In The Middle Of The Air” is one of two original compositions that uses the 23rd Psalm as a jumping off place. The album concludes with Hank Williams’ “Angel of Death.”

Paul Kelly and Charlie Owens have managed to make the concept of death both interesting and listenable. Death’s Dateless Night is another interesting career stop for Paul Kelly. Funerals have never been so interesting or entertaining.


Live At The G Spot By David Honeyboy Edwards

July 10, 2017

David “Honeyboy” Edwards, (1915-2011), may have been the last of the original Delta Bluesmen. He was born in Shaw, Mississippi, in 1915, and left home at the age of 14 to play the blues. He traveled with Robert Johnson for a number of years and was present when he drank poisoned liquor. He continued to perform until his death at the age of 96.

Omnivore Recordings has now released his last recorded concert as a two-disc DVD and CD set. At 95 years of age, Honeyboy performed a nine song set at the G Spot in Los Angeles, September 4, 2010. Backed by Jeff Dale & The South Woodlawners, he gave one of the last authentic concerts of the Delta Blues.

The CD and DVD contain the same material with two notable exceptions. The CD contains an extra band version of ‘That’s Alright.” The DVD includes twenty minutes of Edwards telling stories about music, Johnson, Charley Patton, and more.

The recording equipment was modern day, so the sound and video quality are excellent. The performance was filmed for release, so it has a cohesive feel. His song-set is a mix of originals and covers that span the decades. The backing band is capable and is wise enough to stay out of his way, although by just being there they lesson the primitive aspect of his original music a bit.

Edwards was 95 years old at the time of the performance and his voice, while not as powerful as in his prime, remains effective. His guitar technique is still evident and the film pays some attention to this part of his legacy.

“Ride With Me Tonight,” “Little Boy Blue,” “Catfish Blues,” and “Sweet Home Chicago” are stripped to their essence. While Edwards may need a little more help than in the past, his roots are still on display.

I’m Gonna Tell You Somethin’ That I Know is about as modern as Honeyboy Edwards ever gets. It is an album for people who long for music from a different and now by-gone time.

No More Blue Mondays By Landon Sprandlin

June 19, 2017

This music has been around a while but good music is eternal.

Landon Spradlin is a tried and true USA blues shouter and guitar aficionado who travelled to England two decades ago to record the music for this album. No More Blue Mondays was originally released in 1995 and now makes a long waited for return.

Spradlin has a soulful voice that is unique for a blues musician but his frenetic guitar runs are pure blues. The old blues song “I’ve Never Been To Seminary” is a gritty re-invention of the tune. The title track is a smooth blues excursion that is fueled by his pyrotechnics on the guitar.

Spradlin has shared the stage with such artists as Lee Roy Parnell, Rick Derringer, The Nighthawks, and the Kentucky Headhunters so it is good to see his work fronting his own band. No More Blue Mondays is a solid album dedicated to the blues.

The Beat Of My Heart By Lisa Biales

June 19, 2017

Lisa Biales is jazz artist and a fine interpreter of songs from a number of different traditions. She has now returned with her ninth album titled The Beat Of My Heart.

Two years ago she came across a 78 rpm record recorded in 1947 by her mother, Alberta Roberts. “Crying Over You” begins with her mother singing the first verse and then Biales finishing the song. It is an emotional ride.

She transforms Eric Bibb’s gospel-tinged “Don’t Let Nobody Drag Your Spirit Down” into a subtle jazz classic. Carrie Newcomer’s “I Should Have Know Better” is a little more edgy. The old Nina Simone tune “Be My Husband” is a smoldering cover. The best song may be “Messin’ Around With The Blues,” which has a cadence and clarity that is at the heart of her approach.

Biales has developed into a secure artist, who is secure in who she is as a vocalist. The Beat Of My Heart is another building block in her legacy.

The Future Left Behind By Leon Alvarado

June 19, 2017

Leon Alvarado albums have tread the line between ambient and progressive rock music. Now his latest release, The Future Lefy Behind, has pushed him squarely into the realm of progressive rock.

His new album is an ambitious project. Inspired by Rick Wakeman’s Journey To The Centre of The Earth, he has created a thematic instrumental progressive rock opus.

The music builds throughout the album as it paints pictures of his science fiction story of exploration and leaving the earth behind. Alvarado plays most of the instruments including keyboards. Also on hand is guitarist Billy Sherwood on all the music tracks except one, and Rick Wakeman who guests with a solo on “Launch Overture.”

Alvarado has undertaken a difficult project and managed to create an interesting and ultimately satisfying album.

Magia By Nicolett Pankovits

June 5, 2017

Nikolett Pankovits was born in Hungary, acted in 22 movies, was jailed during the war in her country, escaped to Brazil, settled in New York, and immersed herself in Latin music and rhythms. She has now released a new album titled Magia.

Her music can best be described as a fusion of roots and jazz that does not confine itself to one country. She draws on the music and stories of her home country and South America, and combines them with an American jazz feel.  She is backed by guitarist Juancho Herrera, violinist Zach Brock, trumpeter Josh Deutsch, pianist Jason Lindner, bassist John Benitez, and drummer Ferenc Nemeth.

The uniting theme of the album are the stories that are told through her vocal interpretations. There are torch songs from Hungary that provide a history lesson, a childhood song “La Dama De L Muerte,” which is transformed into a Mexican Day Of The Dead Celebration complete with new Spanish lyrics, more traditional jazz excursions with “Gloomy Sunday” and “Besame Mucho,” and a soaring album ending Alan and Marilyn Bergman composition “Where Do You Start” backed only by a piano and saxophone.

Nikolett has released and interesting album that takes the listener in a number of directions It is music worth exploring.

How Long By Little Mike

June 5, 2017

Little Mike is one of the energizer bunnies of the music industry. Whether in the studio, on the road, fronting his own band, or helping out on numerous projects as a guest artist; he has established himself as one of the great blues harpists working today.

He has now released a new album titled How Long. It consists of eight originals and four cover songs fueled by his harp, plus his keyboards and vocals.

He is one of the rare harmonica players who can use the instrument in place of the vocals. His phrasing is unique as it communicates a story.

Little Mike is a modern days blues artist who learned his craft from the like of James Cotton, Hubert Sumlin, and Pinetop Perkins. Their influences can be seen and felt on such original tunes as “Cotton Mouth,” “When My Baby Left,” “Sam’s Blues,” and “Not What Mama Planned,” where the past is integrated into the present day blues.

Little Mike is approaching the forty year mark in his career. How Long is another fne effort that will be appreciated by any blues or harp aficionado.