Gary Clark Jr.
Unabashedly stating his truth, the title track and accompanying video isn’t the type of political statement I generally associate with Clark. From there, he seems to be branching out into…well, everything. This Land is full of songs, moments and genre jumping that leaves the album a bit hard to connect with as a single piece. But each song has such a strong personality it’s a bit like stepping directly into Clark’s head and his numerous musical influences.
– Nikki Hedrick
Few Miles South
californ i ain’t
The Panhandle is this country band’s second home, and they continue to travel a road rooted in attitude and bluesy guitar licks. Whether you have a soft spot for slide guitars, twangy no-nonsense lyrics, or country tunes that aren’t afraid to have a rock backbone, you’ll want to give this one a spin.
– Nikki Hedrick
Branford Marsalis Quartet
The Secret Between the Shadow and the Soul
Saxophonist (he plays them all) Branford Marsalis and his standby Quartet hit the mark squarely with The Secret Between the Shadow and the Soul. The seven tracks burst with humor, grace and swing, the kind of this-looks-easy ensemble work that bespeaks long collaboration. It’s hard to choose which is the best—for me, it’s a tie between “Dance of the Evil Toys”—which evokes Raymond Scott’s ingenious compositions, adapted by Carl Stalling for classic Looney Tunes animation—and “Snake Hip Waltz,” a cheerful, lascivious piece that gives Marsalis a chance to trill and chirp like Charlie Parker in a good mood. A must-listen.
– Bruce Collier
Argentine-born guitarist Dominic Miller is the son of an Irish mother and an American father. He grew up in Buenos Aires, Racine, Wisconsin, and London. He paid his dues and honed his craft as a sideman for Sting before going out on his own, playing rock, world music and classical. Absinthe is his latest. Like the namesake spirit, it’s a blend that sneaks up on you. Miller and his four sidemen incorporate nylon and steel strings, bandoneon, drums and keyboard. The 10 tunes have a French-Celtic feel, with some brooding folk and even a little Romani and Cape Breton flavors.
– Bruce Collier
Jordi Savall & Hesperion XXI
Ibn Battuta – The Traveler of Islam
In the 1300s, a Muslim scholar named Ibn Battuta left Morocco for a 16-month pilgrimage to Mecca. He got back 24 years later, having gone as far east as Beijing, as far south as Tanzania, and everywhere in between. Catalan musician and “early music” historian Jordi Savall and his crew Hesperion XXI recount a slice of Battuta’s adventures in The Traveler of Islam, based on Battuta’s writings. This recording features some 55 tracks, and a stageful of exotic music—songs, dances, percussion riffs, and non-Western grooves, played on traditional instruments and interspersed with narrative in English, Arabic and French.
– Bruce Collier
EDITOR’S CHOICE – FIVE ALBUMS TO GET YOUR EARS AROUND RIGHT NOW
Ray Charles, Modern Sounds in Country and Western Music, Vol. 1 and 2. Available on music streaming services (the good and evil ones) for the first time. Hallelujah.
Robert Ellis, Texas Piano Man. Sounds like the “Walking in Memphis” guy with balls.
The Delines, The Imperial. Superb storytelling, first-rate production…I didn’t want to stop listening.
Bob Mould, Sunshine Rock. The former Husker proves he can still Du it. Noisy and lovely.
Julia Kent, Temporal. Pseudoclassical hypnotic soundscapes that somehow connect. Ms. Kent is one engaging weirdo.
– Chris Manson
Pauseandplay.com – Since 1997, P&P has been the definitive place for music fans to find out when a new album is coming out. Also stay up on the latest reissues and music‑related DVD/Blu‑rays and books. Elton John says he uses Pauseandplay.com to keep track of new music, and Entertainment Weekly has included it on its list of “The 100 Greatest Web Sites,” one of only 17 music sites to be selected.
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