It seems like it took forever to get this batch of CDs onto the play list. I've been sitting with some of these for well over a month. I'm excited about the indie artists this time around, including: Ruby James, John Batdorf, Mason Brothers, EZ Powell Band and Corday. But the more established artists are just as exciting with Sam Phillips, Tina Dico, Kathleen Edwards, R.E.M., Drive-By Truckers, Jackson Brown and Liam Finn all releasing excellent CDs.
Ruby James - Desert Rose (2007)
Persistence... Ruby wrote to ask if I had checked out a link her publicist had sent. I hadn't. A quick listen told me that she was someone who belonged on The Promise and so an email or two later and the CD was on its way. Another nice CD to add to the play list. I wasn't expecting to be so taken by this CD though. The best "Americana" bends the boundaries and "Everything Good Goes Away" was the song that hooked me, with a style that was more Allman Brothers then Emmylou. I love the arrangements on these songs: The slide guitar gliding lightly on top of the acoustic guitars on "Desert Rose", the bluesy feel in "Mistress of the Devil". She's working on a new CD and already I can't wait. http://rubyjames.com/
John Batdorf - Home Again (2008)
Half of the acoustic guitar team, Batdorf and Rodney, John Batdorf has recreated that sound on his new CD, taking beautifully inspired lyrics filled with hope and combining them with near jaw dropping acoustic guitar soloing. A beautiful CD that will inspire you on several levels. You can pick the CD up at CDBaby, http://cdbaby.com/cd/batdorf
Mason Brothers - The Sun The Moon and the Sea (2007)
I believe I could play this CD in the background for hours at a time without needing to turn it off. It is a beautiful, soft acoustic work of art; gentle and yet still exciting. This fits really well next to John Datdorf. http://www.masonbrothersmusic.com/
The EZ Powell Band - Bedroom Eyes (2006)
The EZ Powell Band is a one man band with plenty of potential. The production is very sparse but if you look past the rough edges you can see a talented songwriter trying to be heard. Someone we will be keeping an eye on. http://www.ezpowell.com/
Corday - Superhero (2007)
Jennifer Corday has been playing The O.C. and elsewhere since... well, since it was hip to be a female singer/songwriter. The potential has always been there and now she has arrived with this excellent CD. The songwriting is as good as she's ever done. The production on this CD is the best she has ever had. If you live in the O.C./Long Beach area or have the chance to catch her when she does festivals around the U.S., do so. This new music along with her charisma at live performances will continue to make her one of the most respected acts in the county. Watch out world. http://www.corday.net/
Sam Phillips - Don't Do Anything (2008)
I've already talked about this fantastic CD. See below for reviews of the CD and a recent Borders performance. There will be plenty of this CD showing up on the station. A must buy. http://samphillips.com
Tina Dico - Count to Ten (2008)
Tina's last CD was my CD of the year. I'm not sure if this one will get there, but it stands up very nicely next to her last, "In The Red". A woman on her own, singing about her life and lovers, Tina does it as good as anyone I have heard since... Maybe since Joni did it in the 60's/early 70's.
Kathleen Edwards - Asking for Flowers (2008)
Kathleen continues to grow and develop as a writer. She continues telling stories about people from small towns. And they continue to grab you and make you feel. But nothing she has done, prepared me for the power of "Alicia Ross", where she takes on the role of a young woman who was killed by her neighbor; singing to her mother about her death. Saying goodbye. One song worth the price of admission. The rest of the CD is gravy.
Drive-By Truckers - Brighter Than Creation's Dark (2008)
Jason Isbell has left the band and the writing slack has been picked up by Shoona Tucker, the bassist in the band. What we have is a sometimes gentler sound. When they want to sound like the Stones though, they can rock with the best of them. Another good CD from the social/political storytellers of the South.
Jackson Browne - Solo Acoustic vol. 2 (2008)
It's Jackson Brown, live, telling stories. What else do you need to know?
Liam Finn - I'll Be Lightning (2008)
This is an exciting CD from the son one of rocks finest songwriters, Neil Finn. This is a solo effort in all it's glory with Liam playing most if not all of the instruments. He showed us how it was done in concert last year, and now as I listen to the finished product, it all seemed to come back. The songs and melodies have great staying power. This is someone to watch out for.
R.E.M. - Accelerate (2008)
Returning to the sound that made them the darlings of the media and gave them a huge following, R.E.M. has found their voice again. This is the first R.E.M. CD I've fully recommended thismillennium.