Emily Maguire - Keep Walking (2007)
What a delight this CD is. So often I receive CDs from singer/songwriters and I love the CDs but find myself thinking: If only they had a great producer to really finish off the songs... Someone like John Leventhal (Shawn Colvin and Rosanne Cash to name but a few). But not "Keep Walking". I love the music on this CD as much as the lyrics. The songs are well written, fully produced, interesting, different, changing pace with each song. I just can't say enough about it. Emily has a beautiful voice and sings these with enough passion to make this a fully developed CD. If this were the 90's (when radio mattered and people like Sheryl Crow and Paula Cole ruled the airwaves) EmilyMaguire would be on her way to becoming a house hold name. This is easily one of my favorite independent CDs of the year so far. Find out more about "Keep Walking" at http://www.emilymaguire.com or http://myspace.com/emilymaguire .
Brandi Carlile - The Story (2007)
With T-Bone Burnett behind the wheel, I was expecting so much more. Still this is a strong CD and a step up from her initial release.
Steve Lee - All Secrets Fade (2001)
Singer/Songwriter Steve Lee has created a solid CD. The music dances around between modern folk ("American Gothic") and straight ahead rockers ("Half a Chance"), all blending together to create a fine piece of work. You can purchase this CD at http://www.cdbaby.com/stevelee .
Cowboy Junkies - At The End of Paths Taken (2007)
This may very well be the best CD the Junkies have ever done. It was almost 20 years ago that The Cowboy Junkies created that very special CD, "The Trinity Sessions", and we have all been waiting for something to top it ever since. This isn't a haunting CD, like Trinity. Instead it is a natural CD; filled with 20 years of songwriting experience and maturity. The sound moves from the CJ type mellow "Still Lost" to a the hard edged "Cutting Board Blues" and yet never loses focus. "Spiral Down" could easily have made it on that first CD... And we haven't even gotten half way into the CD. http://www.cowboyjunkies.com
Tori Amos - American Doll Posse (2007)
All the talk on Tori's new release is about her 4 personalities and how each one takes on a portion of this CD. Don't expect too many surprises though. This is Tori, through and through. And it's another excellent CD from an artist who has found her way again.
Jimmy LaFave - Cimarron Manifesto (2007)
I spent half my life avoiding country music. But alt-country artists like Jimmy LaFave keep drawing me closer and closer. Another excellent CD from the real music capital of the world: Austin.
No Fixed Abode - Clearwater (2007)
I love the sound of Irish Folk Rock, and you'll find it in ample supply on No Fixed Abode's "Clearwater". Una Walsh's vocals lead this band with Patrick Walker's violin and viola driving the songs home. Not unlike the Wild Colonials, whose guitar player, Shark, sits in the background but is obviously the driving force in the band, Tony Dean who co-wrote all of the songs with Walsh may be the key that puts this band above the rest. With strong songwriting, gorgeous lead vocals and killer violin, what is not to love. Get more info at http://www.freewebs.com/musicnfa/
Black Angel - O'California (2006)
Rough and raw, dripping from an overdose of Stones records, Black Angel is probably one of those bands that are just too much fun to see in concert. I had a lot of fun listening to this CD. Check 'em out here: http://www.garageband.com/artist/BlackAngelBand
Melissa McClelland - Thumbelina's One Night Stand (2006)
This is the CD I went looking for a year plus ago after seeing her back up Luke Doucet at Largo. They were an opening act for Kathleen Edwards and I was enthralled... by both of them. That first CD was good, but not what I was hoping for. With Luke behind the console on this one, Melissa really shines. She already has a voice (sang with Sarah McLachlan) and she has the wit; both of which were displayed on that last CD. With this one, she now shows the songwriting talent. "Passenger 24" grabs you and the rest of the CD doesn't let you go. The sound is hard to describe (but I'll try): Canadian country/blues/pop with an attitude. You'll just have to buy it and find out for yourself. And if you are anywhere near her live, it will be worth the ticket to see her perform. http://www.melissamcclelland.com
Neil Young - Massey Hall 1971 (2007)
Neil solo, 1971. What else needs to be said? That most of the audience had never heard this classic music will give you goose bumps. It will start conversations like, "I was there the night Tom Petty introduced a new song, "Refugee". What else do you need?
Golden Smog - Blood On The Slacks (2007)
With only 8 songs two of which are covers, this is an interesting adventure. But if you need to hear what The Jayhawks meet Bowie would sound like, then you should pick this up. I loved it.
Elliott Smith - New Moon (2007)
More music from the vaults of this late great singer/songwriter. You may want to stay away from this if you are an aspiring singer/songwriter. You know there has got to be someone out there saying, "Geez, this guy is dead and he is still putting out better music then I am". It is all simply produced, these demo's that have been lying around for a few years. Mainly guitar and vocals, some of the songs are just pure joy. Always a reminder of a great talent lost.
Wilco - Sky Blue Sky (2007)
They continue to be one of the most original bands alive today. Is it pop? Is it country (or alt-country)? It sure sounds like a jam band here. And it all just sounds so good.
Rufus Wainwright - Release The Stars (2007)
You will want to buy this CD just for the sad and beautiful "Going to a Town". Very high on my list for best song of the year. And in case you forgot where Rufus got his name, there is "Old Paint", which sounds so much like his dad, Loudon, that you may forget which CD you are listening too. Another beautiful CD from one of the truly special voices in pop/rock.
Porcupine Tree - Fear of a Blank Planet (2007)
They are a band that has the ability to connect pop and progressive rock in a way that has never really been done before. This CD isn't as pop as "Deadwing", but it is still well played progressive rock that deserves a listen from anyone that wants to go beyond the 3 chord structure.
Blonde Redhead - 23 (2007)
I was intrigued by the CD cover and the reviews sounded very interesting. So I checked out this modern rock band that has a good 10 year history. This kind of a CD is a reminder that there is so much good music out there if you are willing to spend some time looking. I love the breathy vocals, and that is the big hook here. I'm looking forward to spending more time with them.
Warren Zevon - Preludes (2007)
This is a must buy for any Zevon fan. The first CD is filled with demos of songs, some of which were never recorded. The second CD is an interview he did 7 years ago. He is tough on the interviewer, but it is riveting.
Music Hall Link - Alejandro Escovedo listen