Bruce Springsteen - Springsteen On Broadway
Raw, acoustic, intimate performances by the Boss down the boulevard of broken, or made dreams, in a location that’s more associated with showy musicals, and that’s a strange place for the man seen as a blue-collar hero who has filled stadiums. His residency ran at the Walter Kerr Theatre between November 2017 and March 2018. But what's different here is that this extensive live album is full of talky-anecdotes between songs – such the emotional recollection of him being sent as a child to fetch his troubled factory worker father from a bar, and the guilty confession that yes, Bruce himself is but a false minstrel - who has never worked a proper job, and that really all his life’s work is actually from his father's point of view. Honest, almost embarrassingly sincere, but also a bit cheesy too, this is a new insight into the troubled mind of an artist who is still uncomfortable after all these years. And perhaps that’s what drives him. Life is far from romantic in the music biz, and in his performance of Born In The USA, for example, he re-emphasises there’s nothing patriotic going on here.
Bruce Springsteen – Springsteen On Broadway (preview)
Neil Young - Songs For Judy
Another intimate, acoustic live album from a major artist, but not recently, this time a 24-track double-album collection of recordings from Young doing a solo tour in November 1976, after an extensive, much noisier world tour with Crazy Horse. There's sense of calm and relief here, and for many its the gentler, subtler side of this performer many prefer. It includes the rare track, No One Seems To Know, played on piano, plus among others Campaigner, Pocahontas, Old Laughing Lady, The Losing End, White Line and Tell Me Why. Judy, incidentally is Judy Garland, apparently spotted sitting in front row at one of these shows, about which he remarks. Out on Shakey Pictures Records, Young’s own imprint distributed by Reprise Records.
Neil Young – No One Seems To Know
Aidan Moffat and RM Hubbert – Ghost Stories for Christmas
Following their wonderful album earlier this this year, Here Lies The Body, the Scottish pair return with more gorgeous narrative and reflective songs candel-dripping with dark ironic humour and sensitivity, offbeat philosophy, and a yuletide theme. It also includes a lovely cover of Only You by Yazoo, Mud’s 1974 hit, Lonely This Christmas, and with original songs too, has among collaborators violinist and vocalist Jenny Reeve who has appeared with Moffat on Arab Strap. Out on Rock Action
Aidan Moffat and RM Hubbert – A Ghost Story for Christmas
Richard Swift – Hex
Now out on vinyl, but originally released digitally in September - the extraordinary final, and posthumous LP mixing previous EP and new tracks, of the American singer-songwriter, multi-instrumentalist and film-maker who died in July aged just 41 only a month after working on this. He had doo-wop, early Funkadelic, Bo Diddley, Beefheart and Link Wray among his many eclectic influences and worked with countless musicians. But his own work, intensely emotional in a grief-ridden work about his mother and more, is hard to define and a superb final bow. "She's never coming back!" she screams on Nancy. Nor is he, tragically, but at least we have his music. Out on Secretly Canadian.
Richard Swift – Nancy
Moonlight Benjamin – Siltane
Haitian blues-rock with with voodoo twist from the singer with a voice and presence delivered with a power and drama that has a helping of Patti Smith and a dash of Nina Simone. She has potent personal history too - her mother died when she was born, she was brought up singing hymns in a church orphanage, then had a voodoo initiation among musicians, and studied jazz in Paris. That's quite a cocktail. Out on Ma Case Records.
Moonlight Benjamin - Memwan
Big Joanie - Sistahs
Billed as "the Ronettes filtered through ’80s DIY and Riot Grrrl with a sprinkling of dashikis" this is the trio’s first LP, and released on Thurston Moore's new label - Daydream Library. Stephanie Phillips (singer/ guitarist), Estella Adeyeri (bass) and Chardine Taylor-Stone (drums) are wonderfully funny and engaging live, sprinkled with gently humorous lyrics and a DIY punk/krautrock style. In musical parallels two other great current bands come to mind - Canada's Weaves and Brooklyn's Bodega.
Big Joanie - Fall Asleep
Alessia Cara - The Pains of Growing
Second album from the 22-year old R&B pop singer, who undoubtedly has a considerable voice and talent, and can produce strong choruses, but retains lyrics that cannot yet outgrow the painfully cliched, saccharine and cringeworthy. But how can she fail with a major label? Out on Virgin EMI.
Alessia Cara - Growing Pains
This week's selection is by The Landlord.
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