The new Gillian Welch CD, The Harrow & The Harvest arrived in our mailbox last week. We haven’t had a chance to sit down and listen to the whole thing straight through, but judging from what I’ve heard so far, it’s in the same league as her last album, Soul Journey, which is so simple, it’s masterful.
Anyway, the insert for the CD cover is made from a single piece of stiff fabric similar to a coffee mug coaster. The cover drawing is pressed into the fabric. It’s a miniature work of art that reminds me what it was like to listen to an album on vinyl and admire the artwork that went into the overall package. Anyone remember those days? Continue reading →
I first heard of Kate Bush after she sang with Peter Gabriel on his song, “Don’t Give Up,” in 1986, something like that. I don’t much listen to Peter Gabriel anymore, though I still think his instrumental Passion album holds up better than anything he’s done. I’d probably still listen to him if he continued to put out albums in that vein instead of, well, whatever version of pop music is does these days. Anyway, I thought highly of Kate Bush because I thought highly of Peter Gabriel. But then I read a review in Rolling Stone where her voice was described as a mixture of Patti Smith and a Hoover vacuum cleaner. I don’t know a thing about Patti Smith, but the vacuum cleaner quality of her voice made sense to me somehow, and I gradually came to feel like her voice was full of hot air and helium. Silly overly dramatic singing. Whatever appreciation I had for Kate Bush’s voice and her artistry disappeared. The one song of hers that kind of worked for me was called “Deeper Understanding,” a song about technology cutting a person off from the world. So I was mildly interested recently when I heard that she re-recorded the song on her latest album, supposedly transforming it, along with some other older songs, into a more mature and purer take on what she originally intended. Or something. So I thought, okay, maybe she’s grown out of the melodrama I couldn’t stand in her music before, and if she sings like a normal person, maybe it’s not that bad. So I gave it a whirl…
…and brother was I wrong. What the hell’s going on here, Bob? Conceptually, I see what she’s going for, and it almost works. But I don’t know man… Autotune kills it for me. Maybe I need to listen more carefully. I do like the harmonica part near the end, though. She be jammin’.
My CD pre-order of Jolie Holland’s new album, Pint of Blood, has been delayed until mid-July. So I’m listening to the entire album streaming from Paste Magazine. The streaming was supposed to end on June 28th, but I guess someone at Paste forgot to pull the plug.
I’m on track 6 now, a new interpretation of “The Littlest Birds.” It’s all good, man, it’s all good. Fans who appreciate what she can do with a good band like in the 2007 and 2009 Daytrotter Sessions will probably enjoy the ride. I know I am. I’m loving everything she does. I love her musical sensibilities, how she incorporates her traditional bluesy influences and makes them her own, how she continually evolves as an artist.
I’m on the last track now, a piano and violin (or carpenters saw?) cover of Townes Van Zandt’s “Rex’s Blues.” It’s killer. Another beautiful album from Jolie Holland.