Elizabeth Cook – Welder
The follow up to 2007’s acclaimed and successful Balls, follows suit in style. Welder is produced by Don Was is rhinestone studded with guests from county music’s A list with Rodney Crowell, Dwight Yokham and Buddy Miller adding their voices. Cook herself is in great voice and like its predecessor there’s good humour and sharp observation in these songs. As she says herself, “From a material standpoint, I’ve never had more to write about…didn’t have to dig too deep at all. For instance, I never thought I’d be singing about my Mama’s funeral. Just never thought I’d write, much less sing, about that. But here it is on Welder…alongside other tales of the harshness and delicacies of romantic and familial love (Not California, Heroin Addict Sister, Girlfriend Tonight), occasionally indulging in the rush of being inappropriate (El Camino, Snake In The Bed, Yes To Booty). As wild a ride as it is, this is the hand the last three years since release of the Balls album has dealt me. Welder is my way of bringing it all together. And it’s just the truth.” The band is made up of friends and husband Tim Carroll, who is a fine performer in his own right and brings some excellent guitar work to bear on the record. You can read the Guardian review here. The Sun rated it 4.5 out of 5 and gave Liz a page feature. Here’s a Vimeo clip of Elizabeth with Tim performing the poignant Heroin Addict Sister.
Keith Jarrett & Charlie Haden – Jasmine
Jarrett and Haden back together again! 31 years after the break-up of Keith Jarrett’s great ‘American quartet’, the pianist and bassist Charlie Haden are reunited for an album of standards, played with deep feeling. The programme on Jasmine includes such classic songs as Body And Soul, For All We Know, Where Can I Go Without You, Don’t Ever Leave Me as well as a rare Jarrett cover of a contemporary pop song, One Day I’ll Fly Away (which Keith first heard Nicole Kidman sing in the film Moulin Rouge). Intimately recorded at Jarrett’s home, the duo play the music and nothing but the music – as only they can. As Keith Jarrett says in his liner notes: “This is spontaneous music made on the spot without any preparation… These are great love songs played by players who are trying, mostly, to keep the message intact.” Certain to be one of the biggest jazz hits of the season, it is released to coincide with Jarrett’s 65th birthday (8 May). The album has already been favourably reviewed in The Observer, where Dave Gelly notes, “Jarrett has a remarkable talent for creating an aura of stillness around him, so that every note he plays stands out clear and bright,” and The Independent who suggest “If you buy only one album this year, etc.” Here’s a link to a clip of Keith And Charlie talking about the record. And you can also hear samples of some of the tracks on the ECM plyer here.
Inge Thomson – Shipwrecks & Static
Shipwrecks & Static is the début solo album from Shetland’s Inge Thomson, released on the Navigator Records Label. Hailing from the microscopic, isolated Shetland island of Fair Isle, Inge Thomson grew up in an enormous world of music. Her family are prominent exponents of folk and traditional music and she became involved with a piano keyed accordion at an early age, which eventually led on to even less socially acceptable instruments. Inge was previously one creative head of Scottish traditional four-piece Harem Scarem and she remains an integral multi instrumentalist / vocalist for The Karine Polwart band. Her own music has already travelled far into the world and Inge, with her band-mates recently collaborated with underground musician and songwriter Will Oldham / Bonnie Prince Billy on his highly acclaimed album Is it the Sea?At this years 2010 Celtic Connections Festival Inge was invited to sing on BBC2 Television concert special The Scottish Songbook (where selected musicians covered popular songs from the last 100 years of Scottish music). Inge performed a stunning reworking of Snow Patrol’s Chasing Cars in a haunting, minimal style and she promptly stole the show in the process with the footage becoming one of the most popular performance videos from the festival on the BBC I-Player. You can read a review on the BBC website here, while Mike Harding was prompted to say, “Forget boundaries and envelopes, her new CD ‘Shipwrecks & Static’ pushes all the walls over and leaves Humpty Dumpty with nowhere to sit. Do I like it? Very much. I sense that I’m listening to something very truthful and very important and more than a little beautiful.” Here’s a track called Norseman’s Bride, which illustrates her unique and woozy appeal admirably.
Fresh from the success of their EP, Pilot : Going Down, global folk-hip hop boundary pushers, PBS6, present their self-titled debut album Meet PBS6 – a collaborative venture between rising musicians from Britain and Australia, each with a musical background in folk and hip-hop. PBS6 is the brainchild of Park Bench Social Club’s Will Lang., Lang was compelled to explore how British folk is responding to hip hop – a genre he feels is actually very similar in how it conveys messages and tells stories. Lang recruited some of the finest interpreters of the two genres – Shona Kipling, accordion; Tom A Wright, producer and multi-instrumentalist; Jason Singh, human beatbox; Tessa Smith, singer; and Crystalize, MC – to explore present-day representations of age-old songs and stories, songs and stories that are still relevant to today. PBS6 travelled to Australia to understand how folk and hip-hop traditions have evolved on the other side of the world. There, they met jazz singer Katie Wighton, and uncovered stories that, funnily enough, rang a few bells about life back home. The result is this album. Intelligent and compelling traditional folk and rap vocals combine with inspired musicianship to deliver impressive results. Lyrics are well researched without being academic and though steeped in the history and cultural identities of both the UK and Australia, still manage to sound effortlessly modern. Here a video of them perfoming in a shed.