August 23, 2012 - It Rock And Roll
 

Day: August 23, 2012

Louisiana 22-year-old Dylan LeBlanc’s second album picks up where his debut left off, with songs of love and lost innocence marinated in melancholy. The singer-songwriter has a past chequered by opiates and breakdowns both personal and romantic, and pours such experiences into songs that are as beautiful as they are bleak. Peppered with pedal steel, talk of judgment and hushed, mournful pleas to “lead me now to the righteous path”, the atmosphere is eerie rather than unsettling – a cross between Chris Isaak’s ghostly twang, a plaintive Neil Young, Spiritualized’s rapt harmonies and the Wicker Man soundtrack. But at heart, LeBlanc is a melodies man. The title track’s chorus is so lovingly arranged it almost levitates, and Where Are You Now has the whispery longing of the Cowboy Junkies or Mazzy Star. The album could have done with something to vary the mood, but titles such as Part One: The End and LeBlanc’s fret that he is “turning into a lonesome old man” offer subtle hints of an equally black sense of humour.

mp3 160 kbps | 54 MB | UJ | FD | UL

BettySoo’s third studio release, Heat Sin Water Skin juxtaposes gritty Americana rockers and beautiful melodic ballads in a refreshingly mature presentation.A little gospel, some straight-ahead folk, a couple of twangy moments, a Hank Williams song (reinterpreted), and some heartbreaker ballads make up this strong collection of songs sure to be a welcome addition to any music fan’s library.

mp3 160 kbps | 48 MB | UJ

As debut solo albums go, this one was some while in the appearing, being delayed by Awna’s seven-year (to date) musical adventures with Po’Girl. However, determinedly taking the time out this spring, she gathered a host of Chicago musicians to produce this happy meander through all the avenues of her musical life. With a huge and eclectic range of instrumentation, half of it played by Awna herself, she never lingers long enough in one style to be pigeonholed, other than to say that there is a quirky beauty pervading this album, a beauty that haunts you gently for some time after the music has stopped.    So, this is mostly acoustic music with its roots in both American and European folk traditions. Different arrangements produce different echoes, whether it’s the sweet vocal harmonies, the banjo, the accordion or the horns that happen to catch your ear. Her subject matter centres on the people and the dreams that carry you through the difficulties of life. One song is a love letter to her first and best-loved accordion, another celebrates the joy of story-telling, and yet another was inspired by an orphanage in Poland; with troubles in her own background she recognises the value of anything that helps to ease a person’s path through life.Over the course of eleven songs she allows different sides of her singing voice to come to the fore; sometimes she’s sweet and gentle but sometimes  a real power comes through, with that nasal, trembling quality that reminds you of Buffy St. Marie, perhaps, or possibly Edith Piaf. Actually, given Awna has a Portuguese background, there might be something in that side of her heritage that informs her vocal style. Throughout, though, it’s the inventiveness of her music that is a real delight, as she continually finds interesting melodic places to go, and interesting instrumentation with which to do it. When the opening track (Stand Tall), for example, suddenly resolves from a tentative tunefulness into something beautifully expansive, it is a neat exposition of what she’s singing in the lyric – a really happy moment.

mp3 160 kbps | 55 MB | UJ | FD | UL

The Great Lost Blind Boys Album combines two original Vee-Jay albums from the late ’50s, adding a handful of alternate takes, aborted takes and chatter to the mix. While those snippets distract from the music itself, that’s not enough to stop the disc from being the definitive Five Blind Boys of Mississippi collection. All of the group’s greatest numbers — “My Robe Will Fit Me,” “Jesus Love Me,” “No Need to Cry,” “Let’s Have Church,” and “Leave You in the Hands of the Lord,” among many others — are here in their best versions, making it essential listening for any gospel fan, or anyone who wants to know the roots of doo wop.

mp3 320 kbps | 75 MB | UJ | FD | UL

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