Cash’s first album since 2003’s Rules of Travel, Black Cadillac is darker than its predecessor, but with melodies often more complex and lyrics more stunningly poetic than anything its creator has conjured before, the album is more transforming than depressing, and exquisitely beautiful. In the achingly mournful, yet redemptive “I Was Watching You,” she writes of waiting in heaven as her parents meet and wed, and of eventually joining them on earth, only to realize her parents now view life’s events from her first vantage point. Other songs (“House on the Lake,” “Burn Down This Town”) frame more tangible real-life events, i.e., the Cash compound in Hendersonville, Tennessee, and the Man in Black’s firebug tendencies. Producers John Leventhal and Bill Bottrell dot the lean, atmospheric, and genre-blending production with instrumental hallmarks that recall both the Appalachian sound of the Carter Family and the work of J.R. Cash (the horns in the title cut pay homage to those in “Ring of Fire”). But while elegiac, Black Cadillac never turns maudlin or morphs into a tribute record to a fallen icon (the lawyers get skewered in one particularly clear-eyed passage). Instead, this extraordinary, intensely moving work is made up of dreamy and deeply personal pages from a psychic scrapbook, delivered on the cashmere-and-corduroy voice of one of music’s purest and most visionary artists.
“When I wrote this song,” Linda Draper reflects on her new single “Hollow,” “I was thinking back to a conversation I overheard on a plane. The woman was talking about her step-son not being committed to any ‘real’ career, and that all he wanted to do was write. She said that he better ‘get it out of his system.’ As I heard this, I thought about another of my inspirations for this song, Nick Drake, and what a dull world this would be if he had been told this and listened.”
“Hollow” will appear on Draper’s upcoming new album Edgewise, scheduled for release on May 21st, 2013. The album arrives on the heels of a half-dozen Draper albums released throughout the years, including four LPs recorded with legendary cult-icon and music producer Kramer (Ween, Low, Galaxie 500.)
Recorded after a stint in the remote artistic desert community of Marfa in Texas, the third album by Londoner Dan Michaelson, formerly of Absentee, is rich with flashes of southern pedal steel, which give life to the otherwise threadbare set-up of piano, guitar and occasional cello. Stripped to near-silence in parts, the nine tracks are executed with elegance and precision, and the warm rumble of Michaelson’s molasses-thick voice make even the simplest of sentiments sound profound. However, repeated listens suggest this bare-bones approach isn’t quite so successful when it comes to his lyrics. Thematically, the songs teeter on the precipice of making a relationship work or chucking it all in, but feel too broad and open for the emotional clout the music demands.
Produced by Chuck Leavell, Warren Haynes’ first solo album is a refreshing change of pace from his work with the latter-day incarnation of the Allman Brothers Band. Although the feel of this album is undeniably classic rock, with much of Free’s bluesy swagger, it is also vaguely reminiscent of ’80s rock at times (check out the Mr. Big-esque verse to “Fire in the Kitchen”). The focus on Tales of Ordinary Madness is clearly on Haynes’ songwriting chops. For the most part, the songs on this record are tight and concise, focusing on immediate riffs, gritty vocals, and cool arrangements to sell them. This, however, is not to suggest that Haynes has stopped tearing it up with his guitar, and he amply demonstrates why he is one of the most lauded straight-ahead rock lead guitarists of the ’90s. The various bands that back up Haynes are all quite good, and notables Bernie Worrell and producer Leavell both make guest appearances on keyboards. Standout tracks include the mid-tempo “Tattoos and Cigarettes,” which is a great showcase for Haynes’ under appreciated vocal talents. The smoky “Blue Radio” is also notable for the artist’s emotive singing. In fact, the most exceptional thing about Tales of Ordinary Madness is his vocal performance, the overall impact of which stays with the listener far longer than any particular song or hook. There are some slow moments on this record, but it is great party music, and fans of Haynes’ work with the Allman Brothers Band would surely be interested in this recording.
This is the demos Warren Haynes made for his first solo album Tales Of Ordinary Madness.