Twenty years since her eponymous debut, Tracy Chapman continues her brand of confessional songwriting on Our Bright Future, her 8th studio album. Quite frankly, the timing couldn't be much better. It's not easy to find an artist that expands upon one's reflection of the world as effectively or with as much ease as Chapman.
.Best known as the front woman of the indie rock outfit Rilo Kiley, Jenny Lewis has once again strapped on her country-soul boots for her second solo record, Acid Tongue. An all-star cast of musicians accompany Lewis including M. Ward, Elvis Costello, Chris Robinson of the Black Crowes and Johnathan Rice - to name only a few.
For someone that has released at least one album per year since 2000, it would have been quite odd not to dig into a new Ryan Adams record before December's end. Rest assured... Cardinology from Ryan Adams & the Cardinals is here. And oddly, for an artist that spends most of his time writing, Adams has been touring quite a bit this year. In fact, for most fans the first opportunity to hear much of this new material was likely in the live setting.
On his third album, Gossip in the Grain, Ray LaMontagne breaks out of his own mold a bit, relying less on lamenting love loss and seemingly is more centered on expanding into more hopeful musical territories . The album's opening track is evidence. "You Are the Best Thing" is perhaps, up to this point, the most optimistic we've ever heard Ray.
Chrissie Hynde sure hasn't changed a whole lot since we first got a glimpse of her staring through stringy black hair, appearing urbanely street-smart in her red leather jacket from the cover of the Pretenders album in 1980. As Break Up The Concrete shows, she still has the wit, emotion, and backbone to write rock songs that seem to easily cut through the clutter. Armed with that talent – and with her remarkable, almost one-of-a-kind voice – the new album is an easy thumbs-up, much more of it's time than the last album (2002's Loose Screw) was.
Brooklyn's finest, TV On The Radio, have just dropped an album on us – Dear Science – that has to go down as one of the most honest, challenging and engaging things we’ve heard all year. If I hadn't read the lyric sheet I'd say it was downright revolutionary, but the bands' concerns are personal ones, albeit personal in a context of an all-too troubling present and future. It's strong from start to finish, and TVOTR has really upped the ante for their major label debut.
For their new album – Tennessee Pusher – Old Crow Medicine Show enlisted the production skills of Don Was (Bob Dylan, Rolling Stones, Al Green, Black Crowes, tons more). Strangely, and perhaps owing to Was' skill as a facilitator, I really cannot tell any sonic difference between this album and the ones in their recent past. Pusher is another strong, understated, dusty, rollicking ride through the old-timey string band traditions, with a modern outlook and a decidedly harrowing set of stories.
Rachael Yamagata has hardly been idle since her acclaimed 2004 full-length debut, Happenstance, and its Adult Top 40 hit 'Worn Me Down.' So for her Warner Bros. premiere, the singer-songwriter-pianist with the sultry voice unveils a double disc set: Elephants...Teeth Sinking Into Heart.
World Cafe with David Dye has just polished off the track list for the 26th Volume in its incredible series of live recordings from XPN's signature program. Artists including Feist, Back Door Slam, Counting Crows, Levon Helm, Joe Jackson, and many others have contributed to this stellar collection.