In the space of two years (2003-2005), ROSANNE CASH lost her mother, stepmother (JUNE CARTER CASH), and - of course - her father JOHNNY CASH. The result for her musically is the most intense and personal of all of her many releases over a 25-year-plus career.
One of this year's most outstanding new artists, Rodrigo y Gabriela are Rodrigo Sanchez and Gabriela Quintana, Mexico City natives who now live in and wrok out of Dublin, Ireland. It's a simple formula, really... two acoustic guitars, all instrumental songs. I can assure you that the results are much more interesting than the description.
Whether or not Ray LaMontagne will become this generation's Van Morrison is something that's yet to be determined, but you'll be hard-pressed to find another singer who combines light and dark, power and subtlety as well as this New Hampshire native. His second album - Till The Sun Turns Black - is another well thought-out, well delivered set of music.
KT Tunstall is a sparkling new songwriter with Chinese blood, a Scottish heart, great legwarmers and a cool name who celebrates classic singer-songwriting with an articulate, accessible, immediate brew of rootsy sass, wistful quandary and after-hours atmosphere. more...
Anyone who's seen or heard James Hunter perform is already hip to his remarkable talents as a singer, guitarist and songwriter. This includes Van Morrison
Gnarls Barkley So who is Gnarls Barkley? The rumors fly in every direction and remain unverifiable, but with links to underground hip hop artists Danger Mouse
Along with Gnarls Barkley, Corinne Bailey Rae has made one of the most spectacular debut splashes of the first half of this year. This 27 year-old, Leeds, England native's eponomous album is a versatile, flowing, 11-song listen that sounds perfect for these hot summer days (and nights).
Blessed with a wonderful voice and a fine storytelling style, Philly's own Amos Lee seems poised to take his craft to a wider audience. His sophomore album - Supply & Demand - will most certainly help him get there.
Well, he certainly took his time, but Alexi Murdoch's first full album Time Without Consequence is set for release on June 6. Since we first heard his understated masterpiece 4 Songs in 2002, Alexi fans everywhere have been patiently waiting for some new songs. Time Without Consequence will not disappoint those people.
XPN Artist To Watch - October 2005 The Magic Numbers Drawing inspiration from many sources, the band craft a sound which, like The Flaming Lips or Beck, is coming from everywhere but is uniquely theirs. more....
With Careless Love, Peyroux is once again proving herself to be an original interpreter and an open receptor to songs from earlier eras—an artist who channels vintage jazz and blues with chilling accuracy. “I feel very lucky to be part of a tradition of songwriting that stands the test of time,” says Peyroux. “I also feel lucky to be able to go back and perform as much as I did before—I can’t wait.” Adds Peyroux, with characteristic modesty:
With bossa nova beats, trip-hop, Jamaican dub, and world grooves galore, the Washington DC based DJ duo of Rob Garza and Eric Hilton are back with The Cosmic Game, their fourth record. Since the mid-90's Hilton and Garza have created their own flourishing cultural cottage industry with their own record label and a niteclub, restaurant and bar in Washington, DC. Starting out as DJ's catering to fans or rare-groove and acid-jazz music, they broadened their sound to include an ecelctic mix of groove and ambient genres of music. The Cosmic Game is their finest studio record yet.
To quote many of the music reviews coming in on singer-songwriter Sufjan Steven's new album, "this might be the year's masterwork." Every once in a while a record comes along with such breathtaking creativity and audaciousness and Illinoise is this year's model.
Soulive is a funky organ trio who cover a lot of musical ground including jazz, funk, soul and hip-hop. Their grooves are wide and thick, the beats guaranteed to bump your rump all through the night. Formed in the late Nineties, the band include drummer Alan Evans and his brother Neil on keyboards and guitarist Eric Krasno. Since their debut album, they've brought jazz to the dance floor and have become an exciting live band who were one of the highlights of this year's XPN All About The Music Festival. And they are known throughout jam band circles as one of the premier groups drawing on the jams of jazz and rhythms of soul.
As witnessed by his incredible performance at the XPN All About The Music Festival in July, Rodney Crowell has returned with yet another amazing album of country influenced rock songs. The Outsider is the third of a trilogy of CD’s that he’s released (The Houston Kid and Fate’s Right Hand being the first two) that find him at yet another creative peak of his long outstanding career.
Vocalist Lizz Wright was introduced to XPN listeners in 2003 when she released her debut album, Salt. With an eclectic mix of traditional jazz, R&B and soul/folk, Wright’s sultry vocals and warm, organic songs quickly won fans around the world with Salt's release and Lizz’s dazzling live performances. Salt was an XPN Featured Album of the week in June of '03, and came in at no. 21 in the Top 50 Countdown that same year.
Ever since jazz guitarist John Scofield was a kid, the music of Ray Charles had a significant influence on him. So when Verve Records’ President Ron Goldstone approached Scofield with the idea of doing a tribute album to Charles, Scofield was game.
Lead vocalist Ben Gibbard sings like an angel and the songs on this CD make great use of jangly guitars and sinewy synthesizers. Bellingham, WA, indie pop quartet Death Cab for Cutie may remind you of a cross between REM and New Order, but they craft truly unique songs about relationships that draw you completely in.
Between the scruffy sweetness of Luke Reynolds’ rough, expressive tenor and the orchestral richness of the band’s intricate arrangements, Burning in the Sun is an album that is easy to get lost in.
Way back in the Winter of 2002, XPN mid-day host Helen Leicht began playing an independent release from a Philly based singer-songwriter named Amos Lee. Soulful and organic, Lee was making ends meet working at the Tin Angel in Philadelphia and honing his craft by playing open-mic nights and writing songs. After recording an EP, his music reached Helen - who directs XPN’s Philly Local program – and she began playing songs like “Colors” and “Arms Of A Woman.”
Guitarist, singer and songwriter Marc Broussard's new album Carenco (pronounced Karen-Crow) is named after his hometown in Louisiana. At a young 22, he sounds wise beyond his age mixing up soul and R&B with heavy doses of good old fashioned rock 'n' roll. Growing up in Lafayette, Louisiana, Broussard was exposed to music as a youngster as his dad was guitarist for the legendary South Louisiana swamp band The Boogie Kings. Marc debuted in 2002 with the album Momentary Setback, and on Carencro he continues to hone his incredible rocking soul stylings with his best songs and most soulful singing yet.
Like Maxwell, D’Angelo, Anthony Hamilton, Jill Scott, Musiq, and Macy Gray, Van Hunt is a member of the “neo-soul” generation - a new generation of young artists who draw on R&B’s rich past yet give it their own unique spin.
One of true architects and legends of reggae, Toots Hibbert & The Maytals are responsible for some of the reggae classics of our time, including “Pressure Drop,” ”Time Tough,” “Monkey Man,” “Funky Kingston,” and “54-46 Was My Number.”
Born in Kingston, Jamaica, Toot’s musical legacy precedes this collection, True Love, a stunning, well executed star-studded affair. Taking a page out of Carlos Santana’s play book in his making of the Grammy award winning Supernatural, Toots gathered a wide range of guest stars for the making of True Love.
One of XPN’s Artists To Watch for 2004, singer-songwriter, Ray Lamontagne explains how Stephen Stills saved his life. One of six children raised by a single mom who worked hard to make ends meet, Lamontagne – who barely made it out of high school left his family for Lewiston, Maine. Bored, going nowhere in his life and doing some serious soul searching Ray was in Lewiston working long hard hours in a shoe factory when he experienced a musical epiphany.
For the uninitiated - and those unfamiliar with her music - Jonatha Brooke has been making solo records that bridge folk and pop since the mid-Nineties. Prior to her solo career, Jonatha was a member of The Story, a duo that also included Jennifer Kimball. Their 1989 debut, a collection called Grace In Gravity, was originally released on the folk-based Green Linett record label, and the band was promptly signed to Elektra Records.