New CD reviews for Eagle County
Vail, CO, Colorado
“24 Hours” S-Curve
Tom Jones is back, making the world safe again for chest hair with his umpteenth release since the 1960s, when he and his tight pants helped turn sex in pop music from an insinuation into an outright come-on.
Jones’ antics look tame by today’s standards, though, so the recently knighted Welsh performer adds to his job title on “24 Hours.” Now he’s Sir Tom Jones, singer-songwriter. For the first time, Jones helped write most of these songs, and why not? No one knows Jones like Jones.
He’s still in possession of that urgent, throaty voice, singing as though his disrobing is imminent. Jones opens with a reminder, “I’m Alive,” setting the tone for the record with blaring horns, boxy drums and sizzling, trebly guitar licks, all of which sound as if they were recorded in 1968, in Austin Powers’ boudoir ” and that’s a good thing.
It’s a throwback sound, even as he strives to be modernistic on the ballad “The Road,” a tribute to his wife of 51 years (they married when Jones was 17), or “Seasons,” a reflective account of his occasionally errant life.
Jones hangs with the heavyweights on a couple of tunes he didn’t contribute to. Bono and the Edge wrote “Sugar Daddy” with Jones in mind, and Bruce Springsteen’s “The Hitter” becomes a slow-burning soul tune.
Despite such a noble stab at nuance, Jones is, and always has been, at his best when he cuts loose, the way he does on the sex-funk tune “If He Should Ever Leave You.” If he ever does, rest assured, Jones will be waiting.
” Eric R. Danton, L.A. Times, Washington Post
“Grandpa Walked a Picketline” Wanamaker
Otis Gibbs is an old-school troubadour out of Wanamaker, Ind., who sounds only too happy to pick up the mantle of Woody Guthrie and Pete Seeger in championing the working stiff and blue-collar America in song. On “Grandpa Walked a Picketline” he sings of everyday folks, not always the desperate or destitute, but the overlooked and underappreciated.
“Calling out tonight to anyone who’s tired of being down,” he writes in “To Anyone,” echoing Guthrie’s famous line about hating a song that makes you feel no good, or born to lose.
“Caroline” follows a woman much like the matriarch in Dolly Parton’s “To Daddy,” who leaves her family behind when she lights out in search of fulfillment after a lifetime of neglect. Gibbs gets impressively Dylanesque in “Preacher Steve,” about a charlatan who uses religion rather than snake oil to fleece his flock: “Preacher Steve could walk on water while the whole world’s dying of thirst.”
Gibbs brings his characters to life with a vocal growl that sounds just one pack of Camels shy of Tom Waits, and he’s assisted ably by a team of roots-music veterans, including bassist Don Dixon, steel guitarist-Dobro ace Al Perkins, mandolinist Tim Easton and producer Chris Stamey.
There couldn’t be a better time for a voice this insightfully compassionate.
” Randy Lewis, L.A. Times, Washington Post
“Audrye Sessions” Black Seal Records
There’s a certain kind of band for whom Radiohead is still a ’90s Brit-rock act that peaked around “The Bends” and lost its way when the group brought laptops onstage. Muse is the biggest example of this phenomenon; Oakland’s Audrye Sessions is the latest.
From the first rousing chords of “Turn Me Off” through the relentless falsetto of “Julianna” and the obligatory acoustic mood piece “New Year’s Day,” the whole album feels like a meticulous attempt to resurrect a specific sound in time to ride an anticipated wave of nostalgia. But if Audrye Sessions is to do for mid-’90s Anglophile guitar rock what scads of peers have done for ’80s dance music in recent years, it’s going to have to find some more memorable hooks on which to hang its bona fides.
The effortlessly regal “Where You’ll Find Me” and punkish “The Paper Face” come closest, but can we just say the snake of revivalism has long since eaten its own tail and be done with it?
“August Brown, L.A. Times, Washington Post