The Early Bird: Top New Recordings Reviewed 1-8-21 – 1-14-21
Things are still slow, and the pick up isn’t gonna occur till early February from everything I can see. So, let’s take a look at the week. Steve Earle’s tribute to Justin Townes Earles ruffles the Americana of his late son with country rock on J.T. (here) (Grade: A-) and Kings Of Leon drop two new songs, the jingle jangle “The Bandit” (A-) and the synth hooker “100,000 People” (here)(Grade: B).
Meanwhile there are two other big albums, the country based and who’s who featured Barry Gibb return to the catalog Greenfields: The Gibb Brothers’ Songbook (Vol. 1). The songs are, of course, great from time to time, but none of the performances are worth the while and, really, Keith Urban? Jason Isbell? Big whoop. sure, it’s only volume one, but he would have been better off resting hard on saturday Night Fever and hooking up with the Dua Lipas of the world (Grade: C-). Jazmine sullivan’s first album tells story of bad girls in 30 second snippets leading to the actual song on her first album in five years. The songs are good and the one with H.E.R. is better than that on Heaux Tales (Grade: B). The other big album is the country guy who isn’t Luke Combs, nearly two hours, 30 song Dangerous: The Double Album by Morgan Wallen -it might have made a good single, and while Morgan is no Luke, the Chris Stapleton feature “Only Thing That’s Gone” went straight on my (as always unwieldy) best songs of the year. The rest of it is just so cluttered, it overdoses. The only reason “Cover Me Up” stands out is because we recognize it (Grade: C+) .
Over at singles Slowthai and A$AP Rocky join together for “MAZZA”. Slowthai is on Rocky’s label in the US (nice signing there) and it is to his credit that he holds his own with the always superior Rocky on a business as usual slowthai track (Grade: B), The Black Crowes return to mining their back pages with “Charming Mess” -an oldie but goldie now in demo form, and a pretty good The Faces soundalike (Grade: B). Finally, breaking up with the band, refusing to tour behind his solo album, disappearing into married life, and now back again, Zayn’s electronic, 808 tithered “Vibez” is a good return, a little downbeat but better than anything anyone but Harry has released (Grade: B+)
Greenfields: The Gibb Brothers’ Songbook (Vol. 1) – Barry Gibb – C-
Heaux Tales – Jazmine Sullivan – B
The Bandit – Kings Of Leon – A-
100,000 People – Kings Of Leon – B
Dangerous: The Double Album – Morgan Wallen – C+
MAZZA – Slowthai, A$AP Rocky – B
J. T. – Steve Earle – A-
Charming Mess – Unreleased & B-Sides – The Black Crowes – B
Vibez – ZAYN – B