The Early Bird: Top New Releases Reviewed 9-14-18 – 9-20-18
Amazon’s “Produced By” series has been as good as Americana is gonna get so far, with songs recorded by John Prine, Margo Price, and William Bell, and produced by Matt-Ross Spang, at his Sam Phillips Studios… but that’s not why we are here. We’re here to honor and cheer Al Green’s song # 4 in the series, a cover of Freddie Fender’s “Before The Next Teardrop Falls”. Green’s last album, ten years ago, produced by two Roots was fine, though not the genius that was Everything’s OK, co-produced by the late great Green long-term collaborator Willie Mitchell (Willie produced all those great early albums, Green Is Blues, Gets Next To You). This cover is beyond splendid, it is one of the great gifts to 2018, a glorious vocal from one of the greatest of all time. You can read about the recording here and buy it on Amazon. (Grade: A)
With that out of the way, I go along with the I’d rather hear a good song twice than a bad song once, but a good song ten billion times? Willie Nelson’s dirge Frank Sinatra covers My Way is beyond a useless piece of crap, in the wake of Bob Dylan’s genius re-imaginings it is insulting, we know all the songs like the back of our hands and this is unnecessary (Grade: D+). We treat our legends harshly because it insults their pedigree to give them pity, the Tony Bennett and Diana Krall Love Is Here To Stay, a ” subtle, sophisticated and beautifully rendered love letter to The Gershwins music” is good enough if what you want is yet more covers of the same damn songs. It’s been nearly 20 years since Krall’s elegant and moving When I Look in Your Eyes, and nobody should be willing to turn a blind eye to the same old same old yet again. Sure The Girl in the Other Room sucked, but it sucked for the right reasons, this doesn’t suck but it isn’t close to the right reasons (Grade: C).
Let’s hit the singles bar. Dua Lipa’s “Want To” sounds a lot like Diplo’s work though the vocal is all Dua (Grade: B-), In case you were wondering how Dolly Parton would sound with Sia, maybe EDM’s greatest singer, on “Here I Am” the answer is: holy shit, this is a blast through the cobwebs, lay it on thick, vocal blow out (Grade: A). Eric Church has me a little worried for the next one, I tend to get Eric wrong so maybe it’s me, but “Monster” is a nothing much country rocker that’s a little too big for its britches (Grade: B-), Sure, Kanye West is getting his weird on for a second time, with Lil Pump (the video is a hoot), on “I Love It” -I love it myself (Grade: B+). Lana Del Rey’s piano based “Mariner Apartment Complex” is just beautiful (Grade: A-) and Adrianne Lenker of Big Thief may well be miserable again, still “Symbol” is the second great song off her upcoming album (Grade: A-).
Over to albums, 6lack’s East Atlanta Love Letter is missing that song, that “Ex-Calling” but is the absolute definition of superior r&b (Grade: B+). David Guetta’s 7 goes on for 90 minutes but he sustains it remarkably well on the first album, and on the second goes back to his house roots (Grade: B). One more, the 50th Anniversary deluxe edition of the Doors Waiting For The Sun includes rough mixes and live cuts (Grade: A)
6lack – East Atlanta Love Letter – B+
Symbol – Adrianne Lenker – A-
Before The Next Teardrop Falls – Al Green – A
7 – David Guetta – B
Monster – Eric Church – B-
Here I Am – Dolly Parton, Sia – A
Want To – Dua Lipa – B-
I Love It – Kanye West – B+
Mariner Apartment Complex – Lana Del Rey – A-
Love Is Here To Say – Tony Bennett And Diana Krall – C
My Way – Willie Nelson – D+