Album Reviews

Reviews of recent albums

Jeff Dale and the South Woodlawners - Good Music

Chicago-born guitarist Jeff Dale gathered together over a dozen of his good friends from his home town and L.A., many of whom are veteran players from the bands of Buddy Guy, James Cotton, Magic Slim, and Otis Rush, to make what he calls Good Music. In fact, that became the title track for his new album, released July 2014. The twelve song collection is a home-spun set of tunes that does not take itself too seriously. As the title track says, “if you like good music let me hear ya holler -- hey!” Dale and his off-the-cuff, talk-singing, easy-going style is at the center of every one...

The Only Lamp Burning Bright: Bill Mallonee's "Winnowing"

Trying to write about Bill Mallonee is almost like attempting to dissect William Faulkner. You want to write about how brilliant he is and examine his work, but halfway through your attempt you come to the realization that you have no idea what you’re talking about. The man has an insurmountable genius for his craft, and his work is simply stupefying. When you love a piece of art with fervor, one of the things you must attempt to do is explain your love to someone else, hoping they may share in this passion with you. For certain levels of art, words simply fail to express how wonderful...

Jesse Winchester's A Reasonable Amount of Trouble: A Southern Gentleman's Farewell

"Say what needs saying....and then try not to say anything else."  — Jesse Winchester on what makes a good song Goodbye is the hardest thing to say.  For songmakers, and those of us who actually do much more than just listen to them, a farewell has a bittersweet inevitability. There is a certain melancholy that pervades singer-songwriter Jesse Winchester's final collection of songs, A Reasonable Amount of Trouble, before his untimely passing last April to cancer. It is hard to gauge how much of this is due to this listener's own sense of melancholy over the artist's passing...

Ruthie Foster - Promise of a Brand New Day

The sound of Aretha, Ella, and Dusty revisited I don’t think I’ve ever been unable to review an album because I was enjoying it too much, but that has been the case with Promise of a Brand New Day by Ruthie Foster. Every time I’ve played it over the last few weeks, I’ve fallen in love with another piece of minutiae hidden in the lyrics or the way Ruthie sings, or the way the band sounds... meaning this review has been re-edited at least 10 times. This is Foster’s ninth album and, even though previous releases have been Grammy-nominated, I’d never heard of her. But, boy, I’m going...