Sunday, June 19, 2016

Laura Cantrell - Laura Cantrell at the BBC

Laura Cantrell - Laura Cantrell at the BBC

Anyone familiar with Laura Cantrell knows that John Peel endorsed her in a big way. She's developed a proportionally bigger following in the UK than the US and even released her last album over there first. Properly released on both sides of the Atlantic simultaneously but available at her recent UK shows and as a Record Store Day exclusive, Laura Cantrell at the BBC does what it says on the tin, collecting 15 performances from 2000 to 2005, 10 of which are from Peel sessions.

Cantrell's typically sparse live setup suits intimate venues, and she is as much in her element in a radio studio as in a cafe, bar or recording studio. The four performances from 2005 sound the best, showing a surefooted Cantrell in the early days of her longtime collaboration with guitarist Mark Spencer. The mortality-focused, piano-based "Bees" is all stringed instruments here, and loses none of its power. "Old Downtown" undergoes a more pronounced transformation from a rocker worthy of Lucinda Williams to just Cantrell and her acoustic guitar, and somehow also works.

Laura Cantrell at the BBC is not a live or studio compilation in the traditional sense of either word, It's not an ephemeral novelty either, though it is a unique entry in the Cantrell catalogue, combining the quiet and fidelity of the studio with the directness of live performance.


Saturday, June 18, 2016

RIP Prince Be

RIP Atrell Cordes, aka Prince Be of PM Dawn
May 19 1970 - June 17 2016

Friday, June 3, 2016

Happy 50th Birthday Bill Callahan!


Dana Falconberry & Medicine Bow - From the Forest Came the Fire

Dana Falconberry & Medicine Bow are embarking on a tour of national parks in the US, which is apt, as her songs are steeped in nature and it's impossible to imagine any song on From the Forest Came the Fire performed in a grey brick building.

From the Forest Came the Fire isn't quite the quantum leap that Leelanau was from Halletts, but it marks another distinct point in Falconberry and her band's evolution. While on Leelanau, Falconberry's cohorts (multi-instrumentalists Gina Dvorak, Karla Manzur and Christopher Cox, cellist Lindsey Verrill and drummer Matthew Shepherd) played Falconberry's pre-existing arrangements, Forest is a full band effort from the ground up, hence the acknowledgement of a collective this time. In lesser hands, their particular strain of folk music could have failed to connect. Substance could have given way to directionless jamming or perfunctory ambiance. Fortunately, Falconberry imbues everything she does with emotional gravitas, and she and her band have a preternatural sense of songcraft.


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