Monday, March 09, 2015

Thoughts on music - Introspection versus the bigger picture

Oh how a few weeks can change my perspective.
Only a short time ago I was happily enjoying writing about new music, either recent or soon to be released, without much thought about the wider picture. Then suddenly it changed and I decided that it was time to comment on other issues again whilst set in context  - today's issue just happens to be the various threats to live music venues, of which more later.
I don't really understand why this happens to me from time to time.
I could claim that it is the anticipation of forthcoming festivals but, were I to do that, I know it is not the whole story. It is true that in the last few weeks I have had some very interesting, sometimes surprising, discussions concerning music. I am unsure if this is causal or symptomatic but inclined to the idea that the latter predominates.
While writing this I am listening, in toto, to an album so new that it has no release date and no final artwork as yet. I have however already mentioned it here and Danni Nicholls is an artist who seems blissfully unaware of the affliction known as DSAS (Difficult Second Album Syndrome). The title 'Mockingbird Lane' almost hints at that but I'm almost certain that this was unintentional - or a very dangerous gambit indeed.
That said, the game is now on; the d├ębut album by The Shires, already the first UK act ever signed to Universal Music Nashville, yesterday became the first UK country act or artist ever to reach the Top 10 in the UK album chart - 'Brave' is #10 on the week of release. 

Should you want to hear something new, yet old and a train-wreck revisited, I can't think of anything more beautiful than this. Jessica Lea Mayfield and Seth Avett have recorded an album of covers of Elliott Smith songs. It is not yet on general release in the UK or North America and I suspect that the link is time limited, so enjoy this now. It is as good as anything that I have heard this year and that is saying something. There are reasons why I suspected Jessica Lea Mayfield could pull this off and resulted from when I saw her play live at End Of The Road 2010 - she played solo. It was hauntingly beautiful yet painful at the same time and if looks could kill I was in big trouble here.

Jessica Lea Mayfield - Tipi stage - End Of The Road Festival 2010.

The LP is released in the UK on 16 March 2015.

Note added 7 April 2015:
The album has got mixed reviews: some say it is too cautious, reverential. Others quite the opposite, that it should have been more radical in its treatment of the original material or those that say that it should never have been attempted at all.
I think it is just spot-on - they got the balance almost perfect. If I could see Jessica and Seth play the whole thing live then I would travel far. It could quite easily turn out to be quite something for both artists come a year's time.


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