Short Attention Span: Quick Takes on Worthy Records
by Bob Pomeroy
The year is rapidly coming to a close and there is still a pile of CD’s I haven’t had time to review. I want to say something about these discs before we roll over into 2019. So, here are some records I want you to know about in nice, concise summations for the attention deprived.
The Devil Makes Three
Chains Are Broken
What really caught my attention about this Santa Cruz based roots rock band is their sideways approach to life. There is a beautiful honesty in “Need to Lose” that addresses obsessive behavior. “I don’t gamble ’cause I want to win, boys. I gamble ’cause I need to lose.” “Native Son” takes on immigration saying, “I came free and I came chained. I watched ships pull up on shore … Don’t say you don’t need me anymore… I don’t have to love it. And I don’t have to leave it. Ain’t no stranger here, I am your native son.” Devil Makes Three is a hoedown for thinking people.
Sarah Borges & the Broken Singles
Love’s Middle Name
Blue Corn Music
Love’s Middle Name is a flat-out rocking outing from Borges and her backing band. It’s been five years since she’s taken to the studio with the Broken Singles, and they seem intent on making up for lost time. Musically, Sarah comes out all swagger and toughness. Lyrically, she sings about deterioration relationships and bad choices. The gut punch that comes half way through the album is “Are You Still Taking Them Pills?” The song is a clear-eyed conversation between a recovering addict and an old dope buddy. It’s not preachy, just an honest question; are you still taking them pills?
Sam Ravenna is another artist finding inspiration in sweet soul music. “Help Me Find It” has a loose groove and jazzy horns that make me think of Allen Toussaint in the ’70s. “Let it Be Known” channels a Terry Kath-era Chicago singing about love and hope. “Fragile” is lover’s rock for troubled times. Turn off the TV, dim the lights and hold your significant one close.
Coming Home feels like a safe place to be. Kauflin’s piano work is lively, with a gentle touch and a focus on melody. With Quincy Jones involved in the production, the album has a lush feel without being overwrought. “Looking Forward” would fit comfortably along side Bob James classic theme from Taxi. While most of the tunes are original compositions, Kauflin interprets tunes by Mulgrew Miller, Sufjan Stevens and the Beatles. Kauflin actually takes two runs at “Strawberry Fields Forever”, once as a fusion fantasy with the full band and again to close out the disc as a solo meditation.
The Innocence Mission
Sun on the Square
North American Badman
Karen and Don Peris have been making music as the Innocence Mission for over three decades. It’s been a long time since they were on a major label being touted as the next 10,000 Maniacs. Sun on the Square is their 11th album and it’s like slipping through the wardrobe into another world. The music makes me think of Victorian parlors and sepia-toned photographs. Karen’s voice is sweet and child-like which his so right for the sense of wonder found in her lyrics. If Guillermo Del Toro made a Disney movie, The Innocence Mission would be the soundtrack.
So there you have a quick round up of some records I didn’t want to get away before the New Year. 2019 will be here in a few minutes with loads of new adventures.