Spotify Summer Gems
I’m beginning to wonder how I even managed to delve into new music before Spotify came along. Oh, sure, the radio can tease you with a song or few from a new album, friends made tapes or shared their latest LPs, yeah, but there’s nothing like cueing up an entire album to really sink into all the fresh goodness within! Thanks to Spotify, when I read an enticing review or hear something on the radio or NPR that catches my ear, it’s right there ready to hear. Sure does add a bounce to my step while I do the dishes and sweep the floor!
A few recent highlights of my 2012 playlist:
Caetano Veloso and David Byrne, Live at Carnegie Hall. Veloso’s gentle Brazilian guitar and vocals make for a classy and warm match for Byrne. Seven Veloso songs are followed by six of Byrnes, then a few back and forth to complete the show.
Jerry Douglas, Traveler. The dobro master weaves his typical blend of mostly instrumental tunes leavened with a handful of songs sung by vocal stars, this time including Eric Clapton, Mumford and Sons, Keb’ Mo’, and Marc Cohn. (For some weirder Jerry, check out last year’s re-release of 1995’s Bourbon and Rosewater, a trio date with Edgar Meyer and east Indian slide guitar player VM Bhatt.)
Bruce Springsteen, Wrecking Ball; Ani Difranco, Which Side Are You On; Amy Ray, The Lung of Love; Patti Smith, Banga. I especially appreciate being able to hear the latest from old faves, without having to add to already extensive sections of my CD closet. I’m really appreciating the “ephemeralization” of my music jones: no longer do I need to buy actual physical “stuff”, not even a few megabytes of hard drive space…I’m starting to get over not holding it in my hands. Mostly. (I still buy CDs, but mostly things not available in the cloud, so I can see that ending eventually.) Of this batch, I’ve been especially enjoying Amy Ray’s new one – this and her previous one, MVP Live, have finally lifted her solo work right up there for me beside the Indigos; Amy’s created a body of work over the past thirty years that really does have a place in the modern rock and songwriter pantheon. I’m also continuing to revel in Patti Smith’s most recent decade; her clear strong heart continues to cut to the bone (if you missed Trampin’ go listen right now!).
This time’s “Perfect for Spotify” selection is Ladysmith Black Mambazo and Friends, a two-disc compilation of their many collaborations with other artists through the years, from Paul Simon to Emmylou Harris, Lou Rawls, Betty Griffin, Andreas Vollenweider (yup!), and many others. Just the kind of album that’s great to hear once or twice, but may not be a necessary addition to your CD collection. While leaning toward easy listening African music, there’s a new Angelique Kidjo live album, Spirit Rising, that’s well worth checking out.
A more adventurous world excursion is found in the Trio Chemirani‘s Invite, wherein the Persian percussion masters join forces with a diverse crew of string players, including Ballake Sissoko on kora, Sylvain Luc on guitar, Ross Daly on lyra, and Titi Robin on bouzouki. Way fun!
And to conclude, in keeping with an overall mellow vibe here, two young songwriting founts worth delving into are Bowerbirds The Clearing, a soulful blend of voice and strings that kind of reminds me of local faves Round Mountain, and Anais Mitchell’s Young Man in America, from a quirky and compellingly ambitious songwriter who I’m just tuning into, a decade into her career.