A sampling of new music you may not know — but should
There is some really good new music out that you may not have heard, or even or heard of. Here’s a sampling:
The Mavericks’ new album, “Brand New Day,” is the band’s first on their own label, Mono Mundo Recordings, available on LP and CD. The Mavericks are led by Raul Malo, who writes most of the song, plays lead guitar and sings lead vocals as well. I have been a fan since the first time I heard them. What is great about the Mavericks is almost all of the songs are uplifting musically and make me feel good, no matter what the theme of the song is. Take these lines from the album’s first track “Rolling Along”:
“What’s going to happen is still going to happen
The one thing that you can count on
Don’t fix what ain’t broken while Willie’s still smoking
We’ll just keep rolling along”
There are 10 excellent tracks here, with my favorites being “Brand New Day,” “Goodnight Waltz,” “Damned (If You Do),” “Ride With Me” and “For the Ages.”
Ray Davies, a founding member of one of my very favorite band’s, the Kinks, is back with his first solo recording in 10 years, “Americana.” There are 15 tracks in what I see as Davies’ musical homage to America and the effect it has had on him over the years. There can’t help but be echoes of earlier Kinks songs, as evidenced on “Rock and Roll Cowboys,” “Poetry,” “The Great Highway” and “The Man Upstairs.” Davies is backed by the Jayhawks, an American band whose recording’s show numerous influences from the British Invasion. They are another of my favorite bands. The Jayhawks seemed to have revitalized Davies, helping him release the best solo recording of his career.
I started listening to Smith in 1989. He has played Grand Junction at least three times, including two in-store appearances for Triple Play. I am fortunate to have spent considerable time with him, and consider him a friend. “Everything” is the 15th recording for Smith and the songs are about affairs of the heart, parenthood, paying attention, thankfulness and humility. It’s delivered with his typical laid-back, almost whisper-like vocals, which only serve to emphasize his words even more.
His stellar band includes J.J. Johnson, Roscoe Beck and Charlie Sexton. Smith wrote or co-wrote all 12 of these great tracks. He paired with Matraca Berg and Bruce Robison on a song each. He also co-wrote two with his good friend Radney Foster. Highlights after only a few listens include the gratuitous “Blessings,” the parental guidance of “Against the Grain,” the optimism of “Love Will Win the War” and the hope of “Soul Searching,” co-written with Foster.
“From A Room: Volume 1” came out today and already I have listened to it a couple of times. It sounds great to me, with Stapleton’s incredibly soulful vocals standing out. Stapleton co-wrote eight of the nine songs on the disc. “Last Thing I Needed, First Thing This Morning” is the lone cover on the recording and Stapleton reinvents the Gary P. Nunn- and Donna Sioux Farar-penned classic with his amazing vocal treatment. “Them Stems” is a humorous, up-tempo blues track that is self-explanatory. “Up to No Good Livin’” is an outlaw country classic in the style of Waylon Jennings and features Stapleton’s wife, Morgane, providing incredible backing vocals.
All these recordings would make some good listening this summer.