Tuesday, February 05, 2008

Listening

Complete albums I have listened to recently:

  • 3 February: Back in the Circus by Jonatha Brooke: Jonatha Brooke gives Sarah McLachlan (see below) competition for the title of my favorite contemporary folk singer/songwriter. She writes great songs about love, desire, and anger. My wife and I saw her perform live back in November at an intimate venue in New York and it was a great show. The room had no amplification and she played unaccompanied. At one point in the show she asked if there were any questions and I asked her why the song she had just performed (Keep the River on Your Right) hadn't been covered by Nick Lachey (the liner notes on the album indicated that she had offered him the song). She actually took the time to answer my question before going on to perform the next song. Back in the Circus is my favorite album of hers. It includes an extraordinary cover of the Alan Parsons song Eye in the Sky.

  • 4 February: I'm Your Man and Songs from a Room by Leonard Cohen: I'm Your Man is my favorite Leonard Cohen album. It took time to grow on me, but over the years it has become an album I return to again and again. Songs from a Room is good, but I believe Cohen's music improved over the years and I prefer the more orchestrated sound of I'm Your Man to Songs from a Room. The first track on I'm Your Man (First We Take Manhattan) opens with one my favorite Cohen verses:
    They sentenced me to twenty years of boredom
    for trying to change the system from within.

  • 4 February: Giant Steps and A Love Supreme by John Coltrane: I will go against the critical wisdom and say that I prefer Giant Steps to A Love Supreme. Songs such as Syeeda's Song Flute and Spiral never get old for me. I can listen to them over and over again and still be surprised by something I hadn't noticed before. This is to take nothing away from A Love Supreme, which is the more difficult, less approachable album of these two. A Love Supreme continues to grow on me, but I confess that I still don't really understand all he was doing on this album. It will take me several more years of listening to begin to figure that out, but that will be a pleasant task.

  • 4 February: Afterglow by Sarah McLachlan: I will confess that I am a sucker for Sarah McLachlan. She is the best singer/songwriter of the past fifteen years, in my opinion. No one writes and performs songs of Gothic melancholy as well as she does.

  • 4 February: The Mask and the Mirror by Loreena McKennitt: McKennitt does a good job of using contemporary instrumentation on Celtic-inspired songs on this 1994 album. My favorite song on this album is Bonny Swans. The arrangement of this song is great and the use of the electric guitar is inspired.

  • 4 February: Autour d'un thé by Fabienne Achard: I bought this album in Paris from Ahmet Gülbay, the pianist whose trio accompanies Fabienne Achard on this 2004 album. Her vocals are good, but it is his piano playing that stands out. My wife and some friends and I saw Ahmet Gülbay live at a small club in Paris in 2005. It was an evening I remember fondly.



And of course I have listened to a number of other "shuffled" songs over the past few days.


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