Ortolan: Covered In Black
Precociousness always catches its observer off guard; we are witness to a stubborn incongruity, adisproportionate relationship between limited years and elevated levels of skill, insight, or vision. Itconfounds common experience, and we wonder. When Ortolan’s debut album Time On A String wasreleased in 2010, three quarters of the family foursome were yet under drinking age. Along with copiouskudos given to the quality of the music and the maturity of the song-writing, every single review mademention of their age. Wonder indeed.What may be the greater marvel though, is when a nascent talent starts to grow into itself; when prodigiouspromise begins to deliver something beyond spectacle, when it begins to nourish those who are witness to it.Such is the case with Ortolan’s latest, Covered In Black.
Dan Zimmerman: Dreams of Earth
Dan Zimmerman’s latest offering, Dreams of Earth, is the kind of work that exists only by a halfcentury spent listening and crafting songs. This kind of time ingrains in a man an understanding of how stories are told, of when to cut to the chase and when to linger on a word or a breath. From the ethereal backing vocals of Elin K. Smith and Timothy Hill, to the sublime guitar work of Tony Jones and the rock-and-roll steady rhythm section, to the light but masterful production hand of Daniel C. Smith, the music is a call to the ineffable, but it is grounded. It grooves and it moves with earthiness, dust, and sweat. Zimmerman himself is in fine voice and his own guitar turns and lilts and hammers with subtlety and swagger. All is vibrant and immediate: the space between the notes is felt as strongly as the notes themselves.
Zimmerman’s songs are a danger: protest songs raised against a passive dismissal of what heaven has pronounced good, against lack of engagement with the world as it exists here and now. Zimmerman is the Space Pilgrim whose feet are planted on solid ground. Dan ZimmermanDreams of Earth.
Frog In The Reeds: Walking Tour of Spiders In the Woods
Lenny Smith: Who Was And Is And Is To Come
?Who Was And Is And Is To Come’, the first installment of a new two-record set from veteran songwriter Lenny Smith, is folk music through and through. It is the good story told about people and their Maker, about earth and heavens, about dirt and sky and the horizon where they embrace.
Wovenhand: The Laughing Stalk
?The Laughing Stalk’ mines the bottomless chasm of a desperate man at the mercy of an inscrutable God. The rhythms are insistent, the guitars unyielding, and melodies are potent and unrestrained. David Eugene Edwards is as much a force of nature as ever, pulling the entire band forward with the strength of his voice, as if it had its own gravitational field. One can’t quite grab ahold of a singular style—each note is informed by the royal heritages and traditions of punk, of country, of rock & roll, industrial, and Native American music. But newer and unfamiliar elements are percolating and rising to the surface; there is rest, there’s hope, even joy. The Impenetrable becomes penetrable, and the inscrutable countenance of theOther becomes recognizable as an attentive look of compassion and tenderness. An insistent rhythm section that once heralded danger now provides the bedrock for dances of celebration, and turns of light shift minor melodies to major. Perhaps Wovenhand’s finest record to date, ?The Laughing Stalk’ is the testament of a restless artist seeking to document his findings in a wild, untamed, and impossibly beautiful land.
Glen Galaxy: Thankyou
“I put this album up there with Ted Sandquist’s “Courts Of The Kings,” Phil Driscoll’s “I Exalt Thee,” and Simon and Garfunkel’s “Bridge Over Troubled Waters.” It makes me remember Mississippi John Hurt and Elizabeth Cotton. If you like Dylan’s “Slow Train Coming” and Danielson’s “Ships” and Sufjan’s “Seven Swans” and, maybe, “Deep Calls To Deep,” you’ll love “Thankyou.” I wish I could just send one to everyone at my own expense. Then you’d know exactly what I am trying to say. In fact, maybe I will. ?º” ? Lenny Smith
Danielson: Best of Gloucester County
The whole represents a new and welcome chapter in the Danielson oeuvre—a startlingly effective new band, a new thematic field (the locally-grown opus), produced with more sonic ambition than any recent Danielson effort, but without sacrificing the brave interior journey that we have come to expect from Daniel Christopher Smith: the world is complex, slightly dangerous, full of temptations, but there is still grace, beauty, meaning, and the music that is required to suggest all this is anything but easy, but that doesn’t mean it is not rewarding, beautiful, funny, sad, and generous.
Ben + Vesper: HONORS
HONORS reveals a more confident and adventurous Ben + Vesper, who have surrounded themselves with good friends who happen to be perfectly suited to translate Ben + Vesper’s songs into a pleasing and universal vernacular. Here is an album that is full of dance party music for the unsung heroes of the world. Here is an album that is brimming over with eager anticipation from one track to the next. Impeccably recorded by Brian McTear, Amy Morrisey and Daniel Smith in a total of five days, HONORS is one of those albums that marks a moment in time, a moment worth recording and listening to and talking about for years to come. Four albums in four years on Sounds Familyre, and Ben + Vesper have gone and done it. They have graduated the school of rock, with HONORS.
I Was A King: Old Friends
Old Friends is a record of excitement, managing a tension between control and chaos, harmony and discord, old and new; a tension that is always teetering, but never stumbling. There is also a comfortableness to the music—the same kind of comfort you feel when you’re with people you’ve known for a very long time; the comfort to risk, to stretch, to laugh. Old Friends is very special music. It is music not unlike the phenomenon of friendship itself: a sublime oddity.