Category: Music reviews

Speaking to His Generation: John Mayer’s Continuum

Mayer removes the awkwardness from sharp assertions, and fills what might seem blather with conviction: something that is more necessary in certain songs than others. In “Stop This Train,” Mayer begins “No I’m not colorblind, I know the world is black and white” and “Stop this train, I want to get off, and go home again” and “I’m only good at being young.”

Optimistic Blues: Keb Mo’s Suitcase

In the work of musicians such as Keb Mo and Cassandra Wilson I hear a blues music that has true relation to the tradition as I understand it and that also reflects some of the opportunities and perceptions of contemporary life. However, it is possible to respect the form of the music and lose the depth of the content—and that loss I also hear in some of the music being produced today.

Sinead O’Connor’s Throw Down Your Arms

Throw Down Your Arms is a respectful and sincere tribute, and a lovely piece of music, but except for the respect—cross-cultural, intergenerational, beyond gender—it represents, it is not radical or transformative. Such a comment may be suggesting an impossible standard. It might be simpler if I just said that I like the album very much: without having any inclination to affirm the recording’s view of god-centered spirituality or nationalistic politics, I enjoy the album’s singing and music very much.

Drama and Energy: Rob Thomas’s Something to Be

We’re all looking for something, something to be,” sings Rob Thomas in the collection’s title song. Thomas, a member of the popular band Matchbox Twenty, has worked with various musicians, and this is his first solo album, and it is…

A review of Cassandra Wilson’s Thunderbird

Despite Wilson’s singing, which is always expressive, never bland, I thought there was something calculated and unyielding, something inexpressive, about the music. The more I listen to the music, the better I can hear it—but I think there is often…

Respectable Disappointment: Bob Mould’s Body of Song

Rock music is associated with cool temperaments and hot passions, with firm masculinity and anti-establishment ambivalence, with noise and with peace—with so many contradictory attitudes and states that it is no wonder musicians feel the need to pose before playing. That is not healthy.

Mixed Musical Methods: TV on the Radio

There are discrete elements of folk, rock, and subtle dance music, and even world music, in the work of TV on the Radio. (I think also of Bobby McFerrin and Nona Hendryx.) It is fascinating that the band has been acclaimed for producing rock music (I sometimes think that whatever certain critics like they call rock music—until they stop liking it).