Category: Music reviews

Single Man Seeks World Conquest: Ricky Martin’s Life

While some of Ricky Martin’s songs refer to things that are important to many, such as love, friendship, and family, I would not say that the songs reveal their importance or addto the meaning of their importance. This—Ricky Martin’s Life—is a forcefully entertaining recording—rigorously planned and executed, and though performed with some charm and energy, I would not confuse that with spontaneity or deep sincerity.

A review of Eva Cassidy’s Songbird

“I Know You By Heart,” written by Diane Scanlon and Eve Nelson, is about the lasting intimacy of love, and Cassidy’s version of “People Get Ready” is the best version of the Curtis Mayfield song I’ve heard. Pete Seeger’s “Oh,…

A Great Singer, Not a Great Record: Al Green’s Everything’s OK

Al Green is a great singer, but Everything’s OK is not a great album. Should I say more? Al Green is an advising, asking, and beseeching man, a bragging, confirming, declaring, and desiring man, explaining, thanking, moaning, murmuring, proposing, remembering, seducing, sighing, soothing, and…surrendering. How do I know? It is in his singing—usually; however, I found his collection of songs Everything’s OK less than revelatory, actually disappointing.

A Master of Music, Math, and Chess: Anthony Braxton’s Duets and Three Compositions of New Jazz

I haven’t listened to jazz in the last several years as much as I used to, as I have been impatient to hear direct and explicit thoughts, though there’s an expansive feel to jazz that I miss: and Anthony Braxton, devoted to music, mathematics, and chess, is a legendary and legendarily complex figure, and he has been the subject of various critical studies, including Forces in Motion: The Music and Thoughts of Anthony Braxton by Graham Lock (Da Capo, 1988) and The Music of Anthony Braxton by Mike Heffley (Greenwood Publishing, 1996).

The Music of the Isley Brothers

The Isley Brothers, featuring Ronnie, Rudy, and Marvin Isley, with support from Ernie Isley and Chris Jasper, recorded Brother, Brother, Brother, an album in which three of the eight songs were written by Carole King, whose record-breaking Tapestry album had man an impression on many performers of the time.   Brother was released in 1972 by T-Neck, and re-released in 1997 by Sony.  The collection, with notes by poet Nikki Giovanni about Cincinnati and Lincoln Heights (which she shared with the Isleys), contains “Work to Do,” a song written by the Isleys about the sacrifices (and understanding) required to accomplish a task, a song radio still plays.  The Isleys give Carole King’s “It’s Too Late” a ten-minute workout: slowed-down, anguished, with mournful piano and screaming guitar.

Delicate and Ferocious, Worldly and Mystical: Sinead O’Connor’s I Do Not Want What I Haven’t Got

Sinead O’Connor recalls the advice she received; revelation: “You must not try to be too pure./ You must fly closer to the sea.” On the more recent Throw Down Your Arms, there is a continuation: a collection of reggae songs, it is an affirmation of empathy with others and spiritual exploration, and her talent shows no diminishment; and I am drawn to “Downpressor Man,” a song of chastisement. Sinead O’Connor is one of the most significant talents to emerge in the last twenty years.

A review of Fruit’s Burn

The style is, at times, reminiscent of kd lang’s, with its deep moody smoothness and wide range, especially on the torchier songs like “Burn“ or “Jennifer Says.” The voices move up and down the chromatic scale, toughening down low into…

A review of For the Dream by Craig Andrew Browne

One could easily imagine Casey Chambers turning, say, “Last Year,” into an almost whispered ode to the fickle passing of love stories, Wendy Matthews turning “Lord Take me Now” into a heady spiritual, or even Don Spencer turning “Walk Upon…

A review of Only Heaven by Ricky Ian Gordon

What really stands out though is the combination of the distinctive Gordon musical sound, the exceptional singers and the rich pathos of Hughes’ words. The music which is at once experimental and showtuney, innovative but accessible, has elements of Jazz,…