Tag: music

The Beautiful Music of the Son of Ali Farka Toure: Vieux Farka Toure

I do not know the language, or languages, in which Vieux Farka Toure’s songs are written so I cannot discuss their meaning: I can only suggest something of what they sound like and their effect on one listener. This is music of many delicate notes, notes like softly splashing rain, refreshment for a dry season.

Evidence: Fine Young Cannibals’ The Raw and the Cooked, Hootie and the Blowfish’s Cracked Rear View, and Lenny Kravitz’s Greatest Hits

Listening now to Lenny Kravitz’s Greatest Hits—which I picked up at some point, I cannot remember exactly when—I find that there are only a couple of songs (“Again” and “Heaven Help”) that have a power, the style and sensuality, equal to his image. There are performers whose glamour, promising so much, makes it difficult for us to allow them dull music (I think of Diana Ross, Prince, Jennifer Lopez, Eric Benet, and Beyonce). Glamour is treacherous that way.

The Uses of Belief: Susan Werner, The Gospel Truth

Love, instinct, doubt, and the wonder of nature: all part of life, all objects of contemplation—do not deny them, do not simplify them, advises Werner. On “Don’t Explain It Away,” Werner’s singing is well modulated, with a nuance that is the exact opposite of what one expects of a rhetorical inclination or tone; and although the album does not sound explicitly rhetorical it is rhetorical.

New Orleans Love: Harry Connick Jr.’s Chanson du Vieux Carré

The Connick song “Ash Wednesday” has more of a sense of adventure than one imagines a religious observance to have, but that may be the atmosphere of the city, and the nature of the album Chanson du Vieux Carré, on which Connick plays piano throughout, an album that has charm and solidity and more of a cinematic quality than most of the other jazz recordings I have listened to in the last year.

How Can A Poor Girl Make It?: Koko Taylor, Old School

Koko Taylor is the Queen of Chicago blues; and as there are apparently no worthier aspirants to the throne, though she is not as famous as Bessie Smith was or as B.B. King is, Taylor is the de facto Queen of all the blues. Koko Taylor’s career spans a half-century.