By: Scott Nishimura1
Mountains of Sorrow, Rivers
by Amos Lee
Amos Lee offers up his fifth album, Mountains of Sorrow, Rivers of Song. This 12-song collection that combines folk with classic soul is the result of collaboration with in-demand producer Jay Joyce. Working in a new city, Lee took his touring band with him to Nashville.
Mountains of Sorrow, Rivers of Song was the first project to be recorded in Joyce’s new studio, which is built in a converted church. Being in Nashville made it easy for several amazing guest artists to contribute.
Alison Krauss joins Lee in Chill in the Air, where their harmonies are accompanied by acoustic guitars and mandolin. For the song Mountains of Sorrow, Patty Griffin lent her voice, and instrumentalists Mickey Raphael, Jeff Coffin (of the Dave Matthews Band) and Jerry Douglas contributed.
While Lee admits himself that this new material is less autobiographical than his other projects, one track is based on Lee’s experience of a visit to Levon Helm’s barn in Woodstock.
The album’s lyrics are contemplative and full of poetry, and each of the album’s 12 songs work well together as a cohesive set.
by Paul McCartney
At 71 years old, Paul McCartney proves he’s still got it with his recent album New. With a dozen songs plus a hidden track, McCartney perfectly blends notions of new and old on his 16th studio album.
New is McCartney’s first LP of original songs since Memory Almost Full that released in 2007. Four producers worked on this project including Paul Epworth (Adele), Mark Ronson (Amy Winehouse), Ethan Johns (Laura Marling) and Giles Martin who worked on the Beatles’ Cirque du Soleil show. Originally, McCartney brought on four producers to see which one was the best fit, but he ended up liking them all. It is evident as you make your way through the album that there were four different styles contributing.
The first track, Save Us, is energetic and reminiscent of pop-rock of the early 80s. Its modern-yet-retro sound is pronounced by frenzied guitars. Songs like On My Way to Work and Early Days take listeners back to McCartney’s youth. He sings of taking the bus and walking the streets with a guitar slung over his back. The hidden track, Scared, is one voice and a piano with lines like, “I’m scared to say I love you.” It shows a nakedness and fragility that is not often heard in McCartney’s songs.
Peppered with light-hearted love songs, the tunes are strong throughout the album and definitely worth checking out.
by The Will Callers
What Else is Left? is a medley of blues, country, gospel and soul with a unique twist. Two years in the making, it delivers 10 tracks of funky rock and roll alternative-country hits. Much of the album’s success should be attributed to excellent songwriting by guitarist/singer Jake Murphy and drummer/vocalist Daniel Slatton.
Before What Else is Left?, The Will Callers self-released their Roots E.P. late in 2009. Since then, they have been working on their current album and playing shows throughout Texas.
The Will Callers got some help this time from George Reiff, Bukka Allen and Scott Esbeck on their first full-length release. Ray Wylie Hubbard produced the record in Austin at the Finishing School. The band won the recording contract as the main prize after taking first place in the KHYI/Shiner Rising Star band contest in 2011, and they had only one week to record the album.
The songs feature catchy lyrics and a full four-piece band that puts out a larger-than-life sound. The band’s overall sound is familiar. House of Falling Cards especially expresses influences by Tom Petty or the Stones. However, there is something original in the gritty stomping beats and rock mixed with country twang.
By: Scott Nishimura1