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Elsewhere by Graham Reid

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Wide angle reviews, interviews and opinion by writer Graham Reid

joe henry

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Various: Endless Highway, The Music of The Band (Shock)

Various: Endless Highway, The Music of The Band (Shock)

Tribute albums are, almost by definition, uneven. Some artists will be up to the challenge, others won't quite get inside the song. This one however has a higher score card than most, largely because of the calibre of those on hand -- and of course the quality of the songs. So here are appropriately enough are Guster and Gomez (both...

Nick Lowe; At My Age (Proper) BEST OF ELSEWHERE 2007

Nick Lowe; At My Age (Proper) BEST OF ELSEWHERE 2007

To be honest, I consider Nick Lowe's '98 album Dig My Mood so outstanding that anything he does subsequently will pale in the comparison. By the time of that album, the former English pub-rocker in the post-punk era and friend of Elvis Costello had taken a considerable career turn and was now a gorgeous country-soul singer whose songwriting...

Teddy Thompson: Up Front and Down Low ((Verve)

Teddy Thompson: Up Front and Down Low ((Verve)

The son of Richard is now on his third album but for this quietly exceptional album he takes a left-turn from his originals and goes back to the music he grew up with: American country which he grew up listening to at his dad's house. This sensitive collection of classics and little-known covers (and one striking original, Down Low) proves...

Joe Henry; Civilians (Anti/Shock) BEST OF ELSEWHERE 2007

Joe Henry; Civilians (Anti/Shock) BEST OF ELSEWHERE 2007

With a small band, and guests Bill Frisell (on guitar) and Van Dyke Parks (piano), the much ignored Henry continues his singular path which owes a little to a less grumbly Tom Waits but remains properly in the singer-songwriter tradition with nods to folk and the blues. Here are classically-framed ballads (You Can't Fail Me Now) and songs...

BEST OF ELSEWHERE 2008:  Loudon Wainwright: Strange Weirdos (Universal)

BEST OF ELSEWHERE 2008: Loudon Wainwright: Strange Weirdos (Universal)

Longtime cynic, straight-shooter and occasionally misanthropic singer-songwriter Wainwright shows no sign of losing his touch even though he is now in his 60s. His subjects will always provide plenty of material: they are life in general, himself, his family, and sometimes astute socio-political observation. He is a sensitive...

Rodney Crowell: Sex and Gasoline (Shock)

Rodney Crowell: Sex and Gasoline (Shock)

Crowell's 2001 album The Houston Kid -- hard-won narratives in passingly autobiographical songs - hinted that he was getting a late-career second wind after some pretty indifferent albums in the late 80s/90s. This album confirms that, after The Outside of 2005, his songwriting and story-telling skills certainly haven't deserted him and in...

Joe Henry: Blood From Stars (Anti)

Joe Henry: Blood From Stars (Anti)

There is something pointless and not a little depressing writing about another fine Joe Henry album: the 18 people who love his work probably already know of the album, and as for the rest . . . ? I guess Henry is always destined to remain something of a private passion, but it is one that Elsewhere would (again) like to share. His last...

Allen Toussaint: The Bright Mississippi (Nonesuch/Warners)

Allen Toussaint: The Bright Mississippi (Nonesuch/Warners)

This godfather and keeper-of-the-keys in New Orleans music has popped up quite a lot recently in a more mainstream popular culture context by appearing on albums with James Hunter and Elvis Costello (The River in Reverse), and would be well known to Elsewhere readers. For this album however (produced by the remarkable Joe Henry) the...

Chris Smither: Time Stands Still (Shock)

Chris Smither: Time Stands Still (Shock)

As on his earlier Leave The Light On, this grizzled singer-songwriter now in his mid 60s, covers a Bob Dylan song, this time It Takes A Lot To Laugh, It Takes a Train To Cry. He also adds in Mark Knopfler's Madame Geneva's and that's a more useful reference, because Knopfler explores roots music -- but Smither lives it. His low grumble isn't...

The Unthanks: Here's the Tender Coming (Shock)

The Unthanks: Here's the Tender Coming (Shock)

Mercury Prize nominated or not, the previous album The Bairns by these Geordies -- then under the name Rachel Unthank and the Winterset -- did not do it for me, and hence didn't get posted at Elsewhere. It sounded far too finger-in-the ear gloom-folk and of marginal interest to anyone outside the English folk circle (and Mercury panels) which...

Mose Allison: The Way of the World (Anti)

Mose Allison: The Way of the World (Anti)

Mose Allison is one of those slightly obscure figures whose name is often heard in interviews with the likes of Van Morrison and Elvis Costello -- and he was also the subject of a song by the Pixies. Way back he also wrote Young Man Blues (covered famously by the Who) and Parchman Farm (covered notoriously by Blue Cheer), and the Clash did a...

The Imagined Village: Empire and Love (ECC/Southbound)

The Imagined Village: Empire and Love (ECC/Southbound)

Every now and again the English music press gets infatuated by traditional folk (to make amends for hailing Gay Day and other such rubbish Britrock?) and embarks on a brief essaying of various musicians and artists who would otherwise languish in finger-in-ear folk clubs. The Imagined Village -- a changing line-up of folk and elsewhere...

Jakob Dylan: Women and Country (Sony)

Jakob Dylan: Women and Country (Sony)

The previous solo album by Dylan, Seeing Things, confirmed that he had stepped well out of the shadow his famous father (and the Wallflowers band) and had found his own voice -- or at least Jackson Browne's by way of alt.country. And although he sounded wise beyond his years he was on the cusp of 40 so . . . This time out with producer...

Solomon Burke: Nothing's Impossible (Shock)

Solomon Burke: Nothing's Impossible (Shock)

The extraordinary Solomon Burke has enjoyed that rarity in popular music, not just a second coming but a sustained one. Music history is full of acts who come back after their first seminal period but few of them -- Dylan a notable exception, the Searchers' story the more common -- have a sustained run of artistic as well as commercial...

Ian King: Panic Grass and Fever Few (Wing and a Prayer)

Ian King: Panic Grass and Fever Few (Wing and a Prayer)

King is in the vanguard of a diferent kind of British folk -- witness that this debut album is co-produced with Adrian Sherwood and Skip (Little Axe) McDonald. So this is folk with a world view and a dub feel -- and sounds all the better for it. King is straight out of that earnest, well-enunciated and slightly stern school of vocal delivery,...

Rufus Wainwright: All Days Are Nights; Songs for Lulu (Decca)

Rufus Wainwright: All Days Are Nights; Songs for Lulu (Decca)

It's perhaps enough to note that this is Art Music in which Wainwright sings largely chorus-free, sweeping lyrics over the top of grandiose and often grandiloquent solo piano and addresses the death of his mother Kate (his greatest supporter and critics, he says) and dedicates it to his sister Martha, "the bright lady". This is...

Elvis Costello: National Ransom (Universal)

Elvis Costello: National Ransom (Universal)

The prolific Costello's last album – Secret, Profane and Sugarcane of last year – was his most interesting in years with its mix of rock, raw country, edgy ballads and bluegrass, all helmed by co-producer T Bone Burnett. Although Costello is not one to jog on the spot, this new one – in a cover by the same artist, Tony...

Richard Thompson: Rumor and Sigh (1991)

Richard Thompson: Rumor and Sigh (1991)

Like Elvis Costello, Christy Moore, the late John Martyn and a few others in a very select company, English singer/songwriter and guitarist Richard Thompson made timeless albums. Pick up any of his from the early Eighties or even the late Seventies and they make as much sense today as they did then. Yet after more than 45 years in the...

Teddy Thompson: Bella (Verve)

Teddy Thompson: Bella (Verve)

This 35-year old son of famed British folk-rockers Richard and Linda follows his own path. He took his powerful, sensitive voice to excellent originals on his second album Separate Ways in 05, followed it up with an album of country covers Upfront and Down Low (which boasted the stunning sole original in Down Low) then unveiled the...

Ben Ottewell:Shapes and Shadows (Shock)

Ben Ottewell:Shapes and Shadows (Shock)

The name might not be familiar but from the first bar the voice certainly is. It belongs to that rusty balladeer in Gomez who here steps out with a classy, soulful solo debut of originals co-written with Sam Genders of the rather bent UK alt.folk outfit Tuung who have barely raised a ripple in this country. With a sound as distinctive...

Over the Rhine: The Long Surrender (GDS)

Over the Rhine: The Long Surrender (GDS)

After a series of fine albums, Ohio's Over the Rhine here -- with sympathetic producer Joe Henry – deliver their most sophisticated album to date, one with an ear on their European-cabaret sounding alt.country (with exceptional players such as steel guitarist Greg Leisz) in songs of uncertainty and reassurance, and torch ballads of...

John Hiatt: She Loves the Jerk (1983)

John Hiatt: She Loves the Jerk (1983)

Songs of spousal abuse or domestic violence are never going to be pretty or common, in fact on a countback the most outstanding one prior to this by Hiatt was probably the gloomy and dark He Hit Me (It Felt Like a Kiss) written by Gerry Goffin and Carole King in the early Sixties. They'd heard from Little Eva (who'd had a chart hit with...

Gomez: Whatever's On Your Mind (Shock)

Gomez: Whatever's On Your Mind (Shock)

Split between the UK and USA, seven studio albums into their career and with songwriters Ian Ball and Ben Ottewell having released solo albums (rusty voiced Ottewell's being the excellent alt.folk Shapes and Shadows) hardly seems to have damaged Gomez, who started on a career high when they won the '98 Mercury Prize for their Bring It On...

LOUDON WAINWRIGHT III INTERVIEWED (2008): The family that sings together . . .

LOUDON WAINWRIGHT III INTERVIEWED (2008): The family that sings together . . .

These days American singer-songwriter Loudon Wainwright III -- touted as a “new Dylan” at the dawn of the 70s and whose critically acclaimed 20 or so albums since have skirted the edges of public acceptance -- is pretty well known, but perhaps not for his own sake: he is father to famous Rufus and fairly-famous Martha. But Loudon...

Nick Lowe: Dig My Mood (1998)

Nick Lowe: Dig My Mood (1998)

It is coming up close to two decades since Nick Lowe -- once a laddish and witty figure in British rock in the immediate post-punk days -- decided to take the long view on his career and reposition himself. As he told Elsewhere late last year, “Back when I first got noticed in the Seventies it was for being rather irreverent and...

SOLOMON BURKE INTERVIEWED (2002): The rock'n'soul preacherman

SOLOMON BURKE INTERVIEWED (2002): The rock'n'soul preacherman

Just exactly when soul music disappeared off radio and out of people's consciousness is hard to pinpoint. Soul - born in the church and taken to the street by Ray Charles, Marvin Gaye, Otis Redding, Sam Cooke and many others in the Sixties -- simply evaporated by the early 70s. Marvin, Otis and Sam were gone, and some say the golden age ended...

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