Thursday, August 18, 2005

Josh's Listening Journal, 8/18

A few first impressions:

Lizz Wright, Salt
I have to thank my friend Jeffrey Overstreet for this one. He recently blogged about Lizz Wright's new album, Dreaming Wide Awake, and called it a shoo-in for his 2005 Top 10 list. I haven't yet had a chance to hear that album, but if Wright's debut disc, Salt, is any indication, it'll likely earn a place in my list, as well. Wright is a phenomenal talent; Salt is a soulful blend of jazz, folk, and R&B that puts Norah Jones to utter shame. The songs themselves range from very good to great, but Wright's spectacular singing makes each one sound like a masterpiece. Her backing band-- which includes the great drummer Brian Blade-- is equally impressive, bringing to the table everything from Cuban to African jazz influences. A truly memorable disc; the closest comparison I can make is Joe Henry's Scar, but Wright is really in a league of her own.

Death Cab for Cutie, Transatlanticism
In preparation for their new album, Plans, I'm finally catching up with the Death Cab. And I'm thoroughly underwhelmed; yeah, they have some memorable melodies, and yeah, the lyrics are much richer than what you'd usually hear from an indie pop group, but this is hardly the masterpiece that many critics made it out to be. The music, while melodic, is neither inventive nor varied, and the lead singer sings everything in the same thin, flat voice. It's not bad, but there are dozens of much better indie pop albums out there-- like, say, The Shins' Chutes Too Narrow. Or the new Holopaw disc.

And, last of all... the real showstopper of the group:

Woven Hand, Consider the Birds
If ever there was a singer/songwriter who embodied the spirit of Flannery O'Connor, it's David Eugene Edwards. He sings his songs with all the fiery passion of Bono, and, with his band 16 Horsepower, he made a name for himself in the realm of rough, ragged roots-rock. Now, under the banner of Woven Hand, Edwards goes solo to craft his fiercest, most astonishing collection yet. Consider the Birds is a dark, spooky affair, with provocative religious imagery abounding. It's a work of soul-shaking intensity, and it's likely to set fire to your stereo with holy fire.


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