Songs: Ohia – Love & Work: The Lioness Sessions

Love & Work- The Lioness Sessions

“Whether you save me, Whether you savage me, Want my last look to be the moon in your eyes”. If The Lioness is your favourite Jason Molina album. Possibly. And you want more songs that sound like The Lioness. Definitely. Then this Deluxe version is for you. Phew.

Bob Dylan – More Blood, More Tracks: The Bootleg Series Vol. 14

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“I came in from the wilderness, A creature void of form, ‘Come in’, she said, ‘I’ll give ya, Shelter from the storm'”. If 3,513 versions of ‘Lily, Rosemary and the Jack of Hearts’ is what you are craving. Hmm, not totally sure. Then this Deluxe version of Blood On The Tracks is for you. Oh, OK.

Neil Young – ROXY: Tonight’s The Night Live

Neil Young- Roxy - Tonight_s the Night Live [reissue]

“Walk on, talk on, baby tell no lies, Don’t you be caught with a tear in your eye”. If you like Neil Young to be providing somewhat approximate renditions of what are undoubtedly some of his best tunes. Yes, yes. Then this live version of Tonight’s The Night is for you. Oh Good.

The Beatles – White Album

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“The sun is up, the sky is blue, It’s beautiful and so are you”. If you have ever been to Esher and wondered what it must have been like for The Beatles to demo The White Album songs there, then this Super Deluxe Version is for you. Where’s Esher again?

Kate Bush – Remastered I-IV

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“His left hand is under my head, And his right hand, Does embrace me, This is the song of Solomon”. Classic Kate Bush. Remastered. Move on. Nothing more to add. Oh OK. Right.

 

The KT Fellowship
Before The Dawn

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Half-Life Music may be approaching its fifth anniversary, but this is the first chance I’ve had to say something about a new Kate Bush release. I’m lucky. I might easily have had to wait another five years before I got the chance. Anyway, the occasion has clearly gotten to me, because instead of the usual beautifully crafted review, here are five more or less random thoughts on the magnificent Before The Dawn:

  • It’s emotional. It’s emotional for Kate. It’s emotional for the crowd. It’s just emotional. It’s not like I’m one of those people who’s switched from Christmas to Katemas (30 July), but it means a lot to hear her sing a song like ‘And Dream Of Sheep’ after all these years. Truly, it’s an emotional experience.
  • More than ever, it makes me crave a Director’s Cut 2. As her voice deepens, new textures emerge in all of the older songs. It would have been lovely to have heard one or two more, but at least we’re treated to a version of ‘Never Be Mine’ that was never performed in the live set.
  • There’s still an unmistakeable ’80s vibe to the playing particularly on Act One. It’s the unforgiving percussion and the bass that does it. But even the newer songs sound like they could have been premiered on Wogan. And that’s just fine.
  • Individual songs on The Ninth Wave can be just as transcendent as the album versions, but here the whole is a little less than the sum of the parts. The BBC Drama-style dialogue is mainly to blame. But there’s a sense that the story has been told a little too literally and that the some of the wonderful mystery has been lost. What it all means is that for Act Two, you really had to be there.
  • Actually, it’s Aerial that’ll end up being remembered as her classic album. Here, there’s not even room for such sublime tracks as ‘Pi’, ‘Mrs. Bartolozzi’, and ‘A Coral Room’. Even so, the versions of ‘Joanni’ and ‘King of the Mountain’ stand out. And it’s almost impossible to imagine that a live version of ‘A Sky of Honey’ could outshine the original, but it does. It’s more coherent. Slightly funkier. And there’s no sign of Rolf Harris.

Before The Dawn has helped make a horrible 2016 just that little bit better. That’s recommendation enough. Oh, and it comes with a lovely little booklet too.

 

This is always a really exciting time. A whole year of new releases to be anticipated. We know there’s material forthcoming from Villagers, Eleanor Friedberger, Andrew Bird, Dylan Leblanc, Shearwater, Tindersticks, Lucinda Williams, Sun Kil Moon, and Damien Jurado. There are also rumours of albums from Band of Horses, My Morning Jacket, Robert Ellis, and PJ Harvey. That’s a good start. But there’s much more to hope for. Last year, I was really lucky. Right at the top of my 2015 list was music from Elvis Perkins and Sufjan Stevens and both were kind enough to oblige. So, artists, if you are listening, here’s my wish list for 2016 – Bill Callahan, Phosphorescent, Richmond Fontaine, Anais Mitchell, John Vanderslice, Bon Iver, Kathleen Edwards, Kate Bush, Grizzly Bear and/or Department of Eagles, David Vandervelde, Neko Case, Emmy The Great, Ryan Adams, Feist, Margot & The Nuclear So and So’s, Fionn Regan, Fleet Foxes, and, of course, Kramies. Do please oblige. In the meantime, here is the great one with his classic ‘Sea Otter Cottage’.