Nick Cave & The Bad Seeds “Ghosteen” (Ghosteen Ltd) Released this past week, this double album has been described by Nick himself as divided between the first eight songs (Part One) “The Children,” and the remaining three songs (Part Two) “The Parents.” After losing his 15-year-old son Arthur in a tragic accident, this body of work is the cathartic release of emotions that emote the sad loss of a loved one. Working again with his classic band and the songwriting partnership of fellow Bad Seed, Warren Ellis, the entire record is a sad and yet beautiful evolutionary documentation of the last few years of Cave’s personal life. The twelve-minute title track is by far the most stunning. His voice is weary and adds to the deep emotions that are delivered throughout, with a hint of Leonard Cohen and Scott Walker influences. On the closing track, he digs deep emotionally and sings of “wanting peace to come”. I hope he finds that through this work. This is worthy of a listen in its entirety to grasp the depth of the work. Key tracks are “Ghosteen,” “Bright Horses,” “Galleon Ship” and “Hollywood”
Wilco “Ode To Joy” (dBpm) This is the first full-band release since Schmilco in 2015 and Jeff Tweedy’s release of three solo records and a book. This new record contains Wilco’s signature downbeat folk stylings throughout and is rich with long-awaited new material. Beautifully recorded at the band’s own studio, The Loft, in Chicago. On this new release, Glen Kotche’s drumming is firmly in the foreground on many of the more austere songs. The further you get into the record, the prettier the songs and lighter the mood. As we have come to love with Jeff Tweedy’s lyrics, they leave plenty of room for interpretation, and there is pleanty to take in. Guitarist Nels Cline has his stellar signature moments on “When We Were Lucky” and “Love is Everywhere (Beware).” This is simply another great record by a band well into their 25-year career. Key tracks are “Everyone Hides,” “Love is Everywhere (Beware)” and “Hold Me Anyway”
John Coltrane “Blue World” (Impulse) The last couple of years have been good for Coltrane fans. Following the release of last year’s “Both Directions at Once: The Lost Album” comes this welcomed unearthed release. All of the players on this recording are part of the classic John Coltrane Quartet with McCoy Tyner on piano, Jimmy Garrison on bass, and Elvin Jones on drums. Recorded at RudyVan Gelder’s studio in 1964, a few weeks after the quartet recorded the album Cresent, and just prior to the recording of the classic Love Supreme. This was recorded as the soundtrack to the Canadian art film entitled “Le chat dans le sac” (The Cat in the Bag), a politically charged docufiction by Gilles Groulx, considered a landmark of Quebec cinema. This recording contains several versions of the excellent “Naima” first heard on Coltrane’s classic LP Giant Steps. The improvisations on this material are full of solid heft in their phrasing. Key tracks are “Naima (Take 1),” “Blue World,” and “Village Blues (Take 2)”
Brittany Howard “Jaime” (ATO) This solo album from the Alabama Shakes singer/songwriter front woman pushes boundaries beyond her past work in a full band context. Calling for a self-imposed band hiatus in 2018, she headed out into a period of self-discovery. On the record, named after her older sister, who passed away at the young age of thirteen. She chose to retreat to a house on Topanga Canyon to work on new material, and Jaime is a document of that period of time.
Branching out past the phenomenal Sound & Vision LP, there are hints of Prince, D’Angelo, and a few Nina Simone influences on this one. LA producer Sean Everett, who engineered The Shake’s 2015 Sound & Vision LP, produced this one. All songs unified by common themes of love, compassion, and humanity with an overlying theme of ridding this world of hate and bigotry. The brilliant “Georgia” is a jam that takes our current right-wing apocalypse head-on. The record is much more experimental than any of her past projects and full of sonic textures throughout. Key tracks are “Stay High,” “Georgia,” and “He Loves Me.”