Friday, 27 April 2007 0 No Reply

JEFF BUCKLEY – Grace (1994)

A beautiful and emotive voice not necessary gives you a beautiful and emotive record; maybe the karma of Jeff Buckley (the son of cult songwriter Tim Buckley) was to be bigger of the tragic legend of his father, include his own death.

A very ambitious musical work, great arrangements, sometimes a rock band, sometimes just music, but always a big vocal expression, a fatuous vocal expression that give the feeling that he use the songs just like a way to demonstrate his musical capability.

In the songs “Grace”, “Last Goodbye”, “So Real” and “Eternal Life” Buckley tried to be a rock singer, but his pretensions not let him reach the feeling that other rock singers reach at that time on classic rock ballad, like E. Vedder on “Black”, B. Corgan on “Disarm”, C. Cornell on “Black Hole Sun”, L. Stanley & J. Cantrell on “Down in a Hole” or the most famous performance of K. Cobain for the MTV Unplugged.

But all his sins are forgiven thankful to his interpretations of the Leonard Cohen song “Hallelujah”, where he put his talents to the service of the song, maybe this was possible because he not wrote this.

Next song after Cohen cover is “Lover, You should’ve Come Over”, less haughty than the first tracks sounds like the perfect equilibrium between his talents (and his karma) and the interpretation that the song demand (of course, if you believe that some songs demands some kind of interpretations, because the lyrics, the melody, his history…). You can find this perfect equation on “Corpus Christi Carol” (Lyrics freely after anonymous 15th century text, melody by B. Britten) and “Lilac Wine” of J. Shelton (but originally performed by Elkie Brooks, but actually inspired to the version sung by Nina Simone), both cover songs.

Another chapter are the opened and the ended tracks: “Mojo Pin” and “Dream Brother” that Buckley wrote in cooperation with a friend and members of his band respectively. In these songs we can recognize an original sound, a musical style, a kind of lyrics, a beautiful voice work, definitively the essential of Jeff Buckley music.

It’s a shame the fate of his blood, Buckley (like his father) died young, Jeff at the age of 30 years old… maybe his soul knows that his first album was finally the last and for this reasons he tried to put all the universe only in one hour.

A post album appears a couple years after with some lost songs.
Friday, 20 April 2007 0 No Reply

JACK JOHNSON - In Between Dreams (2005)

If UK put on top of the charts a guitar singer/songwriter like James Blunt, USA strikes back with Jack Johnson. But “In Between Dreams” isn’t the first LP of Johnson, actually it’s the third.

Just nice songs with a warm voice in a beautiful day, like the CD cover, a drawing of Johnson with his guitar on back pick up a leaf from a big tree in the afternoon. Songs to play on guitar, with friends, on a beach at night, beside a little fire, well it’s easy to imagine Johnson doing this, because he was a champion surfer before started his musical career, by the way, he’s an Hawaiian native

Basically an acoustic guitar with minimal arrangement, just added drums & bass and sometimes a second guitar and a shy keyboard, some chorus with a second voice recorded by Johnson himself (an electric guitar appears on funky track “Staple It Together” but didn’t change the colours of the LP). Some touch of folk, rock ballads, funk and reggae you can listen in some passages of the LP.

No need more arrangement when the message it’s so simple, so pure, so clean, no need more when the message it’s just love.

Love is the answer, At least for most of the questions in my heart”, sing Johnson in “Better Together”. “Love is the answer” sung John Lennon thirty years before on “Mind Games”, maybe an inspiration, at least a quote.

But Johnson have his own touch in the way he sing, putting a lot of words in each verse, singing one after one without a musical pause, this could be tired, but he has a natural rhythm in his voice, that let him flows for each verse without lose the melody. Similar to Rap concept, a vocal works between talk and sing.

The highlights of the LP are “Better Together”, “Sitting Waiting Wishing” and “Good People”, the only one with a different concept in the lyrics which is focus on criticism the media (news on tv) asking “Where’d all the good people go / I’ve been changing channels / I don’t see them on the tv shows”.

But mainly simple scene of his personal life appears in the lyrics of the LP like in “Banana Pancakes” (But Baby, You hardly even notice / When I try to show you this / Song is meant to keep ya) and “Do You Remember” (Do you remember / When we first moved in together / The piano took up the living room / You'd play me boogie woogie / I played you love songs).

Was written before … love is all you need.

Was written then … Some people wanna fill the world with silly love songs / And what’s wrong with that?

Friday, 13 April 2007 0 No Reply

THE THRILLS – So Much for the City (2003)

Nice, beautiful and simple songs results when five friends travel abroad from the cold land of UK to the sunny beaches of the west coast of USA and wrote the songs in complete relaxation. The Spanish names of the cities of the old Spanish colonies appear here, there and everywhere in the lyrics of the LP: Santa Cruz, San Diego, Las Vegas, Los Angeles, Big Sur.

Although the influences of the Beach Boys, and others bands from the flower revolutions in the sixties, it’s so obvious they don’t avoid his British references like the beatlesish phrases in “Your Love Is Like Las Vegas” : Don't you know, You're like Pete Best, Bitter after all these years, Just let it go. You can almost hear Liam Gallagher when Conor Deasy (the lead singer of the band) sings with the same hall vocal effects in “Big Sur” the words “hangin’ around …” (I try to remember the name of a side b or a demo song of Oasis when Liam sings the same words but I can’t).

US music references it’s more directly in “Big Sur” when they quote the main title of The Monkeys series, in the Burt Bacharach’s intro of the “Deckchairs And Cigarettes”, and in the slide guitar of “Hollywood kids”. But they never loose his British sounds; it’s so elegant to be a US group.

All the songs on the LP make references to the holidays in the beaches, some more explicit than others (“Don’t steal our sun”, “'Til The Tide Creeps In” and “Santa Cruz (You're Not That Far)”) where all the concept it’s maybe resume in the lyrics of last songs, the hidden track called “Plans”: the girl travel to the city and he didn’t follow her but asked her to come home, to the holidays …

A couple of slow songs, a couple of more rocker songs, but the all lp sounds like one big song, little details it’s not enough to make remarkable differences between them, whatever this it’s not necessary a critical point, but sometimes it’s a little boring.

It’s a nice record to listen without your shoes on a warm day with the sunset on the ocean holding a glass of white wine.
Wednesday, 4 April 2007 0 No Reply

THE CORAL - Magic and Medicine (2003)

There is a man looking at the sunset on a cloudy winter day, you can notice some bitter and some comfort in his eyes, Liezah has gone and he only remembers that secret kiss and a melody in the forest, Looks out the window and thinks in vain If I could only be that boy again.

Like slides of a heartbreak – history, the songs from the LP “Magic and Medicine” (2003) of the Hoylake band The Coral, flows one to one with melancholic and nostalgic sounds. A gentle vocal work, acoustic guitar, reverb electric guitars, harmonica, Mersey beat drums and mystery keyboards. A lot of the sound makes references to 1967-68 periods which you can recognize.

The Lp opens with “In The Forest” a kind of mystery song talking about a romance that never was and the feeling of longing for something and never have the opportunity to get it. “My only crime was to want too much / I could look but I could not touch” said the lyrics with an unfinished phrase in the chorus “You'll never know how much”, maybe a lot of pain to sing “I love you”.

The next song is one of the singles of the Lp with a video that rotate on MTV: “Don't Think You're The First”, with a faster tempo (in comparison with the other songs) it’s not a danceable song, nice flute arrangements give some colours to the song. Melancholic lyrics talks about leaves the sadness and notice there is always one person besides you that loves you, and all we have problems, as Mick Jagger sings in Mixed Emotion (you’re not the only one with mixed emotions).

Third song is “Liezah”, maybe the name of the girl who inspired all this songs. Like a folk song with correct plucking of acoustic guitar it’s a gentle tune talking about a girl that all men wants, but all need to resign themselves to be just only one page in his diary book “She leaves their silver but keeps their gold”.

Next song is “Talkin' Gypsy Market Blues”, the rockiest songs of the LP, it’s no precisely blues, but it’s rock and roll, tells the history of a wandering boy representing in a pairs of gypsy boots. Nice drums fill gives to the song more style.

Then appears “Secret Kiss”, the best song of the LP, it’s a single too. With an hypnotic tempo and remarkable mystery keyboards sounds, the melancholic arrangement are the indicate to give you the feeling of a secret kiss as a little treasure that give you some comfort in your boring winter days. As Cobain sings “I miss the comfort to being sad”.

“Milkwood Blues”, also isn’t blues, although the lyrics talks about “Black Crow nights n' chimney tops and one too many sad songs”. With some jazz like changes of tempo and some in voice effects, it’s the most alternative rock style song of the Lp, but try to looks interested with more complex arrangements not always give you a good song.

“Bill McCai” it’s a rock tune about the saddest history of a man that pass his life trying to be a boy again, with hope, innocence and a whole life to live. Nostalgic more than melancholic it’s the feeling of this song that continues gives you the idea that all the days are clouds in the sky.

Although “Eskimo Lament” started with a beautiful a saddest intro with guitar and piano suddenly changes to a happiest tune, but the lyrics continues the frame feeling all of the Lp “But all my truths are lied All my secrets have been told”.

Like a bolero, “Careless Hands” says please don’t love him, he doesn’t care about you, but never said “’Cause I do”. Again unfinished lyrics about an unfinished love history, songs writing with the nostalgic melancholy of knowing that it’s too late. With a good tempo, acoustic guitars and nicest electric guitar fill it’s a one of the best song of the LP.

“Pass It On” It’s the other single (but here in Chile only sounds Secret Kiss and Don’t Thing You’re the First), it’s a happy and gentle rock song, happy in the context of course, “When it's done, and all this has gone, just find a feeling, pass it on” a little hope you can find.

I don’t know it’s “All Of Our Love” is a song just for fill the LP, eleven songs it’s enough for a good LP, but it’s ok, with the voice as an second layer of sounds it’s like a intermission more than song like the others, the problem is that the next song (the last) it’s not a smash hit.

“Confessions Of A.D.D.D.” closest the Lp with more energy than the rest of the songs, with lyrics focus on social criticism didn’t loose the melancholic sounds that characterized all the LP. A good song with trumpet arrangements but not qualify as a single (as I said before).