"Here We Rest" was the original motto of Alabama, the state Jason Isbell was raised in and still calls home. It's a perfect title for his new album. After nearly a decade as a touring musician, Isbell spent more time at home last year to write the record, and his new songs reflect that choice. Finding himself in familiar territory, he reexamines his past, attempts to rekindle relationships and retrace old patterns, and fights the feeling of being a stranger in his own town in "Alabama Pines."
Using an eclectic blend of styles from Slavic to American punk, the Denver-based quartet DeVotchKa entered the public consciousness when it scored the Grammy-nominated soundtrack to Little Miss Sunshine. The group's orchestral melodies and energetic pop has been called souped-up polka rock, but its members have found room to explore and mature over the past decade.
Singer-songwriter Paul Simon was listening to a box set of old American recordings one day. Among the songs, he found a Christmas sermon bearing the voice of Atlanta's Rev. J.M. Gates, a hugely popular preacher in the 1930s and '40s. That sermon stayed with Simon, who turned it into a song.
For a while now, Paul Simon has been shuffling and reshuffling the basic ingredients of his 1986 masterwork Graceland, trying new combinations of exotic, often African rhythms with elements of American blues and roots music. It's a rich area that has led him to some amazing songs, and also some retreads.
Originally published on Thu December 29, 2011 12:30 am
At 22 years old, Adele was inspired by the works of Etta James, Jeff Buckley and Jill Scott when she decided to enroll in the BRIT school. By the time of graduation she had perfected her sound and emerged as a soulful songbird and MySpace sensation in 2007 and 2008.