Sunday Music Interlude — Adia Victoria, SHEL, and onDeadWaves

I haven’t written about music in a while, so it’s time to catch up on some of the more interesting new acts and new projects that I’ve come across.

Originally out of South Carolina, Adia Victoria now calls Nashville home.  Her interesting bio can be found at Allmusic.com here.  Her original music is a combination of country and electric blues, punk, garage rock, and a modern type of dark Americana roots music borne of the narrative tradition and neo-folk.  Her voice consists of a girlish rasp wrapped in an alto silkiness.  You can learn more about her at her website at www.adiavictoria.com.

She was named WXPN’s Artist to Watch for July 2016, and just performed on NPR’s Tiny Desk Concert.  The performance from this last appears below.

 

SHEL is a group of four sisters out of Fort Collins, Colorado.  I wrote about them back in September 2014 as they were just out of the egg, featuring their neo-folk music after an EP and first album.  They have since matured and have come out with a critically hailed album entitled Just Crazy Enough.  They just played live on Echoes.org with John Diliberto.   Here they are performing a couple of selections that reveal both their developing maturity and natural talent informed by that maturity.  The first is “Let Me Do.”  The song begins as a deceptively simplistic song that then changes both tempo and melody, carried by the ethereal combined voice of their harmony vocals in the call and response from narrative to chorus.

Speaking of ethereal, here is SHEL performing “I’m Just a Shadow.”  This is first class neo-noir folk and roots music.  The following Lyric Video highlights the emotional power of the lyrics.

It is probably time for a shout-out to John Diliberto at Echoes.org.  I actually came across John’s taste in music through the program Star’s End, which is still on-going.  There I was introduced to ambient and space music in the 1970s when I split time between visits to my home state of New Jersey and during trips from my job in Washington, D.C.  FM radio waves being as they were, especially in the early morning over weekends, I would occasionally be able to tune into the program, which memory serves was out of Philly, while driving down some deserted highway with the star-streaked night sky above, and wish that the feeling of my movement through time and space, the fresh air from the open windows, the firmament of the night sky, and the music–which seemed to transport me to some other dimension–would never end.  Then, after years traveling and at sea, I was reintroduced to John as music critic through his contributions to the long-missed CD Review magazine.  His thoughtful, eloquent, and informative reviews opened my world to new music and new musical genre’s that I would probably not otherwise have explored.  There are a few critics that fall into this category which, for me, includes Ralph Gleason, Leonard Feather, Ira Gitler, John McDonough, Robert Christgau, Gary Giddins, Orrin Keepnews, Greil Marcus, Dave Marsh, Michael Cuscuna, and David Dye, among a few–all good company.

This serves as introduction to another project to which I was introduced through Echoes.org and Mr. Diliberto.  It is the group onDeadWaves.  The group consists of British singers Polly Scattergood and James Chapman.  Their maiden album is this month’s Echoes CD of the Month.  According to the review by John Diliberto, onDeadWaves’s sound is like “a meeting of Lanterna, driving across the desert in a 57 ‘Chevy, with Leonard Cohen and Lucinda Williams in the backseat.”  Their music, also called “shoegaze west”, seems more varied, especially when confronted by the 60’s Byrd’s-like guitar and unrestrained punk of the song “California.”  Overall, though, I can hear the influence of the moodier neo-noir song-styling of Lana Del Rey through most of the songs.  Perhaps Ms. Del Rey was onto something after all.

Here they are the song “Blue Inside”.  Other videos are also available at the Echoes site linked above.

 

Sunday Music Interlude — Patti Smith performing “My Blakean Year”

Blogging is still light due to travel and other responsibilities.  But in the meantime, I strongly recommend that you stop off at AITS.org for the latest thoughts and trends in IT project management.  In particular, check out the important blog post from Dave Gordon regarding aligning projects with organizational strategy.  I have a post coming to the Blogging Alliance as well, and a few posts I’ve been pecking at for this page.  In the meantime, here is some music that came to me on the radio in returning home from a recent trip, and which speaks to the heart, from the irreplaceable punk poet laureate Patti Smith.

 

Sunday Music — KT Tunstall performing “Tangled Up in Blue” and “Invisible Empire”

Talk is that she is in L.A. to pursue a movie career, movie soundtracks, and work on her next album.  For those of you unfamiliar, KT Tunstall hails from St. Andrews, Fife in Scotland.  She hit the music scene in 2004 and took it by storm.  Every album seems to get better than the last.

Here she is on an early performance from the U.K. on the iconic John Dylan cover which became for her a signature song for awhile–let’s hear it for the dustbin!

Before heading to L.A. for a change of career in 2014, she released the excellent Invisible Empire//Crescent Moon album.  Here she is with a live version of the title song from the first half of the album.

Her musical and emotional growth are apparent simply in the juxtaposition of the videos and we are the richer for it: documenting insights for all of us to ponder as we navigate existence.  Let’s hope we hear something again soon from KT.

Return from Travel Musical Sunday Interlude — Heather Maloney performing “Woodstock”

Anointed one of the five music artists to watch for April 2015 by SPIN magazine, Heather Maloney is a singer-songwriter with an expressive, disciplined, and strong musical voice.  According to her website, she studied jazz and operatic vocals in New Jersey for several years, but couldn’t quite find her place or her voice in those disciplines.  As anyone who follows either of those musical traditions, while they provide a devotee with artistic heights rarely achieved in more folk-based or pop-based musical pathways, they are ones that provide few financial and material rewards.  Still, she followed her muse to a silent meditation retreat in central Massachusetts.  Oddly, she admits, three years of mostly silence allowed her to focus on the musical path that she decided to pursue.  With guitar in hand she performed in coffee houses, libraries, and meditation centers across New England the Northeast.  She signed with groundbreaking indie label Signature Sounds in 2013, which also carries Lake Street Dive and Josh Ritter.  This break gave her more exposure in the music industry and among other artists.  What follows is the song that made her mark, one of the most difficult songs to tackle, especially given its author: Joni Mitchell’s “Woodstock.”

 

Sunday Early Morning Music — Ryley Walker performing “Primrose Green”

Designated the March Artist to Watch by WXPN in Philadelphia, Ryley Walker is a guitar virtuoso and folk/singer-songwriter out of Chicago.  His first CD, which was released last year, was the well-received All Kinds of You.  His talent is extraordinary and his musical interests span traditional folk, Celtic, jazz-folk, British late ’60s era folk-rock, country blues, and psychedelica.  His new full-length CD is entitled Primrose Green.  The title song is what follows and it is very reminiscent of Bert Jansch, John Renbourn, and Donovan.

 

Saturday Music Interlude — French for Rabbits performing “Hard Luck Stories”

Out of Wellington, New Zealand, French for Rabbits is a folk-rock/dream-pop duo composed of vocalist/keyboardist Brooke Singer and guitarist John Fitzgerald.  They have been performing since 2011 and have just come out with their debut album.  The subjects of their songs reflect the cold seafaring and rocky coastal environment of their origins, especially in the case of Singer, who hails originally from Waikuku Beach.  But, of course, nothing is that simple in art.  Listening to their music evokes in the mind more significant connections and analogies.  Their music has matured and gained greater complexity since their first forays in 2012 and 2013.  Among the best is “Hard Luck Stories”, which follows.  Its tone is simultaneously dreamy and organic at the same time, overlaid with Singer’s beautiful vocals that leads us through her lyrical world of loneliness and desire.

 

Saturday Evening Music Interlude — Three from Mary Fahl

There is only one word to describe the music and voice of Mary Fahl: breathtaking.  Hailing from Rockland County, New York, she has been making music since the early 1990s, initially with the respected group October Project, which had a loyal and growing following until Epic records unceremoniously dropped them.  Her music has been featured in film and television, which spans genres from pop/rock, to classical, to alternative rock, and to folk.  Her powerful contralto voice has been compared favorably to Grace Slick.  Among current artists I would compare both her music, breadth, and themes with Florence Welch of Florence and the Machine.