Some Sunday Night Music — Lucie Silvas performing “Unbreakable Us” and “Letters to Ghosts”

Lucie Silvas, née Lucie Silverman, was born in London to the New Zealand father and Scottish mother.  According to her bio, she spent time in both places as a child, but was always dedicated to making music.  She was very active in the U.K. in the late 1990s and early 2000s, especially in the adult-contemporary genre’.  A few years ago she packed up and headed to Nashville and has just released a solo album of folk and blues-inflected pop entitled Letters to Ghosts which is due to be released next week.  Her voice is a cross between Bonnie Raitt and Janis Joplin, meaning that it is organic and genuine.  I’m not wild about the overproduction in the “Letters to Ghosts” single, but her powerful voice and her approach to the material successfully overcome any diversions in that regard.  She recently scored a mention in Spin Magazine’s Five Artists to Watch for October 2015.  These videos demonstrate why.  She is a talented singer with a wonderfully expressive voice.  Let’s hope she continues down this promising road.

Saturday Music Interlude — Three from London Grammar

London Grammar consists of vocalist Hannah Reid, guitarist Dan Rothman, and multi-instrumentalist Dot Major.  Out of university from Nottingham, U.K., Reid and Rothman met in the dorms and began recording and posting their music on-line.  “Hey Now” became an internet viral hit in 2012 and they released a debut album in 2013.

Their music is dominated by the emotive voice of Reid, whose powerful vocal instrument always stays in the foreground but is supported and propelled effectively by both Rothman and Major.  The three acting in empathy effectively mine the emotional potential of each song.

The following two videos from WFUV showcase the band’s raw talent in an organic, unproduced setting.  Their version of Chris Isaak’s classic “Wicked Game” performed here is a their performance evokes both the sorrowful reflection and obsessive passion expressed in the song’s lyrics, though it is apparent that “Hey Now,” a self-penned song, possesses more urgency and passion in the minds and hearts of the artists.

Finally, here is their most recent official video which most effectively displays the band’s potential backed by full instrumentation and with Reid’s disciplined but powerful vocals tested to their full range.

Saturday Music Interlude — Tony Bennett and Lady Gaga in Brussels and in the Studio

There is not much more that can be said about Tony Bennett.  He is a living treasure.  Since “I Left My Heart in San Francisco” I have followed him on his musical odyssey and then later, as a man in my 30s, explored the rich musical legacy of his earlier years.  It is hard to believe that Tony Benedetto of Astoria, New York, is 88 years old.  The surprise for me on the duets these artists have performed is the wonderful instrument that is the voice of Lady Gaga (Stefani Joanne Angelina Germanotta of Yonkers, New York).  It is almost as if her musical career was destined to lead her to this album.  Her powerful voice is both expressive and enveloping, tuned perfectly to the tempo and the register of the music.  I am only disappointed that there is no video of “Lush Life” performed by Lady GaGa solo which critics have described as one of the best renditions of this difficult song.  This collaboration, which began life from a benefit concert in New York, plows no new ground for these jazz standards.  But big things always start out with small steps.  Lady Gaga has always been known for her ability to handle vocal gymnastics and jazz music is a gold mine of challenging songs that would suit her voice and attitude.




Saturday Music Interlude — Lana Del Rey Performing West Coast

Nom de guerre for Elizabeth Woolridge (Lizzy) Grant.  She sprang on the music scene two years ago, though her career seems to have begun about four years earlier, sporting an affectation of a chanteuse out of ’40s and ’50s film noir that was equal parts derivative and forward leaning–a strange mix that made it hard to tell if something was really there or if she was just another privileged and connected kid on a lark.  It’s hard to peg her, mostly because her previous albums have been all over the place.  Is Lana Del Rey a projection, an alter ego, a fantasy?  I’m reminded of Garth Brooks and his occasional forays into Chris Gaines territory.  Thus, perhaps she is all of these.  This makes her unique and she seems to be stretching herself in new ways.  Now if she can only stop saying stupid and petulant things in interviews so we have a chance to see her talent and vision mature before everyone tires of the act.  Along these lines, having the Black Keys’ Dan Auberbach on-board as producer seems to have kicked it up a bit; and provided much needed consistency music-wise.  He seems to have found and shares her vision on what, exactly, Lana Del Rey is.  Consequently, I can’t seem to get this song out of my head.  The video, though, is pure minor league and lazy, an immature narcissistic romp that completely ignores the mood of the lyrics.  Perhaps this is Ms. Grant’s doing, perhaps not.  Try listening to the song with your eyes closed and enjoy.