My sentimental favorite on this list is Robben Ford, who was renting a house from a friend of mine when I lived in Los Angeles. I don’t have a really great story here, but once I dropped by the house with my buddy for something or another, and Robben was quite nice to me. After that I took an interest in his career.
There’s a lesson in there for you creative types: To some extent you’re in the relationship business. A kind word, a handshake — those things go a long way toward creating lifelong fans.
Anyway, let’s get to April’s picks and her awesome write up:
“When We Were On Fire,” James Bay (Chaos and the Calm). “Now I know, I know we’re losing light, our love is dying.” Urgently smooth, Mr. Bay delivers a wonderfully palatable pop ode to an evolving relationship. The nuanced backing vocals anchor the tune and keep you interested.
“Off Your Mind,” Dwight Yoakam (Second Hand Heart). “If you see me, you don’t have to say hello.” I can’t hear Dwight without thinking about the character ‘Doyle’ from Slingblade. However, here is Yoakam, with his classic rockabilly sound to remind us that he is a talented musician first and foremost.
“Stars Are Aligned,” Darlia (Petals). “Let’s not make peace again.” Sludgy and melodic, this tune will send you straight back to the 1990’s. With a soaring chorus, heavy lead guitar and an undeniable rhythm section, this is a band to watch.
“I Am The Fool,” The Bros. Landreth (Let It Lie). “Take care and keep your chin up. I know you’re going to be just fine.” At first blush, one may write this group off as ‘southern rock’, and while the influence is there, this group actually hails from Winnipeg, Manitoba. The track features Joey Landreth channeling Paul Rodgers and lays down a bluesy number that spotlights raw emotion.
“Bad Friday,” Umphrey’s McGee (The London Session). “Add it all up, don’t take things that you can’t give back”. Not a new tune but the marquee song of their latest release. Hypnotic, funky, and tight, let the music take you away.
“Signs,” The Vespers (Sisters and Brothers). “Buying time with cheap conversation, but I got a patient heart.” A light hearted, multi-layered track held together with Taylor Jones’ tight backbeat and the Cryar sisters’ raw edged harmonies. The Vespers are a band comprised of a set of two sisters and two brothers (not related) out of Nashville, TN.
“Find Yourself,” Jacco Gardner (Hypnophobia). “Don’t fight the feeling, just let it in.” Psychedelic with a hint of swagger, this tune is a heavy hitter right out of the gate. Jacco ropes you in with a sublime harpsichord riff and paints the rest with ethereal backing vocals.
“Without You,” Tobias Jesso Jr. (Goon). “Why can’t you just love me?” A carefully chosen, tender piano part colors the beginning of this song and invites you in with an equally plaintive question. Impeccable chord progression paired with raw, emotional lyrics cast this track as a slow burning classic.
“High Heels and Throwing Things,” Robben Ford feat. Warren Haynes (Into the Sun). “A desperate man tells the funniest lies.” Swanky and longing, like all good blues tracks. But not all blues tracks have Mr. Haynes laying down meaty riffs.
“The Right Stuff,” Noel Gallagher’s High Flying Birds (Chasing Yesterday). “Are you a devil with a heart of gold? You and I got the right stuff.” This tune catches its stride amongst the wily sax bursts and subtle trumpet doubled up against a driving bass line. I hear Oasis all through this, but better.