New CDs by artists set to play locally
Produced by Brad Jones (Lost Highway)Throughout “KMAG YOYO,” Hayes Carll cautions just how tough this hard-traveling life of a Texas singer-songwriter can be. “I used to have heart but the highway took it,” he sings in “Hard Out Here.” Every turn he takes, every corner he stands on, every drink he orders, every girl he falls for is the wrong one. There’s no right place to be, so you just keep moving on. But Carll sings with confidence, and there is always a laughing edge to his voice. The rough life he conjures in his words is reminiscent of Merle Haggard, but the tone he adopts is taken more from “Highway 61 Revisited”-era Bob Dylan and from Todd Snider – two guys who are in on the joke, not the butt of it.Carll isn’t complaining; he’s reveling. With every one of these 12 songs, the 35-year-old folk-rocker proves that this state of worry and uncertainty, with regrets trailing him from one gig to the next, is a deep fountain to draw from. As a result, “KMAG YOYO,” his fourth album, is a modern-country classic, crackling with energy.While “KMAG YOYO” sticks mostly to the rougher edges, possibly the signature song here is the soul-soaked “Grand Parade.” Here, Carll sits back, laughing and enjoying, “watchin’ all this life go by.” Yep, he’s got perspective, all right.”KMAG YOYO” is an acronym for “Kiss my ass guys, you’re on your own.”Hayes Carll performs June 23 at the PAC3 in Carbondale.
Produced by Haynes and Gordie Johnson (Concord)Warren Haynes uses the first lines of the opening track here to explain directly why he is embarking on this solo project: “Still life is overrated/ Burnout factor is part of the game/ Life should be an adventure,” he sings on “Man in Motion.”As if anyone had ever accused him of resting on his laurels. Haynes brought the Allman Brothers Band to latter-day heights and helped salvage the remnants of the Grateful Dead. Oh yeah, Haynes also leads Gov’t Mule, a constantly touring band that has also managed to release 13 albums in 14 years. And when time allows, he plays solo shows, with Belly Up Aspen having become a preferred venue for such outings.So now Haynes gets off his lazy butt to make a record under his own name. “Man in Motion” reaches back to the ’60s soul records Haynes grew up with. The emphasis is on Haynes’ voice, which he surrounds with organ and horns. When he does crank up his guitar, which he does often enough, it is with a pre-rock ‘n’ roll tone, absent effects. Haynes has no trouble breathing life into this style, with “Your Wildest Dreams” and “River’s Gonna Rise” as particularly accurate resurrections of old-school soul.Warren Haynes plays a solo show May 26 at Belly Up Aspen.
Produced by Don Was, Eric Liljestrand (Lost Highway)Through most of her musical life, Lucinda Williams has been blessed – with lame lovers, broken promises, bruises and scars. She was also blessed with a profound gift for turning pain into vivid music.At 58, she seems to have gotten through all that. “Blessed” includes songs like “Born to Be Loved,” which slams shut the coffin on those old hurts (“You weren’t born to be abused/ And you weren’t born to lose/ You were born to be loved”), and the title track, an earnest statement of gratitude.But all this grace has hardly made her mushy-soft. “Blessed” works as a closing-the-book statement, and part of saying good-bye to the past is summoning some of that old rage. Appropriately, the album opens with the kiss-off song, “Buttercup”: “You already sucked me dry/ I can’t do it anymore, honey.”Most interesting is the voice Williams uses on the songs expressing spiritual satisfaction. “Born to Be Loved” is slow and minor-key; “Blessed” similarly lacks a celebratory air. Maybe it’s that Williams herself still can’t quite believe where she has landed: “Who would have ever guessed/ I would be here where I am like this/ With you, my dear,” she sings in “Sweet Love.”Lucinda Williams performs Saturday, May 14 at Belly Up Aspen.
Produced by Robertson and Marius de Vries (429 Records)Robbie Robertson’s guitar once breathed fire into the Band and behind Dylan. Robertson is 67 now, and he’s gotten quieter, slower, more considered. His gaze is backward; one segment of “How to Become Clairvoyant,” his first album in 13 years, are the back-to-back pair of “When the Night Was Young” and “He Don’t Live Here No More.” The first is a full-on reminiscence about youth: “We could change the world, stop the war/ … But that was way back when the night was young.” The second is a regretful meditation on addiction.Robertson has the right guests (Steve Winwood, Trent Reznor, and Eric Clapton, who contributes guitar and vocals to several tracks); his songwriting is artful; he has something to say. He occasionally ventures close to soft jazz and New Age, but generally his taste endures.But you know how some people get really thin, almost hollow, as they age? “How to Become Clairvoyant” is a little like that – more polite good taste than muscle. For better and worse, this is what maturity can sound like.Robertson is long done with the Band, for reasons he sets out in “This Is Where I Get Off” (yes, another look at the past). But he might consider a call to his old mate Levon Helm, who, despite a bout with cancer, still knows what it is to rock. Robertson could use a little of firstname.lastname@example.org
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Sick of not being able to find a parking place on Lone Pine Road because people are storing their cars and trailers? That’s about to change.