Shelby Lynne gets Dusty on Springfield tribute
Here are mini-reviews of recent CD releases:Shelby Lynne, Just a Little Lovinproduced by Phil Ramone (Lost Highway)Shelby Lynnes 2000 album I Am Shelby Lynne earned the singer-songwriter her critical breakthrough and numerous comparisons to Dusty Springfield. The album featured the souped-up but spot-on production, with layers of strings, and a soul-country cross that Springfield and producer Jerry Wexler employed on 1969s glorious Dusty in Memphis.On Just a Little Lovin, Lynne flirts with Springfield in a different way. The album features nine songs originally recorded by Springfield. (There is also one song written by Lynne, Pretend.) But Lynne, with famed producer Phil Ramone, tackles the material in a far different way than Springfield did or that Lynne did with her own songs on I Am Shelby Lynne. The settings are barely there pickings on acoustic guitar, brushed drums putting the spotlight on Lynnes voice. She handles the songs I Only Want to Be With You, The Look of Love, Anyone Who Had a Heart with introspection and tenderness. It completes the Dusty-Shelby picture: Lynne now has a standout album of Springfields songs, in Lynnes own style, to go with a fantastic album of her own songs recorded in Springfields style.North Mississippi Allstars, Hernandoproduced by Jim Dickinson (Songs of the South)On their first two basically interchangeable CDs, the North Mississippi Allstars brothers Luther and Cody Dickinson, and childhood buddy Chris Chew played a brand of modern blues-rock that relied on Luthers heavy guitar riffs, played over a thick rhythm of drums (Cody) and bass (Chris).The trio seemed to realize they could go on playing that meat-and-potatoes, Allmans- and Cream-inspired style forever, so on their third album, Polaris, they experimented with modern rock and more expansive song-writing. With 2005s Electric Blue Watermelon, they found a happy medium between catchy songs, basic blues and experimentation. (The album had guest appearances by country-rock singer Lucinda Williams, rapper Al Kapone, and the Dirty Dozen Brass Band.)On Hernando, named for their Mississippi hometown, the Allstars head back to the basics. A few new flavors are sprinkled around: Mizzip and Blow Out are back-to-back, zippy little flashbacks to old rock n roll, and fellow Mississippian Jimbo Mathus is featured on vocals throughout. But its as though any lessons learned over the last two albums were forgotten or ignored. But the basic ideas are mostly borrowed from their earlier selves, representing a retreat back to the comfort of blues-rock. The message of those first albums proved right they could do this forever. (Sometimes they even do it better; check out Luthers guitar lead on Soldier.)Jim Dickinson, father to Luther and Cody, and a noted producer and session player with the Rolling Stones and Bob Dylan, should be providing his boys with more than production. He should be applying a loving little kick in the pants.The North Mississippi Allstars perform a free show Sunday, Feb. 17, in Snowmass Village, as part of the Aspen Skiing Co.s Hi-Fi Concert Series.Drive-By Truckers, Brighter han Creations Darkproduced by David Barbe (New West)Now heres a Southern band determined to keep moving forward. Georgias Drive-By Truckers, known for their guitar-driven Southern rock, played an acoustic, sit-down-and-strum tour last spring in an effort to reinvent themselves. (The tour included their Aspen debut, at Belly Up Aspen.)That refresher is apparent on Brighter Than Creations Dark. But distorted electric guitar is hardly dispensed with; on 3 Dimes Down, it comes with a Rolling Stones, Exile on Main Street-era flavor. But as often as not, the volume is toned down to focus on songs and quieter sounds. The opener, Two Daughters and a Wife, kicks off with acoustic guitar. Then piano, banjo and the backing, feminine voice of bassist Shonna Tucker chime in, and the song becomes a lovely meditation on heaven.Dialing down the amps might not be such a great idea if the songs werent so good. But both of the Truckers main writers the rocking Patterson Hood and the more countrified Mike Cooley have elevated their games into the stratosphere, exploring good (The Righteous Path) and bad (Lisas Birthday), Iraq (The Home Front) and America (You and Your Crystal Meth), through a distinctively Southern point of view that includes religion, humor and booze. Lots of booze.Apart from the turn in sonic direction and the general raising of the bar on writing and recording, there are two significant additions here. Tucker, who previously stuck to playing bass, chips in with backing vocals and three songs of her own, two of them Im Sorry Huston and The Purgatory Line on par with her bandmates. And keyboardist Spooner Oldham, a member of the Muscle Shoals band that cranked out 60s soul hits, adds another dimension.I may not hear a better CD all year.Drive-By Truckers perform Feb. 21 at Belly Up Aspen.Wyclef Jean, Carnival Vol. II … Memoirs of an Immigrant(Columbia)Hip-hopper Wyclef Jean was forced to cancel Wednesday nights show at Belly Up Aspen. In place of the live appearance, there is Carnival II, a sequel to his decade-old solo debut.Jean, a guitarist and producer as well as rapper, proves himself as musical as ever, and more musical worldly than anyone in hip-hop. A native of Haiti, he brings in his usual Caribbean vibes on Sweetest Girl (Dollar Bill), which features Akon, Lil Wayne and a new talent, classically trained jazz singer Niia. The song samples the Wu-Tang Clans C.R.E.A.M. for cash rules everything around me but uses those words in a compassionate statement about a girl who has had to trade her body for cash. Riot, with Jamaican singer Sizzla and Serj Tankian, of Armenian-American band System of a Down, raises the reggae flag.Carnival Vol. II brings in more than the island vibes. Paul Simon adds vocals to the mellow, even folkish Fast Car, a wonderful song about the attraction of the automobile. Hollywood Meets Bollywood uses a universe of sounds to celebrate the immigrant spirit. And Norah Jones is at the center of the slow-grooving Any Other Day, a plea for sanctuary from troubled times.Maceo Parker, Roots & Groovesproduced by Joachim Becker & Lucas Schmid (Heads Up)Saxophonist Maceo Parkers last few CDs seemed slick and thin when compared to his essential CDs Mo Roots and Southern Exposure. But Roots & Grooves is all meat and grease. The set, recorded live during last springs European tour, is broken into two CDs the first, a tribute to Ray Charles, the second subtitled Back to Funk. More prominent than those themes is the presence of the WDR Big Band Cologne, a big horn section that adds heft to Parkers sound without sacrificing the email@example.com
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