Nobody much questions what pop music or classical music is, but everybody has a different definition of “the f-word. I tend to define it as music that’s rooted in a community of some kind, but it’s not always so easy to define.
The best known of the bunch is Linda Ronstadt, who combines with Louisiana singer
It’s that wispy term “singer-songwriter” that best describes Mindy Smith, but there’s a nice variety of musical coloring, and contributions from the likes of Beth Nielson Chapman and Buddy Miller (who sings a lovely duet with Smith on What if the world Stops Turning) on her Long Island Shores (!). Like many before her, her main topic is the ins and outs – mostly outs – of relationships. False lovers, the topic of many a traditional song, feature prominently here, but here they don’t cavort with the devil or morph into otherworldly creatures. They simply do a girl wrong. There’s also an affectionate love song to the state of
Last is the return of Joan Osborne, who’s Pretty Little Stranger (!) is referred to as her “country record.” Though the instrumentation does lean a bit in that direction, there’s some lovely pedal steel and nice tremolo’ed electric guitar, it doesn’t sound so far removed from the Osborne we’ve come to know. Her husky voice beguiles as ever on these songs of heartbreak and loss- country topics if there ever were- with more than a hint of the blues. Several covers are featured, including a nice version of the Grateful Dead’s
The biggest theme here, besides great voices, is a sense that all of these women are performing the music that moves them, rather than for targeted audience. Perhaps a new definition for folk music? In any case, next issue will feature the best new Irish music, including a wonderful new one by Teáda.
[!!!]—Classic, sure to be looked back on as such for generations to come.
[!!]—Great, one of the year’s finest. If you have even a vague interest in the artist, consider this my whole-hearted recommendation that you go out and purchase it immediately.
[!]—Very good, with considerable appeal for a fan of the artist(s). If you purchase it, you likely won’t be disappointed.
[–]—Good/solid, what you would expect.