Tuesday, May 29, 2007

Cubicle Tunes - Week of May 28, 2007

A word about this week's cubicle tunes . . .

I know Brian Vander Ark has been featured already, but I have him in the rotation this week because I am going to see him again on June 2 at the Kraftbrau Brewery in Kalamazoo. I saw him April 5 at the Magic Bag in Ferndale and it was a phenomenal show. Besides, they are tremendous albums and quite worthy of frequent listening anyway.

Admittedly, I never gave much thought to Stephen Stills until I found out he was a primary influence on Ray LaMontagne. I'm glad I went back and found some of his stuff, because it really is great.

I remain completely blown away by the beauty and brilliance of the song "Hymn" by Duncan Sheik, but the White Limousine album as a whole is also worthy of note.

I never go too long without some Shawn Colvin. Nobody should. Whole New You was the album that opened up the whole folk/singer-songwriter genre for me, so the album holds a special place for me.

Tuesday, May 8, 2007

Concert Review - Patty Griffin @ Calvin College, Grand Rapids, MI

Friday, April 27, 2007 @ Calvin College Fine Arts Center, 9 PM

Contemporary folk artist/singer-songwriter Patty Griffin is a paradox. Petite woman, booming pipes. Smartly attired in a pretty dress and high heeled shoes, but able to stomp around the stage when the tempo carries her away. Angelic voice behind a piano on a softly sung ballad, then commanding the concert hall without a microphone.

One thing I love about her music is that, despite its tremendous beauty, the songs are actually quite melancholy. (Hey! Another paradox!) I love melancholy. Her lyrics paint a very sad picture, and I love a miserable song.

As expected, the set was dominated by songs from her latest album, Children Running Through, highlighted by a stunning rendition of "Burgundy Shoes". Other new album standouts included "No Bad News", featuring guitarist Doug Lancio on the five-gallon plastic bucket, and very spirited performance of "Getting Ready", one of the album's few up tempo numbers.

The set also drew heavily from 2004's Impossible Dream, including the gorgeous ballads "Kite", "Useless Desires", and "When It Don't Come Easy".

Her band was outstanding and, despite a stage appearance of sparse instrumentation, their versatility provided more than enough support. The horn arrangements present on the albums were filled in sonically through Lancio's wizardry, and the cello of Bryn Davies added a moody layer to the ballads. Griffin moved effortlessly between the piano and her guitars.

Griffin has a voice that translates into the mood of the song she is singing. It was playful during the almost spoken "Stay on the Ride", growled during "Getting Ready", and lifted softly during "Burgundy Shoes". Although her voice is powerful, she used it sparingly and perfectly, only letting it go when the song called for it. For her, the voice is an element of the songs as a whole, and not just a crutch to rely on or use to cover for an otherwise average song.

I anxiously await the opportunity to see this remarkable musician perform again.

Below are some pictures from the show, courtesy of pattygriffin.net.

I'm out-

Tuesday, May 1, 2007

Notes On The Current Listening for April 30, 2007

This week's current listening is the entire body of work by contemporary folk artist Patty Griffin. I was in the crowd at her AMAZING concert last Friday night (April 27) at the Calvin College Fine Arts Center.

Hearing her live made me want to go back and revisit her earlier stuff, and her entire catalogue has been on a repeated playlist on my iPod since the show.

I will post a review of the show itself in the coming days, but in the meantime, do yourself a favor and discover some of her absolutely brilliant music on your own.

I'm out -