Month: March 2017

Rhiannon Giddens – Freedom Highway – Review

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Freedom Highway

I am admittedly a sucker for female singers. Dusty Springfield, Adele, Annie Haslam, Laura Nyro, Sara Bareilles, Linda Ronstadt, Alicia Keys, Lady Gaga, Annie Lenox, are just a few of the female voices that I can listen to all day. I am adding Rhiannon Giddens to this list right now. I am not a big fan of traditional country-blues old-time music, and the first time I had even heard of her was on her outstanding contribution to Lost On The River, The New Basement Tapes, and the song Spanish Mary.

I had read some reviews a few weeks ago about her latest solo release, Freedom Highway, and despite not sampling a single track I decided to blindly order it. I WAS NOT DISAPPOINTED.

Her wiki page shows her genres to be folk, bluegrass, country, gospel, blues, jazz, soul, R&B, and American. So, what could go wrong? Well, in this case ABSOLUTELY NOTHING.

This release has an incredible range of sounds and styles, all integrated into a cohesive tracklist that ranges from sensual and emotional jazz to sharp and blazing R’n’B with a semi rapped verse in the middle of one of the songs. Some of the songs hit you right away, and others rely on an understated semi-acoustic approach that deftly showcase her impressive vocal skills. Not only are these songs great, they sneak up on you when you least expect it and get even better. From a content standpoint, she sings about the history of America’s fight against racism and her powerful songs here are based on vivid, true stories from the slavery era against classic blues, and civil rights songs from the 60s.

For me, the standout tracks are Birmingham Sunday (protest song written by Richard Farina), and the shuffle of Better Get It Right The First Time, a song about a young black man doing all the right things, going to college, etc, only to be in the wrong place at the wrong time (which includes a rap verse from her nephew). The aforementioned Birmingham Sunday, for me, is where this release hits a high note and just keeps going. Birmingham Sunday is a piano driven anthem that starts slowly, and just keeps building until it hits an emotional climax. The first time I heard it I had to play it again I was so moved, so impressed by the musical package that it is, and then I listened to it again. It is that good. In fact, this whole release is that good, and I highly recommend it.

Hello, It’s Me

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It’s been awhile.  I keep doing this.  I keep starting something I love, and then life gets in the way.  I can’t believe it has been over 2 years since I last posted here.  It’s amazing how life just keeps going, and we get so involved in so many other things.

John Lennon (who, by the way, is probably turning over in his grave right now) wrote Life is what happens while you are busy making other plans.  This is so true.  In almost years our world has almost completed two laps around our son, we have experience all types of ups and downs, and all have had personal triumphs, tragedies, deaths, births, loss, elation, health issues, and all of the things that make up our lives.  In other words, life goes on, Obla Di, Obla Da.

Personally, the last two years could have been better, but they could have been alot worse.  Yes, there were deaths in the family that we are still reeling from, and I have been in more operating rooms being strapped to a table in the last two years than my entire life.  BUT, we move on, and we get to the other side.  The past is always behind us, always following us, and it is not smart to look back.  It’s always there, sometimes closer than we want, and looking forward and not back is healthier, and keeps our minds on track.

Professionally, I am still in IT, but now year 3 of my 7 year career transformation.  It’s an exciting time, and I am learning alot, but also working more hours than ever before.  It is still too early in the process to see any light at the end of the tunnel, but in the blink of the eye I will know I will get there.  The good news is I stopped circling the drain and did something I wanted to do, and I am now in the midst of working towards achieving my goal.

So, what’s next?  For starters, I wrote this, and I am hoping this is the catalyst for more things to come.  I have not been idle with my writing the last two years.  I have been, yes, circling the drain and collecting content, and just need to SPEND SOME TIME AND PUT IT TOGETHER. Some may call it procrastination, others may call it laziness, or even a failure to launch. Personally, I like circling the drain or analysis paralysis.  We all want to do things not just well but perfect.  I need to let that go and just do them.  That’s why I am back doing this.

The funny thing is, there I certainly have enough content.  Whether it is writing about some of the great music I have been listening to, or our current political situation, or the books I am reading, or anything else we are bombarded with each day, there is always something to write about.  I just need to spend more time doing it, even if it is not perfect.

I’m back……..   stay tuned, enjoy every sandwich, enjoy the ride, and move forward with me as we together see what is still to come.

Until next time, which I promise will be soon.