New and noteworthy
MUSIC | Four new albums reviewed
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This three-song EP does what a three-song EP should: make you want more. Compton McMurry and Meredith Johnson might be too young to know that their style has antecedents in the much glossier husband-wife pop of Boy Meets Girl, but they’re old enough to know how to jolt a song to life with an unexpected detail: a blood-stained carpet (“Mushroom Town”), Jesus’ tears (“Hasn’t Happened Yet”), overdubbed background vocals (the title track). And, yes, they have the voices to cover “Waiting for a Star To Fall” should they ever feel the need.
Grateful Deadication 2
The saxophonist Dave McMurray’s first volume of what’s turning into a long but, as yet, not-all-that-strange jazz trip through the Grateful Dead and solo–Jerry Garcia songbook peaked with a soulfully slowed-down Herschel Boone–sung “Touch of Grey.” This volume peaks with a soulfully sped-up, vocal-free “Truckin’” fueled by riffs siphoned from Booker T. & the MGs’ “Green Onions” and Stevie Wonder’s “Higher Ground.” Elsewhere, McMurray and his combo explore the melodic and rhythmic possibilities of an oeuvre not particularly known for either, setting aside “To Lay Me Down” for the country singer Jamey Johnson to show what a moving folk singer he can be.
Ein elektronisches Requiem
Don’t let this electronic requiem Mass’s gimmicky Bandcamp hype (“the first and only one of its kind”!) or its composer’s Bandcamp bio put you off. The exclusively keyboard-generated sounds notwithstanding, it comes off nothing like the work of someone who boasts of performing deep-house techno music at parties. Cathedrals and the otherworldly sense of awe that they’re meant to inspire would seem to be more Schlindwein’s speed.
Marty Stuart and His Fabulous Superlatives
Broken into three parts, an instrumental called “Lost Byrd Space Train” that sounds just the way it’s spelled threads its way through 11 songs with words that find the 64-year-old Stuart peaking like nobody’s business. On three of the fast numbers, he and his fabulously superlative guitarist Kenny Vaughan feed riffs from “Daytripper,” “Secret Agent Man,” and “Gloria” into a blender and come up with rock ’n’ roll matched to lyrics that maximize Stuart’s capacity for wit, wisdom, and empathy. Then there’s the title track, a pure Bakersfield waltz that elaborates on an original metaphor for heaven.
If you want to know how fragile a comeback can be, consider that in 1983 Terry Britten had to twist the arm of the comeback-desperate Tina Turner to get her to record “What’s Love Got to Do With It,” a song that Britten had written with Graham Lyle. It ended up reaching No. 1 in three countries and Top 10 in five others, taking with it the album Private Dancer and making Turner an international sensation overnight. Sure, there would’ve always been “River Deep—Mountain High,” “Proud Mary,” and “Nutbush City Limits,” but MTV would never have come a-calling.
Private Dancer remains a tour de force, a savvy mixture of in-the-moment pop and genre-spanning covers (Ann Peebles’ “I Can’t Stand the Rain,” Al Green’s “Let’s Stay Together,” David Bowie’s “1984,” and, everywhere except the United States, the Beatles’ “Help!”). A snippet of Gershwin’s Rhapsody in Blue even found its way into “Steel Claw.” It took Turner, however, to sell it—and Terry Britten to show her how. —A.O.