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New and noteworthy

MUSIC | Reviews of four albums


New and noteworthy
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The Endless Coloured Ways: The Songs of Nick Drake

Various artists

There’ve been Nick Drake tribute albums before, and there’ll certainly be more, so strong is the allure of his melancholy music and his tragic-hero aura even now, 50 years after he overdosed—maybe accidentally, maybe not—on antidepressants. What this two-disc, 23-song omnibus does at its best is separate the music from the man, making it possible, usually with the introduction of electronic effects undreamed of during Drake’s time, to hear the songs as songs and not (just) as cries (or, more appropriately in his case, whispers) for help. Case in point: John Parish and Aldous Harding’s “Three Hours.” It’s not alone.


Apologia—Pilgrim 

Joanne Hogg & Natasha Petrovic

The latest album from the former lead singer of Iona takes a while to sink in. The songs unfold slowly and at considerable length, often with little more than Hogg’s piano and voice to serve as guides to what’s essentially one deeply introspective woman’s attempt to sanctify the Lord God in her heart and to be ready to give an answer to everyone who asks about her hope. It doesn’t sink in right away, but when it does it’s a doozy.


Strangers No More

Drew Holcomb & the Neighbors

Folk, folksy, country, country-rock, Holcomb has his musical bases covered. Topic-wise, he has “Troubles,” but he floats or flies above them because he’s “got wings.” He “ain’t no angel,” but he sure knows how to ask for forgiveness (“All the Money in the World”). He gets by with a lot of help from his friends (“Find Your People”) and wants to “Dance With Everybody.” And when life gives him a “Strange Feeling,” he makes like an Eagle.


Passage

Ryan Kowal

Ryan Kowal’s vibraphone and Sandra Medeiros’ flute delineate the breezy melodies of these five original jazz offerings while the sequencing maps the following spiritual-emotional trajectory: “ The Meeting” (how all new journeys begin and appropriately inviting), “Orientation” (the necessary second step and, thanks to Mark Medeiros’ guitar, appropriately disorienting), “The Cult” (which can mean any small group of adherents and, thanks to Leland Baker’s and Ben Shaw’s saxes, appropriately reorienting), “Awakening” (begins twinkly, like ­waking up after a too-long sleep, stretches out later), and “Passage” ­(resignation, letting go). You’ve probably been there. This album can make you want to go there again.


Steve Forbert

Steve Forbert Marcus Maddox

Encore

In 1988, after six years in major-label limbo, Steve Forbert released Streets of This Town. Produced by the E-Street Band’s Gary Tallent, it was as consistent and engaging as anything that he’d ever put out—his well-­received ’78 debut (Alive on Arrival) and its hit-yielding ’79 follow-up (Jackrabbit Slim) included. Now, to mark its 35th anniversary, Forbert has released Streets of This Town: Revisited (Blue Rose). And the “Revisited” is no red herring. The album sounds as if it were rerecorded from scratch.

The main differences are the demotion of Paul Errico’s organ to faint-echo status, the boosting of Clay Barnes’ lead guitar, and a resulting crystal clarity that makes it easier to detect the few but telling Christian references. The title “Hope, Faith and Love” might’ve occurred to anyone. But “Hear the figure at the fountain tell you things about yourself / that you’ve never said a word about to anybody else” and “Who could make your mind / and put it here to wonder why?” would’ve only occurred to a believer. —A.O.


Arsenio Orteza

Arsenio is a music reviewer for WORLD Magazine and one of its original contributors from 1986. Arsenio resides in China.

@ArsenioOrteza

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