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MUSIC | Four albums reviewed
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World Music Radio
The conceit: a late-night radio show hosted by a globally minded DJ named Billy Bob Bo Bob. The inherent weaknesses: too much Auto-Tune, eclecticism for its own sake, and Lil Wayne. The inherent strength: Like New England weather, wait a few minutes and a song that you like more than the one not currently floating your boat will come along. “Calling Your Name” sounds a lot like a faith-in-God song. “CALL NOW (504-305-8269)” sounds a lot like (good) Michael Jackson. “Jazz, Latin, Funk/Soul, Pop” say the genre tags. That’s about right.
Andy Fairweather Low
The PR hypes Flang Dang as Andy Fairweather Low’s first album of original material since 2006, apparently disqualifying 2013’s Zone-O-Tone because it was co-credited to the Lowriders. Hmmm. Anyway, there’s an abundance of high-spirited rhythm-and-blues and smile-inducing couplets, some of which will induce thought as well—and not just the ones referring to using it before you lose it (sage advice coming from a 75-year-old). There’s also a struggle between faith and doubt playing out in at least half the songs. Ringside judges will have doubt ahead on points. But faith hasn’t thrown in the towel.
Once More: Jenni Muldaur & Teddy Thompson Sing the Great Country Duets
Jenni Muldaur & Teddy Thompson
These two second-generation singers released the classic-country EP Teddy & Jenni Do Porter & Dolly in 2021 and its follow-up Teddy & Jenni Do George & Tammy in January. Now, they’ve compiled those two and tacked on what would’ve been called Teddy & Jenni Do Conway & Loretta, coming up with a 12-song long player that at just over 32 minutes mimics the length of country LPs from the era(s) being honored. More to the point, the singing—and David Mansfield’s vintage production and weepy steel guitar—does too.
Out from under major-label oversight for the first time in 17 years, Bear Rinehart and company go back to the drawing board and reboot all the way. The cornerstones of their sound—soaring choruses meant to get large crowds singing and Rinehart’s Southern-fried emoting—remain. But the lyrics keep getting subtler. And who could’ve foreseen the WWE’s using “Everknown” to bid farewell to Bray Wyatt? Or the hard-charging “By and By,” in which Elvis’ “Suspicious Minds” and “Burnin’ Love” get ransacked for parts?
For the past six years, you could only purchase Andy Fairweather Low and the Low Riders’ Listen Here (The Last Music Company)—tight, energetic covers, mostly of songs made famous in the 1910s, 1940s, 1950s, and 1960s—at Fairweather Low’s shows. Now, as all once hard-copy-only musical artifacts enter the digital domain, even homebodies can get in on the action. And action it most assuredly delivers. Chuck Berry’s “Bye Bye Johnny” deserves to be heard for its percussive hand claps alone.
The slow-to-mid-tempo changes of pace (in order of impressiveness) are the Beatles’ “I’ll Get You,” Sidney Bechet’s “Petite Fleur” (it’s not often that a clarinet figures on an R&B project), and Bob Dylan’s “I’ll Be Your Baby Tonight.” But it’s the rousers to which you’ll keep coming back, especially Sandy Nelson’s “Tough Beat.” Plenty groovy in its original configuration, it reaches new levels of irresistibility with the superimposition of the guitar hook from the Ventures’ “Wipeout.” —A.O.