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New and noteworthy

MUSIC | Reviews of four albums

New and noteworthy
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Featherbrained Wealth Motel

Dave Barnes

After a year of listening only to the Beatles, Dave Barnes comes up with 10 songs that—surprise—boast Revolver-era filigrees and clock in at a 1960s-like 26 minutes. (A Hard Day’s Night was 30.) But while it’s easy to imagine Paul and John’s having come up with the melodies and the time signatures, Barnes’ Christian worldview (subtle but it’s there) and his distinctly non-Liverpudlian voice immunize the project against Klaatu comparisons. “Remember When (You Wanted Everything You’ve Got Right Now)” kicks the disc off with middle-aged wisdom, shards of which spike much of what follows. And every cut beats the latest “last” Beatles song, “Now and Then.”

Archangel Hill

Shirley Collins

The folk singer Shirley Collins’ late-career renaissance continues. This time she spells 11 new recordings (some rerecordings) with “Hand and Heart,” a live performance from 1980 (before her voice coarsened), and “June Apple,” an instrumental by her primary accompanists Ian Kearey and Pete Cooper. In the title cut, she recites a poem written by her father. Nearly every melody and lyric is traditional. Every one is spooky. “Lost In a Wood” is spookiest of all.


The Curious Bards

Look up these baroque violin, baroque cittern, viola da gamba, triple harp, and traverso players online and you’ll see them labeled “classical,” which they are in a sense. But this magical album is straight-up 18th-­century folk, hence the preponderance of terms such as “reels” and “airs” in the titles. (There’s a medley of strathspeys too.) The five “songs” feature the mezzo-soprano Ilektra Platiopoulou, who you can tell is “classical” because her technique overwhelms the lyrics. But fear not: They’re printed in the booklet. And, who knows? Maybe folk singers sang that way back then.

The Reset


These 10 slabs of heavy singing and even heavier riffing connote that the hard-rock ’70s are alive and well in Barcelona. How alive and well? Well, assuming that the six live bonus tracks accompanying the digital ­version are the same six that constitute the band’s recent EP 70s Covers Night, Saturna numbers Hendrix, Black Sabbath, the Doors, Deep Purple, Led Zeppelin, and Aerosmith-doing-the-Beatles among its influences. Mix those together with a pinch and a dash of ­originality, and you’ll have a good idea. And, yes, James Vieco sings in English.

Van Morrison

Van Morrison Astrida Valigorsky/Getty Images


Other than leading with an unintentionally hilarious title cut that confuses scat-singing with glossolalia, there’s not only nothing wrong with Beyond Words: Instrumental (Exile), Van Morrison’s maiden plunge into vault digging, but there’s a lot of tuneful, jig-dancing fun to boot. That Morrison could play the sax (six cuts), the acoustic guitar (four), and the harmonica (one) we already knew. But who knew that he could lay the foundations for three stylistically distinct pieces (“All Saints Beneficial,” “Celtic Voices,” “Mountains, Fields, Rivers & Streams”) from behind an electric piano?

The liner information dates the songs to the 1970s, ’80s, ’90s, and 2000s, so you can extend the fun by hitting “shuffle” and playing “name the decade.” More challenging is wondering whether any of the tracks were ever intended to have words and then trying to imagine what those words might’ve been. Hint: Trying to sing “Moondance” to “Parisian Walkabout” is a good way to warm up. —A.O.

Arsenio Orteza

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



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