Written by 2:32 am Audiophile Music

New CD Releases for 11-16-2012

This week’s bounty includes a jazz piano album from Pamela York, world music from Eric Bibb and Habib Kote, outtakes from the Punch Brothers, bluegrass from Chris Brashear, and great-sounding folk album from Elephant Revival.


Title: Eric Bibb and Habib Kote – Brothers in Bamako

Genre: Roots, African, World Music

Description: What happens when a blues musician decides to collaborate with a west African musician? The results are first-class world music. Some tunes, such as the opening, “On My Way to Bamako” are led by Bibb. Others, including “Nani Le,” have a more Malineese flavor that western ears will find more exotic and texturally intriguing than pentatonic blues clichés. Beautifully recorded in relatively dry space, the complex harmonics of each stringed instrument are captured with excellent fidelity.

Rating (0- 10): Overall – 8, Sonically – 9



Title: The Punch Brothers – Ahoy!

Genre: Acoustic, Jazz, Bluegrass

Description: Most bands’ outtakes are of interest only to its most hardcore fans, but Punch Brothers isn’t any old band, as few bands can boast of both a McArthur Genius Grant winner and a Steve Martin Banjo prize award winner. Ahoy! Has five songs recorded during the Who’s Feeling Young? sessions that didn’t fit on the original album. With three covers, one remake of the traditional tune “Moonshiner,” and a new instrumental, Ahoy! has enough new sounds to keep most listeners (especially new listeners) intrigued for many months, or until Punch Brothers deliver their next album.

Rating (0- 10): Overall – 9, Sonically – 8



Title: Chris Brashear – Heart of the Country

Genre: Bluegrass, old-time country

Description: Multi-instrumentalist Chris Brashear plays guitar, fiddle banjo, mandolin, and bass, but on Heart of the Country he focuses on his songwriting. With nine of the thirteen cuts featuring Brashear’s original songs, this is very much a songwriter’s album. Accompanying players include Tim O’Brien on fiddle, banjo, and harmony vocals along with Mike Compton on mandolin, and Todd Phillips on acoustic bass. Produced by longtime folk legend Jim Rooney, I suspect quite a few of Brashear’s new tunes will make their way into the mainstream via covers by “big names.”  Hear them here first.

Rating (0- 10): Overall – 8, Sonically – 8



Title: Pamela York – Lay Down This World

Genre: Jazz, Spirituals

Description: Jazz pianist Pamela York recorded an entire album of spirituals and hymns in only two days. For average musicians such a schedule would result in some slapdash performances, but every cut on York’s new album delivers a richly nuanced performance. Accompanied by Lynn Seaton on bass and Sebastian Whittaker on drums, York’s take on hymns such as “I Know That My Redeemer Lives” is fresh, with an exuberance not usually found in contemporary religious music. 

Rating (0- 10): Overall – 8, Sonically – 8



Title: Elephant Revival – It’s Alive

Genre: Acoustic, Folk

Description: Described as “an official bootleg,” the recording quality here beats 99% of all commercial recordings you’ll hear. Produced by Sally Van Meter and recorded in DSD at Gus Skinas’ Immersive Studios, the sonics are wide open, with a level of natural detail that is absolutely state-of-the-art. The music is as interesting and vibrant as the recording quality (which certainly flies in the face of “Holt’s Law”). Bonnie Paine’s delicate vocals combined with Sage Cook’s electric banjo and Bridget Law’s fiddle create atmospheric folk that will appeal to jam-band as well as acoustic jazz fans. Every time I play the album, It’s Alive makes me smile.

Rating (0- 10): Overall – 9, Sonically – 9

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