Dancing on Needles
Charlotte Martin is a new find for me, although she’s been making music for years. Dancing On Needles is her fourth studio album, and it is excellent.
If Tori Amos and Sarah McLachlan melded their voices, they would sound like Charlotte Martin. She is an example of the best of both of those ladies: lyrically adept, creative and talented on the piano, able to wield her voice in a variety of ways. Two thumbs up.
Animal – Charlotte Martin
Silent Running – Mike & the Mechanics
This Is Why We Fight – the Decemberists
Stood Up – A Fine Frenzy
What do Mike & the Mechanics, The Decemberists, and A Fine Frenzy have in common? Not so much, although I suppose you could come up with something. What these SONGS have in common, though, is that they’re fighting songs.
I have a real penchant for songs about rebels, or about people standing strong for what they believe in, no matter what the cost may be, no matter how terrified they are, and no matter the potential outcome. That’s the point of rebelling, or of activism in general: you cannot be assured of an outcome, but you do it anyway.
We’re seeing this theme echoed time and again across the world and across the U.S. People believe strongly in something, and are willing to take to the streets with their fellows to make their voices heard. This vocal protesting, this call to action and answer is necessary to the dignity of the human condition.
The Decemberists sound a triumphant note with the line, “When we die, we will die with our arms unbound” in their song “This Is Why We Fight,” from their new (and very fine 6th) album, The King is Dead. A Fine Frenzy gives voice to overcoming the fear of going against the grain when she sings defiantly, “We are not frightened any more… There are two of us, there will be many more; we stood up, we stood up,” in her song, “We Stood Up,” from her 2009 album Bomb in a Birdcage.
As the saying goes, “stand for something or fall for everything.”
Wow and Flutter – April Smith & the Great Picture Show
I love love love this album. It’s country swing with a vintage, almost vaudevillian feel. It’s checkered tablecloths and pies on the windowsill, banjos, fiddles, and toe-tapping beats, climbing trees, telling secrets, and singing along. Every song is excellent, and while some are stronger than others, there’s not one that I don’t like. That’s pretty rare.
There is a trend in music of blending genres to create new sounds. I’m a big fan of this. I think I started noticing it when Jack White teamed up with Loretta Lynn. This record, Songs For A Sinking Ship, is a good example of that kind of fusion. There are definitely elements of country to be tasted in the twangs and fiddle-riffs, but there is a certain danceability which seems unusual.
The album is unique and creative and has a fresh, heat-of-the-summer feel to it.