Simply put, Willie Nelson is a national treasure. This one is from 1984.
Holy mother of pearl, this is a great week for new music. If you don’t believe us, just check out the new single from The Lickerish Quartet, a band that features most of the iconic SF Bay area band, Jellyfish.
Or, expand your mind with the latest from Rock is the New Roll’s favorite’s, Cats in Space. “Poke The Witch” is an epic tune.
And, Delicate Steve is out with a sweet instrumental single, “Playing In A Band” that will be on his upcoming album. For Delicate Steve, it is all about his 1966 Stratocaster.
And, don’t change that channel. There are five really cool records worthy of your earphones this week.
Willie Nelson – A Beautiful Time
Hitting the streets on April 29, 2022, on Willie Nelson’s 89th birthday, the red-headed stranger once again teams up with producer Buddy Cannon on a set of songs that takes old age head-on and addresses his mortality. Taking on themes of life, death, and love from the opening song, co-written with Chris Stapleton and Rodney Crowell, “I’ll Love You Till The Day I Die” to the whimsical Willie at his humorous best, “I Don’t Go To Funerals,” where he professes to be not even going to his own funeral. The voice may be a bit frail and dusty, but the guitar work courtesy of Trigger is as strong as it has been on any record.
If you have ever wondered what it would be like to play in one of the legendary poker games at Willie’s home in Maui with Owen Wilson and Woody Harrelson, you will get a seat at the table courtesy of “We’re Not Happy (Till You’re Not Happy).” They are there to shoot the bull and shoot tequila, play some cards and hide out from their wives. And on “Dusty Bottles” you will be able to sit down and have a beer with father time.
For someone who has put out as many records as Willie Nelson has, likely over 200, this one should go down in history as one of his best, maintaining a decade-long winning streak of quality performances.
Eli “Paperboy” Reed – Down Every Road
Mostly known for his R&B in the late ’60s to early ’70s Revivalism mold, Eli “Paperboy” Reed puts his blue-eyed soul stamp on a set of nicely curated Merle Haggard songs. The Haggard songbook runs the gamut from Country to Americana music to Jazz, always delivered with a whole lot of soul and, as such, is a perfect background for Reed to explore and interpret in his own style.
Playing it straight Like he does on “Mama Tried” and “Lonesome Fugitive” Reed brings out the soul of the song with the emotion of a Jerry Butler Ballad from back in the day. But, it is on the deeper Hag cuts where this record really shines. “It’s Not Love, But It’s Not Bad” reaches the depths of Sam Cooke’s soul, and “I’m Gonna Break Any Heart I Can” is Wilson Pickett-worthy.
A master class in how to curate a cover’s record, the juxtaposition of selections that walk the line of the original and those that share enough DNA that the essence of the song carries the day makes this one an eclectic listen that will garner multiple spins on your turntable.
Dianne Coffee – With People
Applying his trade with his side-piece band Diane Coffee between Foxygen gigs, Shaun Fleming has released his fourth record with the band, the first since 2019. Produced by Foxygen major-domo Jonathan Rado, on this one, Fleming strays away from the Glam-Pop of his main gig in favor of a more subtle ’70s and ’80s soft rock aesthetic.
From the opener, “Corrina From Colina,” there is a Southern California beach vibe laid down, sort of like a cross between Holland Era Beach boys and Hall and Oates. This is a song that will catch your attention and entice you to head to the beach and paddleboard out in the ocean to catch those bigger waves ahead.
“Our Love/The Run” would have been a perfect vehicle for Freddie Mercury and Queen most notably at the piano break with the repeated angry whisper “You don’t get to treat me this way.”
With Foxygen level pop bombast reached on “Sharks,” and “The Great Escape” that give the record a breezy pop feel, this record is a perfect album for the now, but put a pin in this one and bring it back around when the sounds of summer are ready to dominate the airwaves.
Thunder – Dopamine
Applying their trade going on 35 years now, U.K. rock provocateurs Thunder have released a double album of riff-ready rock and roll that reflects back to ‘70s era guitar rock in the Tesla, U.F.O, and Nazareth mold.
“The Dead City” has leader Danny Bowes channeling his inner Paul Rodgers Bad Company persona and on “Black,” the band takes glam-rock to new heights.
There is beauty in diversity to be found everywhere on this record. “Is Anybody Out there” starts off as a Billy Joel-worthy ballad before it morphs itself into a mid-era Journey via way of Elton John stunner, and “Last Orders” meanders from Pink Floyd to Led Zeppelin with the aplomb of a best in class driving song.
For a record that has Rock album of the year written all over it, this one should settle the rock is dead controversy once and for all.
Trombone Shorty – Lifted
Practically born to be a musician, Trombone Shorty was playing the trombone going back to the days when the instrument was bigger than he was. Mentored by the Marsalis family and close family friends with Dr. John, Lifted Troy Andrews’s latest record has injected all of these New Orleans bloodlines into his veins on his latest record.
A gumbo of R&B, Soul, Funk, and New Orleans Brass, is served on every cut of this impressive piece of work. “I’m Standing here” could have easily been a Lenny Kravitz smash hit in the “Are You Gonna Go My Way” mold, “Everybody in the World” has that Harry Connick Jr. jazz vibe about it, and the opener “Come Back” lays it down like the best of Earth Wind and Fire.
With the single “Lie To Me,” a song that takes second-line gospel chants and melds them with Santana Band vibes and Preservation Hall local color with trumpet and trombones taking center stage, the message is clear. Trombone Shorty is in it to love it.
Proving once again that the great Willie Nelson is one of the great nuanced song interpreters of our time. Here, he completely owns the Leonard Cohen classic.