Category: Music reviews

Boyish Intensities: Dashboard Confessional’s Dusk and Summer

There’s a calculated roughness to “Rooftops and Invitations.” It’s interesting that the first songs on the album are fast and loud, and the later songs begin to be slower, more quiet, as if a point was being made with the first songs (the point?—the proof of masculinity).

Melancholy Meditation: Frank Sinatra’s In the Wee Small Hours

“I Get Along Without You Very Well” is a song I’m more used to hearing women sing, and it’s interesting to hear Sinatra claim the love and vulnerability in the song. His phrasing is conversational but his tone is musical (he never just sounds as if he’s speaking the lyrics, as some singers do).

Traditions, Transformations: Leela James, A Change Is Gonna Come

Leela James: and her complex aims, one of the beautiful dames, besieged by seductive games, knowing predictability maims, talent names, success tames.… A Change Is Gonna Come has a rich, warm sound—vintage. Within its exploration of love, there’s another interlude, “Married,” in…

A Musician Who Lays Claim to the World: Caetano Veloso’s “Foreign Sound” and his “Best”

One hears the plucking of guitar strings and orchestral swirls, and Caetano Veloso’s voice is both light and grave. It’s fun to hear him sing Cobain’s “Come As You Are,” which was first recorded by the band Nirvana, and contains sharp contradictions, suggesting not confusion but an aware and complex mind. Veloso uses both a falsetto voice and a low, declamatory voice to interpret “Feelings,” making a song that had become a cabaret cliché sound like a genuine human expression.

A review of The Essential Barbra Streisand and Guilty Pleasures

When not practical, and even practicality has its deceptions, many people think in clichés, and even feel in clichés, and at their most rigorous they simply use one cliché to interrogate another, but in every generation, in every age, there are a few original people—and Streisand is original; and she often, if not always, has been fearless in art and politics.

A review of Salt and Dreaming Wide Awake by Lizz Wright

“My eyes burn, I have seen the glory of a brighter sun,” Wright sings in “Dreaming Wide Awake,” with its limpid beginning. Lizz Wright sings, “Who are you, stranger, to come here, and answer all my prayers?” and one might ask the same thing of her: and I imagine she may spend her entire career answering the question. It is something to look forward to.