Album Review Saturdays 2023 Episode 32

Sometimes there is no correlation I can muster in my selection for the three (3) albums I’m reviewing.  However, this Album Review Saturdays 2023 Episode 32 they are all on the light and string oriented, alternative-folk-like mode, but all of them bring various elements of their own design into the mixes.  One is an accomplished song-writer and Oscar winner that is respected just as much for his musicianship and abilities to morph into ensembles.  The other has always been brilliant on the indie scene with his soft melancholy delivery, unique storytelling and pitch, blended marvelously with his Louisiana tinted feel and musical accompaniment minimalism.  The band we’re featuring today has sold millions of albums and has been the opening act of such stadium acts as Blur, Oasis, and the Arctic Monkeys, while maintaining their own successes since 2002!  It’s time to say “folk” it, people and dive into Album Review Saturdays 2023!

 

The YouTube Version Link
(This includes a video version of these articles with two additional reviews)

 

 

Glen Hansard – All That Was East Is West Of Me Now

We’re always excited to get a new record from Mr. Hansard.  We feel we have to call him that, considering his accolades and all of the worthy albums we have loved over the years, as well as the brilliantly written and done, Once movie.  Along comes All That Was East Is West of Me Now, and we find ourselves in a familiar framework of powerful song writing and musicianship surrounding the album, which is evident immediately on ‘The Feast of St. John,’ which finds the albums title in the lyric.  The album is direct and filled with all kinds of emotional, soulful lyrics that at times make you feel like he might have been channeling a bit of The Frames (an outstanding Irish band that he was a major part of).  While this album has a folk lyric sensibility, it does drive harder in the guitars at the start, and there’s no doubt that the alternative side of Mr. Hansard (see we can’t help ourselves) has a bigger grip on the first part of the production (perhaps that’s the “All That’s East” influence).  He is careful though to maintain the power of the song writing and delivery to be the most powerful as the flow moves to what’s apparently “West” of him now, which comes as what we’ve truly come to expect from his as the soloist he is — basics and style with ‘There’s No Mountain’ through to ‘Ghosts.’

Of course, it all works because of his compelling vocal timing and the style each song is delivered in.  The variety continues with ‘Bearing Witness,’ a hooky riff that balances the lyric and vocal, and ‘Short Life,’ which simmers  as a memory burner that’s right in the wheelhouse of everything that makes Glen Hansard wonderful.  However, we do end the album in a flat out whimper that to me has very little potency or conclusion, ‘Reprise.’  So you get, eight tracks here that are totally Glen Hansard with a few tracks that hint at the past alternative that must bubble up from time to time within him, which is so something we miss, but does become reflective from the halfway point.  Reflection is his signature for sure.  And, at 42 minutes, it’s a wonderful, easy, yet emotional recording that is worth just about every minute as you ponder if what lies ahead really has more that was you’ve already experienced (perhaps that’s why the last track is so not inspiring as a conclusion to the record?).  Oh, that’s how deep it is people.

The Band

  • Glen Hansard – Vocals, Guitar, Piano, Mandolin
  • Rob Bochnik – Guitar
  • Joseph Doyle – Bass
  • Earl Harvin – Drums

All That Was East Is West of Me Now Tracklisting

  1. The Feast of St. John
  2. Down on Our Knees
  3. There’s No Mountain
  4. Sure as the Rain
  5. Between Us There Is Music
  6. Ghost
  7. Bearing Witness
  8. Short Life
  9. Reprise

 

 

Dylan LeBlancCoyote

Dylan LeBlanc is in our Unknown Sundays archive, so we have been a fellow music multiverse follower of him since then.  He has a lovely, unique vocal delivery that feels so natural and modest and matter-of-factly driven it’s hard not be drawn to his music.  The real problem in the past, would have been finding it, considering the lack of music industry support despite his credentials with Emmylou Harris, opening for such acts as Lucinda Williams, The Civil Wars, and Calexico, and the overall fantastic folk writing talent he has harvested throughout his career.  Coyote is another example of a man who knows how to sew his musical seed and bring forth with a bounty of worthy material to the starving audio masses.

Coyote is truly and utterly about survival.  The tone, the tension and the unique scope from which it has emerged is all woven throughout the album in either acoustic or electric or mandolin, it unfolds and progresses as if in real time (although only 50-some minutes).  You certainly love the picking, the strumming, and the intentional emotion that flows in and out of the foreground and background.  He has a Neil Young-like knack, but here he’s upped his game with strings and allowing some pop-harmony to dangle into the mix, like on ‘Stranger Things’ which has a lovely familiarity to it set in the musical past.  The picking gets intentful and stressful as the record winds toward it’s conclusion, and he reaches to with his voice.  You start to hear the coarse electric guitar background, revealing a density, too, that’s starting to creep to the surface of awareness.  It’s intentional I’m sure, and he’s not done!  There’s nifty left-fielder called ‘The Crowd Goes Wild’ that pushes a disco-alt-folk feel just before we come to the ‘Outsider’ conclusion, where we feel more like — wait, let’s listen again!  You will trust me!  Oh, and while you’re there…go back to Cautionary Tale from 2015 they make great companion listens!

The Band

  • Dylan LeBlanc – Vocals, Electric/Acoustic Guitars, Mandolin
  • Fred Eltringham – Drums
  • Jim “Moose” Brown – Piano
  • Seth Kaufman – Bass

Coyote Tracklisting

  1. Coyote
  2. Closin’ In
  3. Dark Waters
  4. Dust
  5. Forgotten Things
  6. No Promises Broken
  7. Stranger Things
  8. Hate
  9. The Crowd Goes Wild
  10. Wicked Kind
  11. The Outside

 

The Coral – Sea of Mirrors

I’m fairly new to The Corals, which is interesting considering they’ve been around since 2002, creating quite the nice catalog and a million in albums sales.  The only album I have of theirs seemed to have been lost in my collection, Magic and Medicine (their sophomore release).  Enter Jeff Criden (panelist on a few of our shows as of late) who brought them up on Panelist Favorites Show: Albums of 2010, where he mentioned Butterfly Houses, and he mentioned they had a new release coming.  So, just prior to this coming out, I went back a few albums and re-acquainted myself with the band, which has been in an evolutionary creative state since the very beginning, which for me is always the sign of great musicians that I should be paying closer attention to!

Eleven studio albums in, Sea of Mirrors, starts off in familiar acoustic soft guitar leading to that near rockabilly pace, as would be expected from a song called ‘The Actor And The Cardboard Cowboy’ dangling well against the strings and harmonies that this band has been absolutely nailing down since the mid 2000s.  The jangle-pop that they might have been sort of noted for is slightly lingering but in an entirely different tone, with a variety of instruments that fit more in folk and alt-country-spaghetti western than in the pop marketplace.  This is what makes it both charming, comforting, and easily indulgent.  Each song is carefully crafted to stand on its own musically while softly, subtly connected to each other as if a soundtrack or concept album, which I’m not quite sure I would say I felt (probably because of the wonderful harmonies, strings, and the old school piano)‘Wild Bird’ and ‘North Wind’ certainly make the case for the entire record, and I felt that dusty alt-country rock, like Calexico minus the heavy spanish influence.  But, if you’re a fan of that — this is definitely the album for you and then some!

There is, apparently, another album coming, Holy Joes Coral Island Medicine Show, on the heels of this one, so I’m not sure where to put this right now in my list of albums reaching for the brass rings of best albums of the year, but I do have this album growing on me with every listen.  I know for a fact that this is going to bring me back to prior records, too, which is the mark of great songwriting and musicianship!  I highly recommend you– look — into Sea of Mirrors and get it on your preferred medium of music delivery!

The Band

  • James Skelly – lead vocals, rhythm guitar, percussion, lyrics
  • Paul Duffy – bass guitar, (not sure if there was saxophone this time), backing vocals
  • Nick Power – keyboards, organ, melodica, harmonica, piano, backing vocals, lyrics
  • Ian Skelly – drums
  • Paul Molloy – guitars (2015–present)
  • (Former member re-appears) Bill Ryder-Jones – lead guitar, bass guitar, trumpet
  • Johnny Echols – Guitar (from the band, Love)
  • (Actor/Musician) John Ronald Simms – Backing vocals, (might have played backing guitar)
  • (Actor) Cillian Murphy – Narration

Sea of Mirrors Tracklisting

  1. The Actor and the Cardboard Cowboy
  2. Cycles of the Seasons
  3. Faraway Worlds
  4. Wild Bird
  5. North Wind
  6. Eleanor
  7. Sea of Mirrors
  8. That’s Where She Belongs
  9. The Way You Are
  10. Dream River
  11. Almeria
  12. Child of the Moon
  13. Oceans Apart
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