The Lonely Goatherd Blog And before him shall be gathered all nations: and he shall separate them one from another, as a shepherd divideth his sheep from the goats - Matthew 25:32
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June 26, 2007
New Album Releases, 6-26-2007: Sinead O'Connor, Nick Lowe, Beastie Boys, Kelly Clarkson It is a holy and glorious day, for we have a new Sinead O'Connor album, Theology. It's a two CD set, though it has mostly the same songs on both discs. The "Dublin Sessions" are more minimal, acoustic and intimate. The "London Sessions" on the other hand are fuller orchestrations, with harps and horns and strings and such. Note that there's a special edition for Best Buy with five bonus live recordings.
Listening to both discs, the more fully orchestrated London recordings are mostly way superior, making the Dublin recordings sound like mere demos. The orchestrations are not heavy handed, and Sinead can command an orchestra with that mighty and majestic voice better than almost anyone else going. Going from Dublin to London here, she loses nothing in intimacy but gains quite a bit in groove and dynamics. Heck, she even sells "I Don't Know How to Love Him."
I particularly like "Watcher of Men," one of her more anguished compositions. starting with "Why did I not die at birth?" It also has the virtue of brevity, at just over two and a half minutes in the Dublin (disc 1) version, which is maybe the one song where the Irish version is better than the English recording. Probably the best song here though is "If You Had a Vineyard," a beautiful dramatic Gods-eye lament for the Israelis and Palestinians. The live Best Buy version is particularly nice.
Elder statesman and godfather of punk and new wave Nick Lowe has a new album called At My Age, which would be 58. Generally speaking, Lowe's work has become more emotionally affecting with age. He keeps the wit of his youth, as evidenced by new song titles like "I Trained Her To Love Me." But his work has gradually gained more depth of experience, particularly a world weariness that he could have used when writing stuff like "So It Goes." This now gets his music frequently described as "blue eyed soul," which would not have been an obvious description of Jesus of Cool.
The Beastie Boys are back with their first original all-instrumental album, The Mix Up, which is all Beastie organic jamming - no samples. A dozen years ago, I'd have told you that the Beasties rule. But the bottom totally dropped out with their last album, the 2004 To The 5 Boroughs was absolutely worthless, one of the worst artistic meltdowns from a major artist ever. Thus, I wouldn't expect much from them now. Still, these are the guys who wrote "Sabotage" and "Egg Man," so perhaps pleasant surprises await. Plus, this Zappa looking montage may be their coolest album cover, so they get at least a point or two for that.
Then there's the Kelly Clarkson story for her new album My December. See, she's an artiste now, expanding her creative wings even at the expense of a very public showdown with the legendary record mogul Clive Davis. In this narrative, Davis cheerfully plays the role of moustache-twirling corporate villain who doesn't understand or care about her Art. Not to put to fine a point on it, but I can only laugh at any contrived American Idol carrying on about their supposed art. This widely circulated story of her hardships with the record company sounds to me like a put-up job to gin up publicity and some faux credibility for the usual corporate swill. Perhaps I'm too cynical.
Here's the complete list of this week's major new releases, courtesy AMG:
Ryan Adams Easy Tiger Lost Highway Alternative Country, Adult Alternative Pop/Rock
Marc Almond Stardom Road Sanctuary Adult Alternative Pop/Rock, Vocal Pop, Pop/Rock, Euro-Pop, Torch Songs
Kelly Clarkson My December RCA Adult Alternative Pop/Rock
Nick Lowe At My Age Yep Roc Singer/Songwriter, Americana, Country-Rock