New Music Friday Vol. 11

A few Irishmen and a troubadour to kick off December...


Van Morrison - Versatile

When I began this series on my blog 10 weeks ago, I visited a new album from Van Morrison. Today, two-and-a-half months later, the 72-year-old Northern Irishman is releasing another album.

His last, Roll With the Punches, paired standard blues tunes with a handful of originals. This one follows the same model with jazz standards and original tunes.

I have always enjoyed jazz approached with the influence of its brother, the blues. These are solid recordings by a man with solid musical instincts and at lest one foot deeply planted in those soulful, bluesy roots. 

Below is a fun original tune he wrote for the album called "Broken Record."

U2 - Songs of Experience

Speaking of Irishmen. Remember when U2 released their last album and forced it onto everyone's iPhones? People sure didn't like that. I guess when you're as big as U2, you're bound to be polarizing. 

I'm not going to pretend to have anything profoundly fresh to say about this band. They've gone through decades of evolution, and their experimental days appear to be long behind them. Therefore, they're not really pushing any boundaries, but they remain instantly recognizable. 

And that's basically all I have to say about it. At this point, you either like U2, or you don't. If you do, you'll be happy to hear Bono's familiar vocals front and center. If you can't imagine wanting to hear Bono's voice ever again, well, you'll never listen to this, and it won't much matter, will it?

I still kind of like the U2 sound, and I'm still going to listen...

Chris Stapleton - From a Room, Volume 2

I don't have much of a relationship with country music. I don't listen to it often, and I don't much like the swath of what I consider to be pop country. 

But there's this new generation of rambler, a sort of outlaw troubadour returning to the roots of the music, that I find appealing. Country musics roots are strong. I love bluegrass for its down-home virtuosity, folk music for its genuineness, and blues for its rawness. Country music is the cousin of all of these, but the minute it turns slick and its sincere directness turns to pandering, I'm out.

In truth, Stapleton writes for a lot of those pop country music superstars, but there's an authentic simplicity to the material on this latest release. Once I'm done with absorbing this short album, I'll have to explore the rest of his material. I have a feeling it will be worth it.  

Brian HinmanComment