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Music Blog

Music Review: Every Kingdom by Ben Howard

Artist: Ben Howard

Title: Every Kingdom

Island Records, 2011

I had never heard of Ben Howard before checking out Every Kingdom from the library. I have now had his music on near-constant rotation for the last two weeks.

Howard, a singer-songwriter from the UK, wears his influences on his sleeve. At times reminding me of Nick Drake, Mumford & Sons, and even Jack Johnson, Howard successfully establishes his own unique sound.

Every Kingdom is the perfect album to put on at the end of the day. Relax and listen to the beauty of these songs. Howard’s excellent vocals and acoustic guitar along with cello and percussion create just the right atmosphere.

In my opinion, the standout tracks are “Old Pine”, “The Wolves”, “Only Love”, and “Keep Your Head Up”.

Every Kingdom is available from the David Raines and Hosston branches of Shreve Memorial Library. Check it out or place your hold today to enjoy some quality acoustic music.

 

One Kind Favor by B.B. King

Artist: B.B. King

Title: One Kind Favor

Geffen, 2008

In the summer of ‘94, I was 14 years old when my dad dropped me and a friend off at Hirsch Coliseum on a Friday evening for the Summer Blues Jam headlined by B.B. King.   Numerous bands/musicians played on that day, and it was smokin’ good! By the time B.B. took the stage it was well past curfew. He literally played four songs in about 15 minutes and that was it. I still remember how upset most of the crowd was that B.B. wasn’t able to play a longer set. You can’t put a curfew on the blues!

I have always been a fan of B.B. King, but I honestly prefer my blues a little more raw. King’s more recent releases have been too slick or over-produced to keep my attention for long. Then he released 2008’s One Kind Favor and it completely blew me away. Produced by T Bone Burnett, One Kind Favor features the 82-year-old blues icon playing classic songs from such artists as Lonnie Johnson, Blind Lemon Jefferson, John Lee Hooker, T-Bone Walker, Big Bill Broonzy, and the Mississippi Sheiks. Backed by Jim Keltner (Lennon, Dylan) on drums, Nathan East (Clapton) on stand-up bass and Dr. John on piano, King manages to sound both modern and vintage at the same time. He’s relaxed and in charge throughout the recording.

If you are a fan of the blues, you have got to hear this music. One thing I always do with an album like this is explore the original recordings of the songs being covered. After all, if the music is important to B.B. it must be worth knowing more about. The library is the perfect place for this type of musical exploration. Visit your local library or search Shreve Memorial’s online catalog to discover music by many classic blues artists. One Kind Favor is available at the Broadmoor, Hamilton/South Caddo, Main, Mooretown, North Shreve, and Wallette locations of Shreve Memorial Library.

 

Release Me by Lyle Lovett

Artist: Lyle Lovett

Title: Release Me

Curb Records, February 2012

I could write for hours about the numerous services available from Shreve Memorial Library. For me personally, one of the most fun and often overlooked aspects of the library is the opportunity it gives for exploring and discovering music that I probably would not have become familiar with otherwise. The music of Lyle Lovett is a perfect example of this. Shreve Memorial Library has numerous titles by Lovett that I’ve enjoyed listening to. When his latest disc, Release Me, hit library shelves, I knew I had to check it out.

Release Me is a rollicking tour of Americana music. Fiddle, mandolin, piano, numerous guitar flavorings, a superb horn section, and perfect vocal harmonies transition between country, rock, bluegrass, jazz, and blues with ease. The slickly produced album only contains two originals written by Lovett. The majority of the album consists of covers of songs by artists like Jesse Winchester, Chuck Berry, and Townes Van Zandt. The music on Release Me changes genre and mood from song to song, but somehow it works without seeming disjointed at all. Fittingly, the album closes with a beautiful hymn of unification – “Keep Us Steadfast”, written by Martin Luther in 1542.

A few years ago, I knew who Lyle Lovett was. He was married to Julia Roberts, right? Unfortunately, I had never paid much attention to him beyond that. Luckily, the library was there to introduce me to his amazing music.

If you enjoy the musical styles that I’ve mentioned in this review, Release Me is the perfect album for becoming acquainted with the music of Lyle Lovett. The library has numerous other titles by Lovett that you can check out also – Pontiac (1987), Lyle Lovett and His Large Band (1989), Live in Texas (1999), My Baby Don’t Tolerate (2003), and Smile: Songs From the Movies (2003).

 


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