Artist: Mary J. Blige
Album: Love and Life
Mary J. does it again. Teaming up with the infamous Sean “P. Diddy” Combs, her sixth studio album takes listeners inside her intimate world of Love and Life. Hip-hop and R&B beats blend to create music that touches the soul. The album doesn’t stray from the style of previous albums, but if it ain’t broke, why fix it?
Artist: My Morning Jacket
Album: It Still Moves
As I listened to this CD, people filtered through the room asking, “Who is this?”
The sound reminds you of something you’ve heard before. This Kentucky bar band is part Alman Brothers, part Rolling Stones, part Neil Young. Complete with the twangy guitar, back porch blues and echoing acoustics, many songs make reference or pay homage to the saving grace of an alcoholic beverage. Even though the five band members are all in their mid-20s it’s hard to believe the album It Still Moves was released just this month. The driving guitar solos and wailing lead vocals of Jim James sound like something from your dad’s early ’70s rock collection. James cites Roy Orbison, Led Zeppelin and Etta James as his major influences. If it’s any indication of their talent, My Morning Jacket recently opened for Bob Dylan. This CD can be the perfect background or focus of any setting.
Album: Sunlight Makes Me Paranoid
Genre: Brit/Pop Rock
Label: Kemado Records
The aloof quality of Elefant’s debut album was a risky move. Luckily, it works. The first track introduces the band’s swanky je ne sais quoi,” which pervades the work, making listeners beg for more. Carried by the infectious chill in Diego Garcia’s Brit/Pop-style vocals, Sunlight Makes Me Paranoid lays down dance beats spliced by biting guitar strokes. The group admits it’s not afraid to make it big, and Elefant impressively stumbles into several musical dimensions without stepping on anyone’s feet.
Artist: Randye Jones
Album: Come Down Angels
Genre: Negro Spiritual
Label: AhhJay Records
It’s difficult to tell a story you were not a part of, but Randye Jones, a member of GW’s very own music department, gives justice to the rich history of Negro Spiritualism. Jones captures the music’s passion and structural complexity while adding color to the music’s modest roots. The repackaging of these classics does little to redefine them in a contemporary context, but “Come Down Angels accurately conveys the divine inspiration of each composer’s vision.