Remember the days of “Up Where We Belong”? The interplay between two singers creates an energy that can’t be matched in solo work. Here’s a recent example from Jason Reeves and Kara DioGuardi - it’s an uncomplicated, down-tempo song but the vocals are good.
I’d like to see us get back to loving this type of songwriting and performance. Word on the street is that Kara will appear on Kelly Clarkson’s new album, “Stronger,” when it drops in October. Kelly’s first toe-tapping single, “Mr. Know It All,” is available now on iTunes.
(ATLANTA - 6 September 2011) :: Songwriting, crisp arrangements and soulfulness are alive and well, I’m happy to report.
All evidenced by Parachute’s latest record, “The Way it Was” (Island Def Jam). The band first caught my ear with the driving, soulful “Under Control” - a fine if a bit safe pop-rock track that spurred me to snag the entire album. I’m glad I did, because it was the perfect prep for their newest effort.
But don’t let that fool you: the production is slick and the writing is stellar. Despite the strange, retro look on the cover, the band fearlessly delves into hybrid waters, with the unabashed, gospel-infused “Something to Believe In.”
“You spend your days alone still hopin' for the truth, But all you hear are lies” As a writer and lyricist, that’s a line that hit right at my core. We are a nation hoping for something new, something truthful, but all we are fed is bullshit - and then we’re expected to stay quiet and accept the scene of our country crumbling at its core.
But the lyric and arrangement is raised up by the gospel backing - a daring move for a band not known for that. I’d push back on their video for not highlighting those specific vocals, because they absolutely make the song. But I’m nit-picking.
I don’t use the term “fearless” lightly with this record - because rock bands often shy away from anything that takes them outside of their wheelhouse. (And they are often criticized for doing so, as Liz Phair found out the hard way.) Creating accessibility in songwriting is not tantamount to watering down or “selling out” - it’s a tool to speak to more people.
Just ask Steve Winwood, who saw “Higher Love” shoot to the top of the charts with the blistering, stellar backing of Chaka Khan. How could that song have soared as it did without her vocal - and without that added accessibility? Answer: it couldn’t. They did, in fact, show Chaka in the video, too.
In all, and in the midst of the nutty spin-cycle of never ending new-band parades, Parachute has done an incredible job. So check it out on iTunes if you haven’t already; make sure to spin “Kiss Me Slowly” (written with members of Lady Antebellum), “You and Me,” and “Philadelphia” - an uncomplicated tune reminiscent of some of Josha Radin’s best stuff.
(5 July 2009 - AUGUSTA, GA) Beneath the veils, white gloves and baby dangling, an artist moved through our pop-culture consciousness with a singular adeptness. As the long-version video shows, “Back or White” beautifully summarizes his conflict with and love of life... where he wanted to reject conventional perceptions but also show a longing for acceptance.
We are gearing up for a memorial for this man, this legend - no matter what your opinion of him, our world will be a lot less interesting without him.
And herein lies my point: We can’t wait for death to appreciate life. In his last 10 or so years, he was a lightening rod for lawsuits (some of them deserved), criticism and many, many aspersions. Much of his life drama played out publicly... and much if not all was self-created.
But amidst all of this, here’s the question: Why is everyone always a saint after they die? He wasn’t a saint, he didn’t walk on water. He was human... and a very talented one at that. We should work harder to celebrate life while we have it - instead of waiting to deliver a eulogy and wishing we had just one more moment in the waking world.
"I try to bring more than I can handle; I bring it to the table, I bring what I am able."
I keep forgetting what an amazing talent Sarah McLachlan is. She makes music worth listening to.
There's obviously a parallel between "World on Fire" and our commitment to the planet... where you can do your part, your little part, that affects the greater good. It's about challenging ourselves for tough decisions, and not to shy away from something that appears complex on its face, but that can and will be tremendously rewarding in the end.
I admire people who can so eloquently tell that story and inspire us to walk the earth with greater respect -- of people and of nature.
That's not tree-hugger sensibility, it's humanity. Easy.
As it turns out, since then, we've come to know the Bush Administration for playing fast and loose with our freedoms, our military and foreign-policy decisions, and his choices to head up key leadership roles. And that's just for starters.
"Doin' a heckuva job Brownie."
From self-aggrandizing executive signing orders to consolidating executive-branch power, he's not only a failure but a danger to our nation as long as he's in office. I'm counting the days.
I'd be ashamed if he were from Atlanta (or New York, or Virginia -- even West Virginia). The good news? We got that great CD out of the whole affair, and they were rewarded for it at the Grammys.
As you watch the above beautiful video, remember how much shit Maines and the Chicks got (remember the radio station-sponsored bulldozers running over their CDs?) and how she transmuted it into something truly amazing.
Turns out, I'm very often not ready to make nice, either.
This is a sequel post from yesterday. Mission accomplished.
I suppose I played right into their hands by attending the concert, but at least I kept my protest clean by not patronizing Ticketwhore, oh sorry, I mean Ticketmaster. I bought directly from Variety Playhouse's box office.
This is the first in a series I'm gonna upload this week... Shawn Mullins once again knocked us all over at Eddie's Attic, ending with a standing ovation after "Shimmer." Still the best in the business.
Thanks to Thom, Kim and Jimmy BB for making the company just as awesome as the entertainment. Pics and other videos to follow soon...