Album Reviews

Reviews of recent albums

Lesley Roley - Run

The fine line between folk and Americana becomes nicely blurred. Over the last few years, I’ve seen Lesley Roley perform several times and she is charm personified. She has a nice line in story-telling and a bag fill of introspective and beautifully structured songs. But, this is the first time I’ve listened to her on disc in the comfort of my own home, and what a pleasant experience it’s been. After a few listens now, I would file this album in the lo-fi section alongside the Cowboy Junkies and Fleet Foxes. The production is simple and crystal-clear, allowing Roley’s warm voice to...

Leonard Cohen - Live in Dublin (DVD/CD)

Leonard Cohen has previously released five live albums and three concert DVDs, and much of that material preserves performances from the past few years, so do we really need this new video? I’d say yes. For one thing, this is the only high-definition recording of a recent show. Live in London, from 2009, while expansive, career-spanning and wonderfully performed, is a standard-definition video that suffers from a 4:3 aspect ratio; 2010’s Songs from the Road, meanwhile, offers widescreen video and pristine sound but contains only a dozen songs; moreover, they represent isolated clips from...

Mike Agranoff - Straight Lines

Until recently, my exposure to folksinger/song-finder Mike Agranoff’s work was limited to hearing him throw in a few songs at the Minstrel Show in Morristown, NJ -- a venture that he shepherds. So, I was not prepared for the depth and beauty of his recent release, Straight Lines. It’s a potpourri of ballads, spoken word, sing-along and a capella numbers,  and even a classical instrumental, all delivered in a way that I imagine Pete Seeger would be very proud of. He’s  sometimes joined by friends, but often just the singer and his guitar are enough to solidly...

Justin Townes Earle - Absent Fathers

The wayward son of Americana comes of age Coming hot on the heels of Justin’s previous album, Single Mothers, this is bound to draw comparisons, especially as it was originally meant to be the other half of a double album. Personally, I think the decision to split them into two separate releases is the correct one, as each appears to be a separate entity in its own right and needs to be listened to on different occasions -- difficult to do with a doubler. Absent Fathers opens with a slightly bitter and gut-wrenching country song, "Farther From Me," which throws down the...