soul Archive

Hundred-word Reviews for January 2020

Every so often – pretty often, in fact – I find a stack of CDs has accumulated on my desk. They’ve made the cut as albums deemed worthy of sharing with my readers. In the space of just one hundred words, I endeavor to convey what’s noteworthy or even special about these releases. Each of

30 Days Out: January 2020 #2: Jake Shimabukuro, Tinsley Ellis, The Seratones, Ashley Heath & Her Heathens

Artist: Jake Shimabukuro Venue: The Orange Peel Date: Friday, Jan 24, 8 p.m. Door: $30 Ukulele probably isn’t the first instrument that comes to mind when one thinks of powerfully rocking music. But Jake Shimabukuro is the sort of artist who can make that comparatively humble instrument work in a surprising variety of contexts. His

Album Review: Empire Strikes Brass — Brassterpiece Theatre

Some creative projects are the result of a carefully thought-out plan. Others happen through a special combination of good fortune and the participants’ openness to whatever develops. The latter is the case for Asheville’s Empire Strikes Brass. The group came together in 2012 for what was planned as a one-off event. Founder and saxophonist Paul

Hundred-word Reviews for December 2019, #3

Here’s the final installment of the year (and the decade!) of my quick, condensed album reviews. Ten titles, 100 words each. Seven are new releases; the remaining three are archival and/or reissue releases. There are some SERIOUS gems in here. Sweet Lizzy Project – Technicolor When most people think of Cuban music, their thoughts turn

Album Review: Mavis Staples — We Get By

When it comes to African American roots music – for that matter, any American roots music at all – the Staples name is royalty. Led by Roebuck “Pops” Staples and wife Cleotha, the Staple Singers made music that did more than just transcend genres; it erased the divisions between them. The group’s anthemic, soul-stirring songs

Album Review: The New Mastersounds — Shake It

It may well not have been their explicit intention, but over the last two decades, the New Mastersounds have helped a strain of jazz to become mainstreamed into widespread popular culture. Jazz has always been there – at least for a hundred or so years – but with some important exceptions it’s enjoyed only a

Hundred Word Reviews for August 2019, Part Two

Ten more reviews. All new music, covered in the space of 100 words each. Jazzmeia Horn – Love & Liberation I love instrumental jazz, but I have to admit that vocal jazz resonates less strongly with me. Thus, you’ll find remarkably few reviews here that cover jazz vocalists. This is well worth an exception; very

Hundred-word Reviews for August 2019, Part One

It’s that time again: reviews of new music that passes the rigorous “smash or trash” competition happening periodically at my CD changer. Diplomats of Solid Sound — A Higher Place First off, let’s give credit where it’s due and acknowledge that Sharon Jones and the Dap-Kings are owed a debt for reintroducing soul to today’s

Can’t Stop Running: Todd Rundgren’s ‘Nearly Human’ at 30

Being a serious fan of Todd Rundgren isn’t always an easy path, but it’s a rewarding one. The wunderkind from Upper Darby, Pennsylvania started his musical career out in relatively conventional fashion – as guitarist for late ’60s proto-powerpop band Nazz – but even before he left that group, the depth and wide-encompassing nature of

Ryan RnB Barber: Persistence Pays Off

As recently as 2015, Ryan Barber was homeless. But through a combination of determination and talent, today the Asheville musician is realizing his life and music goals. The newest release from Ryan RnB Barber – today a ubiquitous presence in the Asheville music scene – is a solo album pointedly titled Rejuvenation. Backed by his