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Saturday, April 27, 2019

New releases from Bruce Springsteen, Josh Ritter, Andrea Nardello, Collective Soul and 311

The new single from Bruce Springsteen is in our New Music bin this week, because of course it is. Mixing new music and classics is what we do, and when one of the top artists of classic rock brings out solid new material, it fits right into our big playlist. Springsteen describes his forthcoming album, Western Stars, as a set of "solo recordings featuring character-driven songs and sweeping, cinematic orchestral arrangements." The lead character in the first single, "Hello Sunshine," is trying to shake off his gloom: "You can get a little too fond of the blues." NPR describes it as occupying "the same melancholy space" as some of the songs of Jimmy Webb, John Hartford, Kris Kristofferson and the like.

In a somewhat similar vein of American folk-rock comes the new collection from Josh Ritter, Fever Breaks. On his 10th album, Ritter teams with Jason Isbell as producer and Isbell's The 400 Unit as backing band. We previously featured the rollicking "Old Black Magic," and now we're picking up the wistful "I Still Love You (Now and Then)." It joins a large catalog of songs about old flames that still smolder - an ever-growing playlist that includes Ritter's own "A Certain Light."

We recently had the chance to catch a live show by Andrea Nardello, whose singing, songwriting and energy put us in mind of Shawn Colvin and Melissa Etheridge. (We later learned that others have made those same comparisons.) From her latest EP, Human, we're featuring the title track - a song about reaching out for the help that everyone needs at times: "Hold me now / I'm human, I'm broken / Come now / Be my warrior." Starting with a simple guitar accompaniment, the track gradually adds cello, violin, piano accents and layered vocals, creating a sound that NPR has called "both intimate and expansive."

Along with those three songs on the mellow side, we're adding a couple of upbeat tracks from veteran bands:

Collective Soul is marking its 25th anniversary as a band with a new album due in June. The title, Blood, is a reference to family ties. Singer-guitarist E Roland says the LP "is an accumulation of all the different styles we’ve used over the years." The lead single is "Right as Rain" - a phrase Roland remembers his grandmother using and that the song uses to express hope for better days ahead.

Also coming in June is Voyager, the 13th album in the nearly three-decade career of 311. Vocalist-guitarist Nick Hexum says the lead single, "Good Feeling," is influenced by the pounding rhythms of Jamaican dancehalls along with Paul Simon's world-beat records. He calls the song "a three-minute party jam meant to feel like a vacation."

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