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Saturday, June 13, 2020

Danielia Cotton, Norah Jones, Larkin Poe, Neil Young and introducing The Allen Lewitt Project

Danielia Cotton and the Church Boys: A Different War

The times, they must change."Yesterday ain't tomorrow" is the refrain of the exceedingly timely title track from New York-based New Jersey native Danielia Cotton. It's a mid-tempo blues-rocker driven by Cotton's powerful voice and her solid band, interspersed with bits of rap by New York hip-hop artist Mickey Factz. The lyrics tackle racial inequality head-on: "Your color opens doors / Mine's fighting a different war / Don't you believe we deserve the same view?" Cotton told American Songwriter that for the new six-song EP, she set out to write songs that were "deeply personal -- reflective of my own highly subjective mood, spirit, history, etc. ... But looking at the songs as a whole now, I see that those larger themes, both political and cultural, of course were influencing me.”

Norah Jones: To Live

The cover photo for Pick Me Up Off The Floor suggests that the title refers to a need for a helping hand to get on one's feet. But it also describes the way the album came about: Jones selected tracks that were left on the cutting-room floor, so to speak, from the sessions for last year's Begin Again. The result is surprisingly cohesive. Sonically, as AllMusic writes, it is "firmly rooted in the after-hours jazz-folk-pop hybrid that's Jones' calling card." Thematically, it deals with the interrelation of social and personal struggles. On this deceptively smooth-and-easy piano ballad, the lyric describes the difficulty of finding a smooth-and-easy way "to live in this moment / find peace in my mind."

Larkin Poe: Holy Ghost Fire

Don't be fooled, as we once were, by the name of this female duo, which seems to hint at songbirds and poetry. Rebecca and Megan Lovell are Nashville-based, Georgia bred rockers who produce their own records and play most of the instruments, primarily electric and slide guitar. The result is "intricate rock and roll, with country pop, metal, and any other style that’s caught their ear, all slotting in perfectly," writes Blues Rock Review. The title track from Self Made Man is the lead single, but we're featuring the next number, a celebration of the power of music-making: "Burn, burn baby burn / With that holy ghost fire / From your fingers to the frets / Gonna testify - Sing / Sing baby sing / Let your soul take flight." (Footnote: Larkin Poe was the name of one of the sisters' ancestors.)

Neil Young: Vacancy

Yes it's a brand-new release, and yes it sounds like classic Neil Young - because it is. Recorded circa 1974 but never released, Homegrown is "the missing link between Harvest, Comes A Time, Old Ways, and Harvest Moon," Young has said. Stereogum says Young "withdrew it from the release schedule on the grounds that it was 'too personal.'" (Instead, he issued 1975's Tonight's the Night. "Since then, rumors of the album’s existence have swirled among Young’s diehard fans, giving it the sheen of legend." The blog adds: "It actually lives up to the legend."
Restored and remastered on analog equipment, it's now due for release this week. This single sounds like it's coming through a time warp - like it should be playing on a mid-70s hi-fi receiver with wood finish and luminescent dial. And, it's solid proof that a good rock record is timeless.

The Allen Lewitt Project: Meant to Be

We've played various tracks from Toronto-based singer-songwriter John Lewitt in our big mix and on The Birch Street Bistro. Early this year he released Acoustically Inclined - but he tilts more toward plugged-in rock in his new collaboration with New Jersey musician Jeff Allen. As the story goes, the two met just once, in a city far from their homes, but made a musical connection that led to them working together from 476 Miles apart. "We record everything in our own studios and send the files back and forth," Lewitt tells us. The two were planning to meet up and tour behind the record, but - well, we all know what happened to plans this year. And hey, virtual collaboration is all the rage now. The optimistic, self-affirming message of this song about "finding yourself" is a welcome tonic.

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