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Saturday, August 7, 2021

New music variety: Yola, Dar Williams, Whitehorse, Doobie Brothers, John Hurlbut & Jorma Kaukonen

Yola: Diamond Studded Shoes

The theme of resisting the forces of division and oppression turns up in a lot of music these days. This track from the new album Stand For Myself is "an anthem for people to recognize our commonalities (and our common enemy) and stand together," writes Atwood Magazine. From the lyrics: "They buy diamond studded shoes with our taxes / Anything to keep us divided ... We know it isn't, it ain't gonna turn out right / ... that's why we gots to fight / For the life and soul of the world we know." The album is the second solo LP from the artist, who got her start as a session singer and fronted Americana/soul band Phantom Limb before striking out on her own.

Dar Williams: You Give It All Away

We're glad to know there's a new album, I'll Meet You Here, coming soon from this New York singer-songwriter-author, whose previous release was 2015's Emerald. This song bemoans how little value the music industry and society puts on artists' creativity. "You see the golden spark that's floating on the wind / The line becomes the verse, becomes the golden trees, the golden birds / And oh, you're gonna give it all away." Yet the track has an exuberant, brass-infused sound, cheering on those who persist in pursuing the muse.

Whitehorse: Sometimes Amy

"I need some relief from the tyranny of your love," Luke Doucet and Melissa McClelland sing, in turn and in tandem. Not permanent relief, mind you - just "sometimes, Amy." The bright and bouncy track is the latest single from the prolific Ontario duo's next album, Strike Me Down, coming out next month.

The Doobie Brothers: Better Days

Well look who's back? Their 15th studio album and first collection of new music since 2010, Liberté will be released in October, but four tracks have already spun out as a digital EP. The new songs are written by core members Tom Johnston, Pat Simmons and John McFee, who are embarking on a 50th anniversary tour along with Michael McDonald. This number's lyrics echo Bruce Springsteen's song of the same name, from a point farther along life's road.

John Hurlbut & Jorma Kaukonen: A Little Faster

Former Jefferson Airplane guitarist and longtime Hot Tuna co-leader Kaukonen rode out the pandemic on his Fur Peace Ranch, a guitar camp/performance venue in Ohio. Along with putting on a series of virtual concerts, he decided to make some recordings with his friend Hurlbut, a local musician and Fur Peace manager. The result was The River Flows, an album released in December. Now comes The River Flows, Vol. 2, with more recordings from the same sessions. "It’s absolutely live, nobody’s plugged in, and that’s what I wanted," Kaukonen told Rock Cellar Magazine. "I wanted to capture that kind of a feeling. Which we did." Both albums are made up mostly of cover songs, but our featured track is a Hurlbut original.

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