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Saturday, June 29, 2024

Latest from Mavis Staples, Wilco, JD McPherson, Valley, Pete Yorn added to our big mix

Mavis Staples: Worthy

“It’s a pick-me-up song - it’s a celebration, and you can’t help but move,” says the R&B icon of her new single. Written and produced by MNDR (Amanda Lucille Warner), the song has an uplifting message of self-worth. It's a perfect fit for Staples, still sounding ebullient as she's turning 85. Warner says working with Staples - "listening to her soulful voice, spending time in her grace, and watching her artistry in the studio ... was an experience too profound to put into words."  

Wilco: Hot Sun

Here's the title track from a new EP that bandleader Jeff Tweedy describes as having a "summertime-after-dark kind of feeling." Pitchfork says the song "practically melts from the heat, guitar notes bending and warping as Tweedy sings about the physical pleasure of sunlight hitting skin. With that sensation comes a nagging doubt, possibly about climate change: 'Shouldn’t I be doing something?' he asks himself." (Photo by Akash-Wadhwani)

J.D. McPherson: Sunshine Getaway

Speaking of sun on the skin, that's what the narrator in this song longs for, as an escape from the "same old same old day after day." The single precedes Nite Owls, McPherson's first (non-Christmas) album since 2017's Undivided Heart and Soul. In the meantime, he's been touring as band leader and opening act for Alison Kraus and Robert Plant. The Oklahoma native is known for a 60s rock-and-roll sound, but this track features a riff reminiscent of "Bang a Gong." McPherson told Variety: "Well, any playlist of mine, you’re gonna see Little Richard right next to T. Rex." (Photo by Joshua Black Wilkins)

Valley: Water the Flowers, Pray for a Garden

Founded in 2014, this Toronto-based band has been growing its fan base steadily with what AllMusic calls "their buoyant blend of indie pop uplift and melodic hooks." We would add: with lyrics that describe the ennui of many young adults today. That continues in this title track: "I guess that I'd rather laugh than cry 'bout my problems / When, honestly, I don't know how to solve them." But that refrain alternates with another urging, "Quit wasting the sunlight, it's always the right time / Just open your eyes, 'cause it's always the bright side."

Pete Yorn: Real Good Love

There's word that the California-based New Jersey native has an album coming out later this year. Along with January's single release, "Someday, Someday," it will presumably include this new song. Both are simple, quiet, acoustic tracks, this one musing on how "real good lovin' is so hard to find."

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