Steve Martin and Edie Bickell, “Love Has Come For You”
If you can’t be moved by the emotion Edie Brickell is able to convey in the lyrics in collaboration with Steve Martin, you must be a Vulcan. I fully admit to not being a firstie on this single, but it came up the other day on a playlist and I was quickly reminded of the brilliance of this unlikely duo. Being a Steve Martin fan from when I was in junior high (and memorizing the routines on his comedy albums), I knew “Mr. Steve Martin” played banjo, but this new phase of his career that’s taken off since 2010 is much more mediative and serious at times. I know, you can argue that the 1981 album, The Steve Martin Brothers, was the first instance of his banjo playing to be released in recorded form, but that was just a instance of bad timing. The timing is right on this album, and when you hear how wonderful Brickell and Martin sound on this record, you’ll agree.
The Bora, “Only You”
The Bora are coming out of the shadow of being a support band, and are ready for prime time with “Only You” — which is getting exposure on British radio in their native UK. It’s a taut and melodic power pop song that showcases Will Tierney’s vulnerable vocal delivery nestled in the thunderous drumming from Thierry Sequeira and solid bass work from Alex Roberts. Give this one a few spins and you’ll be a fan in short order.
Abigail Washburn & Shanghai Restoration Project, “Sala”
“Sala” is taken from the Afterquake EP that Abigail Washburn and Dave Liang put together to aid in the relief of those who were affected by the Sichuan province earthquakes in 2008 and 2013 that displaced millions and killed around 90,000 people in China. Washburn and Liang feature the voices of some of the survivors of the quake singing more traditional songs within a kind of a electronica framework. It may sound like an odd combination of styles, but the result is a very powerful work that highlights the intersection of modern and traditional in an original way.
Based in L.A., Smallpools has an incredibly catchy song on their hands with “Dreaming.” All the instruments sing in the key of pop, but just below the surface are the lyrics that tell another story of a kind of dystopian world. Heavy stuff for a pop song, but I suppose it’s not that different from singing along to some of those nuclear war nightmare lyrics that peppered a number of New Wave songs of the ‘80s.