Beth’s Uncle John gave me two new albums (well, new to me, anyway; and I do think they were both 2016 releases) for my birthday, so I figured I might as well say a bit about them.
Jack and Amanda Palmer, You Got Me Singing – There’s an explanation as to how this collaboration between Amanda and her father came about here. She didn’t see him much growing up, but became friendlier with him in her adult years. Jack plays guitar and sings with a low voice, somewhat reminiscent of Johnny Cash. The songs are all covers, tending toward folk and folk-adjacent. Leonard Cohen, Melanie (of “Brand New Key” fame), Richard Thompson, and Phil Ochs are all represented. So are some more recent artists Amanda admires, including Sinead O’Connor and Kimya Dawson. The Kimya song is from the point of view of an expectant mother, which I believe Amanda was at the time she recorded this. “Wynken, Blynken, and Nod” is a children’s poem from the late nineteenth century. The tune was written by Carly Simon’s sister Lucy, but the Simons performed it in a more upbeat fashion, while this sounds more like an actual lullaby. “The Skye Boat Song” is a traditional Scottish number about the escape of Bonnie Prince Charlie to the Isle of Skye after his unsuccessful Jacobite revolution. I don’t think I’d heard of John Grant, but I found the cover of his song “Glacier,” a sad song about dealing with homophobia, to be moving.
The Posies, Solid States – This is the band’s first record since the death of their drummer, Darius Minwalla, so it’s mostly just the duo of Jon Auer and Ken Stringfellow. It makes heavy use of synthesizers and programmed drum beats, but it’s still very much in the same pop vein as most of their work. While the tone may be a little on the darker side for them, the tunes and vocals remain quite catchy and appealing. Not that much has particularly stood out for me as of my first two listens, but my favorite so far is probably “Squirrel vs. Snake.” It’s clever both musically and lyrically.