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  Listen Up! 6/13/03 Listen Up!

Friday, June 13

Kathleen Edwards, “Failer,” Zoe Records. I’d read these glowing comparisons to Lucinda Williams, and I kind of understood them from the evidence of the first couple of songs here. Not that she had the poetic lucidity of Lucinda, nor the grit, nor the impeccably musical phrasing, but there was definitely something going on that made Edwards seem compatible with whatever it is Williams does. Then, all of a sudden, she morphed into Suzanne Vega, a decidedly less interesting thing to me. Back and forth she went, sometimes in the same song, and the hype seemed less and less justified.

Ibrahim Ferrer, “Buenos Hermanos,” Nonesuch Records. Traditionalists bemoan the fact that Ferrer isn’t singing those gorgeous ballads that made his previous album stand out from the excellent pack of Buena Vista Social Club-associated releases. Me, I find this album even more fun, if less emotionally devastating, because the songs are more upbeat and frankly, experimental. Ry Cooder and Manuel Galban are the reasons, bringing all sorts of intriguing cross-cultural guitar licks to the mix. Rhythms are deep and infectious, and Ferrer sounds like he’s discovering his voice all over again, which is a good thing. Sure, he could sing the other stuff in his sleep, but let the guy soar, and hear what he finds from a different vantage point.

Jay Farrar, “Terroir Blues,” Act Resist Records. Here’s the difference between an artist with a track record and a brand new unknown performer. If I’d never heard and liked Uncle Tupelo, Son Volt, or Farrar’s previous solo work, I would have torn this CD out of the player by the third song. As it is, I’m listening all the way through, and hoping that I’m going to get a glimmer of something to excite me. Farrar sounds like he’s retreating into himself, and singing meandering, mopey songs. But, he’s Jay Farrar, so I’ll check this out again and see if I like it more. Not released yet.

--Steve Pick


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