Tag: Singer Songwriter

1980, Music

Empty Glass (1980) by Pete Townshend

The story goes that Townshend was writing songs for both this album and the subsequent Who album and Daltrey at least feels like Townshend kept most of the good material for himself and gave the band the less good stuff. (I should point out I’ve never bothered with Face Dances because one thing I don’t …

1975, Music

Hokey Pokey (1975) by Richard & Linda Thompson

I fell in love with I Want to see the Bright Lights Tonight years ago and then, for some reason – too much music in the world – I never found my way to other albums. in the last few I finally have and I find myself unsuccessfully chasing the folk rock dragon. Sometimes you …

1970, Music

12 Songs (1970) by Randy Newman

With virtually every Randy Newman album I’ve yet encountered my problem with him has in part been the aesthetic – a unique and not particularly compelling singer singing acerbic is often backed by extremely slick arrangements. But that’s not the case here as Newman has abandoned the massed arrangements of his debut for members of …

1970, Music

Elton John (1970)

Elton Johns self-titled second album

Elton John’s second album is an interesting combination of contrasting styles, with some of it sounding like classic Elton John and some of it sounding like he really doesn’t know what he wants to sound like. It sounds a lot like a debut to me in that it feels like he hasn’t quite found his …

1995, Music

Wild Love (1995) by Smog

My biggest problem with Bill Callahan is just the wild inconsistency from track to track. (I understand that this is why some people like him.) This is only my second Smog album, and this record is arguably just as inconsistent as the other one – full of ideas, many of which are half-baked (third-baked? quarter …

1995, Music

Ocean Beach (1995) by Red House Painters

This is my first encounter with Red House Painters and…wait a minute, it’s not? Apparently I positively reviewed their debut in 2017 but I have zero memory of that. I know from my review and from looking at the track listings that the debut is a different beast than this record but I wish I …

2020, Music

Fetch the Bolt Cutters (2020) by Fiona Apple

So, full disclosure: I love Fiona Apple. My least favourite of all her albums is her first record, which is still extremely impressive for someone of her age. (Compare it to records made by similarly aged artists through the history of pop music, I bet it stands out pretty strongly). So I don’t think I …

1990, Music

I Do Not Want What I Haven’t Got (1990) by Sinead O’Connor

Sinead’s second album is considerably more self-assured and even than her debut, though it’s lacking a bit of the energy of the debut and, also, the pure shock factor of a woman so young seeming like such a self-assured songwriter and performer. And like the debut, it hasn’t dated that well, but that’s sort of …

1980, Music

Glass Houses (1980) by Billy Joel

I read somewhere that this is supposed to be Joel’s “punk” album, not in that it sounds like punk that it is his response. I think that comes from a way too deep reading of the lyrics to “It’s Still Rock and Roll to Me”, and if it is indeed his response to these trends …

1975, Music

Between the Lines (1975) by Janis Ian

It sure feels like Janis Ian has been mostly forgotten all these years later. She was basically never mentioned in the various music things I consumed as a teen and my first exposure to her was the use of”At Seventeen” in an episode of The Simpsons. I don’t think I heard much about her again …

1995, Music

Pieces of You (1995) by Jewel

This album is pretty infamous among critics in part because the songs that would become hits Jewel a year and a half later had to be rerecorded before they became hits – according to more than one critic because they sound so bad here. I don’t really understand what they are talking about, to me …

1975, Music

Unrequited (1975) by Loudon Wainwright III

When I heard the first song followed by the second song – a ridiculous faux reggae number – I was pretty much done with this record. I thought “Why bother with a record by a guy whose kids are arguably now more famous than him?” I think it was “Kick in the Head” which changed …

1970, Music

Sweet Baby James (1970) by James Taylor

I don’t like James Taylor. But I’m not sure I knew that before listening to this album. I don’t think I’d ventured much of an opinion about him before, because he never seemed very interesting to me. I have a friend who likes him, and I think tried to get me into him at one …

1997, Music

Devotion + Doubt (1997) by Richard Buckner

I stumbled upon this because of my father. He gave it to me and I had no idea what it was. He didn’t really explain either. By the cover I think I mistakenly thought it either was “classical” initially – I must have read “Bruckner” rather than Buckner – and then I think I thought …

1970, Music

Moondance (1970) by Van Morrison

When I was young I associated Van Morrison only with “Brown Eyed Girl”. As my high school best friend might have put it, “Brown Eyed Girl” was a “12 year old girl song” and I basically ignored Van Morrison, despite liking some of his other songs I heard on classic rock radio, until I finally …

1969, Music

Scott 4 (1969) by Scott Engel

I think I just have to face it: the Scott Walker I like is the one who completely reinvented himself later in his life, demolishing his earlier image and creating some of the weirdness, most unique singer-songwriter albums I’ve ever heard. Try as I might, I don’t like the original version of him. This is …

1989, Music

The Sensual World (1989) by Kate Bush

Kate Bush, ever the iconoclast, finds a good balance on this record between contemporary art pop – and all of the obsession with technology that entails – and folk music influences. In the vaguest sense this one sort of reminds of Peter Gabriel’s work, only they are incorporating very different forms of folk music and …

1984, Music

I Often Dream of Trains (1984) by Robyn Hitchcock

A few months ago I was listening to one of Robyn Hitchcock’s ’90s records – Jewels for Sophia – and I was completely uninterested in it. I’m not sure if it was actually boring, but it definitely sounded out of time (and conservative) compared to what was being made at the time. It seemed like …

1974, Music

Good Old Boys (1974) by Randy Newman

I have long struggled to “get” Randy Newman, often finding the contrasts in tone within a single record, and the excessive arrangements, to be far more of a problem than his voice. (I assume his voice is the thing that keeps most people from enjoying him.) But I was listening to an episode of the …

1994, Music

Living Under June (1994) by Jann Arden

Before I get to my review, I just wanted to mention that my experience of this album was disrupted. I was listening to it on Google Play but when I went back for my second listen it had just disappeared. Vanished without a trace. I assume the licensing agreement expired but I don’t know what …

1974, Music

New Skin for the Old Ceremony (1974) by Leonard Cohen

This record has the reputation of being the moment when Cohen switched up the way his songs were arranged. But though there is some truth to that, it doesn’t bother me anywhere near how I imagined it would, which might have something to do with my imagining what it sounded like before I listened to …

1974, Music

Perfect Angel (1974) by Minnie Riperton

Jimbo: Not that sure. I think we better come up with a backup plan. Uhh, let’s see here. Hey, bookie! Wha- what’s the halftime show gonna be?Bookie: You haven’t heard?! John Stamos’ older brother Richard Stamos is gonna sing ‘Loving You’.Ned: I love that song.Jimbo: ‘Loving You’? That’s perfect! Come on Ned, Middle Park’s gonna …

1994, Music

Roman Candle (1994) by Elliott Smith

Your mileage with Elliott Smith likely depends upon when in your life you first heard him. It sure feels like the people who first got into him in their teens – or even their early 20s – have a much greater desire for him to be appreciated as one of the great songwriters of his …

1974, Music

Rock Bottom (1974) by Robert Wyatt

As I write in seemingly half the reviews of albums I write, expectations are a terrible thing. I have heard about Rock Bottom for perhaps as long as I was aware of Wyatt’s existence, which dates back to my first encounter with Soft Machine maybe 20 years ago (or slightly less than that).