Tag: Singer Songwriter

1970, Music

Starsailor (1970) by Tim Buckley

I guess this is the logical end of Tim Buckley’s pursuit of jazz – a record that has basically nothing in common with his debut or any of his early music, and which feels really mislabeled if the term “singer songwriter” or “folk” is used.

1970, Music

Tea for the Tillerman (1970) by Cat Stevens

At his worst, Cat Stevens is like a sappier James Taylor (which is really saying something). But, at his best, he’s more musically interesting and ambitious than his bloodless contemporaries. My problem with this record is that he’s at his worst far more than he’s at his best.

1970, Music

Stephen Stills (1970)

Though I became kind of obsessed with Manassas’ debut album and Super Session back in the day, Stills is the last of CSNY for me, in terms of listening to proper solo albums. Some of that is accidental (or technical, depending upon how you feel about Manassas). But some of that is also because, though …

1970, Music

Van Morrison, His Band and the Street Choir (1970)

Imagine you were so talented you could come up with an album concept, have it fall apart completely, and then have your record company release some of the tapes against your will and you still end up with this great album. The more I get into Van Morrison the more I am just in awe …

2000, Music

Stories From the City, Stories From the Sea (2000) by PJ Harvey

PJ Harvey is one of the great songwriters of her generation, and this album is another fine example of her abilities. but the record marks a bit of a change in aesthetic for her (as far as I know) that I don’t exactly love.

2000, Music

Whoa, Nelly! (2000) by Nelly Furtado

I’ve paid basically no attention to Nelly Furtado. I was aware of her hits – and remember the hits from this record – but was otherwise utterly uninterested. Some of that has to do with my music tastes – specially my tastes when I was 19 – and some of that appears to have to …

1980, Music

The River (1980) by Bruce Springsteen

We were driving back from a ski resort in Vermont – Bolton Valley or Killington, I don’t remember which – and we got slowed by a massive snowstorm. I was in my tweens or early teens. We were driving up the west side of Lake Champlain and we could only get one radio station from …

1975, Music

Rock of Westies (1975) by Elton John

Based upon the title, the cover, and the presence of “Island Girl”, I thought this was going to be John’s Caribbean record. (I thought “westies” meant “West Indies”; I didn’t know it was a spoonerism.) So colour me surprised by (most of) the actual content.

1970, Music

Tumbleweed Connection (1970) by Elton John

Try as I might, I cannot fall in love with Elton John’s music. I have listened to many of his records at this point – basically only from the ’70s – and I have quite liked one of them. The others don’t really connect with me yet and this one is just another of those.

2000, Music

Hearbreaker (2000) by Ryan Adams

Faithless Street (specifically the expanded edition from 3 years later) is one of my favourite albums of the 1990s and easily my favourite alt country album of all time. I went through a phase where I was chasing that dragon a bit, listening to the other Whiskeytown records and some Adams solo stuff, and never …

1990, Music

Listen Without Prejudice Vol. 1 (1990) by George Michael

More than his debut album, this record strikes me as the work of a singer-songwriter, one who also happens to be an incredibly dynamic performer, and a multi-instrumentalist. I’ve only listened to Faith a couple of times, but this feels more personal. And I must say I like it more. As an aside: the fact …

1985, Music

Hounds of Love (1985) by Kate Bush

Though I have yet to listen to every one of her albums, this strikes me as her most ambitious album, at least to date. Recording a side-long suite of songs is borderline prog rock (and would actually be, I guess, if the music was a little more connected).

1980, Music

Never for Ever (1980) by Kate Bush

It’s funny, for me, that I cam to Kate Bush, because I seem to love just about everything she does. I find her music so compelling that I sometimes struggle to put it into words. There are things I like and clearly her particular brand of theatrical performance, interesting arrangements distinct songwriting is very much …

1995, Music

Vivadixiesubmarinetransmissionplot (1995) by Sparklehorse

My memory of Good Morning Spider, the only Sparklehorse record I’ve heard before this one, is that it was pretty harrowing stuff. That makes sense, given that part of it is about an overdose. But I guess I was expecting something similar. And though this record definitely has a “sad” vibe at times, I don’t …

1995, Music

Ben Folds Five (1995)

At some point during the last 30 or so years before this album’s release, the piano stopped being a rock instrument. That’s particularly weird given its primary in the creation of rock and roll, as it was piano and saxophone, before electric guitar, that helped create what became rock and roll (in part because they …

1965, Music

I Ain’t Marching Anymore (1965) by Phil Ochs

I came to Phil Ochs late, only because of the recommendation of a friend. (Thanks Derek!) Before that I had heard of his infamous live album, but that’s it. So this is my second Ochs album and, as usual, I am listening to his catalogue out of order. I mention all of this because my …

1995, Music

Not a Pretty Girl (1995) by Ani DiFranco

Ani had used bands at times before this record, despite her full, percussive guitar style that easily lends itself to solo performances. But on this record she decided to full band more of the time (to my memory) but by recording just her an her drummer.

1995, Music

Tigerlily (1995) by Natalie Merchant

If you had asked me what I knew of Natalie Merchant before I listened to this album, I would have told you I know she was the lead singer of 10,000 Maniacs and I know she’s a featured vocalist on a couple of the Mermaid Avenue songs. That’s it. Well, now I know better.

1995, Music

Everything I Long For (1995) by Hayden

Despite being Canadian Hayden has mostly eluded me. (And I’ve, um, seen him live. Seriously.) I don’t know why but I’ve just never taken the time to listen to his albums. I’ve heard some of his songs at friend’s places and, yes, I’ve seen him at a festival. But I’ve never paid much attention and …

1995, Music

Tilt (1995) by Scott Walker

Scott Walker had one of the most incredible second acts in popular music, utterly transforming his sound at a point at which most people could be forgiven for having forgotten about him (if they knew about him at all). His late career albums are some of the most vital, original singer-songwriter albums you’ll ever hear. …

1975, Music

There’s No Place Like America Today (1975) by Curtis Mayfield

My general, um, impression of Curtis Mayfield is that his version of soul is just way too slick for me. I’ve felt this about the limited albums of his I’ve heard, be it solo or the Impressions. I don’t feel that way as much about this record and I’m not sure if that’s me getting …

1975, Music

Captain Fantastic and the Dirt Brown Cowboy (1975) by Elton John

I keep having the same experience over and over again with artists I’m relatively unfamiliar with, like Elton John: I listen to 2 or 3 or 4 albums and I’m unimpressed and then I get to like the 5th album (or sometimes even the 6th) and I have some kind of epiphany and suddenly worry …

2000, Music

Figure 8 (2000) by Elliott Smith

I think Elliott Smith is a good songwriter. As I have said when reviewing his other albums, I really don’t get the idea that he is one of the great songwriters of his generation, but he’s certainly very good. His songs are a little too poppy for my tastes, but I can at least appreciate …

2000, Music

Dongs of Sevotion (2000) by Smog

During one of our podcast episodes, we were discussing Palace Brothers and one of the guests said he reminded him of Smog. When I first listened to Smog – the earlier, weirder, more lo fi Smog – I had no idea what he was talking about. But listening to this record I really, really do. …

1990, Music

The Good Son (1990) by Nick Cave and The Bad Seeds

I love Tender Prey. For me, it’s the culmination of the Seeds through their first era, a powerful combination of punk-influenced music and songwriting well beyond the quality of most punk albums.

1990, Music

Songs for Drella (1990) by Lou Reed and John Cale

I’m not sure why but I find Lou Reed’s memorial lyrics way too explicit for my tastes. He’s so specific that it removes the universal appeal. I don’t normally have a problem with specificity in and of itself, and with Reed’s other lyrics but, for some reason, when it comes to death, that’s how I …

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 …