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Music of the Moment – January

January 6, 2017 - 6:32 pm

Here are five albums we’re digging so far in the new year. Have a listen!

Gillian Welch – Boots No. 1: The Official Revival Bootleg
Fetsum – Light In A Dark Place
Lambchop – FLOTUS
Led Kaapana – Jus Press Vol. 2
Various Artists – Urgent Jumping! East African Musiki Wa Dansi Classics

Gillian Welch – Boots No. 1: The Official Revival Bootleg

Released twenty years after her debut album Revival, this first (hopefully not last) official bootleg album revisits that period with a superb collection of outtakes, demos, and alternate versions of her songs. The cover photo is of a young Welch slinging an electric guitar, and sure enough it is tantalizingly heard on a few of the outtakes. Most of the songs remain acoustic and her longtime partner, Dave Rawlings’ guitar work is already masterful and can barely be restrained from all the musical ideas bursting from his fingers.

Fetsum – Light In A Dark Place

Born in Cairo to a sixteen year old Eritrean refugee mother, Fetsum grew up surrounded by the music of his home, pop, soul, and reggae. He moved to Italy as a child and finally to Germany as a teenager. That’s when he decided “home isn’t a geographic region but the way you see yourself in other people, mostly in family members.” His latest release, layered and deep, addresses weighty topics as human dignity, social justice, and living as a refugee wrapped up in some wonderful sonic grooves

Lambchop – FLOTUS

It should be said right off that Nashville’s Lambchop front man, Kurt Wagner, says FLOTUS doesn’t stand for “First Lady of the United States,” but rather “For Love Often Turns Us Still.” This album doesn’t sound much like Lambchop’s earlier albums, but that could be said about many (or all) of their records – still, it feels like Lambchop. The album is atmospheric, full of synths and processed vocals that blur Wagner’s voice and the electronic pop grooves that don’t really make up individual songs so much as a movement.

Led Kaapana – Jus Press Vol. 2

If the chilly January winds have you down, we have just the album for you. “A sweet instrumental release from Led Kaapana, the best Hawaiian string player alive today. The album features the classic songs he heard as a youth rendered beautifully on ukulele. He accompanies himself on guitar, tiple, and bass. Highly recommended and a favorite from 2016!” – Steve Ramsey

Various Artists – Urgent Jumping! East African Musiki Wa Dansi Classics

This is an amazing collection of 27 East African dance hall hits recorded by Kenyan, Tanzanian and Congolese musicians between 1972 and 1982. The two-disc album features over two hours of rhumba dance music, up-tempo benga sounds and other infectious hybrids. East African music hasn’t received quite the attention of its Western counterpart in this part of the world. This collection does a fine job of introducing us to many of the region’s stellar musicians and bands while never letting on that its teaching us something.