Emmylou Harris & Rodney CrowellOld Yellow Moon/Nonesuch
Listening to Emmylou Harris and Rodney Crowell harmonize on the pair’s new album, “Old Yellow Moon,” you could almost swear they have worked together before.
As it turns out, they have. Crowell joined Harris’ Hot Band as a guitarist and backup singer in 1975 and played with her for three years before striking out on his own.
These days, both artists have flourishing careers but obviously still think enough of one another to collaborate on this new album. The music produced by the pair demonstrates why they worked so well together all those years ago.
Four of the songs on the new album are Crowell originals while the rest are interpretations of songs such as Hank DeVito’s “Hanging Up My Heart” and Roger Miller’s “Invitation to the Blues.”
This is an Americana album with a decidedly country slant, but we’re talking the good kind of old-school country.
Standout tracks include “Chase the Feeling,” “Bluebird Wine” and a cover of Allen Reynolds’ “Dreaming My Dreams” that actually trumps the Cowboy Junkies’ version, a feat I previously would have thought unattainable.
If twangy Americana music by two experts in the craft appeals to you, then you’ll be in heaven listening to this album.
Key Tracks: “Chase the Feeling,” “Dreaming My Dreams,” “Bluebird Wine”
Eric Clapton Old Sock/Brushbranch/Surfdog
Every once in a while, an established musician decides to make an album just for fun.
The release of such an album usually is met with two reactions: The first camp criticizes the artist for not releasing a “serious album,” opting instead to record covers. The second group takes the album at face value and enjoys what there is to enjoy.
On Eric Clapton’s latest, “Old Sock,” which is in fact just that, it sounds as if Slowhand is having a great time covering songs by the likes of Gary Moore, Peter Tosh and George Gershwin.
This time, I’m inclined to side with that second group.
Clapton has earned the right to record any sort of album he chooses, and while some of the material on “Old Sock” seems a bit too adult contemporary for Clapton, there’s some good stuff here.
American classics such as “All of Me,” “Goodnight Irene” and “Our Love is Here to Stay” sound great. Particularly good is a cover of Gary Moore’s “Still Got the Blues.”
While not quite committing to recording only American Songbook classics like fellow Brit Rod Stewart, Clapton has avoided much of the schmaltzy feeling that comes when an artist turns to that ploy.
Instead, what fans get is a light, breezy, fun album that hopefully will be enjoyed by those that don’t take it too seriously.
Key Tracks: “Further Down the Road,” “Still Got the Blues,” “Goodnight Irene”
Various artistsSound City: Real to Reel/RCA
In Dave Grohl’s new documentary, “Sound City,” a lot of the conversation about the legendary Los Angeles recording studio has to do with its Neve 8028 recording consoles.
When the studio closed a couple of years ago, Grohl purchased that soundboard and installed it in his home recording studio. Then Grohl invited some friends to come over and play.
“Sound City: Real to Reel” features 11 new originals that were written, performed and recorded on that legendary mixing board.
On paper, the project looks promising, but in the end, the lineup of musicians outshines the actual music they make. Guests included Stevie Nicks, Rick Springfield, Lee Ving, Rick Nielsen, Joshua Homme, Trent Reznor, Krist Novoselic and Paul McCartney.
The resulting music, which was written and recorded on the fly in Grohl’s studio, is hit or miss.
Songs like “Heaven and All” and “Time Slowing Down” sound like the artists are just noodling away with no finished product in sight, while other tracks do better.
“You Can’t Fix This,” which features lead vocals by Nicks, fits in perfectly with her other solo material, while Ving, formerly of the legendary punk band Fear, seems to have a blast belting out “Your Wife is Calling.”
Also particularly good is “Mantra,” the track Grohl recorded with Reznor and Homme that closes out the album.
The attempt to get a Beatle to record a grunge song, as is what seems to be the case with McCartney on “Cut Me Some Slack,” is dead on arrival, but it’s amusing to listen to nonetheless.
Definitely check out the “Sound City” documentary when you have a chance, but this musical accompaniment is less than impressive, even given its auspicious beginning cast.
Key Tracks: “You Can’t Fix This,” “A Trick with No Sleeve,” “Mantra”
By Devin Grant