New Releases, Oct. 26: Taylor Swift, Bryan Ferry, Buddy Guy, more
Two tracks from Taylor Swift's new album, "Speak Now," have received attention for their subject matter. She's upset by things -- a broken heart and some criticism -- and she's going for the jugular in "Dear John" and "Mean." Speculation is that the "John" also responds to "Mr. Mayer" and a few Internet ranters are wondering if they are the person she obliquely refers to in "Mean."
It's all signs of Taylor positioning herself as her own woman, an artist less beholden to behind-the-scenes power-mongers . She even takes a stand by issuing her bio in the first person voice noting that she is 20, has her own kitchen and that she likes quilts. But in doing so, she produces an ADD-riddled collection of random notes that make her sound more juvenile than ever.
What does she tell us? Swift LOVES Nashville, the capital letters being all hers. She drives a Toyota, her lucky number is 13, she's a Sagittarius and has a Christmas-themed birthday party every year. These facts are randomly gleaned from different sections of her bio. No, these facts all live in one paragraph, nonsequitors stitched together, I'm guessing here, like a quilt. Remember? She loves quilts.
"Love is a tricky business," she goes on to say. She is "beyond obsessed" with winter, loves sparkles and grocery shopping and really old cats. After a thousand words, she notes that she has spent two years writing and recording an album called "Speak Now"
Apparently it's a non-fiction album. Taylor writes, "Some of the things I wrote about are things everyone saw me go through. Some of the things I wrote about are things nobody ever knew about. I'm beyond excited for you to hear these stories and confessions."
She also loves having the last word.
Other albums of note:
Bryan Ferry, "Olympia" (Astralwerks)
Co-produced by the Roxy Music lead singer and Rhett Davies, "Olympia" features Ferry working with his old Roxy mates Brian Eno, Phil Manzanera and Andy Mackay for the first time since 1973's "For Your Pleasure." Other musical contributors include Nile Rodgers, David Gilmour, Marcus Miller, Flea and Jonny Greenwood. Besides eight new songs, Ferry covers Tim Buckley's "Song To the Siren" and Traffic's "No Face, No Name, No Number." He collaborates with Scissor Sisters on "Heartache By Numbers" and Groove Armada on "Shameless."
Buddy Guy, "Living Proof" (Jive)
Guy's album cover refers to his age, his childhood home and the size of a standard bottle of wine (750 ml). The "Proof,"you have to speculate is 200 -- or 100% guitar-driven blues. Guy is out to tell stories with words -- the album opens with the autobiographical "74 Years Young," which is followed by one about his youth in Louisiana -- and his guitar. B.B. King and Carlos Santana appear as guests on separate tracks.
Warpaint, "The Fool" (Beggar's Banquet)
The all-girl quartet from Los Angeles has gained a significant following in their hometown and touring the U.S. and Europe with the xx, Band of Horses, Yeasayer and the Walkmen. The L.A. Weekly says the album is "dark and pretty and kinda Goth"; Consequence of Sound hailed it as "a genre record for a genre that doesn't exist." The band is Emily Kokal (vocals/guitar), Theresa Wayman (guitar/vocals), Jenny Lee Lindberg (bass/vocals) and Stella Mozgawa (drums).
Henry Threadgill's Zooid, "This Brings Us To, Vol II" (Pi)
The first volume of this project was one of the best reviewed jazz albums of the year, landing in the Top Five of year-end polls at Down Beat, Jazz Times and the Village Voice. The recording with Liberty Ellman on acoustic guitar, Jose Davila on trombone and tuba, Stomu Takeishi on acoustic bass guitar, and Elliot Humberto Kavee on drums took place after they returned to New York from a long European tour. The two volumes also represent the two sets that the band performed on that tour.
Johnny Flynn, "Been Listening" (Transgressive/Thirty Tigers)
The British singer/songwriter's second album was released in the U.K. in May and greeted with a Mojo review that pegged him as "a promising homegrown talent with an impressive lyrical reach." Flynn expands on his English folk style by incorporating subtle African and American R&B influences. The album features a duet with Laura Marling, "The Water."
Ray Charles, "Rare Genius: The Undiscovered Masters" (Concord)
Newly discovered recordings, highlighted by a 1981 duet with Johnny Cash, fill "Rare Genius," a collection of 10 gems culled from four decades of demos and other previously unreleased material. To flesh out the recordings, Concord brought in a crack band that included guitarist Keb' Mo', organist Bobby Sparks, drummer Gregg Field and singer Eric Benet.
Jason D. Williams, "Killer Instincts" (Rockabilly Records)
Todd Snider and Jason D. Williams abandoned their plan after entering the studio and started making up songs on the spot to create a rockabilly free-for-all. Williams, heavily inspired by Jerry Lee Lewis, not only pumps the keyboards, but the wit as well.
Brian Bonz, "The Triborough Odyssey" (Triple Crown Records)
KEXP picked Bonz as "the best of Brooklyn's experimental rock scene."
Hubert Nuss, "The Book of Colours" (Pirouet Records)
An in-demand pianist in his native Germany, Nuss takes a painterly approach on 16 tunes with his trio.
Jethro Tull, "Stand Up" Collector's Edition (Capitol/EMI)
A 2CD/DVD package includes the remastered original 1969 album, three tracks recorded during the band's first U.S. tour, the singles "Living In The Past" and "Sweet Dream," and four songs from sessions for John Peel's "Top Gear" BBC Radio program. The second disc is an edited version of Jethro Tull's 1970 Carnegie Hall concert. The DVD contains the unedited concert audio in 5.1 surround sound. Ian Anderson penned the liner notes for the 12-page booklet; the packaging reinstates the original vinyl LP's pop-up element.
More new releases:
Devon Allman's Honeytribe, "Space Age Blues" (Provogue)
Jeff Beck, "Live and Exclusive from the Grammy Museum" (Atco)
William Orbit, "Pieces in a Modern Style 2" (Decca)
Kermit Ruffins, "Happy Talk" (Basin Street)