Posted by

Mike Dow Mike Dow
This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it

edge staff writer

Share

Sound Bites: New music from Barenaked Ladies, John Mayer, Ida Mae and more

July 20, 2021
Rate this item
(0 votes)

This week’s new music roundup includes several artists we haven’t heard from in a while and an impressive debut from an artist whose music we’ll be hearing for years to come.

Barenaked Ladies – “Detour De Force” (Raisin’ Record)

It’s been 30 years since this band’s self-released EP “The Yellow Tape” went gold in their native Canada, and they’ve still got it. Barenaked Ladies have just issued one of their most consistent records with “Detour De Force,” one they started before the pandemic and finished after a forced break allowed the songs to evolve. The instantly likable first single “Flip” showcases the group’s trademark quirky wordplay, while “New Disaster” lampoons the mainstream media’s tendency to turn the tiniest molehill into a lava-spewing volcano. Ed Robertson takes most of the lead vocals, but bassist Jim Creegan and keyboardist Kevin Hearn respectively shine on “Paul Chambers” (an ode to the Miles Davis bassist) and “Big Back Yard” (an ode to … big back yards) and on the charming “Bylaw.” Sadly, the excessive compression sucks a lot of the life from the music, but the strength of the material is undeniable.

Cautious Clay – “Deadpan Love” (The Orchard)

This remarkable debut album of contemporary soul is from a former marketing exec who quit his day job a few years ago to go all-in on music. Since then, he’s been sampled by Taylor Swift and invited to work with John Legend. The strength of “Deadpan Love” lies in Clay’s keen melodic sense and his ability to shift gears to keep the album stylistically varied. The sparse opener “High Risk Travel” mixes sweet jazz guitar and bass with Clay’s effortless vocals and a dreamy backing that ends all too soon. In fact, there’s nothing here longer than three minutes and most are closer to two. The slinky slow-funk of “Shook,” the orchestrated soul of “Karma and Friends,” and the casual breeziness of “Artificial Irrelevance,” point to a music lover who grew up listening to a variety of genres. “Wildfire” is delivered with acoustic guitar while acoustic piano accompanies Clay on “Spinner.” “Dying in the Subtlety” essentially warns the listener to not let distractions get in the way of love and friendship while wrapping that message with irresistible hooks.

Ida Mae – “Click Click Domino” (Thirty Tigers)

You like honest roots music that is totally unique but also somehow familiar? Husband and wife Chris Turpin and Stephanie Jean hail from the U.K. but have lived in Nashville since 2019, the year they released their full-length debut. “Click Click Domino” contains a series of musical snapshots that summon the ghosts of Americana in a totally original way. The record opens with the slow-burning “Road to Avalon” and what sounds like a resonator guitar that leads to the swamp-stomp of the title track featuring guest guitarist Marcus King, with whom this duo toured in 2018. Jean’s smoky voice highlights “Little Liars,” a song that notes several degrees of aberrance affecting the world presently, and “Sing a Hallelujah,” about deception in love. King adds further fiery guitar to the otherwise acoustic barnburner “Deep River.” The electric “Mountain Lion Blues” conjures a deep Muddy Waters vibe and “Long Gone & Heartworn,” with guest guitarist Jake Kiszka, is a pedal down blues rocker likely to inspire speeding tickets if you listen while driving.

John Mayer – “Sob Rock” (Columbia)

The album cover, with its throwback design and early-80s “The Nice Price” sticker, are an indication that Mayer is intentionally recalling an earlier era on his first new album in four years. As Mayer said to the Wall Street Journal recently, “There is a security blanket aspect about that sound that reminds me of a safer time.” “Last Train Home” sounds a bit like mid-80s Steve Winwood or Eric Clapton. “New Light” is one of the best songs I’ve heard from Mayer. The intro sounds like the Alan Parsons Project and mixes in some A-ha-like synth stabs before shifting into an irresistible dance groove just after two minutes. “Why You No Love Me” sounds like a long lost mid-70s top-40 ballad in the vein of “Falling” by LeBlanc and Carr. I’m pretty sure Mayer remembers it. To be clear, he’s not stealing from other artists here, only borrowing the vibe, and he applies it expertly to color this batch of songs that evoke the period.

The Wallflowers – “Exit Wounds” (New West Records)

There’s something reassuring about hearing a new Wallflowers album. For their first outing since 2012’s “Glad All Over,” leader Jacob Dylan seems intent on delivering his best batch of songs possible and he mostly succeeds. The album combines mid-tempo rockers like the opening “Maybe Your Heart’s Not in it No More” and “I Hear the Ocean (When I Want to Hear Trains)” with the late hour sounds of “Darlin’ Hold On” and charged rockers like “Who’s That Man Walking ‘Round My Garden?” The lyrics contain a mix of emotions throughout, from self-doubt and fear to hopefulness and joy, with a bit of self-deprecation, like most Wallflowers records. There may not be another “One Headlight” on this album, but he could write one of those in his sleep. Here, he seems to be mostly looking forward, as in the first song when he sings “Whatever was has already been, let this new day do its thing.”

Last modified on Tuesday, 20 July 2021 07:16

Latest from Mike Dow

back to top