Six tracks to banish the blues
Whether or not you’re heading to the festival, check out these cuts by the weekend’s performers.
“Rebel Rebel” — Jimmy Cliff
The original Jamaican bard has had an illustrious career as the island’s go-to songsmith. But with his 2012 release, Rebirth, Cliff moved more toward the sentimental. Digging deep to his Jamaican roots and laying borderline radical lyrics over a heavy-hearted acoustic track, Cliff seriously delivers on one of his all-time best.
“I Like the Things About Me” — Mavis Staples
Staples has always been an enigma. While she is well known around the world for her powerful voice and relentless bravado, she has never experienced the commercial success that one would expect of such a household name. On her newest release, Jeff Tweedy (Wilco) returned to produce many of the albums tracks, including this perfect old-school soul gem.
“Wiser Time” — The Black Crowes
This Southern-rock outfit has always shown a proclivity for bone-deep grooves that rarely rely on anything other than pure, unshakeable rhythm. Sure, usually it fails, (“Then She Said My Name”) but other times it works spectacularly. Just like Faces before them, The Black Crowes hit that perfect balance with their biggest hit. Ronnie Wood would be proud.
“Have a Little Faith in Me” — John Hiatt From 1987 onward, Hiatt has received the recognition he has firmly deserved, which includes accolades for being one of the greatest singer-songwriters of his generation. While he’s no Dylan or Prine, Hiatt definitely crafted one of the greatest and, more importantly, most sincere songs in rock with this 1987 instant classic.
“Song for Zula” — Phosphorescent
I’ve always found alternative-country to be precariously labelled. This is because alternative-country — and Phosphorescent, the moniker for singer-songwriter Matthew Houck — seem to align closer with the original country aesthetic than any mainstream artist does. For that reason, “Song for Zula” is a perfect reintroduction into sincere, back to basics country balladry.
“Runaway” — Samantha Fish
The hypnotic, rolling stomp of “Runaway” is one of Fish’s very best achievements. Working just outside of a 12-bar blues template, she delivers a raucous, blues-y performance that even Bonnie Raitt would be jealous of. Fish, while relatively unknown, is definitely an artist to watch.