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Songwriter Lineup

Posted on Dec 23, 2019 in Central Square Records , 30A Songwriters Festival , Vinyl Records , January–February 2020

Brandi Carlile and Courtney Marie Andrews perform at Central Square Records as part of the 30A Songwriters Festival in 2019. Photo courtesy Central Square Records

The 30A Songwriters Fest comes to town, plus new artists featured at Central Square Records By Edward Jack Manager, Central Square Records

Central Square Records welcomes in another year with some great new releases, from seasoned songwriters like Leonard Cohen and Allison Moorer to rising new phenoms like Billy Strings. There is certainly something here for everyone. Already some great new music for the new year!

Allison Moorer – “Blood” – “Blood” serves as a musical compendium to Moorer’s staggeringly forceful memoir of the same name, recalling a childhood rich with rural imagery, Southern culture, and unfortunately, unspeakable horror. Moorer, along with her little sister, singer-songwriter Shelby (Lynne), witnessed the murder of their mother by their father, who then took his own life moments later. But “Blood” is not a tell-all chronicle of this traumatic event, and its manifold repercussions, but takes a loftier, meandering route through themes of grief, acceptance, and eventually, hope. From the first track “Bad Weather,” Moorer sets the scene, as if laying out the emotional road map for the journey ahead. But conversely, “The Rock and the Hill” shows Moorer taking her fate in her own hands, and pushing back against the eternal struggle that is her every day. Both memoir and album are hard to separate, one informing the other, but both creating a haunting beauty, experienced by a brave and amazingly descriptive storyteller.

Leonard Cohen – “Thanks For the Dance” – The posthumous album of midnight crooner/poet/sage, Leonard Cohen, was meant be a second chapter of his 2016 album, “You Want It Darker,” according to his son, and co-producer, Adam Cohen. Sadly, Adam had to finish production after his father’s death, but he made decisions based on Leonard’s musical vision for the songs. Leonard made a point of inviting some great guest artists, including Leslie Feist, Beck, Daniel Lanois, and Damien Rice, to name a few. From the lightness of the charming title track, to the heavy-handed tone of “Puppets,” Leonard creates a variety of moods throughout the album. “The Goal,” an older poem of his, now put to music, exhibits the mundane aspects of the ravages of age, though achieving a glimmer of hopeful clarity by the song’s end. “Thanks For the Dance” is a powerful musical in memoriam of a lost father, lovingly curated by an adoring son.

Jon Batiste – “Chronology of A Dream” – Jon Batiste’s follow-up to his critically-acclaimed “Anatomy of Angels,” released earlier this year, finds him in a live setting at New York City’s legendary Village Vanguard. Accompanied by a team of stellar jazz musicians, Batiste settles in nicely on this live date. The loss of trumpeter Roy Hargrove at the beginning of recording sessions in 2018 definitely had its effect on the emotional clime of the album, reflected in a treatment of Hargrove’s own tune, “Soulful.” From the funky opening track “Blacck,” to the crowd-frenzying “Kenner,” Batiste offers up a command performance. Other highlights include the hard-bop soul of “Higher,” and the brass-heavy, “Birthe.”

Billy Strings – “Home” – Blistering young picker Billy Strings flies out of the gate with his riveting sophomore release, “Home,” showcasing new heights of his bluegrass-meets-heavy metal pedigree. Strings gives us a snapshot of where he is musically nowadays, with the help of his backing band, comprised of guitar, bass, and mandolin. His dexterity is beyond superb, and the speed with which he changes directions is nothing short of jaw-dropping. With guest spots from veteran dobro player, Jerry Douglas, and rising sensation, Molly Tuttle, on guitar/ vocals, Billy adds more depth to his songwriting, as evidenced in “Must Be Seven,” and “Love Like Me.” Though known mostly for his white-hot live performances, “Home,” proves that he can make a studio album that is just as captivating.

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