I have no idea why one of the best albums of the year is available as a free, legal download on Noisetrade, but it is. You can nab mp3s of Brooke Waggoner’s entire, exquisite album, Originator (click title for review), by entering your email address below. I was just listening to this album again this week in preparation for my year end list – on which it will most certainly appear – and I can’t recommend it enough. You can also watch the videos for my two favorite tracks from the album, “Squint” and “Rumble,” below.
Finally, new music to get excited about! Two weeks into 2013, I’ve been disappointed with the lackluster new releases I’ve heard so far. Then Brooke Waggoner’s Originator blew in like a breath of very fresh air. I’d been anticipating the album since Brooke’s spectacular set at Mountain Stage last November. Originator is set for release on March 5th and it’s an extraordinary collection.
When Brooke performed these songs live, her voice and piano roared with fiery, passionate intensity. Unfortunately, the soft focus production of the album dampens that fire a bit. I’m guessing the goal was to give Originator the same ethereal sound as Brooke’s debut, Go Easy Little Doves, but I preferred Brooke’s unrestrained live performance of these songs. Regardless, Originator is a beautiful, brilliant and absolutely enchanting album.
The opener “Shiftshape” glides, soars, plummets and rises again on gentle jetstreams of piano.
“Rumble” is the standout track with its “my second wind” refrain and thunderous piano crashes layered over bombastic horns and choral voices.
“From The Nest” is a lovely ballad, while “Ink Slinger” is a fantastically frenetic pop song.
“Squint” has the languid atmosphere of a Pink Floyd song….that is, if it were covered by Tori Amos.
The beautifully orchestral “Waterlogged” is a rolling rumination on the ups and downs of life, and “To Love” is the quiet, moody finale.
I keep a “nominations” list throughout each year to help me compile my annual Top Albums lists. Brooke Waggoner’s Originator is the first album to be added to my 2013 Top Albums nominations list.
You can download a free, legal mp3 of “Ink Slinger” at the following link…
Last night’s Mountain Stage featured Carrie Rodriguez, Brooke Waggoner, Trixie Whitley, Iris Dement and Bruce Cockburn. With such a powerhouse lineup, it’s no surprise the show sold out before the doors even opened.
Carrie Rodriguez’ 2008 Mountain Stage set was one of the best concerts I’ve ever attended, so I was excited to see her return to my beloved venue. No one woman should be as pretty and gifted as Carrie Rodriguez. Her face and voice are equally gorgeous, her songwriting is top-notch and she’s a multi-instrumental virtuoso. She was accompanied last night by a single guitarist, Luke Jacobs.
Carrie opened with the high energy “Devil in Mind,” playing her violin like a rock guitar. She followed that with the mellow, swaying song “Lake Harriet,” which she called her “ode to the Minnesota man.” The beautiful love song “Get Back in Love,” a tribute to her guitarist’s parents, was the highlight of her set. Carrie asked the Mountain Stage band to join her for her new single, “I Cry For Love,” and ended with the sweet ballad “I Don’t Mind Waiting.”
Carrie Rodriguez’ fifth full-length solo album, Give Me All You Got, will be released January 22, 2013. You can download the new single, “Lake Harriet,” by signing up for Carrie’s email list at her website and watch the video below.
Julie Adams and the Mountain Stage band took a turn covering Ron Sexsmith’s lovely “Speaking With The Angel.”
Brooke Waggoner, a striking redhead in a bright red dress and black boots, took the stage and piano next. I loved Brooke’s sophomore album, Go Easy Little Doves, but had never seen the classically trained singer-pianist in concert before. I had tickets to see her at Mountain Stage in the winter of 2010, but a snow storm canceled the show. I’m so glad Brooke chose to visit earlier in the season this time.
Brooke has one of those rare, flawless voices that sounds exactly the same live as it does recorded. Her voice and melodies have an unusually haunting and delicate quality to them, yet she’s not afraid to add a dark edge to certain songs.
Brooke and her band blasted the stage like it was a rock arena. This girl is going to be a huge star. At least, she should be. She played all new songs from her upcoming album, each more astounding than the last. It was like someone put the best, most impressive elements of Little Earthquakes-era Tori Amos and The Dresden Dolls-era Amanda Palmer into a blender. She was my favorite act of the night and I wish she’d played an extended set.
Brooke Waggoner’s next album, Originator, will be released in early 2013. You can download the first single, “Ink Slinger, at Rolling Stone.
Belgian singer Trixie Whitley had no difficulty following in Brooke’s wake. Trixie is a jack-all-trades kind of artist, having been an actor, dancer, DJ and musician. Her recording resume reads like a Who’s Who of the music industry, with names like Me’shell Ndegeocello, Robert Plant and Marianne Faithfull. Trixie was by far the most entertaining member of Black Dub when I saw them perform at Mountain Stage in 2010 and one of the standout covers on the recent Fleetwood Mac tribute.
Trixie opened with an atmospheric piano melody before picking up an electric guitar for the harder “Gradual Return,” a rock song with almost psychedelic riffs. She switched to an acoustic guitar for a bluesy ballad about a Mexican town, then slid back behind the piano for the love song finale, “I Breath You in My Dreams.” Every song was completely different, yet equally captivating. Trixie’s soulful, versatile voice rivals Adele.
As I posted last month, Trixie is offering a free, legal EP download via Noisetrade (see the end of this review) and her solo debut, Fourth Corner, will be released January 29, 2013.
Strangely, Grammy-winning folk singer Iris Dement was probably the most famous of the performers and the one whose music I was least familiar with. She counts among her fans and collaborators Merle Haggard, John Prine, David Byrne, Natalie Merchant and the Coen Brothers. Her songs have been featured in various television shows and movies, and she herself played a small role in the film Songcatcher. But, to put it politely, her lengthy, dry banter and high pitched whine were not my cup of tea. The older folks in the audience seemed to like it, but I wasn’t the only younger person in the crowd yawning and checking my watch.
Thankfully, Mountain Stage pianist Bob Thompson soothed my frayed nerves with “Stardust.”
Finally, Bruce Cockburn. I’ve seen the Canadian folk master perform at Mountain Stage so many times over the years, I’ve lost count (last night was his 13th time at the venue). But it’s never enough.
As quiet and unassuming as the man is, there is no question that Bruce Cockburn and his music are legendary. I often wonder why Cockburnesque isn’t as overused a musical adjective as Dylanesque, but then I can’t think of any artist that can be compared to Bruce Cockburn. His live performances are even better than his recordings. There’s just something so likable about his humble demeanor and so captivating about his folk songs.
Bruce started with an older instrumental, then played “Call Me Rose” from his most recent album, Small Source of Comfort. He closed with the quaking, gut-renching “Put it in Your Heart.”
Brooke Waggonor and Trixie Whitley were the only performers of the night who didn’t stick around for the group finale. Carrie Rodriguez, Iris Dement and Bruce Cockburn joined host Larry Groce and the Mountain Stage band for a cover of “If I Prove False To Thee.”
Go Easy Little Doves is the sophomore album from Nashville singer-songwriter Brooke Waggoner. Brooke self-produced the album, which features twelve songs she wrote over the span of a decade. The lengthy creative time certainly paid off, resulting in an unusually beautiful artistic work.
The album opens with two instrumentals – “Query” and “Ruminate” – before melting into the title track.
“Go Easy Little Doves, I’ll Be Fine” gracefully glides through gentle verses and a haunting string-accented chorus with echoing vocals. The song falls somewhere between Kate Bush and Fleetwood Mac, and I love it.
The title of the delicate “Meek, Wild” aptly describes the entire album. Brooke’s voice is often a quiet hush, yet there’s a fierceness to it.
“Femmes” is a great example of this juxtaposition of softness and ferocity, combining Bat For Lashes tribal beats with Medieaval Baebes chants.
Other songs, such as “Find Her Floods” and “Wish for Bridges,” layer Brooke’s ethereal voice over serene string arrangements. The sprawling piano and Julee Cruise crooning of “Body” would’ve fit perfectly in an episode of Twin Peaks.
Brooke will perform live at Mountain Stage on February 7th, along with Juliana Hatfield, The Watson Twins, Dashboard Confessional, and Clare & The Reasons. I think it’ll be a great show.
I was not granted permission to share an mp3, but you can hear samples at the links below.