Some Kind of Comfort
Ah, love. Loves lost, loves never meant to be—all loves, all the time, bring Los Angeles-based singer-songwriter Jay Nash solace on his latest effort Some Kind of Comfort.
In collaboration with his normal lineup, as well as a few guests, Nash brings a sweet and hopeful outlook to songs like “Eleanor” and a sense of broken-hearted romanticism to “Breathe Easier”: “Do you miss me when I’m gone, or do you breathe a little easier?”
The album, Nash’s fifth, was recorded in December 2004 in Hollywood in a nonstop 48-hour session. Finally released in November 2005, the finished product finds Nash teetering at times on the edge of cliché; lines like “On the road you feel just like Jack Kerouac” make eyes roll. His voice makes up for some of the schlock. It’s an instrument reminiscent of Bruce Springsteen on “Oogly Boogly” and of Bob Dylan on “High on the Hill,” the latter complete with harmonica and cocaine references.
All told, Nash achieves a mellow and satisfying tone throughout. Whether singing of love or life’s indulgences, his lyrics tell stories to which anyone can relate, backed with soulful vocals and soothing musicianship. (Ashley Brittner)
Jay Nash plays The Other Side Saturday, Feb. 4, at 9 PM. $6/$8 for under 21.
Ashes and Coals
Slosh Tone Records
Only a performer of the rarest talent can get away with releasing an album featuring just himself playing a single instrument. Former Missoulian Ivan Rosenberg’s mastery of the resophonic guitar, or Dobro, and his wellspring of melodies allow him to do more than just get away with it—he moves his instrument’s long tradition forward on Ashes and Coals, his third release.
Rosenberg here rethinks the role of the Dobro within American string music. The instrument made its bluegrass debut in 1955 when Josh Graves joined Lester Flatt and Earl Scrugg and the Foggy Mountain Boys. Using Graves’ three-finger picking style as a jumping-off point, Rosenberg takes listeners on a stripped-down and affecting instrumental journey. The result is rip-your-heart-out beautiful, more emotional than anything Dobro virtuoso Jerry Douglas has ever done.
Despite Rosenberg’s platform, he doesn’t show off—rather, he takes the opportunity to express complex and colorful arrangements that never sound busy or melodramatic. Both respectful and innovative, Rosenberg’s explorations should prove crucial to the evolution of his instrument. (Caroline Keys)
Coals and Ashes is available online at www.ivanrosenberg.com.
If You Didn’t Laugh, You’d Cry
Yep Roc Records
Since debuting in 1998, Marah has been lumped into the same company as the E Street Band. Those comparisons may finally be tired out.
Yes, there’s a certain throaty fervor to some of the vocals, a big unleashed sound that’s half-garage, half-arena, with a harmonica that pops up in some of the more memorable songs (“Walt Whitman Bridge” in particular). But the former Philadelphia fivesome that now calls Brooklyn home is less Springsteen-ish than ever before on its seventh release. Here, Marah’s decided to flash a bit of Simon and Garfunkel (“City of Dreams”), some gruff Keith Richards guitar riffs (“The Demon of White Sadness”), a few lyrical Dylanisms (“The Dishwasher’s Dreams”), and a touch of Graham Parker (“The Closer”). Combined with the rest, the album finally adds up to a sound that’s comfortably all its own.
If You Didn’t Laugh, You’d Cry captures the same recklessness as the band’s popular 2000 release Kids in Philly, and 2004’s 20,000 Streets Under the Sky—but better. Released at the end of last year, it was reportedly recorded in nine days with no more than three takes for each song, and that sort of let-it-fly attitude comes through in the dense, unrefined and multilayered arrangements; it ain’t always clean, but it’s complex and, more than anything, authentic. (Skylar Browning)
Singles & Sessions 1979-81
Kill Rock Stars
Delta 5 emerged from 1970s leftist quarters in Leeds, England after their contemporaries, The Mekons and Gang of Four, were already crossbreeding disco with political commentary charged by the alienation of everyday life. All three bands gigged together, shared members and at one time or another were accused of communism by show-crashing Sieg Heilers.
Delta 5’s recently released Singles & Sessions 1979-81 includes previously unreleased live recordings at Berkeley Square and some 1980 John Peel sessions. It’s a snapshot of a band that, aside from gender (three women was unusual in boy’s-club British punk) distinguished itself with postmodern songs about isolation in love rather than in politics. In “Mind Your Own Business,” the first and boldest track, Julz Sale is devoid of emotion as she sings “Can I have a taste of your ice cream?/Can I interfere in your crisis?/No! Mind your own business.” It’s a comical and weirdly personal-as-political commentary that’s reflected in the fragmented cacophony of guitar solos skipping across a landscape of dance beats. Though some tracks fade away without impression, the sardonic disco style is something to be experienced, as a lesson in punk-pop history, if nothing else. (Erika Fredrickson)