New Music for Old People: Elvis Costello, Mayer Hawthorne, John Martyn and More

By , Columnist

Mayer Hawthorne

This column is like the title says - its intention is to fill the gap for those of us who were satiated musically in the '60s and then searched desperately as we aged for music we could relate to and get the same buzz from nowadaze. iTunes was the answer for me in 2003 and I have been following the new releases every Tuesday ever since I realized there was an endless stream of music I could enjoy there.

I also include older items that I felt were obscure originally and might not have been heard back then. The reason I am writing this column is to make sure others don't miss this wonderful music. These are not top ten items; but they SHOULD'VE been!

Below is a jukebox containing all the songs I picked this week. After you read about them below, go back and listen to whatever you like by just clicking on that title in the jukebox, or stream the whole playlist by clicking on the "play" icon at the top. It's free and it's the entire song. We're not selling anything. We're just in the business of hopefully making your days better by listening to great music.

1. "The Walk" — Mayer Hawthorne (3:39)

There has been a noticeable, unusual rise in entry-level blue-eyed soul artists. I would say that Mayer here leads the charge as I could not find one button-pusher on his entire album. That is extremely rare for me. He has a wonderful understanding of this now-antique music and was surely a student from an early age. This is his sophomore release and it is twice as good as his first. There are others that bear watching like Allen Stone, Eli Reed, and James Maddock. It warms the cockles of my heart to hear newcomers embracing my favorite music again. This is Hawthorne's first single and it smacks of Chess legend Billy Stewart. I wish you the best, Mr. Hawthorne!

2. "Let the Good Times Roll" — Ben Rector (3:06)

No, it’s not The Cars, Shirley & Lee, Ray Charles or any other cover but a new song with the oft-used title. A pretty well-done track other than the fake studio audience ambience. Ben’s been getting good street talk as a fledgling singer/songwriter and I don’t think this will hurt his rep. And remember, Ben Wrecked Her - I didn’t.

3. "Lovin' Arms" — Dobie Gray (2:54)

dobie-gray.pngFrom his hit-laden “Drift Away” period in the early '70s, this track always stood out to me. Paul Williams' talented brother, Mentor, produced Dobie in this time period, writing many of the songs. This one was written by the late folkie Tom Jans, but it is surely the definitive version of that song. With guitarist Reggie Young adding truly tasteful guitar twirls throughout, it is as pleasant on the ear as Dobie’s amazing voice. I feel it got lost back then but that its timelessness will prevail here and now and forever.

4. "Voices Talkin'" — Jeffrey Foucault (2:58)

This is a year old. With Dave Stewart playing catch-up to Keef, Mick couldn’t get this across in Super Heavy, but Jeffrey does it seemingly effortlessly. This is also a hats off to original Stones producer Andrew Lou Goldman (as I call him) who is well emulated here. If ya like the classic Stones, you’re gonna love this and you can investigate the rest of Foucault’s catalogue stretching back to the millennium.

5. "Beautiful" — KJ Denhert (3:26)

With the passing of Phoebe Snow last year, a few people, reluctantly, moved up a notch. Not that these two are really comparable, but they’re in the same ballpark and a little more space was made for KJ. The important part is that Phoebe’s fans need to hear her body of work. She lives in upstate New York, has garnered many awards over the years - here and across the sea as well. But she needs to play Newport Jazz or Folk in Phoebe’s place on a bill and steal the show as I am confident she would. And she is a marvelous ‘character,’ as Phoebe was, but I’ll just shut up now and let you listen to just a smidgen of what this remarkable woman can do. This is from her seventh album, Lucky 7, released in 2008. Her most recent album is called Nine.

6. "Blue Harvest" — Pinback (2:48)

“The band that buries the vocals” is back. Musically, this is pretty fabulous. I have NO IDEA what it’s like lyrically 'cause I cannot make out most of the words; however, it’s an interesting enough voyage musically to keep me coming back for more. If you like this, you will enjoy all their work. They have their own style, albeit reminiscent now and then of other artists, but merged into a cohesive musical style that I quite enjoy. They rarely let me down other than driving me freaking nuts with their buried pin-backed vocals.

7. "This Love of Ours" — John Cate & the Van Gogh Brothers (3:09)

This was released February, 2010. John is originally from Liverpool, but has spent much time in the US. The Van Gogh Brothers are a fun name for him and partner Paul Candilore who is mostly Boston-based. They love to play and record and this track testifies to that. It reminds me a little of NRBQ, and it is nicely produced. It owes a lot to the past and that's not a bad thing.

8. "Angeline (Live)" — John Martyn (4:06)

John passed away in the last year after a gigantic career. If you’re not familiar with his work, this is a great place to start. His voice contains pain and sorrow when neccesary, and joyousness when called for. His live vocal is phenomenal and soooo soulful. His guitar playing, held back until his song-ending solo, equals his vocal. If passionate is what you’re looking for, look no further.

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9. "Give the Devil Back His Heart" — The Barr Brothers (4:43)

This is a totally original track with two great tips of the hat as well. The intro to the guitar solo is pure middle-period Who/Townshend flaring and the guitar solo itself smiles at Roger McGuinn’s work on “Eight Miles High.” The groove bounces between 4/4 and 6/4 accents and has great guitar figures in the verses. Great recorded work as far as I’m concerned and I can’t wait to see them live in Boston December 1.

10. "When Green Eyes Turn Blue" — Elvis Costello (4:03)

Who knew when I was enjoying “Tiny Steps,” “Alison,” and “So Like Candy” that THAT guy could sing like THIS? I guess that amazing Bacharach album was a real tipoff, but there’s no Burt to count on here. Elvis wrote the song, the arrangements and co-produced this inclusion from the 2003 North album. Kevin Killen was his producing partner and engineered and mixed this brilliantly. Someday, I wanna hear him duet with Tony Bennett on this song. Meanwhile I’m content hearing him Krall-ing around on this version. And a sumptuous way to calm down this week's shenanigans as well. Will I see you in November? Happy Halloween!

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