Husband and wife musical duo Faith & Branko is scheduled to release its new album, Duhovi next month through World Music Network and Riverboat Records.
In anticipation of its release, the couple premiered the record’s new single, ‘Techno‘ Friday. The song’s premiere comes more than a week after the pair premiered the single’s video. The video features the duo and its fellow musicians in a small countryside farm, performing the new single as local residents dance along to the music, which plays over the visualization.
The fully instrumental arrangement is a fun, infectious composition that blends elements of rock, ska, funk and the group’s own ethnic musical influences for a whole that is wholly unique and so engaging and entertaining.
Duhovi is scheduled for release Feb. 24. More information on Faith & Branco’s new album, single and video is available along with all of the couple’s latest news at:
Music from regions of the world other than America sadly do not get the attention that it deserves. More often than not, said music only gets attention on public radio. Audiences who give music from other parts of the world will find that it offers its own unique appeal and in turn grow as true fans of music. To that end, World Music deserves its own year-ender list just as much as music in any other category. That list is what is presented here from Phil’s Picks.
This year’s list features music from America, the Caribbean, Isreal, Sweden and other nation around the world. There is even a record from an artist who is originally from Algeria but currently lives in Switzerland. Simply put, the sounds of the world offer so much for audiences to appreciate just as much this year as the sounds of every genre across the musical universe.
As with each list from Phil’s Picks, this list features the year’s top 10 albums from the noted category and five additional honorable mention titles, for a total of 15 records. Each brings its own appeal and honor, so there is no intent to dishonor any one act and title in comparison to the others. This should be kept in mind. Without any further ado here is Phil’s Picks’ 2022 Top 10 New World Music Albums.
PHIL’S PICKS 2022 TOP 10 NEW WORLD MUSIC ALBUMS
Itzhak Ventura – Aligned
Danilo Perez – Crisalida
Anouar Kaddour Cherif – Djawla
Kolonien – To The Forest
Wesli — Tradisyon
Joe Rainey – Niineta
World Music Network – The Rough Guide to the Music of Yunnan
Playing For Change Band – The Real Revolution
Rakesh Chaurasia and Purbayan Chatterjee – Saath Saath
Russ Hewitt – Chasing Horizons
Mista Savona – Havana Meets Cuba Part 2
Putumayo World Music – World Chill
Slavo Rican Assembly – Intercosmic
Aliaksandr Yasinski – Hylbini
Lucretia Dalt – Ay
Having taken a musical trip around the world once more this year, now it’s on to the year’s top new independent albums and then overall albums. With any luck, before the last seconds of the year tick away, Phil’s Picks will also have some content regarding hew TV and movie releases this year. Time will tell. Stay tuned!
Delta Blues is one of the greatest sub-genres of the blues what with the simplicity of a singer alone with a guitar, the soulful singing and the richness of the lone guitar. This past April, World Music Network paid tribute to the realm of Delta Blues and the artists who made it so popular in its infancy through its compilation record, The Rough Guide to Delta Blues Vol. 2. The 26-song record is hardly the first of its kind of World Music Network, having come 20 years after the company released the collection’s predecessor. Other compilations featuring well-known Delta Blues artists, such as Charley Patton, Robert Johnson, and Blind Boy Fuller have all come along since, too. To that end, fans of the blues and Delta Blues have gotten plenty of Delta Blues music since the release of that first Delta Blues compilation. That aside, the set presented here is enjoyable in its own right. That is due in large part to its featured songs, which will be discussed shortly. The liner notes that accompany the set’s musical content add to the engagement and will be addressed a little later. The record’s production rounds out its most important elements and will also be examined later. Each item noted here is important in its own way to the whole of the compilation. All things considered they make the set yet another enjoyable addition to WMN’s ongoing The Rough Guide To… series of compilations.
The Rough Guide to Delta Blues Volume 2 is an enjoyable new collection of Delta Blues from World Music Network. It is a presentation that will appeal equally to fans od Delta Blues and blues alike. That is due in large part to its featured songs. The songs that make up the compilation’s body come from a time period when Delta Blues were really gaining popularity among American audiences. The earliest of the songs featured in the set were recorded in 1928, which would have been just past the infancy of the genre’s popularity. From there, the songs span a time frame reaching all the way to 1940, a point at which Delta Blues really had gained real traction among audiences. What’s more, the songs featured are from names that many listeners might not know. They include the likes of Mississippi Matilda, Rube Lacey, and and Jelly Jaw Short. At the same time, others, such as Son House, Tommy Johnson, and Memphis Minnie, perhaps the most well-known female Delta Blues singer of all time. So basically, what audiences get from this collection of songs is a history lesson of sorts. It is another nice addition to the ongoing history of the genre that WMN has been presenting for years.
The musical content featured in The Rough Guide to Delta Blues Volume 2 forms a solid foundation for the compilation and is just one part of what makes the set worth hearing. The liner notes that accompany the musical content add their own share of interest to the presentation. The liner notes open by pointing out the role that race played in the popularity of Delta Blues early on, making for a starting point on discussions centered on said topic. The history lesson also points out the supposed birthplace of the genre, Clarksdale, Mississippi and the Dockery Plantation. The apparent rise, fall and then resurgence of the genre’s popularity in the 1960s also gets a mention in the liner notes, making for a starting point for another discussion in itself on a separate topic. There is even a mention of the role of women in the blues community as part of the liner notes, a starting point for yet another discussion. All things considered here, the liner notes featured in this collection strengthen the foundation formed by the record’s content and make for even more engagement and entertainment.
For all that the primary and secondary content does to make this set engaging and entertaining, there is still one more item to note in examining the presentation. That item is the record’s production. The production is, as always, so notable because of the audio quality. Once again, the static that was so audible on the recordings’ original vinyl releases cuts through so nicely here. There is no loss at any point, either. To that end, the CD presentation here sounds just like it was a vinyl release, further showing that vinyl will never replace CDs. Keeping that in mind along with the positive impact of the record’s overall content, the whole makes this set yet another positive addition to this year’s field of new blues records and another positive addition to World Music Network’s ongoing The Rough Guide To… series of compilations.
The Rough Guide to Delta Blues Volume 2, the latest blues compilation from World Music Network, is another positive offering from the record label that blues fans across the board will enjoy. The record’s success comes in large part through its featured musical content. That is because of the picture that the arrangements paint and the history that they present in themselves. The liner notes that accompany the record’s content add their own appeal to the whole because they add even more history to the presentation. The production of the record once again makes the collection just as enjoyable in its general effect as any vinyl record. Each item examined is important in its own way to the whole of the compilation. All things considered they make the set one more welcome offering for blues fans from World Music Network’s ongoing The Rough Guide To… series of compilations.
The Rough Guide to Delta Blues Volume 2 is available now. More information on this and other titles from World Music Network is available online at:
Late this past May, World Music Network partnered with the German record label, Galileo, to release its latest compilation of music centered on the Jewish community in the form of The Rough Guide to Jewish Music. The 18-song collection is an interesting new offering focused on the music and culture of the Jewish community. That is due in part through its featured arrangements, which will be discussed shortly. While the musical content that makes up the record’s body is important to its presentation, the set is not perfect. That is because there are no English translations for any of the songs that feature lyrics. This will be discussed a little later. While the lack of English translations for the lyrics is problematic, it is not enough of an issue to doom the set. To that end, there is still one other positive in the form of the record’s liner notes. The liner notes that accompany the record’s musical content make for their own interest and will be addressed a little later. Each item noted is important in its own way to the whole of the compilation. All things considered they make the set yet another engaging and entertaining addition to WMN’s ongoing The Rough Guide To… compilation series.
The Rough Guide To Jewish Music is a simply-titled new presentation from World Music Network, but as simple as its title is, the 18-song record is anything but simple. That is proven in part through the record’s musical content. From beginning to end, the arrangements are anything but what audiences would think of when they think of Jewish music. Yes, there are some arrangements featured here that have that familiar violin and clarinet-based instrumentations, but they are few and far between. Rather, the arrangements take listeners on a trip around the world, showing the reach of the Jewish community and its culture. Right from the record’s outset, audiences are treated to what sounds like a Spanish-infused composition in ‘Adio Kerida.’ Roughly translated, the title means ‘Bye, Dear.’ That would make sense, what with the mention of a corazon (or heart in English) and some of the other content that can be translated here. The somber mood of the arrangement adds to the sense that this song is about a broken relationship. The distinct vocal style and the use of the strings are what really bring out the Jewish influence here alongside the more familiar Spanish leaning. It makes for an interesting start to the set, especially being that it gives way to the much more familiar Jewish style composition that is ‘Tornado Albastru’ next. As the record progresses, audiences are eventually taken on a trip to Egypt in ‘El Rey Nimrod.’ The vocal styling and instrumentation here make that influence fully audible. It is one of the compilation’s most notable entries. On yet another note, audiences get a piece that exhibits some perhaps eastern European influence even later in ‘Shalom Aleykhem.’ That is made clear through the use of the string arrangement, accordion and vocals. There is almost a certain Romanian gypsy influence here. Meanwhile the use of what sounds like a recorder alongside it all adds the slightest Renaissance influence to make for an overall composition that is unique in its own right. Right from there, the compilation takes audiences back to the Middle East, in ‘Sien Drahmas Al Dia.’ Translated from Judeo-Spanish, the song’s title means ‘One Hundred Drachmas A Day’. Apparently, the song is another love song of sorts sung from a woman’s standpoint, wanting her love interest to break away from his mother. It is a fiery composition, too, which would make sense considering the noted apparent lyrical theme here. When this arrangement and the others examined here are considered along with the rest of the record’s entries, the overall musical presentation makes for a wonderful examination of the reach of Jewish music around the world.
While the musical content that makes up the body of The Rough Guide to Jewish Music is pivotal to its appeal, the record is not perfect. As noted, there are not English translations for any of the songs featured here with vocals. The end result is that audiences have to hunt down the songs and try to find said translations for themselves in hopes that those translations exist. This can be somewhat time consuming depending on the song and what may or may not be available. To that end, this is unquestionably problematic to the record’s presentation. It is not enough to doom the record but is still enough of an issue to address.
Knowing that the lack of English translations in this collection is problematic but not enough so that it makes the record a failure, there is still one more positive to note. That positive is the background on the songs provided through the record’s liner notes. The liner notes point out right from their outset that the purpose of this compilation was not so much to focus on Jewish music but rather to examine “the value of cross-cultural exchange.” That is done so well by showing the ties of Jewish music with that of so many nations around the world. A very brief but concise introduction is also offered for some of the acts whose work is part of that overall body. It is a start for any listeners who otherwise might not have known who any of them were, coming into the record. As part of those introductions, the liner notes also point out the influences in the arrangements, adding a little bit more depth to the presentation. The end result of that information is a nice accent to the presentation that when paired with the collection’s primary content, makes for even more appeal among audiences. That is even considering the lack of English translations for the songs anywhere in the booklet.
The Rough Guide to Jewish Music is a presentation that is certain to appeal to a wide range of World Music fans. That is proven largely through its featured musical arrangements. The arrangements take traditional Jewish sounds and styles and blends them with influences from the music and culture of so many other nations and their peoples. While the record’s musical content does so much to make the collection engaging and entertaining, the lack of any English lyrical translations for the songs does notably detract from the presentation. It is not enough to make the record a failure, though, but definitely is still problematic. Moving back to the positive, the record’s liner notes work with the musical content here to make for more engagement. That is because of the brief but concise background that the notes offer for the acts whose music is featured throughout. Each item examined is important in its own way to the whole of the compilation’s presentation. All things considered they make the record another interesting and mostly enjoyable offering from World Music Network.
The Rough Guide to Jewish Music is available now. More information on this and other titles from World Music Network is available online at:
World Music Network has for years, taken listeners around the world, musically, time and time again, offering up music from so many nations. From the roots of American music to the music of Europe’s various nations and those of Asia. That ongoing worldwide musical trip continues Friday as the label takes audiences to China’s Yunnan province in The Rough Guide to The Music of Yunnan. The 19-song record is yet another interesting addition to the company’s ongoing The Rough Guide To… compilation series that will appeal not only to ethnomusicologists but to anyone who has any interest in the music and cultures of the region (and of other nations in general). That is due in no small part to its featured songs, which will be examined shortly. As much as the record’s primary content does to make it appealing, it is not perfect. The lack of English translations for the songs with lyrical content detracts notably from the record’s presentation. This will be discussed a little later. Even without those translations, the record’s companion booklet still adds to the listening experience through its featured liner notes. This will also be addressed later. Each item noted is important in its own way to the whole of the recording. All things considered they make the record yet another interesting addition to this year’s field of new World Music offerings.
The Rough Guide to The Music of Yunnan is yet another interesting addition to World Music Network’s ongoing The Rough Guide To… compilation series that will appeal to a wide range of audiences. The record’s appeal comes in part through its featured musical arrangements. From beginning to end, the songs featured in this song offer audiences touches of traditional music from China’s Yunnan province and some modern compositions. Audiences get a dose of that traditional music right from the compilation’s outset in the form of ‘Bi Lang Dao Gu Diao.’ According to the liner notes, the song is an ancient traditional song that is played on what is known as a Dai gourd pipe. A Dai gourd pipe is a type of flute that is in fact made in part with a gourd. It is played like a flute, believe it or not. The richness of the sound is so haunting, but in such a beautiful, immersive fashion. The song is a fully instrumental composition that paints such a rich picture of the Yunnan province in listeners’ minds as they take in the tones of the flute. One of the more unique of the record’s modern songs comes less than halfway through its run in the form of ‘Bulang Beauty.’ This song features a musical arrangement that pairs the traditional sounds of the Yunnan province with, of all things, reggae leanings. Yes, it combines two genres that are clearly very distinct from one another, yet somehow this blending of East and West really makes the song work. Sadly, there is no English translation of the song’s lyrical content in the record’s booklet, so audiences are left to assume just from the mood set in the composition and from the title what the song may be about. One more notable traditional composition featured here comes a little more than halfway through its run in the simple ‘Four Seasons of the Lahu.’ The song is such a simple and beautiful work that features its performer, Shi Lei, singing the simple presentation completely by himself. There is no instrumentation. Lei’s breath control and his dynamic control as he sings gives the song so much emotional depth. Even sans any English translations, the presentation is still so immersive. When it is considered along with the other arrangements examined here and with the rest of the record’s featured works, the whole makes the record’s overall musical content fully appealing.
While the musical content that makes up this compilation’s body is fully immersive and appealing, the lack of any English translations for the record’s content detracts notably from the presentation. Considering that this record is being marketed largely to English-speaking audiences as a way to introduce said listeners to music from Asia, having any English translations would have been a very nice way to enhance the listening experience. That it is not part of the record’s presentation definitely hurts the presentation. The damage is not enough to doom the recording, but it certainly does not help that it is lacking here.
Even though the lack of English translations for any of the songs with lyrics is a problem, the record’s liner notes still offer just enough to make the booklet its own positive. The liner notes point out how the Yunnan province has remained a mystery not just for ethnomusicologists but for anthropologists and other social scientists because of its geography and because of the Chinese government. In addition, the notes point out that many of the languages of the Yunnan province are not written down. That might account for the lack of lyrical content in the booklet. The notes even make mention of how the traditional sounds of the Yunnan province have been giving way to more modern sounds that themselves still pay homage to the traditional sounds of the region in their presentations. It is another interesting part of the whole of the background provided in the liner notes that when considered with everything else in the introduction, makes the liner notes just as important to this record as the set’s musical content. When the musical content and liner notes are considered together, they more than make this compilation another interesting addition to WMN’s ongoing The Rough Guide To… compilation series that will appeal to such a wide range of audiences.
The Rough Guide to The Music of Yunnan is a unique addition to World Music Network’s ongoing The Rough Guide To… compilation series that will appeal to a wide range of audiences. That includes not only those with an interest in music from around the world, but even those who study the various social and historical sciences. That is due in no small part to its featured musical content. The musical arrangements featured in this compilation offer audiences a glimpse into the past, present, and future of the Yunnan province’s musical community with a variety of traditional and more modern compositions. The liner notes that accompany that content develop quite the interesting background on the music that enhances the listening experience even more. The two elements together give audiences reason enough to hear this record. That is even considering the lack of any English translations for the songs anywhere in the record’s booklet. Each item examined here is important in its own way to the whole of the compilation’s presentation. All things considered they make this presentation yet another positive addition to this year’s field of new World Music offerings.
The Rough Guide to The Music of Yunnan is scheduled for release Friday through World Music Network. More information on this and other titles from World Music Network is available online at:
Memphis Minnie is unquestionably one of the most well-known and respected female names in the history of the blues. Over the course of three decades, the singer (a.k.a. Lizzie Douglas) composed and recorded more than 200 songs, so many of which remains favorites among blues purists to this day. A new collection of those songs is scheduled for release Friday through World Music Network and in the form of the new compilation, The Rough Guide to Memphis Minnie – Queen of the Country Blues. The 25-song compilation is yet another enjoyable addition to WMN’s ongoing The Rough Guide To… compilation series. That is due in no small part to its featured songs, which will be discussed shortly. The songs’ audio works directly with the songs to make the listening experience all the more enjoyable. This will be discussed a little later. The record’s companion booklet rounds out the presentation’s most important elements and will also be examined later. Each item noted is important in its own way to the whole of the compilation. All things considered they make the collection not only a welcome addition to WMN’s The Rough Guide To… series, but also to this year’s field of new blues records.
The Rough Guide to Memphis Minnie – Queen of the Country Blues is another enjoyable entry in World Music Network’s ongoing The Rough Guide To… compilation series and a presentation that any blues fan will find appealing. The record’s appeal comes in part through its featured songs. The songs – 25 in all (It seems most WMN compilations are composed of 25 songs, as a side note) – pull from the early days of her career, that formative period when she was really starting to make a name for herself in a musician, composer and lyricist. More specifically, the songs pull from the early days of her career in 1929 all the way up to 1933. So while that is a limited time frame, the songs still serve as a clear snapshot (so to speak) of what made her so respected so early on. Right from the record’s opener, ‘Keep It To Yourself,’ the country influence in the blues is obvious. What’s more, the simplicity of the lyrics, which finds Douglas singing about keeping what you know to yourself, makes the song so accessible. She is singing about keeping certain secrets, not telling others, not so much keeping opinions to one’s self. Later in the record, a song, such as ‘What’s The Matter With The Mill’ does just as much to show the country music influence in her compositions, what with the steady, two chord approach. The blues element comes into play as she and fellow blues performer Kansas Joe sing about a corn mill being broken down. The blues is all about singing about life’s problems, and for this situation, the mill not working is keeping the pair from getting certain food. Again, it is such a simple theme but still there is some thing so accessible about it in that simplicity. Once again, it serves to show Douglas’ ability as a wordsmith just as much as a composer and musician. Her song, ‘Ain’t No Use Trying To Tell On Me (I Know Something On You)’ is another intriguing work. That is because its simple arrangement is so similar to Jesse Fuller’s timeless hit, ‘San Francisco Blues.’ Fuller’s song didn’t come along until 1954, while Douglas’ song debuted decades earlier in 1933. Now whether the similarity in the songs’ sounds and styles is coincidental is anyone’s guess. If Fuller took influence from Douglas however, it further shows the strength of her influence. It is just one more example of the importance of the collection’s musical content.
There is no denying that the musical content that makes up this compilation’s body. It is just one part of what makes the record appealing. The production of the songs is just as important as the songs themselves. The production is so much of note because of its role in their sound in their presentation here. As with so many collection’s of vintage music that World Music Network has released over the years, this collection’s songs are so wonderful in their sound. The static from the original recordings is just as evident here as in their original vinyl releases a century ago. Yes, with many of the songs featured here, a century has passed since they were originally released. It creates such a wonderful sense of nostalgia while once again showing that it is possible to have vintage vinyl recordings on CD and have them sound just as rich as they would on a new vinyl re-issue. Again, that is a tribute to the work that went into the record’s production. The general effect that results from that positive production builds on the appeal established through the songs to make for even more appeal, and in turn engagement and entertainment.
The overall presentation resulting from the collection’s content and production creates a strong general effect. It is just part of what makes the record appealing. The record’s companion booklet rounds out its most important elements. That is because of the background that it offers in its liner notes. The notes in question offer a brief biography of Douglas, as well as a note of the struggle that she faced during her career, as a woman in a male dominated career. This in itself is sure to generate plenty of discussion among audiences. The liner notes also make clear that the songs featured in the set are in fact from her formative years. The liner notes also point out her role in the popularity of country blues as a genre. It is just one more item that make the liner notes so interesting. When it and the other items pointed out here are considered along with the rest of the liner notes, the picture that they collectively paint enhances the listening experience that much more. Staying on that note, when the information provided in the record’s liner notes is considered alongside the record’s musical content and its production, the whole makes The Rough Guide to Memphis Minnie – Queen of the Country Blues yet another overall success from World Music Network.
The Rough Guide to Memphis Minnie – Queen of the Country Blues is another enjoyable, immersive compilation from World Music Network that is also another positive addition to World Music Network’s ongoing The Rough Guide To… series of releases. That is due in part to its featured musical content, as noted. The songs featured in this compilation are a presentation of the famed blues legend’s early days. It was that moment when she was just starting to make a name for herself. The production of those songs proves it is possible to transfer vinyl recordings to CD without any loss. The impact there further shows that all the people who think vinyl will one day replace CDs are clearly wrong. The record’s booklet adds even more to the listening experience. That is because of the history of Douglas that the liner notes therein provide. Each item examined is important in its own way to the whole of this collection. All things considered, they make the set another positive addition to WMN’s The Rough Guide To… series and one more of the year’s top new blues records.
The Rough Guide to Memphis Minnie – Queen of the Country Blues is scheduled for release Friday through World Music Network. More information on this and other titles from World Music Network is available online at:
For those who may not be overly familiar with how the music industry works, every year from about early April until about late October, there’s a little something that happens that this critic has come to call the “annual Summer music push.” It is during this time frame that it seems like every record label and act under the sun releases new music, from singles, to EPs, to full albums. It starts as a slow boil in mid-late March and then really picks up in early April. In the movement that is the annual summer music push, it gets easy for so many records to get lost in the mix along the way. One record that will not get lost in the blues realm is World Music Network’s latest compilation record, The Rough Guide to Slide Guitar Blues. Released Friday, this 25-song record is yet another enjoyable addition to WMN’s ongoing The Rough Guide To… compilation series. Its success comes in no small part through its liner notes, which in this case really serve as the record’s foundation. They will be discussed shortly. The songs that make up the collection’s body work in direct partner with the liner notes and make for more engagement and entertainment. They will be discussed a little later. The record’s production puts the finishing touch to its presentation and will also be examined later. Each item noted is important in its own way to the whole of the collection. All things considered they make The Rough Guide to Slide Guitar Blues a presentation that any blues fan will enjoy.
The Rough Guide to Slide Guitar Blues, the latest release in World Music Network’s ongoing The Rough Guide To… compilation series, is a mostly successful new offering from the label. It is a welcome companion to so many of the various blues compilations that have come from the label ahead of its release. The collection’s success comes in part through its featured liner notes. The notes are important to note because of the foundation that they form for the record. From early on, audiences learn through the liner notes that while the blues is a distinctly American form of music, the use of a slide on a stringed instrument is in fact African at its roots. Many audiences will be surprised to learn not only this, but that the African instrument that essentially gave rise to slide guitar blues was a children’s instrument. The whole story there will be left for audiences to discover for themselves. This is just one of the interesting items presented in the liner notes. Audiences also learn through the liner notes that the use of a slide on a guitar, at least in the continental United States was first documented in 1903 by W.C. Handy while waiting for a train. Yet, even before that time, the use of a slide on a guitar had also been well-known in Hawaii (before it became a state) and was becoming even more popular in the continental United States. Yet again, this is an intriguing item that blues fans and music fans in general will find intriguing, and potentially even get them to do their own research into both genres’ histories. It is just one more example of the foundation that the liner notes form and is certainly not all that makes them interesting. The liner notes also point out the various kinds of slides used in the blues and the ways in which they were used, both in slower 12-bar blues and more upbeat music of the genre. This item plays directly into the songs that make up the record’s body.
The songs that compose the body of The Rough Guide to Slide Guitar Blues offer audiences slide guitar blues recorded by blues musicians from the Mississippi Delta, Texas and the East Coast. They are also up-tempo compositions and more reserved compositions. In other words, audiences get quite the variety of slide blues compositions throughout the course of the record’s 77-minute run time. The ability of the slide to sustain notes (going back to the liner notes) in slower songs is on wonderful display in Lemuel Turner’s ‘Way Down Yonder Blues.’ Easily one of Turner’s most well-known compositions, it is a full-on instrumental composition that features Turner playing his guitar by himself. Nothing else is there. The vibrato in so many of the song’s notes cuts through so clearly and really enriches the arrangement all the more. On a completely opposite note, there is the country blues style composition that is ‘Somebody Changed The Lock On My Door,’ from Casey Bill Weldon. In the case of this song, the notes are sustained in their own unique way as the contemplative composition progresses. What’s more, the arrangement itself shows just another blues subgenre and how slides are used to enhance the music therein. Kokomo Arnold’s ‘Feels So Good,’ which comes early in the set, is a prime example of more upbeat, energetic slide guitar blues. The use of the slide in a case, such as this shows how a slide is used in direct contrast to slower, more reserved blues songs. In slower blues compositions, the slide provides more of a vibrato, in almost a classical music style. In the case of a song like this, the slide shortens the notes and really changes the overall sound of the recording. It is just one more example of how the various compositions show so much variety in how slides are used in the blues. When it is considered with the other compositions examined here and with the rest of the record’s songs, the whole of that content builds on the collection’s foundation and makes the presentation all the more enjoyable.
The liner notes featured in The Rough Guide to Slide Guitar Blues and the songs that directly partner with them do much to make the record. They are just a part of what makes the set another enjoyable offering from WMN. The production that went into the record’s presentation rounds out its most important elements. The production is important because once again, what audiences get in this collection is another grouping of recordings that reaches back to the early 20th century. The sound of the static is still there, more so in some recordings than others, but it is there. At the same time, there is clearly no loss in any of the featured songs. What this means is that those responsible for the transfers clearly went to painstaking efforts once again to ensure the songs sounded just as good decades later as they did in their original presentations. The result is a wonderful general effect that puts the finishing touch to the record. When the expert production is considered along with the impact of the liner notes and the songs, the whole makes this presentation overall yet another successful addition to WMN’s ongoing series of Rough Guide To… releases.
The Rough Guide to Slide Guitar Blues, the latest addition to World Music Network’s ongoing series of Rough Guide To…compilations, is another positive offering from the company in that series. Its success comes in part through its liner notes. The notes are important because of the rich background that they offer on the history of slide guitar blues. The history that they provide is sure to educate and surprise plenty of audiences, and hopefully in turn, get those audiences interested in starting their own research into the genre. The music that accompanies the liner notes does well to take audiences even deeper into that history, as they hear exactly what the liner notes point out, in terms of stylistic differences in each style of slide guitar blues. The production that went into the compilation puts the finishing touch to the presentation. That is because it ensures the featured vintage presentations sound just as good in their new presentations as they did decades ago. Each item examined here is important in its own way to the whole of the presentation. All things considered, they make The Rough Guide to Slide Guitar Blues yet another enjoyable addition to WMN’s Rough Guide To… series of releases.
The Rough Guide to Slide Guitar Blues is available now through World Music Network and Riverboat Records. More information on this and other titles from World Music Network is available online at:
World music artist Anouar Kaddour Cherif released his debut album Djawla Friday through World Music Network and Riverboat Records. The nine-song record is an interesting start for the artist, who currently calls Switzerland his home following his exile from his former home nation of Algeria some years ago. The 43-minute, mostly instrumental presentation proves itself worth hearing thanks to its diverse musical arrangements. They are diverse not only in their sounds and styles, but also in their combination of cultural influences, which end up directly influencing their sounds and styles. One of the most notable of the record’s songs comes early in its run in the form of ‘Savage Butterly.’ It will be discussed shortly. ‘Sirocco,’ which comes a little later in the album’s run, is another way in which the arrangements’ diversity shines through. It will be discussed a little later. ‘A True Lie,’ one of the record’s later entries, is also of note. It will also be discussed later. When it is considered along with the other songs noted here and with the rest of the album’s songs, the whole makes the album overall a successful offering from Cherif.
Djawla, the debut album from international artist Anouar Kaddour Cherif, makes for a positive start to this year’s field of new World Music albums. Its featured musical arrangements do well to make that clear. ‘Savage Butterfly,’ one of the album’s early entries, is one of the songs that makes that clear. Drummer Hannes Junker’s performance on this song is just one of its highlights. When he enters the arrangement, his performance comes across as quite similar to that of Terry Bozzio. That is evidenced through the tight, staccato nature of his phrasing. Cherif’s own performance on mandole alongside his own performance adds even more to that sense of songs from Bozzio’s Black Light Syndrome record, which also featured performances from Terry Bozzio and Steve Stevens. The progressive nature of the overall performance, and the control that each musician has in his own performance makes this song so unique and just one of the works that makes this record so enjoyable. Listening through the song after reading through the brief liner notes about the song, listeners can actually envision the tiny, gentle butterfly making its annual migratory voyage through everything, showing its wild nature (no pun intended) and determination to reach its goal. It is such an enjoyable presentation, and just one of the album’s most notable works. ‘Cirocco’ is another song that helps show what makes Cherif’s debut album worth hearing.
While ‘Savage Butterfly’ boasts something of a progressive nature in its stylistic approach and sound, ‘Sirocco’ bears its own separate identity. Cherif’s Algerian roots are once again on full display here through his performance on the mnadole. At the same time, the introduction of Clement Meunier on clarinet alongside Junker’s performance on drums, gives the arrangement a clear jazz influence, too. The sense of swing that is displayed through the pair’s performance makes for its own uniquely engaging and entertaining presentation that also continues to show the diversity in the album’s lyrical themes. According to the liner notes featured with Djawla, the arrangement is meant to conjure thoughts of the warm Saharan winds that blow from Africa all the way up to his current home in Switzerland. The varying tempos and energies from each musician’s performance does so well to paint that rich picture. The frenetic energy exhibited in the song’s final minutes paints that picture of the hot, dry winds blowing from the continent while the slower, more relaxed moments lead to thoughts of the winds building. The whole musical story and the picture that it paints is fully immersive. Keeping all of this in mind, it makes clear why this song is yet another important part of Djawla’s whole. It is just one more of the songs that shows how much the album has to offer. ‘A True Lie’ is one more example of how much the album has to offer.
‘A True Lie’ is described in Djawla’s linr notes as being about Cherif’s need to basically find something positive, something that would help him maintain at least some hope. The way in which the song’s mood turns from somewhat edgy to more positive as it progresses does just as well to help make that story clear. That edgy energy is accompanied by much of the music being played in a minor chord. However, as the song progresses that all changes. The arrangement turns somewhat funky for lack of better word, though the performance of bassist Antoine Brochot. His fellow musicians follow suit from that point to the end, presenting the hope that Cherif must have found through his journey. It will leave audiences feeling positive, just as Cherif must have felt. The whole styling and sound here is unlike those of the other examined songs and from the rest of the record’s entries. When each of the songs examined here and those other songs are considered together, the whole makes this record the year’s first great World Music offering and an equally enjoyable debut from Cherif.
Djawla, the debut album from Anouar Kaddour Cherif, is a strong first outing for the international artist. Its success is shown from the record’s opening to its end. That is proven through all three of the songs examined here. When they are considered along with the rest of the album’s entries, the whole makes the record, again, the first great World Music offering of 2022 and an equally strong first outing for Cherif.
Djawla is available now through World Music Network and Riverboat Records. More information on this and other titles from World Music Network is available online at:
January is officially in its final few days, but even with the month closing out, the year is still very young. With the new year fully underway now, the staff of World Music Network and Riverboat Records wanted to make sure not to waste any time getting started on this year’s new additions to its ongoing series of Rough Guide To… releases. The first of this year’s additions to said series came Friday in the form of The Rough Guide to Texas Blues. The 26-song compilation is another impressive addition to the companies Rough Guide To…series, too. That is due in no small part to its featured songs and artists. This will be discussed shortly. The liner notes that accompany the collection are another high point to its presentation and will be discussed a little later. The set’s production rounds out its most important elements and will also be examined later. Each item noted is important in its own way to the whole of the record’s presentation. All things considered, they make the collection yet another successful addition to World Music Network and Riverboat Records’ Rough Guide To…series.
World Music Network and Riverboat Records’ latest addition to its ongoing Rough Guide To…series, The Rough Guide To Texas Blues is a presentation that blues fans across the board will enjoy. That is due in no small part to its featured songs and artists. The songs and artists in question cover a specific span of 11 years from 1926-1937. That era was really the formative period for Texas blues. Legends, such as Blind Lemon Jefferson, Leadbelly (a.k.a. Huddie William Ledbetter), and Blind Lemon Jefferson all rose to fame during those years and set the stage for future generations of blues performers. They are featured here performing some of their most well-known songs along with some lesser-known artists of the day. One of those lesser-known acts is Texas Alexander. Born Alger Alexander, Texas Alexander was from Jewett, Texas. While Alexander released a number of hits, such as ‘Texas Special,’ ‘Mama’s Bad Luck Child,’ and ‘Broken Yo Yo,’ his overall career did not make him a star at the level of the noted artists. Stories passed down hint that his life and career was fraught with strife and that his musical output was limited. Regardless of accuracy, his work helped establish the bigger sound that was early Texas blues, that jazz and swing-infused sound and style.
Andrew “Smoky” Hogg is another of the bluesmen who made Texas blues so beloved even though his star never shined like those of some of his counterparts. HE is also featured here, performing the song, ‘Kind-Hearted Blues.’ His performance here is a take of a song that helped establish Robert Johnson’s fame in the blues community a year prior in 1936, ‘Kind Hearted Woman Blues.’ The two renditions are noticeably different. Johnson’s take is much more subdued and slower than Hogg’s update. Hogg’s take on the song not only bears a slightly altered title – it drops the “woman” from the title – but it is also much shorter, clocking in at two minutes 39 seconds versus the five minute-plus rendition recorded by Johnson. Even with the differences in mind, Hogg’s take on the song would still help Hogg make his own place in the Texas blues community.
Frenchy’s String Band is yet another of the lesser act featured in this collection that shows the importance of the set’s featured acts and songs. This Texas-based string collective released just two titles for Columbia in 1928, ‘Sunshine Special’ and ‘Texas and Pacific Blues,’ which is the song included in this collection. The song is a prime example of how early Texas blues were heavily influenced by the jazz and swing music of the age. The use of the strings alongside the horns conjures thoughts of the swing bands of the era that would perform songs, such as the Charleston. The connection between the two worlds is no clearer than in this performance from this little-known act. When the pairing is considered with the other acts and songs noted and the others featured here, the collective leaves no doubt that the songs and acts featured throughout the collection are of their own importance to the compilation’s presentation. They are just a part of what makes the compilation successful. The liner notes that accompany the collection are of their own importance.
The liner notes that accompany the compilation’s featured acts and songs are important because of the history lesson that they provide. Whether audiences are casual or more well-versed, the history lesson featured in the liner notes will engage and entertain listeners. One of the most interesting items pointed out in the liner notes comes in the discussion on the influence of Henry Thomas. The liner notes state that Thomas’ first recording session did not take place until 1927, when he was 53 years-old. That is an old age for any artist in any genre to get started. Add in that at such point, the music that he recorded was, as the liner notes state, a representation of a bygone era. His performance of ‘Don’t Ease Me In’ is a prime example of that older sound. It really served to exemplify the sound that set the stage for the creation of the Texas blues, and is so pivotal as part of the bigger picture of the region’s blues scene.
The revelation of Thomas’ role in the region’s blues development and history is just one of the most interesting of the items featured in the liner notes. The focus on the role of blues vocalists, such as Bessie Tucker and Texas Alexander is of its own interest. The notes point out that their vocal styles are so reminiscent of the work songs and field hollers that African-Americans would use in the fields in the late 18th and early 19th centuries. Audiences who are even slightly familiar with those vocal styles will hear it cut through clearly from each, too. At the same time, their singing styles also show the connection to the jazz influences on the blues at the time.
As if everything noted is not enough, the liner notes’ lead paragraph points out the stylistic difference between Texas blues and Mississippi Delta blues, the other most famous blues style of the age. That in itself will hopefully encourage audiences to embark on their own musical voyage to learn even more deeply, just how different and alike the two genres were and still are. The journeys that audiences will hopefully end up taking will lead to an even deeper appreciation for both forms of the blues, and possibly even the subgenre that is Chicago blues in the long run. Between this starting point, the other revelations and other items included in the liner notes, those notes play heavily into the compilation’s presentation just as much as the collection’s musical content. Together, they give audiences more than enough reason to take in this record. Even collectively, they are just a portion of what makes the record stand out. The songs’ production rounds out the record’s most important items.
The songs’ production is so important plays such an important part in the collection’s presentation because of its role in the record’s general effect. Hearing the static from one song to the next, hearing the richness of each song even in its simplicity, hearing the depth of the vocals, all of it is so clear in each song. That is a tribute to the work that went in to making sure the songs’ aesthetic effect remained just as powerful in their transfer from their original recordings to this point. To that end, those responsible for touching up the songs and making sure they are fully immersive are to be commended for their work. The result is a record that is just as successful for its general effect as for its overall content. All things considered, that content and general effect makes The Rough Guide to Texas Blues such an enjoyable new addition to World Music Network and Riverboat Records’ ongoing Rough Guide To…series that any blues fan will enjoy.
World Music Network and Riverboat Records’ The Rough Guide to Texas Blues is a welcome new addition to the companies’ ongoing Rough Guide To…series. It is a presentation that will appeal widely among blues fans. That is due in part to the songs and acts featured in the collection. They come together to help tell the story of Texas blues’ formative years in such rich fashion. From well- to lesser-known acts and songs, they form a solid foundation for the collection. The liner notes that accompany the record’s musical content adds even more to that history lesson and can certainly encourage audiences to embark on their own blues history lesson when considered with said content. The production that went into the record’s production ensured that the original recordings were expertly transferred to this presentation. Each item noted is important in its own way to the whole of the collection’s presentation. All things considered, they make The Rough Guide to Texas Blues a solid starting point and otherwise for any blues fan’s musical library.
The Rough Guide to Texas Blues is available now through World Music Network and Riverboat Records. More information on this and other titles from World Music Network is available online at:
International music collection Monoswezi is scheduled to release its latest album, Shanu this week. The band’s fifth album, it is scheduled for release Friday through Riverboat Records and World Music Network. The nine-song presentation is a surprisingly enjoyable addition to this year’s field of new World Music offerings and will appeal to audiences new and established alike. That is due in no small part to its featured musical arrangements. They will be discussed shortly. The record’s liner notes build on the appeal established through the album’s musical arrangements and make the record even more engaging and entertaining. They will be addressed a little later. The record’s production rounds out its most important elements and will also be examined later. Each item noted is important in its own way to the whole of the album’s presentation. All things considered, they make Shanu a strong new offering from Monoswezi that is among the best of this year’s new World Music offerings.
Monoswezi’s fifth full-length studio recording, Sanu, (which just so happens to translate to the word “five” from the Shona language of Zimbabwe) is an impressive new offering from the group. The record’s appeal begins with its featured musical arrangements. The arrangements in question blend elements of Zimbabe, the home nation of the group’s vocalist, Hope Masike, with just enough subtle Western influences to make them appealing for pop musi and World Music fans alike. One of the most notable ways in which this is evidenced is in the early entry, ‘Woshanda.’ The arrangement here incorporates Masike’s African percussion influences with a distinct Western disco influence for a whole that is unique, to say the very least. The African percussion comes primarily here through the subtle use of the mbira (basically a little finger piano) while the western influence is a more prominent use of keyboards and electronics. The blending of those influences here makes the whole a surprisingly infectious composition that is certain to get listeners dancing. Ironically, as danceable as the musical arrangement proves here, it is an interesting contrast to the song’s lyrical theme, which will be discussed in the examination of the album’s liner notes.
Immediately after ‘Woshanda,’ the group continues to exhibit the way in which it blends its African and American influences so fluidly in the form of ‘Where is My Mbira?’ As the title notes, the song once again incorporates the mbira. The instrument, by the way, is traditional to the Shona people of Zimbabwe, fittingly. At the same time, the song also incorporates a distinct western R&B sensibility into the mix alongside a subtle, country western style guitar line to make the whole all the more interesting. The mix of musical influences immediately conjures thoughts from the group’s fellow international music performer Dobe Gnahore, who released her latest album, Couleur early this year. The overall subtlety of the mix is unlike the more energetic approach taken in ‘Woshanda,’ showing in its own way, the diversity and originality of the album’s featured musical arrangements.
‘Um Pouco,’ which serves as the second half of the album’s midpoint, is another example of the diversity in the album’s musical arrangements and how the diversity within the songs themselves makes them so appealing. In the case of this song, Masike’s Zimbabwean roots remain on display. However in this composition, that influence is complimented with a horn and saxophone arrangement that at times conjures thoughts of the lounge style jazz sounds of the 60s and at others of the soul and funk of the age. That soul and funk leaning is made even more evident as the group incorporates some equally subtle guitar and percussion lines into the work. The balance of those elements here makes the song’s arrangement just as unique as the others examined here and just as engaging and entertaining. When this work and those noted are considered along with the rest of the album’s works, the whole of that content gives audiences more than enough reason to take in this record. As much as the noted content does to make the album so appealing, it is just one part of the album’s success. The record’s liner notes add their own appeal to the overall presentation.
The liner notes featured in Shanu are important to address because of the information that they provide. For instance, with each song is an explanation of the song’s lyrical theme. This explanation is so important because save for one song – ‘We Crown You Nehanda’ – the album’s songs are sung in Masike’s native tongue. Masike actually presents the whole of the one noted song in English. The themes in each song are accessible to audiences American, Zimbabwean and otherwise. Case in point is the theme of ‘Zvorema,’ In the case of this song, the liner notes point out that the song centers on the topic of encouraging the downtrodden. It states here, “A lament to the heavens to help us carry and fight the burden of greedy and selfish leaders who feast off the tears and sweat of the rest.” This is a topic that will, again, resonate with any listener. Understanding that theme, the song’s musical arrangement, which is decidedly somber and almost melancholy, makes sense and becomes more moving in its impact.
The information provided about ‘Tsika Szako’ states that this song is about the importance of appreciating one’s culture and not giving up on it and just adopting the culture of another. The information states here, “It’s a form of poverty when one shuns their own traditions and heritage in favour of other cultures. Look for the good in each culture, including your own.” Again, this is a fully accessible theme. Even though Masike, again, sings fully in her native tongue here, audiences can understand and appreciate the message as it is translated so well here and in the mood set by herself and her fellow musicians.
As if everything noted here is not enough, the group also takes on the topics of love lost and gained here in the album’s opener, ‘Kuwonerewa’ and ‘Paya.’ The opener is about love lost and the closer brings things full circle as it focuses on love gained. In regards to the album’s opener, the description points out that the song centers on the feeling that one has as a relationship progresses but changes in a not-so good way. Meanwhile, the closer states simply, “Oh, how beautiful it is to be in your arms!” That speaks volumes. So again, audiences are given at least some translation in the liner notes. Those notes go a long way toward making the arrangements (and songs in general) more appealing. That is because those brief but concise explanations work well to make for more appreciation for the album’s arrangements. Together, the explanations and musical arrangements make the songs fully translated and in turn all the more engaging and entertaining. To that end, the overall content strengthens the album’s presentation that much more. Even with this in mind, there is still at least one more item to examine in the form of the album’s production.
Shanu’s production is important to examine because of its impact on the arrangements. As already noted, the arrangements featured here blend elements of Masike’s home nation of Zimbabwe with more accessible western musical influences. This is also addressed in the liner notes. Audiences will learn that this approach was intentional this time out for the group. Getting back on the matter at hand, the album’s production played clearly through each arrangement. The time and effort put into each composition, to balance those African and American musical influences expertly balances the noted elements. The subtleties in that balance completely immerse audiences in each song. The end result is that the album’s production makes its aesthetic impact just as strong as that of the arrangements and the album’s liner notes. Each item noted, they make the album overall, a successful work that Monoswezi’s established audiences will enjoy just as much as those who are less familiar with the group and its catalog.
Monoswezi’s latest album, Sanu, is an impressive new offering from the international musical collective. Its success comes in part through its featured musical arrangements. The arrangements offer audiences the best of both worlds so to speak as they blend elements of Africa and America into one in each work. It is a first for the group, too, making for even more interest. The blending of that work will immerse audiences into the record by itself. The liner notes that accompany the record are also of importance here. That is because they lessen the impact of the songs being sung mostly in the native tongue of front woman Hope Masike. The themes prove quite accessible, and when they are considered alongside their musical counterparts, the result is even more enjoyment for listeners. The record’s production adds to the immersion that audiences will experience in listening to each arrangement. That is because it exhibits the time and effort put into balancing each song’s instrumentation. It brings everything together and completes the record’s presentation. Each item noted is important in its own way to the whole of the album. All things considered, they make Sanu a successful new offering from Monoswezi that is also among the best of this year’s new World Music albums.
Shanu is scheduled for release Friday through Riverboat Records and World Music Network. More information on Shanu is available along with all of Monoswezi’s latest news at: