SOMETHING BORROWED, SOMETHING NEW: A TRIBUTE TO JOHN ANDERSON (Easy Eye, $15.98) – John Anderson first hit the country charts in 1977, and has kept writing and recording hits ever since. His writing has attracted devoted musician fans as well. Something Borrowed, Something New, produced by Dan Auerbach of the Black Keys, features Anderson’s songs sung by John Prine, Sturgill Simpson, Gillian Welch & David Rawlings, Tyler Childers, Eric Church, Brent Cobb, Luke Combs, Sierra Ferrell, Jamey Johnson, Ashley McBride, Del McCoury, and the Brothers Osborne.
IMAGINATIONAL ANTHEM VOL. XI: CHROME UNIVERSAL: A Survey of Modern Pedal Steel (Tompkins Square, $15.98) – The pedal steel guitar is able to conjure emotional swells and spacey melodic lines that are unique; it’s also one of the most complex instruments to play and master. Mostly relegated to the field of country music (and sanctified instrumental gospel) during its history, the pedal steel has now been embraced by musicians playing experimental jazz, ambient, roots, among other fields. Steel player Luke Schneider has put together a compilation that features these new sounds by Susan Alcorn, BJ Cole, Jonny Lam, Rocco DeLuca, Spencer Cullum, Barry Walker, Jr., Maggie Bjorklund, Will Van Horn, and Schneider himself.
NOTE: The New York Times had a good survey article on the resurgence of the pedal steel guitar.
THE SPIRIT OF THE ’60s
FREDERIC RZEWSKI: NO PLACE TO GO BUT AROUND (Cantaloupe, $19.99) – Composer and pianist Frederic Rzewski (1938 – 2021) was a revolutionary in his composition (and his politics). In recent years, many pianists have championed his work, including Igor Levit, Conrad Tao, and Thomas Kotcheff.
Pianist Lisa Moore now plays an all-Rzewksi program, featuring a new work, Amoramaro, commissioned as a birthday present for Moore by her husband, composer Martin Bresnick. The album also features the early No Place to Go But Around, Coming Together (text by Attica leader Sam Melville), To His Coy Mistress (Andrew Marvell’s poem as text).
NOTE: There was an article about this project by Seth Colter Walls in the New York Times. As he aks, “is this a covert Rzewski for Lovers album?” Go and listen.
Mickey Hart, Zakir Hussain & Planet Drum, IN THE GROOVE (BFD, $15.98) – Long-time Grateful Dead drummer Mickey Hart has had a life-long interest in percussion from around the world; he first put together his Planet Drum project in 1991, with drum masters from India, Nigeria, Brazil, and Puerto Rico. He now reunites with Zakir Hussain (table), Sikiru Adeppoju (Nigerian talking drum), Giovanni Hidalgo (congas) for a flat-out “groove” album.
Neil Young and Promise of the Real, NOISE AND FLOWERS (Reprise, $18.98) – Live tracks from Young’s 2019 European tour, backed by Promises of the Real. Songs range from early Neil (“Mr. Soul,” “Everybody Knows This is Nowhere”), on through “Comes a Time,” “Rockin’ in the Free World,” and “From Hank to Hendrix.”