For a couple of years some of my friends and I have been sharing music. We’re supposed to review/rate what gets shared with us, and share those reviews with the group, but that doesn’t always happen.
Robben Ford – Into the Sun (2015)
I know almost nothing about Robben Ford other than he’s a five-time Grammy nominated blues guitarist who has played with George Harrison, KISS and Miles Davis. Exactly the kind of thing I’m not surprised Spencer would share.
After my first listen, it sounded much the same. It was all pretty good (the guitar playing was really good), but it all kind of blended together. Stone Cold Heaven was my favorite, although I did like the New Orleans gospel shuffle influence on Justified and how Cause of War got a little heavier. And maybe it was just because it was near the end of an album with a lot of sameness, but I got bored during So Long 4 U and totally missed Same Train the first time. It opens strong (and revisits that opening riff at the end of each of his stanzas), but doesn’t do much to keep my attention.
And! Spotify has a track-by-track commentary by him, which I think is neat. So I gave the whole album a second listen. I think these track-by-track commentaries are worth hearing to get into the songwriter’s head. It made me want to listen to the Alabama Shakes.
There wasn’t really a bad tune on the album. I think it’s best mixed in with other stuff. All at once it was a little too much sameness. 3.36/5
Ben Rector – Brand New (2015)
I recently read an article recently that talked about how certain intervals may sound pleasant to anyone, regardless of their musical exposure, but our musical tastes are mainly influenced by our upbringing.
In the past we’ve shared music our parents introduced us to. From my dad, it was bands like The Beatles, Dave Brubeck, Mason Williams, The Nitty Gritty Dirt Band and The Ventures. This suggestion is kind of a compliment to those.
A couple of weeks ago I shared some They Might Be Giants because I was loading up some kid-friendly stuff on our iPod for a road trip. This suggestion is also a follow-up to that album.
On that road-trip, we listened to some kid-friendly stuff, but my wife and I also just listened to our music. My wife discovered Ben Rector earlier this year (or maybe late last year), and has been listening to his stuff. The point is that when our kid heard one of his songs come on, she asked for the title track by name.
I was a bit surprised. It’s not that Ben Rector isn’t family friendly, but he’s not aiming to make children’s music. But I wasn’t much different growing up. And I don’t absolutely love Ben Rector (I’d give this album a 3/5), but if this is my child’s gateway to normal music, then she could be doing worse.
For me, the two highlights of this album are the title track and Fear, with its more acoustic elements. I’ve heard other songs with a similar concept to Favorite Song. By itself it’s fine, but comparing it to other similar songs, I like the others more. I like the message behind The Men that Drive Me Places, and I think the musical style is appropriate for that message, I just don’t love it. Crazy has good musical elements, but I don’t know that I really care for the overall story.
Here’s what my friends had to say:
“So more or less ambivalent about this one. I also thought The Men that Drive was cool message, and I thought crazy was kind of sad-but-true sort of thing for my current station in life. Not a ton of moments that really caught my ear.” 3.4/5 – Spencer
I’d be interested to hear what music you grew up listening to, or (if you have kids) what more grown up music they ask for. Share your thoughts in the comments below.