Record Review with Kevin Bryan

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Kevin Bryan reviews some of the latest music releases.

Joan Baez - Whistle Down The Wind (Proper Records). Joan’s very belated follow-up to 2008’s Grammy nominated Day After Tomorrow could well prove to be the legendary acoustic balladeer’s final album, and the 77-year-old performer’s musical farewell serves up a fine batch of carefully selected covers exploring the twin themes of mortality and regret. The contents find her searching for a glimmer of hope in troubled times as this protest singer par excellence tackles songs penned by luminaries such as Tom Waits and Mary Chapin Carpenter, although the undisputed stand-out track is The President Sang Amazing Grace, Zoe Mulford’s stunning reflection on the tragic 2015 shootings in Charleston, South Carolina.

Barefoot Jerry - You Can’t Get Off With Your Shoes On/Watching TV (With The Radio On) (Retroworld). This splendid Retroworld re-issue focusses attention on the mid-70s vinyl output of Barefoot Jerry. This loose knit outfit provided an outlet for the creative energies of some of Nashville’s finest session men, including Wayne Moss, who was responsible for supplying the iconic guitar riff on Roy Orbison’s 1964 hit, Pretty Woman. Commercial success didn’t come their way during their relatively brief existence but Barefoot Jerry bequeathed a fine body of work to posterity nonetheless, and fans of stylish Southern Rock would be well advised to lend an ear to their efforts here.

Finbar Furey - Don’t Stop This Now (BMG UK). Finbar Furey has responded to his near-fatal heart attack with the vigour of a man re-born, driven by an all powerful compulsion to lay down his thoughts on record which has spawned what is arguably the finest album of his long and illustrious career. Don’t Stop This Now has been compared to the work of a “played-out, Dublin-born Tom Waits,” and it’s certainly a varied and utterly compelling piece of work, coupled here with a recently recorded live set featuring Finbar’s inimitable renditions of perennial crowd-pleasers such as When You Were Sweet Sixteen and The Green Fields of France.

Poco - The Songs of Paul Cotton (Retroworld). Poco’s name may have became a byword for melodic excellence during the band’s creative heyday in the seventies but the country-rockers found it well nigh impossible to translate all the critical acclaim which was showered on their early vinyl output into solid record sales during those far-off days . This entertaining anthology brings together some of the songs penned by long-standing member Paul Cotton during their frustratingly unsuccessful stint with Epic Records between 1971 and 1974, including gems such as Ride The Country, Keeper of the Fire and Railroad Days.