This CD cover image released by Vp Records shows the latest release by Beres Hammond, "One Love, One Life." (AP Photo/Vp Records)
This CD cover image released by Downtown Records shows the latest release by Kate Earl, "Stronger." (AP Photo/Downtown)
This CD cover image released by RED Distribution shows Paul Kelly's latest release "Spring and Fall." (AP Photo/RED Distribution)
One Love, One Life
Legendary crooner Beres Hammond, one of the most recognizable voices in all of Jamaica, is back with “One Love, One Life,” a 20-track double album with steady grooves and some bonafide classics.
Self-produced and recorded in his Kingston studio, Hammond has organized a record that splits into matters of the heart (“One Love”) and social consciousness (“One Life.”)
“No Candle Light” is instantly amazing, Hammond is ever the gentleman on the tender mid-tempo groove “In My Arms” and the romantic ballad “Lonely Fellow” is sincere.
The second album is calm and refreshing, full of songs that will uplift. One bright spot is the title track, where Hammond makes it clear that he isn’t “singing for fame.”
The 57-year-old came on the music scene in 1970s and he has a voice that doesn’t seem to age. He adds another jewel in his crown with his new album.
Kate Earl admits to feeling a tad lost before completing her third album, “Stronger.” Seems she was stuck performing someone else’s vision and only now has she begun to realize one of her own.
The trouble with “Stronger” is that Earl’s vision is an ineffectual grasp at simple substance through song. The soft-rock tunes are too simple and the results too routine.
Earl gallops into view atop the horse trot cadenced title track, “Stronger,” in which she lauds the hard road traveled to relevance and maturity. That would all be great fodder for a song if she’d come up with better lyrics.
It gets worse. “One Woman Army” sounds too much like 10,000 Maniac’s “Like The Weather.” “California” sounds way too much like The Steve Miller Band’s “The Joker” — and you get the idea. Earl is too close to her reference material, which weakens her own vision.
She has a smooth, pleasing voice and when you sound (and look) like Earl you get a second and perhaps a third chance to make it in music. But even the deft hand of seasoned musicians like Brett Dennen and Blake Mills can’t salvage this artistically tepid release.
Spring and Fall
RED Distribution, $12.99
After time spent exploring his catalog, Australian Paul Kelly has made his first new music in five years. “Spring and Fall” is a song cycle tracing the arc of a relationship from the rush of new love through disillusionment, a bitter end and finally to acceptance.
Recorded acoustically with a few embellishments in a rural hall, the story is told succinctly in 11 songs, none more than 3:50 minutes in length. The singing of Laura Jean Englert in the opening two tracks conveys harmony both musically and thematically. By the time things turn sour in “Cold as Canada,” the music is icy, too.
Kelly is one of the world’s most expressive and economical songwriters, one of the world’s best, period. Each song here stands on its own or as a chapter in a book. By the end, in “Little Aches and Pains,” the old lovers are reunited as old friends and Kelly concludes the story with this sentiment: “I don’t count my losses now, just my gains.”
Or almost ends. There is an uncredited hidden track. Although sweet, it’s too slight to sum up the story and is a distraction.