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Folk sounds from a local artist and a tribute to Jackson Browne

March 20, 2014

Ear Bliss goes local to lead things off this week with a belated look at the most recent release from Bristol-based singer/songwriter Allysen Callery. Callery has just returned from a triumphant jaunt to the annual South-by-Southwest Music Festival in Austin, Texas just a week ago and celebrates with a show at Local 121 in Providence on Sunday night. From there, it’s a look at a brand new tribute recording to the songs of Jackson Browne. Let’s get to it!

Allysen Callery
“Mumblin’ Sue”
75orless Records

She’s from right in our own backyard! That’s the first thought after listening to the fifth release from the Rhode Island-based singer/songwriter/guitarist Allysen Callery called “Mumblin’ Sue.” Callery has been a fixture on the Ocean State scene since the mid-aughts. Since those beginnings, her work has continued to grow and grow, in particular her intricate fingerpicking style on guitar. At first listen, the graceful and intimate musical sounds of “Mumblin’ Sue” combined with the airy, falsetto voice of Callery sound like some long lost artifact from the British folk revival of the late ‘60s and early ’70s. It’s no surprise considering her parents’ record collection was heavy on that folk sub-genre. There is a dark undercurrent to many of the songs of “Mumblin’ Sue” which features nine Callery originals to go with a single cover, the traditional classic “Long Back Veil” which in the angelic voice and precise guitar picking of Callery borders on hypnotizing.

Fresh off her appearance at the annual SXSW Music Festival, Allysen Callery returns to the local performing front with an appearance at Local 121 in Providence (121 Washington St.) on Sunday night. She appears as part of the venue’s Sunday Night Tap series. Music begins at 10 p.m.

Various Artists
“Looking Into You: A Tribute to Jackson Browne”
Music Road Records

Go back to the 1970s and thanks to classic albums like his self-titled debut, “For Everyman, Late for the Sky,” “The Pretender,” and “Running on Empty,” Jackson Browne was truly the bomb of what was a very productive and happening Southern California music scene. Whereas Browne would never again hit the heights of that decade, he’d continue to kick out good albums, not to mention using his fame to help spearhead his various causes as a political activist. With the collection “Looking Into You” (available April 1), Browne receives the long overdue tribute treatment. It’s a hearty collection spanning two discs and featuring reinterpretations of 23 classics-and-then-some songs from the Browne catalogue. The roster of artists taking part is an impressive one divided between such star-time types as Don Henley (with Blind Pilot), Bonnie Raitt (dueting with David Lindley), Indigo Girls, Lyle Lovett (two tracks!), Keb’ Mo’ (who I do not believe has ever said no to a tribute record), Bruce Springsteen with wife Patty Scialfa, Bruce Hornsby, Shawn Colvin, Lucinda Williams and Joan Osborne with up-and-comers and tried and true Americana types. The collection is a stern reminder of how many truly great tunes Browne was responsible for. What singer/songwriter wouldn’t give their right eye for penning songs like “These Days” (Henley with Blind Pilot), “Doctor My Eyes” (Paul Thorn doing the honors), “Running on Empty” (as rendered by Austin mainstay Bob Schneider), “Fountain of Sorrow” (Indigo Girls), or “Looking Into You” (Kevin Welch). Browne made writing stellar songs look easy. Whereas nothing on this collection breaks new ground, the performances are all good and it’s great to hear many of these tunes again in one comprehensive compilation. Visit www.musicroadrecords.com.

LIVE SHOTS:

Fans of the Providence-based band The Low Anthem are probably thinking it is about time for a new record. While it has been three years since the last TLA album, the band has been performing infrequent live shows. TLA comes out of hibernation this Friday night for a special show at the Sandywoods Farm in Tiverton (43 Muse Way) that begins at 9 p.m. Advance tickets are highly recommended.

It’s an evening a female singer/songwriters at Manchester 65 in West Warwick (65 Manchester St.) on Sunday. In the headlining position is Amy Helm. Daughter of the late and legendary Levon Helm, Amy Helm was a big hit at last summer’s Rhythm & Roots Festival. This is her first appearance at Manchester 65 as a featured performer. Local singer/songwriters Joanne Lurgio and Kait Clavette are in the opening slots. Music begins at 6 p.m.

The mix will be classic, modern and original bluegrass when Big River Stomp takes the stage as part of the Sunday evening acoustic music slot at the Wood River Inn (Main Street) in downtown Wyoming. The spirits begin flowing at 6 p.m.

Dan Ferguson is a free-lance music writer and host of The Boudin Barndance, broadcast Thursday nights from 6 p.m. to 9 p.m. on WRIU-FM 90.3.

 

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