Everything Everytime Everywhere
Trevor Hall (Vanguard)
There's nothing like an all-encompassing title to breed high hopes for an album, so give Trevor Hall props for not stinting when it came to naming this 11-track disc.
After listening, though, you might be forgiven for thinking it should be more like something, sometime, somewhere.
Because it's not particularly wide-ranging in its sonic influences, although that's not necessarily a bad thing. Instead of losing focus by cherry-picking from myriad styles, Hall sticks pretty close to an interesting mix of reggae, rock, and acoustic.
His songs are melodic, the lyrics have a distinctly spiritual element, although at times they appear as though they might apply as much to a physical as spiritual relationship, and he has an attractive vocal style that carries a Caribbean accent.
Is that genuine or a musical persona? It doesn't really matter, because it suits the material well. Hall also realizes that a little spirituality doesn't mean you can't rock out. Which he does.
Three tracks at the start of the disc set the tone. Sunny reggae with a percolating rhythm and appealing melody are at the heart of "The Return," but the next track, "Brand New Day," takes a very different tack with slamming rock and roll and a powerful chorus. That, in turn, is followed by a punkier take on reggae with "Fire" about a girl who "is fire/Everything she touches burns."
Add some more message-infused calypso ("Different Hunger"), rap-style vocals ("Dr. Seuss"), gentle acoustic ("Te Amo"), plus a bonus chant-like track and Hall's new disc totals not quite everything, but enough to make it something well worth listening to.
-- RICHARD PATON
West County Drifter
Eric Lindell (M.C. Records)
Blues guitarist Eric Lindell, who occasionally has drawn comparisons to Van Morrison, shows why he's emerging as one of the freshest, upbeat, and innovative singer-songwriters in the roots-soul genre, with his wind-blown, blue jeans and breezy-yet-offbeat style on this fun, two-disc release of mostly original material.
A Californian who has settled in New Orleans, Lindell quietly has been drawing fans since his 2006 debut on Alligator Records with a sound that blends elements of the West Coast and the deep South, bluesy but with occasional hints of country twang.
"West County Drifter" is his first release on the M.C. Records label and is largely a hybrid of two self-released discs. He sings of love, relationships and life on the road, but his sweet chords and fun arrangements offer some real charm and pleasant inspiration. Special guests include Delbert McClinton, Peter Joseph Burtt, and Ivan Neville.
-- TOM HENRY
The Jayhawks (Rounder)
The past tugs at the Jayhawks on "Mockingbird Time," perhaps because it's the first full-band studio release since 1995 to feature both founding members, Gary Louris -- a Toledo native -- and Mark Olson.
The reunited quintet reflects and reminisces. "Childhood washed away ... where did it go?" Louris and Olson ask on "Tiny Arrows." Not that the two songwriters have been apart that long -- they recorded an album as an acoustic duo in 2008.
This time they plug in to draw from the Jayhawks' familiar musical palette. Their love of the 1960s remains strong, with druggy instrumental breaks and frequent aural nods to the Byrds ("She Walks In So Many Ways") and Buffalo Springfield ("Tiny Arrows," "Black-Eyed Susan"). Whether the band's rocking out or turning twangy, soulful melodies linger.
While Louris and Olson mostly sing in harmony, the album is dominated by moments of solitude, with the outdoors the sole companion. The passage of the years is measured via affectionate references to rain, wind, grass, sky, clouds, lightning, sunshine, rivers, hills, desert, and songbirds -- "Mockingbird Time."
One conclusion reached is that it's good to reconnect with old friends. This album allows fans of the Jayhawks to do just that.
-- STEVEN WINE, Associated Press