MOZART CASTRATO ARIAS
JOSÉ FELICIANO & ARNO RAUNIG
Backed by the Symphony Orchestra of Sofia, Bulgaria, Feliciano accompanies Arno Raunig, a male soprano. The Austrian’s five-octave range is as unique as Feliciano’s bluesy string bends. Andrés Segovia and Charlie Byrd would be proud.
—Mark C. Davis
HOW MUSIC DIES (OR LIVES)
Subtitled “Field Recording and the Battle for Democracy in the Arts,” my old SF music buddy not only risks his neck recording in sometimes dangerous places (Rwanda, Malawi, South Sudan), he uses the experience of documenting folk and modern music to pose questions about artistic authenticity. Thought-provoking, heavy, and a must-read for anyone who dares to call themselves an artist.
MIKE ELDRED TRIO
Named for a small neighborhood outside of Greenwood, Mississippi, where Robert Johnson met his maker in 1938, Baptist Town evokes the scent of damp Mississippi dirt as it journeys though the deep south, touching the picturesque and often haunting legacies of the region. Eldred’s soulful guitar and vocals fire up tunes like “Hunder Dollar Bill,” “Sugar Shake,” and “Hoodoo Man,” and with a guest lineup that includes David Hidalgo, John Mayer, Robert Cray, and the Emmanuel Church Inspirational Choir, this record radiates vibe like a hot coal stove.
There’s nothing particularly reckless about this record, but it’s perfectly crafted pop-country with glistening acoustic guitars and spot-on electric work courtesy of co-producer and Nashville mainstay Dann Huff. Huff, who also turns in sweet performances on bass, mandolin, and sitar, is a freaking hook machine with perennially stellar tone. (Anybody remember his band Giant from the late ’80s? I do!) He gets help from Dan Dugmore, who, among other things, plays a great lap-steel solo on “The Real Thing.”