The Dawn of Grace by Sixpence None the Richer

It is obviously a Christmas album, but it is that season so something a little different seamed the best approach. Todays recommendation from the unsolicited music recommendation service is, The Dawn of Grace by Sixpence None the Richer.

Rather than remark on every track I will confess this album as a guilty pleasure and pick out my highlights.

The opening track Angels We Have Heard On High makes it clear that this is a Sixpence None the Richer with the guitar sounds and vocal backing parts.

The Last Christmas Without You is a well craft track with stunning song writing, narrative content and some haunting instrumental parts throughout. In fact I think this is possibly my favorite track on the album.

The exposed guitar opening and processed drum sounds give O Come, O Come Emmanuel a haunting aspect fitting of such a song.

The album continues with a pleasant collection of Christmas songs presented in slightly unusual arrangements. The duet within the later verses of Silent Night is stunning while the abrasiveness of the Carol of the Bells is a welcome relief. Christmas Island is very self aware and supported with a delightful mix. The recording of River features a stunning vocal performance over a well crafted instrumental arrangement.

The concluding track Some Children See Him features an initially exposed vocal performance joined by some delicate string parts.

If you use Apple Music you can listen to The Dawn of Grace.

MTV Unplugged by Bryan Adams

Todays recommendation from the unsolicited music recommendation service is, MTV Unplugged by Bryan Adams.

One suspects than an unwritten rule of MTV sessions is the requirement to open with the big hit regardless of its suitability for the ‘unplugged’ treatment. Consequently Summer of ‘69 opens this album in a fairly unremarkable way but it is worth pushing on.

The track Back to You makes fair better use of the unplugged instrumentation while the version of Cuts Like A Knife is one of the best live recordings made of that track. I’m Ready and Fits Ya Good continue with interesting arrangements and treatments.

A significant change in feel happens with the track When You Love Someone featuring well captured and arranged strings. The backing vocals are also delivered with great sensitivity as well as the instrumental solos. Though the ending is perhaps a little disappointing.

The interesting use of the strings continues into the track 18 Till I Die with the strings driving the entire track even covering the typical guitar solo. The reworking of tracks continues with I Think About You to great effect.

The blues versions of If Ya Wanna Be Bad - Ya Gotta Be Good / Let’s Make It A Night To Remember is a welcome shift in feel but lacks the interest of the other tracks. Likewise the track The Only Thing That Looks Good On Me Is You is perhaps a little bland as well and A Little Love is perhaps entirely miss-able.

As the album concludes there is a fear, especially if you have not checked the liner notes, that that song is on the way. Fear not an initially sensitive version of Heaven leads to the concluding track I’ll Always Be Right There.

Throughout the album the playing of Keith Scott is as always exceptional, However the performance specific contributions of Michael Kamen and Davy Spillane (Bagpipes) really stand out.

If you use Apple Music you can listen to MTV Unplugged.

Koln Concert by Keith Jarrett

Todays recommendation from the unsolicited music recommendation service is, Koln Concert by Keith Jarrett.

The 1975 Koln concert recording by Keith Jarrett is one of my favorite solo piano recordings and possibly my favorite live recording as well.

Listening to the tracks individually would be a disservice to concert nd consequently I shall only mention my thoughts regarding the entire album.

The piano playing as you would expect is tuning with an exciting array of motifs, delivered with great consideration and craft. The performance is even more impressive in light of the later revelation that the piano was not the one intended for the performance and was used despite is poor state.

The recording is beautifully captured and I particularly like the rawness of the captured pedal, foot noises and the occasional vocalisations of the audience and performer.

A stunning recording of a beautiful concert and well worth a listen to it.

Let Go by Avril Lavigne

Todays recommendation from the unsolicited music recommendation service is, Let Go by Avril Lavigne.

The 2002 album Let Go was the debut album of Avril Lavigne and possible one of my favorite guilty pleasures.

Perhaps you already know a number of the tracks on the album as I suspected that this is possibly one of the most successful albums that has featured on my unsolicited music recommendation service. That being said lets enjoy the highlights.

While a good opener, sometimes I skip Losing Grip!

A stunning single which perhaps introduced many to Avril Lavigne Complicated offers a good insight in to what is to come. Catchy lyrics and a chorus that just demands to by sung along with.

Perhaps the highlight of the album Sk8er Boi combines stunning song writing with interesting instrumental flourish delivered by the entire band to great effective. Just considered the variations in the transitions between the sections.

At this point Avril Lavigne feels the need to get a little more serious with the heartfelt I’m With You. Perhaps it is a little heavy handed but the guitars have a great blend and the vocals are committed in performance.

Mobile quickly gestures the album back to a more upbeat feel and features some well crafted gestures between the sections.

Taking a more heavy sound Unwanted is perhaps a little strained but the variations in shade within the track make it interesting to listen.

After the heavy guitars the stripped down initial mix of Tomorrow is a welcome variation and the vocal performance while exposed features interesting processing and multi tracking.

Another shift in feel Anything But Ordinary feels a little pedestrian in comparison with the other tracks. I do however enjoy the variations in the vocal performance. I must confess that some of the lyrics to see a little contrived such as,

Let down your defenses
Use no common sense
If you look you will see
That this world is a beautiful
Accident turbulent succulent
Opulent permanent, no way
I want to taste it
Don't want to waste it away

What every your thoughts regarding Anything But Ordinary the moment the guitars for Things I’ll Never Say start all is forgiven. In particular I love the vocal rhythm around the lyrics,

If I could say what I want to say
I'd say I want to blow you, away

Ok so My World is just a little to bright but anyway…

Another change in feel with Nobody’s Fool, an interesting sonic space and a variety of approaches to vocal processing. While not as catchy as some of the previous tracks it is a surprisingly mature track on the album and not one to be missed.

The album closes out with Too Much To Ask and Naked both competent tracks.

If you use Apple Music you can listen to Let Go.

A little bonus fact I am pretty certain that I saw Avril Lavigne perform live on March 21, 2003 in Manchester at the (then Carling) Apollo.

In fact I think my friend Jax bought me a poster!

The Art of the Trio Volume 2 by Brad Mehldau

Todays recommendation from the unsolicited music recommendation service is, The Art of the Trio Volume 2 by Brad Mehldau.

The 1998 album The Art of the Trio Volume 2 is a beautiful jazz trio album and one of my favorites.

The album features the stunning playing of Larry Grenadier, Jorge Rossy and of course Brad Mehldau.

Rather than mention every track by name allow me a little more efficiency in review. The opening series of entries within the first track It’s Alright With Me are indicative of the quality of what is to follow.

If you use Apple Music you can listen to The Art of the Trio Volume 2.