Spins and Reviews | 08.31.17
By Alan Haber – Pure Pop Radio
Jerry Yester | Pass Your Light Around (Omnivore, 2017)
The list of artists Jerry Yester was associated with back in the 1960s and 1970s suggests his path in the music was lit by angels; he played in bands as diverse as the Lovin’ Spoonful, the Modern Folk Quartet, and Rosebud, and sat in the producer’s chair for albums by artists such as the Association, Tim Buckley, and the Turtles.
Yester, who started out playing in a duo dubbed the Yester Brothers with his equally talented brother Jim (who was a member of the Association and, in fact, still is), recorded various tracks through the 1970s yet never released a solo album. Enter Omnivore Records, which came to the rescue and righted a decades-old wrong with this glorious collection of 15 songs that act collectively as a master class in pop singing and songwriting.
These wonderful songs, written with Larry Beckett, who worked with Tim Buckley, run the gamut from the country-tinged celebratory pop of the joyous “My Dusty Darling” to the pretty, almost hymnlike “Brooklyn Girl,” which features some of the most intricate, close and affecting harmonies you could imagine hearing; and the amazing “All I Can Do is Dance,” a very Association-like performance that also puts the emphasis on singing that will do nothing less than send shivers up your spine.
Omnivore has been at the forefront of the much-appreciated and important movement to rescue and bring to light important catalog and previously-unheard recordings. Being able to appreciate music from years past allows listeners to better understand and put into context the breadth of an artist’s career. With Pass Your Light Around, the company has released what can only be viewed as one of the most vital releases of 2017.
Where to Get It: The Omnivore Shop (Pre-order) (releases October 6)
Phil Angotti | Such Stories (2017)
A staple of Pure Pop Radio playlists since the early 2000s, Chicago musician Phil Angotti’s music, whether performed solo or with his group the Idea, is always an engaging listen. This new album, a stripped-down collection of personal, acoustic songs with just guitars, accordion and dulcimer in the mix, offers a chance to hear Phil’s songs in an intimate setting.
These heartfelt songs resonate deeply with meaning and emotion. “Brown Eyes Never Lie,” against a vaguely old English folk backdrop, peers into a soul that’s lost its way, and offers a way back: “You can always get it back/So smile a little smile/Sad eyes don’t look good on you/And sorrow’s not your style.” The narrator of “Sunny Day on the East Side” is out for a stroll amidst random observations, when the sun goes down and it’s time to take stock: “And now it’s late and the sun is gone/We’re walking home/Sing a Beatles song/We laugh as if there is nothing wrong/It was a sunny day on the east side.” Is he hiding some regret?
Perhaps the centerpiece of this album is the joyous “Singing in the Yard,” in which a young boy auditions for a life in song (“In a small backyard he waits and stands alone/A broomstick and a ball for a microphone/You can hear his voice from across the fence/Patiently waiting for his audience”). By the end of the song, he finds himself assessing his position, a commitment to his burgeoning art: “It’s time to go, his friends are off to play/Though he wants to be one of them, he’s miles away/Though he wants to go along/He’s worlds away.”
An insightful collection of songs, beautifully sung and played, Such Stories is such a draw of honest emotion set to lovely melodies that I can’t help but recommend it wholeheartedly to one and all.
Where to Get It: CD Baby, iTunes. Listen on Spotify
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