A Hundred Miles or More: A Collection
Rounder/Umgd; April 2007
Bluegrass/country artist Alison Krauss’s recently released solo hits album reflects her diverse career in bluegrass music as a master vocalist, instrumentalist, collaborator, and producer. On A Hundred Miles, Krauss steps away from tradition, leaving behind longtime band Union Station to showcase duets with artists such as John Waite, Brad Paisley, and James Taylor. The album also includes her Oscar-nominated songs from the movies Cold Mountain and O Brother, Where Art Thou?, along with five new tracks that feature Krauss as a producer. The album’s constant is Krauss’s voice, which can only be described as angelic. Her songs of lost love sound like sweet lullaby-stories perfect for rainy days. -Rachel Weight
Saddle Creek; April 2007
With the release of his eighth full-length album, Cassadaga, 27-year-old Bright Eyes frontman Conor Oberst has successfully navigated the process of growing up before our ears. Tracks like the jangly “Four Winds” and the sweetly riotous “I Must Belong Somewhere” stick close to Bright Eyes’ formula, substituting new depth for a drastically new style. And throughout, Oberst has successfully edited out most of his unnecessary self-indulgences (aside from opener “Clairaudients (Kill or Be Killed),” where a psychic rambles on about his future for entirely too long). What we’re left with is a sweeping, poignant narrative of love, loss, and everything in between. -Sarah Hammill
19 Entertainment/Sony; November 2006
After listening to his debut CD, Daughtry, it’s hard to believe that just a year ago Chris Daughtry was unknown. The 12 songs on his multi-platinum-selling album are tight, crisp, melodic, and rocking. One standout is “There and Back Again,” which opens with a Les Claypool-esque bass line before exploding into a fast-driving rock song that continues unrestrained until its end. The socially conscious “All These Lives” is at once lovely and defiant with biting lyrics directed at kidnappers (“All these lives that you’ve been taking, deep inside my heart is breaking/Broken homes from separation/Don’t you know it’s violation”). “Crashed” hooks you with its moody opening and then drapes you in a wall of sound. Daughtry also offers up love songs “Feels Like Tonight,” “Over You,” and the sweet ode “Home” (which was used as the exit song on American Idol season 6).
Overall, the CD is well-paced and offers a nice mixture of tunes for both rock and alt-rock fans. While Daughtry did have heavy musical hitters-producer Howard Benson, songwriter/singer Rob Thomas, and guitarist Slash-helping him with the shotgun recording of the album (he recorded it in a few months while touring with the AI Season Five top 10), it’s clear that he has significant songwriting talent of his own. He wrote or co-wrote every song on the CD-a first for an AI alum. Add to that a powerful, mellifluous voice akin to Live‘s Ed Kowalczyk, Remy Zero’s Cinjun Tate, and Chris Cornell and there’s no doubt that Chris Daughtry is on his way to securing a place in rock history.
Daughtry will perform Saturday, July 28 at the Mid-State Fair. Visit midstatefair.com for ticket info. -Michelle Drown
Self-Released; April 2007
Every now and then, a recording comes along that literally knocks you off your feet. Jesse Rhodes’s Wanderland is one such recording. From the classic balladry of “Tales from the Far Side” to the gorgeously infectious melody that propels “Sweet Accomplice,” Wanderland is a mature, considered, and persuasive solo offering from the singer/songwriter formerly behind Stegosaurus. With 14 songs spanning the recording, it’s difficult to highlight one particular composition at the expense of another. Suffice it to say that while Wanderland might very well be emerging as a low-key local release, it is destined to be wowing people the world over. -Brett Leigh Dicks