Release Day Picks: January 25th New Album Highlights

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Each week Release Day Picks profiles new LPs and EPs Team JamBase will be checking out on release day Friday. This week we highlight new albums by Santana, Michael Franti & Spearhead, William Tyler, The Motet and Cycles. Read on for more insight into the records we have all queued up to spin.


Santana – In Search Of Mona Lisa

The Scoop: 71-year-old guitarist Carlos Santana recently made his first trip to the renowned Louve museum in Paris where he encountered Leonardo da Vinci’s masterpiece Mona Lisa. The visit inspired the three-song EP In Search Of Mona Lisa. The EP features Carlos’ wife Cindy Blackmon Santana on drums, Karl Perrazo on percussion, Ron Carter on bass and vocals provided by Cornell “CC” Carter, Andy Vargas and Ray Greene. Producer/composer Narada Michael Walden added drums, bass and keyboards to the title track. Here’s how Carlos described his trip to the Louve:

I heard [the Mona Lisa] say to me, “Hi.” It was stunning, and I didn’t know what to say back, so I just said, “Hi.” And then she said, “Do you remember me? When we were lovers in another time?” It was the most incredible occurrence, and in a way, it was kind of perfect that I had never been to the Louvre before, because this might not have happened at another time. I had to be who I am now, knowing that God is everywhere and that He was saying, “I love you,” by sending me this message of inspiration and visualization.


Michael Franti & Spearhead – Stay Human Vol. II

The Scoop: Michael Franti’s self-directed 2018 documentary film Staty Human, which shares a title with Michael Franti & Spearhead’s 2000 album, served as the inspiration for Stay Human Vol. II. “I’ve traveled the globe making music and throughout the years I’ve always hoped that it could inspire small steps towards making the world a better place,” Franti stated. “Struggling with the challenges of the world I began filming my new documentary, Staty Human, telling the stories of heroic everyday people who helped me to discover more deeply what it means to be and STAY HUMAN.” The 14-track second volume was co-produced by Franti with Ben Simonetti, Niko Moon and Kevin Bard. Featured guests contributing to the new album include Victoria Canal, HIRIE and AGodess. Franti’s Stay Human documentary is also out today via on demand and digital distributors.


William Tyler – Goes West

The Scoop: After years living in Nashville, guitarist William Tyler decided to relocate to California. The move to the West Coast became the inspiration for Tyler’s fourth studio album the aptly titled Goes West. The 10-track effort was recorded at Flora Recording And Playback in Portland, Oregon with engineer Tucker Martine and produced by Brad Cook (Megafaun), who also contributes bass. The LP also features guitarist Bill Frisell, drummer Griffin Goldsmith (Dawes), keyboardist James Wallace (Phil Cook/Hiss Golden Messenger) and guitarist Meg Duffy (Hand Habits).


The Motet – Death Or Devotion

The Scoop: Denver-based funk revivalists The Motet are now three years into the Lyle Divinsky era and it’s hard to remember a time the vocalist wasn’t leading the band. Out today is the group’s latest studio album, Death Or Devotion, the first in which Lyle, saxophonist Drew Sayers and trumpeter Parris Fleming worked with the band from the beginning of the process through the end. Death Or Devotion was recorded during intermittent sessions held at Colorado’s Scanhope Sound starting in 2017. “The essence is always going to be the groove, but we wanted to expand the idea of what a funk album could be,” Divinsky said of the nine-track, self-released effort. “Of course, you want a driving backbeat. However, with the division that’s going on in this country and the world, I think it’s every artist’s responsibility to create a conversation. That conversation doesn’t have to be political either. It can be about love or an introspective journey. I think the commentary should be on what it’s like to be alive today. By drawing on funk, we create a fun, palatable musical vehicle for the message to go down. Our goal is for you to recognize we’re all dancing on the same dance floor—even though our steps may look a little different.”


Cycles – Live Vol I

The Scoop: Colorado-based power trio Cycles recorded 20 shows last year and then enlisted a dedicated group of fans and friends dubbed “The Cycles Jam Sifters” to listen to each recording to find the best version of each song. The result is the group’s debut live album Cycles Live Vol. 1. Guitarist Patrick Harvey, bassist Tucker McClung and drummer Michael Wood show off their skills as both improvisers and composers over the course of the 17-track compilation. “For me, it’s this sense of variety that makes the album special,” Wood said. “Since it was recorded all over the country in different rooms, using different microphones and with the help of different sound guys, each show sounds a little different. I really like that. It’s representative of our experience as it changes from night to night.”


Compiled by Jeffrey Greenblatt, Andy Kahn and Scott Bernstein.