Today’s New Albums: Prince, Yola, Los Lobos, Charlie Parr, Jim Lauderdale & More
Blues Traveler, Son Volt, Deer Tick and ElephantProof round out this week's new releases you don't want to miss.
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 Prince, Yola, Los Lobos, Charlie Parr, Jim Lauderdale, Blues Traveler, Son Volt, Durand Jones & the Indications, Deer Tick and Elephant Proof. Read on for more insight into the records we have all queued up to spin.
Prince – Welcome 2 America
The Scoop: Welcome 2 America was recorded by Prince at his Paisley Park Studios in 2010, but went unreleased prior to his death in 2016. The 12-track posthumously released album was issued today by Legacy Recordings. The previously unheard release was recorded by Prince with bassist Tal Wilkenfeld, drummer Chris Coleman, keyboardist Morris Hayes, vocalists Shelby J, Liv Warfield and Elisa Fiorillo from New Power Generation, and engineer Jason Agel. Prince and Hayes are credited as co-producers. Promotional materials described the LP as presenting “Prince’s concerns, hopes, and visions for a shifting society, presciently foreshadowing an era of political division, disinformation, and a renewed fight for racial justice.”
Yola – Stand For Myself
The Scoop: Singer-songwriter Yola takes a sonic shift on her sophomore full length, Stand For Myself, that is out today on Easy Eye Sound. The 12-track album was produced by Easy Eye Sound founder Dan Auerbach (The Black Keys), who also produced Yola’s 2019 debut LP, Walk Through Fire. Yola recorded Stand For Myself last fall with a rhythm section featuring bassist Nick Movshon and drummer Aaron Frazer. The songs on the album were written during the pandemic while Yola was quarantining. Those with co-writing credits include Ruby Amanfu, John Bettis, Pat McLaughlin, Natalie Hemby, Joy Oladokun, Paul Overstreet, Liz Rose, Aaron Lee Tasjan, Hannah Vasanth and Bobby Wood.
“It’s a collection of stories of allyship, black feminine strength through vulnerability, and loving connection from the sexual to the social. All celebrating a change in thinking and paradigm shift at their core,” Yola stated regarding Stand For Myself. “It is an album not blindly positive and it does not simply plead for everyone to come together. It instead explores ways that we need to stand for ourselves throughout our lives, what limits our connection as humans and declares that real change will come when we challenge our thinking and acknowledge our true complexity.”
Los Lobos – Native Sons
The Scoop: East L.A.’s Los Lobos today releases Native Sons, a self-produced album out through New West Records honoring the musical heritage of their hometown. The 48-year-old band assembled the “love letter to Los Angeles” with the mission of “mapping their musical DNA as a kaleidoscopic selection of tribute songs from their homeland,” as per press materials announcing Native Sons. The 13-track record’s title track is its lone original.
Los Lobos selected tunes to cover by such famed acts as the Beach Boys, Buffalo Springfield, Jackson Browne and WAR as well as deep cuts by Thee Midniters, the Blasters, Lalo Guerrero and Percy Mayfield. “I couldn’t say there’s a common thread for all these artists, but in a way that’s exactly what makes L.A. great,” said Los Lobos’ Steve Berlin. “You’ve got R&B and punk rock and rock-and-roll and folk, and somehow it exists together in this one weird city that we all call home.”
Charlie Parr – Last of the Better Days Ahead
The Scoop: Singer-songwriter Charlie Parr makes his Smithsonian Folkways debut with Last Of The Better Days Ahead. The Minnesota native and lifelong resident drew upon biographical memories when shaping the songs on the 11-track LP, which were written at the start of the COVID-19 pandemic.
“I’m sure that the pandemic was getting in there,” Parr said on The JamBase Podcast. “There are certain songs that have the vibe of isolation. I spent the pandemic, more or less, on my own, and that seeps into it.”
Brad Cook played an integral role co-producing the album, which was recorded twice after Cook helped Parr realize he needed to start over and largely scrap an initial round of tracking sessions last fall at the storied Pachyderm Studios in Cannon Falls, Minnesota. Parr then redid the tracks at Real Phonic Studios in Cleveland, Minnesota in January of this year.
Jim Lauderdale – Hope
The Scoop: Singer-songwriter Jim Lauderdale returns with his latest album, Hope. Lauderdale recorded the 13 songs on the LP at Nashville’s Blackbird Studios with co-producer and frequent collaborator Jay Weaver. Hope features contributions from Chris Scruggs, Kenny Vaughan, Russ Pahl, Craig Smith, Will Van Horn, Micah Hulscher, Dave Racine, Pat Bubert, Wes L’Annglois, Lillie Mae and Frank Rische. Perhaps most notably, Hope includes the song “Memory,” one of the last songs Lauderdale wrote with late Grateful Dead lyricist Robert Hunter, who also had a long working relationship writing with Lauderdale. The album features paintings by Maureen Hunter, Robert’s widow, on the cover and its packaging.
“Losing Robert just before the pandemic was so hard,” Lauderdale stated. “But he left the perfect lyric, to sum up my feelings about him and to honor all the people we’ve lost since.”
Blues Traveler – Treveler’s Blues
The Scoop: Blues Traveler assembled at Nashville’s Sienna Studios last year to record Traveler’s Blues, a covers album out today via Round Hill Records. The follow-up to 2018’s Hurry Up & Hang Around was produced by the same producer, Matt Rollings. Guests on the 10-track album include Warren Haynes, Christone “Kingfish” Ingram, Rita Wilson, The War & Treaty, Keb’ Mo’, Mickey Raphael, Crystal Bowersox and John Scofield. The band — consisting of frontman John Popper, guitarist Chan Kinchla, keyboardist Ben Wilson, drummer Brendan Hill and bassist Tad Kinchla — picked songs incorporating the blues including The Doors’ “Roadhouse Blues,” Son Seals’ “Funky Bitch,” JJ Cale’s “Call Me The Breeze,” Jimmy Reed’s “You Got Me Runnin’” and Mississippi Sheiks’ “Sittin’ On Top Of The World.”
“We went in there and knocked it out,” Chan said of the experience at Sienna Studios. “If you overproduce blues, it sounds like shit. Blues is supposed to feel alive. We wanted to keep it raw and immediate. We had a solid start, so we just had to capture the moment. On our first album Blues Traveler in 1989, we knew those songs cold from playing them in bars for years. That’s probably the last time we came in that organized. We’d never done anything like this before. This was like doing standards. We weren’t trying to cover the way the artists had done the songs; we were trying to make them our own.”
Son Volt – Electro Melodier
The Scoop: Son Volt’s 10th studio album, Electro Melodier, arrives today via Transmit Sound/Thirty Tigers. Jay Farrar and company recorded at Red Pill Recording Studio in the frontman’s longtime hometown of St. Louis. Additional recording took place in Brooklyn at Tape Kitchen. Farrar was accompanied by fellow Son Volt members Mark Spencer (piano, organ, acoustic slide, lap steel, backing vocals), Andrew DuPlantis (bass, backing vocals), Chris Frame (guitar) and Mark Patterson (drums, percussion). The follow-up to 2019’s Union features 14 tracks written and produced by Farrar during the pandemic.
“I had more time to devote to and concentrate on the writing,” Farrar said. “We were fortunate in that we had just released Union and toured the country, so we were off cycle. It was still a rough year, but as a songwriter, I was able to make the most of it.”
Durand Jones & The Indications – Private Space
The Scoop: Modern soul quintet Durand Jones & The Indications continue their musical progression on Private Space, a studio album issued today by Dead Oceans in association with Colemine Records. Vocalist Durand Jones, drummer/vocalist Aaron Frazer, keyboardist Steve Okonski, bassist Mike Montgomery and guitarist Blake Rhein spent more time than usual crafting the songs featured on the follow-up to 2019’s American Love Call at a cabin in upstate New York. Jones & The Indications experimented with their sound throughout the sessions with the goal of building on their roots in 1960’s soul and funk. Durand Jones & The Indications were joined by a number of guests including an eight-piece string section, vibraphonist Joel Ross and members of the group 79.5 on backing vocals.
“There’s a lot of the band’s original DNA, but it’s not a time capsule,” said Rhein. “It was like this buildup of all the ideas, the love, and the need to make music with these guys again,” Jones added regarding the experience of teaming up with his mates towards the end of 2020 after so much time apart. “We’re actually revealing more of ourselves, a deeper and broader look into who we are as musicians and fans,” explained Frazier.
Deer Tick – Live From Fort Adams
The Scoop: A global pandemic couldn’t stop Deer Tick from playing Fort Adams State Park in Newport, Rhode Island last year as part of the Newport Folk Festival’s virtual 2020 event. The Newport regulars shared their live performance, Live From Fort Adams, a 12-track set featuring live renditions of longtime favorites as well as the new song, “If She Could Only See Me Now.”
“This time last year, we had no idea if or when concerts would ever return,” Deer Tick stated. “Gathering to perform at Fort Adams with one another, among family, friends and a small crew, was a meaningful respite from such a defeating year. This album will likely dredge memories of both joy and pain for years to come, but it will remain a true artifact of a strange time for all of us (it’s also living proof that “Deer Tick Day” exists in the city of Newport, Rhode Island, and that in itself puts a grin on our faces). Enjoy and please support live music as we all venture back out into each other’s lives!”
ElephantProof – EP EP
The Scoop: Hiatus is over for Boston-based electro- jazz-funk quartet ElephantProof, who are back with the aptly titled, EP EP. The seven-song set brings together Goose drummer Ben Atkind, keyboardist Chris Enright (a co-founding member of Goose), guitarist Sean Cronin and bassist Shon Gordon. ElephantProof will perform live in public for the first time since 2014 when they take the stage in August at Lockn’ Presents: Fred Fest.
“So stoked to finally be sharing music I’ve worked on with my good friends for what feels like forever,” Atkind stated. “I can’t wait to get back on stage with these guys and give people a different look at some of our favorite styles.”
Compiled by Scott Bernstein and Andy Kahn.