Today’s New Albums: Robert Plant & Alison Krauss, Willie Nelson, Phil Cook, Makaya McCraven & More
Bruce Springsteen, Leo Nocentelli, King Crimson, Mapache, Adele and Lacuna also have new music out today.
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 Robert Plant & Alison Krauss, Willie Nelson, Phil Cook, Makaya McCraven, Bruce Springsteen, Leo Nocentelli, King Crimson, Mapache, Adele and Lacuna. Read on for more insight into the records we have all queued up to spin.
Robert Plant & Alison Krauss – Raise The Roof
The Scoop: In 2007, Robert Plant & Alison Krauss released their first collaboration, Raising Sand to critical acclaim and commercial success. Today, the pair unveiled Raise The Roof, the long-awaited follow-up, via Rounder Records. T Bone Burnett reprised his role on Raising Sand by producing Raise The Roof. Contributors to the 12-track effort include guitarists Marc Ribot, David Hidalgo, Bill Frisell and Buddy Miller as well as drummer Jay Bellerose, pedal steel guitarist Russ Pahl and bassists Dennis Crouch and Viktor Krauss.
Sessions were held at Nashville’s Sound Emporium Studios starting in late 2019 and work was completed a mere weeks before the pandemic began. Plant and Burnett penned the original “High And Lonesome” for the set, but Raise The Roof focuses on new recordings of songs by such famed musicians as Allen Toussaint, Bert Jansch, Anne Briggs, Merle Haggard and The Everly Brothers, among others. “One of my favorite parts of this is the songs and songwriters that I had never heard of,” explained Alison Krauss in a press release. “Working with Robert, and with T Bone, is always a great education in music history.”
Willie Nelson – The Willie Nelson Family
The Scoop: Legacy Recordings released The Willie Nelson Family album today. The LP features the iconic artist and his extremely talented musical family on six tracks from Willie’s stunning body of work as well as covers by George Harrison, Kris Kristofferson, Hank Williams, A.P. Carter and more. Playing on the record are Willie Nelson (lead vocals, background vocals, Trigger), Bobbie Nelson (piano), Lukas Nelson (acoustic guitar, electric guitar, lead vocals, background vocals), Micah Nelson (drums, bass, background vocals), Paula Nelson (background vocals) and Amy Nelson (background vocals) along with longtime Willie Nelson band members Mickey Raphael (harmonica), Billy English (drums), Paul English (percussion) and Kevin Smith (bass).
Willie Nelson co-produced The Willie Nelson Family with Steve Chadie at Pedernales Studios in Austin, Texas. Nelson and family previewed the album with the song that launched Willie’s career as a songwriter in the 1950s, “Family Bible,” which also counts among four tracks on the album that document some of Nelson’s final recordings with friend and longtime drummer Paul English, who sadly died in 2020. Willie’s son Lukas sings lead on Harrison’s “All Things Must Pass” and the Carter Family classic “Keep It On The Sunnyside.” Additionally, Lukas and Willie share vocal duties on Hank Williams’ “I Saw The Light,” Kris Kristofferson’s “Why Me,” which closes out the album, and more.
Phil Cook – All These Years
The Scoop: All These Years is multi-instrumentalist Phil Cook’s first instrumental solo album on his primary instrument, the piano. Described as “a collection of hymnprovisations on the piano,” Cook called the album his “most honest work of my career.” The 10-song album was recorded in spring 2021 at NorthStar Church of the Arts in Durham, North Carolina. Joining Cook for the three days of sessions was his cousin and collaborator Brian Joseph (Bon Iver, Sufjan Stevens, Indigo Girls). Cook performed on a 100-year-old Steinway piano, improvising for hours at a time to create six of the 10 pieces. Two of the songs were conceived by Cook during a weeklong solo writing retreat in the Blue Ridge Mountains of North Carolina supported by a grant from the National Arts Council. Another two were written on Joseph’s broken piano in Wisconsin.
Makaya McCraven – Deciphering The Message
The Scoop: Chicago-based drummer Makaya McCraven went into the archives of Blue Note Records to create, Deciphering The Message, a collection of remixes of tracks from the historic jazz label’s vaults. The new album follows McCraven’s 2020 album, We’re New Again, which reimagined Gil Scott-Heron’s final record, I’m New Here. The 13 tracks on Deciphering The Message consist of remixes of recordings originally made by such jazz giants as Kenny Burrell, Art Blakey, Hank Mobley, Kenny Dorham, Horace Silver, Bobby Hutcherson, Clifford Brown, Dexter Gordon and Eddie Gale. Supporting McCraven on the updated versions of the tracks were vibraphonist Joel Ross, trumpeter Marquis Hill, alto saxophonist Greg Ward, guitarists Matt Gold and Jeff Parker, bassist Junius Paul and tenor saxophonist/flautist De’Sean Jones.
“When piecing everything together, I wanted to create a narrative that made the listener feel like they were falling into this space or a movement,” stated McCraven. “I was really trying to make a record out of it, not just a series of tracks. I always want to make music that will connect with people in one way, where it makes them nod or feel something or transport them somewhere. I also hope this makes them check out the source of this music if they have it. The music that we’re making now is part of the same route and is connected, so I want to honor tradition and release something that people can vibe to.”
Bruce Springsteen & The E Street Band – The Legendary 1979 No Nukes Concerts
The Scoop: A live album compiling the best performances from Bruce Springsteen & The E Street Band’s The Legendary 1979 No Nukes Concerts arrived today via Sony Music Entertainment’s Premium Content Division, in partnership with Sony Pictures Home Entertainment. The 13-song set and accompanying concert film features a composite of two shows that took place at New York City’s Madison Square Garden on September 21 and 22, 1979. The benefit concerts were held after the band completed a tour in support of 1978’s Darkness On The Edge Of Town and were Springsteen and company’s first performances since January 1, 1979.
The set includes the live debut of “The River” as well as beloved songs such as “Thunder Road,” “Jungleland,” “Rosalita Come Out Tonight” and “Born To Run.” Additionally, guests Jackson Browne, Tom Petty and Rosemary Butler contributed to a cover of Maurice Williams’ “Stay.”
“A few years ago, I started re-examining the filmed archives for Bruce and the Band’s appearances at the No Nukes concerts of 1979,” said longtime Springsteen collaborator and the film’s editor, Thom Zimny in a statement. “I quickly realized that these were the best performances and best filming from the Band’s legendary Seventies, and dedicated myself to bringing out the full potential of the footage. Having worked as Bruce’s principal director and editor for the last 20 years, I can say without reservation that this newly re-edited, re-mixed and restored ninety-minute film is the gold standard for Bruce and the Band live during one of their greatest creative periods.”
Leo Nocentelli – Another Side
The Scoop: It’s taken 50 years and the help of Light In The Attic Records to get The Meters guitarist Leo Nocentelli’s solo album, Another Side, its proper release. Recorded in 1971 at Cosimo Matassa’s Jazz City Studio in New Orleans, the sessions saw Nocentelli backed at times by The Meters’ rhythm section of bassist George Porter Jr. and drummer Zigaboo Modeliste, as well as legendary New Orleans pianist Allen Toussaint and drummer James Black. The 10-song collection features nine Nocentelli originals alongside a cover of Elton’s John’s “Your Song.” Other priorities led to the tracks making up Another Side being shelved while Nocentelli continued working with The Meters, Toussaint and others. The remarkable tale of its release today on LITA goes like this:
By the time that the album was finished, The Meters were busier than ever. They had just signed a record deal with Warner Brothers and were now the official house band at Toussaint’s studio, Sea-Saint. There, they not only backed artists on Toussaint’s Sehorn label but had also become the go-to session musicians for every major artist that recorded in New Orleans. Rather than focus on a solo career, Nocentelli poured his energies into The Meters’ next album. Eventually, time moved on, as did Nocentelli, and he decided to store his unreleased solo album at Sea-Saint for safekeeping.
In 2005, when Hurricane Katrina devastated New Orleans, Sea-Saint was among its victims. While Toussaint (who passed away in 2015) had sold the hallowed studio in the mid-90s, hundreds of his archived recordings remained in the building. The new owner salvaged what he could from the flooded building, shipping everything to a storage facility in Southern California. Boxes of tapes sat there for more than a decade before moving to another unit, which foreclosed a year later. The contents were purchased in a blind auction and, days later, sold at a swap meet. The fact that record collector Mike Nishita just happened to be there was pure kismet.
Nishita, a DJ and brother to “Money Mark” Nishita (of Beastie Boys fame), recognized the Sea-Saint label on the boxes and purchased all 673 master tapes at the swap meet. He inspected the contents with his friend Mario Caldato Jr., the longtime audio engineer for the Beastie Boys. In addition to masters from Irma Thomas, Dr. John, Lee Dorsey, and Toussaint, there was a quarter-inch reel with Nocentelli’s name on it. As Caldato and Nishita played it back, they knew they had something special.
King Crimson – Music Is Our Friend
The Scoop: King Crimson returns with a new live album today, Music Is Our Friend. Material for the live double LP was taken from the U.S. leg of the prog-rock pioneers’ 2021 Music Is Our Friend Tour. Like many tours in 2021, the Music Is Our Friend excursion contained its fair share of pitfalls, but Crimson persevered and made it to what their website called “King Crimson’s final performance in North America.” The lion’s share of the material on Music Is Our Friend comes from that concert which took place in Washington D.C. on September 11 while the compilation is rounded out with four tracks from KC’s “Friends and Family” concert in Albany, New York on August 22, which the website noted, “have a more intimate feel.”
“Taken together, these tracks represent both a beginning and an end of a tour that took place despite almost insurmountable issues,” the press release continued…“By the time King Crimson reached Washington DC, the band was in ferocious form with a powerful, energetic set with some arrangements reworked and differing from previous tours.”
The live record contains Crimson favorites like “Larks’ Tongues In Aspic Part I” — which features a middle section not performed since 1973 — “Neurotica,” D.C. set closer “Starless,” encore “21st Century Schizoid Man” and more. A poignant performance of “Islands” from Albany closes out the collection.
Mapache – 3
The Scoop: After the release of From Liberty Street in March 2020, Mapache was set to hit the road in support of the LP. However, the pandemic forced the Los Angeles-based duo of Sam Blasucci and Clay Finch to cancel those plans. Instead, they went to work recording in their hometown with frequent collaborator Dan Horne. Out today from Mapache via Innovative Leisure is 3, an EP produced by Horne consisting of eight diverse covers that came out of those sessions.
“These are deeply loved songs from both classic acts and musical contemporaries, all of which Mapache performs with emotional conviction and impeccable style,” as per press materials heralding 3. Those classic acts include Stevie Wonder (“Sunshine Of My Life”), Beach Boys (“All I Wanna Do”) and Old & In The Way (“Midnight Moonlight”). Meanwhile, Allah-Las (“Worship The Sun”), The Babe Rainbow (“Running Back”) and Little Wings (“Sandy Babe”) are the contemporaries Mapache covered for the collection. Takes on songs by Sade (“All About Our Love”) and Louvin Brothers (“On My Way To The Show”) round out 3.
Adele – 30
The Scoop: British singer-songwriter Adele’s aptly titled new album, 30, is out today, roughly five years after the release of her previous LP, 25. Keeping with the naming conventions of that record, her 2008 debut, 19 and its follow-up three years later, 21, today’s new arrival marks Adele’s turning 30 years old and its subject matter deals with recent life events. Chiefly among the influences was Adele’s recent divorce from her husband Simon Konecki as well as her experience as a new mother following the birth of the former couple’s child. Adele once again teamed with producer Greg Kurstin as well as follow previous collaborators Tobias Jesso Jr., Max Martin and Shellback. 30 also features production from Ludwig Göransson and Sault‘s Inflo. Late jazz pianist Erroll Garner is posthumously featured on the track “All Night Parking,” while a special deluxe version of the album features Chris Stapleton on the single “Easy On Me.”
Lacuna – Lacuna
The Scoop: Ghost Light bandmates, guitarist Tom Hamilton and pianist Holly Bowling, released the self-titled debut album from their new project Lacuna. Lacuna was recorded in September 2020 during “one stream of consciousness, completely improvised recording session” in Philadelphia at Hamilton’s The Ballroom studio, while Bowling was visiting during a cross-country trip. The project and album are named after the title of a book Bowling read while quarantining. “Lacuna” is defined as, “a gap, an unfilled space, or an intentional, extended passage in a musical work during which no notes are played.” Bowling realized it was fitting moniker for what the pair had created. The eight-song album consists of ambient improvisations and no overdubs.
“It was all very organic,” Hamilton stated. “We hit save, she left, and we didn’t talk about it.”
“We were just playing to play,” Bowling said. “I was so intensely missing that spark and connection of playing music with someone else and having that back and forth. It was the happiest I had been in ages, even though the music sounds pretty dark in places, and it was definitely a very dark time. Tapping into that and then getting it out was cathartic.”
Compiled by Scott Bernstein, Nate Todd and Andy Kahn.