Mar 20, 201210:23 AMThe Telegraph
The Premier Blog of the West
New Tunes: March 20, 2012
Casey James, Casey James – The long-haired, handsome Fort Worthian could’ve gone a few different ways on his first album after getting pretty far on the 9th season of American Idol. Actually, he kinda did go a few different ways. The raspy-voiced singer is marketing his album in the country world and, so far, the reception’s been more than even he could've expected. He’s got country music media and fans alike in a tizzy with the singles “She’s Money” and the slightly soulful “Let’s Don’t Call It a Night.” But he doesn’t hesitate to explore his bluesy-rocker side a little on the new record. There’s a good chance Casey will pull a Daughtry, outpacing the winner and runner-up from his Idol season. If you have to Google who they are, he’s probably already done it.
The Hunger Games: Songs from District 12 and Beyond – It’s a guaranteed blockbuster of a soundtrack, simply because of its association with one of the most talked about movie releases of the year. But, how good is it on its musical merits alone? Pretty dang good, thanks to the involvement of Grammy-winning producer T. Bone Burnett, who’s also guided the soundtracks of ‘O Brother’ and ‘Crazy Heart,’ among others. This one’s a little different for T. Bone, though, because he had to consider the unique setting of the novel and the film. It’s both mysterious and familiar, taking place in the Appalachia of the future. That complexity comes through in the songs from and inspired by the film, especially the contributions of the modern-day artists who take roots music seriously. The Secret Sisters deliver a somber ode to hope (“Tomorrow Will Be Kinder”), and a meandering banjo serves as the groundwork of a Punch Brothers original (“Dark Days”). Taylor Swift and the Civil Wars work together and separately to bring their pop sensibilities to bluegrass arrangements. Solid female-led tracks keep coming, from the rootsy young trio Carolina Chocolate Drops, Neko Case and Miranda Lambert with the Pistol Annies. Even Adam Levine (with Maroon 5) gets into the earnest, countrified spirit on a duet with Rozzi Crane (“Come Away to the Water). The entire record reflects its source inspiration in flow and moodiness. Now, we can only hope that the film will be as much of a home run.
Jack White, “Sixteen Saltines” – You can now pre-order Blunderbuss, the upcoming Nashville-recorded album from White (an aside: he worked with T. Bone Burnett on the Cold Mountain soundtrack). With that pre-order comes “Sixteen Saltines,” a gritty, foot-tapping rock ’n’ roll tune. There’s even some cowbell in the mix.
Haley Reinhart, “Free” – Speaking of Idol contestants who almost made it to the finals, this spunky singer is looking to break out with a sway-worthy, old-school-sounding pop song.
Lionel Richie and Jennifer Nettles, “Hello” – Yes, Jennifer Nettles can do soft singing. She’s a pro, after all. That doesn’t stop her from getting a few belt-y moments into Lionel’s ’80s classic. Let’s just pray they don’t try to revisit the treatment of the original version's music video. The world can handle only one Lionel Richie head sculpture.
The Shins, Port of Morrow – It’s the long-awaited new album from the Albuquerque-born band with seemingly magical melodic powers. Worth a listen, even if you claim to be country-only. I think I hear a hint of twang in the track “For a Fool,” if that helps.