A THOUSAND MILES LEFT BEHIND
Nashville trio Gloriana, rebounding from the departure of fourth member Cheyenne Kimball, manage to make their sparkling musical arrangements and sweet harmonies come across more engagingly than ever on their second album, A Thousand Miles Left Behind.
Still working an acoustic-based string sound made contemporary through rhythms and musical accents, Rachel Reinert and brothers Mike and Tom Gossin prove that losing Kimball’s instrumental virtuosity doesn’t slow down their musical growth.
However, another new development does hamper their forward movement.
Group members co-wrote all 11 songs after contributing only one song to their 2009 self-titled debut.
The step proves a bigger challenge than they can handle.
Their potential as songwriters comes through on the album’s best cuts, including “(Kissed You) Good Night,” written by Tom Gossin and Josh Kear — and Gloriana’s first top 10 country hit. Mike Gossin’s “Turn My World Around” and Reinert’s “Where My Heart Belongs” also connect by conveying real emotions.
But the autobiographical nature of several lyrics — such as “Sunset Lovin’” and “Go On. Miss Me” — fails to transform intimate experiences into universal themes.
The trio’s sound is golden, but some of the songs need more polish.
For The Associated Press
I AM AN ELVIS FAN
RCA Records released its first Elvis Presley hits collection in 1958, just before the U.S. Army interrupted the teen idol’s red-hot career. The label issued a second Presley hits collection, 50,000,000 Elvis Fans Can’t Be Wrong, in December 1959, three months before he finished doing his Army time.
Possibly hundreds of Presley hits packages and collections followed the original “best of” LPs. Preceding this month’s 35th anniversary of the singing star’s death, the latest Presley collection, this one picked by the fans themselves, arrived this week.
Can the 250,000 fans who voted online for the songs that appear on I Am An Elvis Fan be wrong? Under the auspices of Sony Music/Legacy Recordings and Elvis Presley Enterprises, voters picked their three favorite Presley recordings from seven categories: ’50s, ’60s, country, movies, love songs, gospel and in-concert.
The 21 I Am An Elvis Fan songs present a careerwide overview. From the ’50s, “Don’t Be Cruel,” “Heartbreak Hotel,” “All Shook Up” and “Jailhouse Rock” capture Presley during his initial burst of fame. Following the latter hits, track five, the schmaltzy title song for his 1961 movie, Blue Hawaii, reinforces views that the post-Army Presley lost his edge.
But Presley staged one of music’s great comebacks. His post-1968 TV special era is well represented in I Am An Elvis Fan. Sony Music Entertainment, which does a great job with the massive catalog of American music it administers, does it again with its new Presley collection. The decades-old recordings sound great and the CD booklet is filled with classic photos of the singer whose star keeps shining.
SEARCHING FOR SUGAR MAN
Obscure Detroit singer-songwriter Sixto Rodriguez is the subject of the new documentary Searching For Sugar Man. The film’s CD soundtrack contains songs from Rodriguez’s two albums, 1970’s Cold Fact and 1971’s Coming From Reality.
The Rodriguez documentary, which opened last week in New York and Los Angeles, has already collected 51 overwhelmingly positive reviews at the Rotten Tomatoes movie website. The film follows two of Rodriguez’s South African fans as they search for the truth about a singer-songwriter unknown in his homeland but beloved in South Africa.
The soundtrack features a singer whose poetic lyrics and mix of social consciousness and sarcasm does seem music that may resonate with listeners living in a repressive society.
Stylistically, Rodriguez and his producers follow precedents set by Donovan, Bob Dylan and Neil Diamond while adding the urban, soulful sounds of the Motor City. The artist comes off as a psychedelic Mexican-American soul-folk singer. The limited range heard in the soundtrack selections doesn’t stop him from being fascinating.
Following Rodriguez’s recent rediscovery, not to mention the 41 years since the release of his second album, it’s tempting to wonder what else this distinctive, observant artist may have to say.