Please note: MP3s are only kept online for a short time, and if this entry is from more than a couple of weeks ago, the music probably won't be available to download any more.


Songs: Ohia - "Just Be Simple"

A weeping lap steel lament, ?Just Be Simple? is what it preaches. Its simplicity is such that it strikes a resounding chord of familiarity on first listening, like you have heard it on the car radio a thousand times before.

In Songs: Ohia?s latest work, Jason Molina calls to mind a struggling but dignified idealized America (as it only exists in song). He moves away from Will Oldham, and while maintaining a similarity in feeling to some of Neil Young?s work, adds to it the working class Americana of The Band or Bob Seeger.


Joan Armatrading - "Love and Affection"

A folk singer from St. Kitts, Joan Armatrading was joined by members of Fairport Convention and The Faces for her self-titled third album. She abandoned the solo acoustic folk that characterized her first two records for a full band and heavily produced pop/rock.

?Love and Affection? isn?t a perfect song. Its production is dated and there?s a sax solo at 2:51 that leaves something to be desired (i.e. its absence). Yet Armatrading?s voice and songwriting shine through and it doesn?t take long to get past the shortcomings. Her voice is always precise, but varies wildly in tone, sometimes angelic and gossamer (as in the opening bars), sometimes yearning and passionate (as when she sings ?really dance/really move/really love?), and then at other times wide open and soulful (?with friends I still feel so insecure?). Sometimes she engages in a fiery gospel as when she calls for her interlocutor to ?sing it, sing it? just before the unfortunate sax solo.

Posted by Jordan at December 16, 2004 9:26 PM

Actually, Armatrading abandoned folk (and her songwriting partner Pam Nestor) after her first album 'Whatever's For Us'. The second album, 'Back To The Night' is arguably superior to the third, 'Joan Armatrading' but is less well produced. Unfortunately, this was her career peak - she made a couple more decent albums, then slid quickly into a mediocrity from which she's never recovered, making people forget how good the early work was.

Posted by David Belbin at December 17, 2004 7:34 AM

I don't know what you mean about the production being dated, 'Love & Affection' still sounds as beautiful as ever to me.

I pretty much like all her albums up to 'To The Limit'

Posted by LondonLee at December 17, 2004 9:38 AM

This song always gets me in an nostagic mood. And that's nice... Thank you!

Posted by Jack at December 17, 2004 1:09 PM

While undoubtedly really, really lovely, isn't that Songs: Ohia song from the Magnolia Electric Company album?

Posted by Robert at December 18, 2004 11:37 AM

also, it's bob seger; not seeger, like pete.

he's running against the wind, not blowing in it.

Posted by Amanda at December 18, 2004 4:10 PM

Courtney Pine did a cover of "Love & Affection" that I actually prefer to the original. But that's just me.

Jordan, I can send you a copy if you can't find it.

Posted by seth at December 18, 2004 8:09 PM

what a terrific choice, that joan armatrading. nice flashback.

Posted by Anonymous at December 18, 2004 11:13 PM

I love that S:O track, I'd forgotten all about it. Thanks.

Posted by caley at December 20, 2004 9:36 PM

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Sean Michaels is the founder of Said the Gramophone. He is a writer, critic and author of the theremin novel Us Conductors. Follow him on Twitter or reach him by email here. Click here to browse his posts.

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