Originally published on Fri December 13, 2013 1:15 pm
Here's the next great male jazz singer. He's got a booming delivery straight from vintage soul. He writes original tunes packed with metaphor and delivers authoritative versions of standards. It's little wonder Blue Note Records signed him for a new album this fall. The forthcoming Liquid Spirit is great, but he's even better live, surrounded with a long-running band that knows what he's after and enables it splendidly. As he suggests on the title track: Clap your hands now.
Love is a burning thing that makes a fiery ring. That, my friends, is musical poetry. OK, maybe not, but it is the opening line to one of Johnny Cash's biggest hits. "Ring of Fire" turns 50 years old this year.
(SOUNDBITE OF SONG, "RING OF FIRE")
JOHNNY CASH: (Singing) Love is a burning thing, and it makes a fiery ring.
When country violinist Amanda Shires goes on tour, she meets a lot of interesting people. Once after a show in Tampa, Florida, a fellow calling himself Tiger Bill handed her a mysterious bag — whose contents, he said, would make her "bulletproof."
"And I opened it and looked inside of it," Shires recalls. "And it was whiskers and claws and teeth and fur."
To be a folk musician these days, there's no requirement that you be some sort of rambling wanderer. But it can't hurt, right?
Gregory Alan Isakov was born in Johannesburg, South Africa. He didn't stay there long: He moved to Philadelphia, then around the East Coast, switching schools every couple years. As an adult, he's found a more stable home: a remote part of Colorado. And in his music, he writes from the perspective quite happy to be away from any big cities.