Twenty more great songs await below, including a fairly decent range of genres and artists, and the first ‘Christmas’ song of the year for this blog. There may be another Christmas song on each list from now until the end of the year, depending on how I am feeling about this idea by next week. We started rehearsing Christmas music for choir last week, so I am memorizing the words to ‘Il Est Ne’ and learning all sorts of interesting and creative alto harmonies to otherwise familiar carols. I’d bet ‘Il Est Ne’ will creep into a list soon, and maybe ‘Suo Gan’, which I keep meaning to learn in Welsh. Anyway, for this week there is still little to assault the sensibilities of those readers vehemently opposed to starting Christmas in November.
1. “What A Difference Day Makes”- Hazel Miller (Icons): One of the excellent jazz/blues singers I’ve seen (twice) in Fort Collins, Hazel Miller is a very successful and talented musician. She is also a very nice person, and the sort of musician whose music draws people irresistibly from their seats to the dance floor, an effect most pronounced in children and anyone who knows a few swing steps. This particular song is also one I now associate somewhat with Ryan Kelly, as it was what was running through my head for most of that first week of June this summer.
2. “Nelia’s Dance”- Bryan Sutton (Bluegrass Dancing): A fun, fast dance tune, off an album which has lots of other equally good dance tracks (‘real’ dancing, not wiggling suggestively at a club).
3. “Devil’s Plea”- Katie Glassman (Snapshot): I haven’t added a new tune to these lists from this album for a while, so here’s another of my favorites off Katie Glassman’s debut album. I have seen a few posts from Katia which suggest that she is busily creating more music, so hopefully when I run out of tracks to add from Snapshots, she’ll have more new music for me to showcase.
4. “That’s Just the Woman in Me”- Katrina and the Waves (The Best of Katrina and the Waves): I could really see Funiphino (or one of the other funk/pop cover bands here) enjoying this tune. Most of us know of Katrina and the Waves for their song “Walking on Sunshine”, but they performed a lot of other great songs too. This one is a great diva song, the sort that the girls on Glee would cover nicely, actually, if they haven’t sung it yet.
5. “Like an Angel Passing Through My Room”- ABBA (The Albums ): Not one of the songs most folks know from ABBA, and even some of my ABBA-fan friends had not heard this one enough to remember it. This song has a depth to it that is an interesting contrast with their synth pop cheesy songs, which are all most of us hear from this classic band. The box-set from which I pulled this song is a bit pricey for non-enthusiasts, but this is an advantage to using spotify to listen to new music. It is an excellent collection, though, and there are a lot of other great songs in ABBA’s repertoire that get very little airplay on oldies stations.
6. “Big Ben”- Ari Hest (The Break-In “Bonus Track Version”): A nice tune from Ari Hest’s 2007 album, with a nice easy-going sound. This singer has a noticeably lower, deeper tone to his voice compared to many singer-songwriters I have on my playlists, but still with a broad range. This whole album is great, but this week “Big Ben” was my favorite.
7. “Have I Loved”- Down Like Silver (Down Like Silver ): This band reminds me very much of Catch Bees, especially with the lush harmonies this song uses so well. This debut album is only $5 on bandcamp, so if you are looking for a cheap and easy way to try out a great new band, this one’s a great option.
8. “Erie Canal”- Dan Zanes, Suzanne Vega (Rocket Ship Beach): Dan Zanes was once in a little band called the Del Fuegos. He also recorded a kids’ album in 2000 called Rocket Ship Beach, which is where this fun folksy song comes from. I could imagine this song in a setlist for Ryan Kelly and Neil Byrne’s Acoustic by Candlelight, though it might be best to save it until this tour is back on the East Coast.
9. “Zintombi”- Ladysmith Black Mambazo (Spirit of South Africa): This song sounds very much like “Where the Blarney Roses Grow”, only this one is not in English, and breaks down into a classic Ladysmith Black Mambazo jam for the last half of the track. Unfortunately I have not yet learned any African languages, so I have no idea what the words translate as- they probably have little to do with blarney roses, but I would not be surprised if this melody and the blarney roses song originate from the same roots.
10. “Captain Lane”- Pale Blue Jak (Faces) : As folks who follow me on twitter and facebook may be aware, I was very happy to see that one of my favorite albums, Pale Blue Jak’s ‘Faces’, is now available on spotify. I did bend the rules once this summer to include one of my favorite tracks from this album on a list, but now I can add other tracks from this fantastic CD to my lists without bending any rules. I’m sure Neil Byrne didn’t add his album to spotify on my account, but he made my week anyway. He’s been working on more music, too, of course, so hopefully a new Pale Blue Jak album will be coming along soon. In the meantime, if an Acoustic By Candlelight show is playing in your area this December, check it out to hear some of these songs played live.
11. “Tschaikovsky: No. 12e Character Dances: Dance of the Reed Pipes”- Tschaikovsky, Peter Ilyich, National Philharmonic Orchestra (Prancer Returns): One of the most entertaining songs to whistle along to, and vaguely Christmas without once mentioning Santa Clause or presents or anything Christmassy. Yep, it’s getting closer to Christmas, but no, it is most definitely not December yet. But if you start practicing now, by Christmas you too can whistle the entirety of the Nutcracker from memory by Christmas Eve.
12. “I Don’t Know You”- Shawn Colvin (All Fall Down): I never really liked “Sunny Came Home,” so back in the mid-90’s when that song became a hit I didn’t bother looking into the rest of Shawn Colvin’s music. This is why I like how contemporary music sharing is evolving, actually. It turns out I really do like most of this singer-songwriter’s creations, and that one released single was the exception. I could also see Shawn Colvin fitting in well with Fort Collins’ music scene- maybe she can be enticed to come play during New West Fest next year or something.
13. “Ruby, Are You Mad At Your Man”- Carolina Chocolate Drops (Leaving Eden): One of my favorite bluegrass songs, performed very nicely by a band much closer to the Appalachian region from whence much of bluegrass sprung. People in Fort Collins have adopted bluegrass as one of our local specialties, alongside our equally strong blues/jazz/funk spectrum, but while our music is not inauthentic, it is cool to hear traditional bluegrass from people who live at least a bit closer to the region where these songs originated.
14. “Orchid”- Alanis Morissette (Flavors of Entanglement) : Listening through my playlist this afternoon, I had to keep reminding myself that I did not have space in this week’s list to add another Danielle Ate the Sandwich song. This song sounds like it might easily be one of Danielle’s at least through the first verse or so. It’s a cool song, very different from most of Alanis’s songs that were released as singles.
15. “Maid of Culmore”- Celtic Thunder (Voyage) : A nicely dramatic arrangement of a classic folk song. I of course particularly enjoy Ryan’s solo segments, but all the parts in this song are fun to sing along with, and the song itself is one I’ve heard fairly often from other singers, with very similar verses but not nearly as luscious a sound. I’d love to hear Celtic Thunder try this song a capella.
16. “Ryder’s Song”- Greensky Bluegrass (Five Interstates): A familiar tune, played by a band that is quite popular in Fort Collins, at least among the people I know here.
17. “Pearls- Live”- Josh Groban (Awake Live) : I am not usually fond of hearing the banter between songs at the tail ends of tracks, any more than I like having long applause to drag out tracks well beyond the length of the song itself. If you listen to a whole concert album, it is in context, and gives the illusion of ‘being there’, which is great, but in a mixed playlist it doesn’t always work so well. But, Josh Groban is a dork, a cute, lovable and somehow strangely sexy dork whose personality comes out so well at the end of this track. The song itself is amazing, and is one not all Josh Groban fans are aware of yet.
18. “Don’t You Wanna Stay (With Kelly Clarkson)”- Jason Aldean (My Kinda Party) : I like Jason Aldean a lot, and I like Kelly Clarkson. I love the way these two sound together on this duet. This one should be one of those recordings, like “Islands in a Stream”, that lasts for many decades and winds up on duet collections over and over again.
19. “American Honey”- Lady Antebellum (Need You Now) : One of the stars of contemporary pop/country crossover music, Lady Antebellum is well appreciated by just about everyone except my sister. These musicians have a catchy polished sound and great song-choices, and as long as they keep on as they have been, I’d imagine they have quite a few more hit albums to come.
20. “Bridge Over Troubled Water”- Aled Jones ( Forever) : Aled Jones has been a well-loved singer in the UK for years, and for good reason. I usually prefer the original version of this song, over any covers, but Aled Jones’ voice is flawless in this recording.