Atl-country: Kapuskasing Coffee
By Justin Rutledge, from Valleyheart (Outside); streaming here
“Sometimes I find that I get too sentimental …” Being overly romantic is something gentle singer-songwriter Justin Rutledge has been accused of before, but on his fifth album he steers clear of maudlin. His vision is unique, with his line of sight filled with memories and poetic snapshots revealing themselves slowly, on the fly. Kapuskasing Coffee starts with a breezy Hawaiian guitar before giving way to a soft shuffle and he-she harmonies about things that make them “think of you.” A fiddle break is sweet and the coffee is too (one sip can trigger a memory). Elsewhere on the sublime album, Rutledge croons – quietly, intensely – about travelling light. Don’t buy it: The Toronto troubador doesn’t pack a fat suitcase, but he always travels heavy.
Justin Rutledge’s Western Canadian tour begins in Winnipeg, Feb. 20, and ends in Vancouver, March 2.
Folk-pop: Joy to You Baby
By Josh Ritter, from the forthcoming The Beast in its Tracks; streaming here
Here the brainy singer-songwriter Josh Ritter goes simple and spare on a likable tune that serves as a long-distance lullaby, sung by an overseer on a tender astral flight. The modern production touches are warmly done, and a clean acoustic strum supports an easy melody. Feel-good stuff – a small, joyful anthem, tidily done.
By Jimi Hendrix, from the forthcoming People, Hell & Angels; streaming here
Another slight return from the long-gone guitar hero. The first single from a collection of tracks recorded 1968-69 recalls the blues of Hear My Train a Comin’, but adds a psychedelic splash and wah-wah shenanigans. Buddy Miles and Stephen Stills accompany Hendrix on drums and bass, respectively, with lyrics coming from the man’s head-in-the-cloud space.
By Tom Waits and Keith Richards, from Son of Rogue’s Gallery: Pirate Ballads, Sea Songs & Chanteys; streaming here
Sure, they’re all pirate-argh in the throat, but first mates Waits and a slurry Richards offer an affectionate, big-hearted and hymn-like take on the historic ballad and Virginia state song. It’s part of two-disc compilation of sea shanties, with Iggy Pop, Nick Cave, Patti Smith, Sean Lennon and many more on board for the follow up to Hal Willner’s 2006 production, Rogue’s Gallery: Pirate Ballads, Sea Songs and Chanteys.
Video Indie-pop: Retrograde
By James Blake, directed by Martin De Thurah; from the forthcoming Overgrown; streaming here.
As the elegant video for his new single wasn’t filmed within the past week, post-dub crooner James Blake (and director Martin De Thurah) obviously saw an asteroid coming before the rest of us knew about it. The moody Brit is never one to walk on sunshine, but here things get lonely and apocalyptic when a motorcyclist revisits a flying space-rock catastrophe that broke up a small, harmless party devastatingly.