Tag: Van Morrison

Despite his relative youth, 20 year-old  Bay Area-based singer/songwriter and guitarist Simon Lunche has actually had a rather lengthy musical career that he can trace back to when he was a small child: he took up guitar when he was 5, eventually becoming one of the youngest endorsed artists in the history of Gibson Guitars; but he’s best known as the creative mastermind and frontman of The Blondies, an act that formed when he was just nine. The Blondies acclaimed album Just Another Evening was released in June 2016, right as Lunch was about to graduate high school.

While several of the older band members decided to focus on finishing college, Lunche opted to forego school and pursue music full-time. And although Lunche had written The Blondies four, full-length albums on his own, the Bay Area-based singer/songwriter and guitarist found that working as a solo artist added a much greater degree of creative freedom — and as a result was an unexpected evolution in his sound and songwriting approach. “As I started working on my new music, I rediscovered the reason why I picked up guitar in the first place,” Lunche says in press notes. Expanding on the technique he’d developed and sharpened since he was a child, he advanced from his former role as a rhythm guitarist and started crafting more intricate and richly textured guitar lines. “I don’t go for that shred-happy stuff that’s going to blow the roof off,” he says. “For me, it’s more about slower, smoother playing and more melodic lines that really stay with you in a special way.”

Lunche’s forthcoming solo debut, was mixed by Grammy Award-winning engineer Dave Reitzas, who’s worked a wide array of artists from Barbra Streisand to The Weeknd, and the album reportedly draws from the Bay Area-based singer/songwriter and guitarist’s longtime love of Van Morrison and Leonard Cohen with a natural soulfulness and thoughtfulness. “I think as you get older, you start to appreciate these little moments in time in a way you maybe never had before,” Lunche says. “A lot of what I’m writing right now is about dealing with change and trying to move forward, but still holding onto some reminiscence of the past.”

“Cherry Wine,” the first single off Lunche’s forthcoming solo album is an effortlessly soulful yet lush and carefully crafted take on pop that draws from 60s and 70s songwriter-centered soul and Northern soul, with a loose, bluesy guitar line. To my ears,  the song reminds me a bit of Simply Red‘s  “Holding Back the Years” and “If You Don’t Know Me By Now,” complete with a soaring, gospel-inspired backing vocal section — and a wistful and heartache-filled nostalgia. The new single finds the young singer/songwriter writing and singing from a perspective that belies his relative youth while aiming at something timeless.

 

 

 

 

 

 

New Video: JOVM Mainstay Meshell Ndegeocello Releases Tender and Joyful Cover of Ralph Tresvant’s “Sensitivity”

Now, if you’ve been frequenting this site over the past couple of years, I’ve written quite a bit about the critically applauded, JOVM mainstay Meshell Ndegeocello– and as you may recall, the singer/songwriter, rapper and bassist was born Michelle Lynn Johnson in Berlin, Germany and was raised in Washington, DC.  When she turned 17, she adopted the name Meshell Ndegeocello, with the surname, as she has explained meaning “free like a bird in Swahili.”

In the late 80s, Ndedgeocello gigged around DC’s go-go circuit, playing with a number of local acts including Prophecy, Little Bennie and the Masters, and Rare Essence before unsuccessfully trying out for Living Colour’s bassist spot, after Muzz Skillings left the band. Deciding to go solo, Ndegeocello eventually caught the attention of Madonna, who signed the singer/songwriter, rapper and bassist to her Maverick Records. Most readers will remember her commercially successful collaborative coverof Van Morrison‘s “Wild Night,” with John Mellencamp, a single that peaked at #3 on the BillboardCharts in 1994 and “If That’s Your Boyfriend (He Wasn’t Last Night)” peaked at #73 later that year. Adding to a rapidly rising profile, she collaborated with the legendary Herbie Hancock on a track for Red Hot Organization’s AIDS awareness, tribute compilation Stolen Moments: Red Hot + Cool, which was named Time Magazine‘s “Album of the Year.”  Her coverof Bill Withers‘ “Who Is He (And What Is He to You)” was a #1 Dance Hit in 1996 and was briefly featured in the major motion picture Jerry Maguire, and she landed Dance Top 20 hits with “Earth,” “Leviticus: Faggot,” and “Stay.” Along with that she collaborated with Madonna, playing bass on “I’d Rather Be Your Lover,” and contributing a verse at the last minute, after Tupac Shakur had criminal charges filed against him. Ndegeocello has also collaborated with Chaka Khan, rapping  on “Never Miss the Water,” a single that landed #1 on Billboard‘s Dance Club Charts and peaked at #36 on the Hot R&B/Hip-Hop Singles Chart. Additionally, Ndegeocello has collaborated with the likes of Basement Jaxx,Indigo Girls, Scritti Politti,The Blind Boys of Alabama, The Rolling Stones, Alanis Morrissetteand Zap Mama.

Throughout her lengthy career, Ndegeocello has managed the rare feet of achieving commercial success while arguably being one of the most uncompromising and iconoclastic artists of the past 25 years — all while being credited as being at the forefront of the neo-soul sound, thanks in part to a genre defying and difficult to pigeonhole sound that draws from hip-hop, classic soul, jazz, rock, reggae and singer/songwriter pop. Over the past few years, Ndegeocello has been rather busy — she wrote and composed a musical influenced by James Baldwin’s The Fire Next Time, titled Can I Get a Witness?: The Gospel of James Baldwin and released a gorgeous tribute album to the legendary Nina Simone, which featured collaborations with fellow JOVM mainstay Cody ChesnuTT and others.

Ventriloquism, Ndegeocello’s later album was released earlier this year, and the album finds the renowned singer/songwriter and bassist covering songs by  TLC, Janet Jackson, Tina Tuner, Prince and others, who have been influential to her and her work — but with her unique take. As the renowned singer/songwriter and bassist explains in press notes, “Early on in my career, I was told to make the same kind of album again and again, and when I didn’t do that, I lost support. There isn’t much diversity within genres, which are ghettoizing themselves, and I liked the idea of turning hits I loved into something even just a little less familiar or formulaic. It was an opportunity to pay a new kind of tribute.” Ventriloquism’s first single was a coverof Force MD‘s smash hit “Tender Love,” that found Ndegeocello turning the slow-burning, 80s piano ballad into a folksy, Harvest-era Neil Young/Fleetwood Mac track, complete with shuffling drumming, twinkling Fender Rhodes and harmonica. Though she eschews some of the song’s cheesiness, which makes it endearing in its own right, Ndegeocello’s cover retains the song’s earnestness — pointing out that a well-written pop song can reach for something downright timeless. 

The album’s latest single is a cover of Ralph Tresvant’s “Sensitivity,” that briefly nods at Sting’s “Englishman in New York,” as it’s centered around loose, bluesy guitar chords, shuffling drumming and a New Orleans brass band-like bridge — and while retaining the song’s sultry nature, Ndegeocello manages to pull out and further emphasize the song’s tenderness.  Much like its predecessor, the new single continues Ndegeocello’s commentary on society’s narrow expectations on what music created by and performed by black artists should sound like and be like. 

Directed by the Cass Bird, the recently released video for “Sensitivity ” was specifically released in conjunction with the end of Pride Month — and in our dark and uncertain age, the video is a much-needed burst of joy and humanity, as the video was specifically cast to focus on faces, body types and identities that are less conventional, less celebrated and often misunderstood, capturing these people at their most vital, most joyful and most human — whether dancing, tenderly embracing, kissing and loving. Certainly, the world would be a much better place if there was more love and more gentle and human moments. 

New Video: Meshell Ndegeocello’s Soulful and Atmospheric Rendition of TLC’s Smash Hit “Waterfalls”

Born Michelle Lynn Johnson to US Army Sergeant Major Jacques Johnson, a saxophonist and Helen Johnson, a health care work, the Berlin, Germany-born, American-based singer/songwriter, rapper and bassist Meshell Ndegeocello was raised in Washington, DC where she attended the Duke Ellington School of the Arts and Oxon Hill High School. When she turned 17, she adopted the name Meshell Ndegeocello, with the surname, as she has explained meaning “free like a bird in Swahili.”

In the late 80s, Ndegeocello gigged around DC’s go-go circuit, playing with bands like Prophecy, Little Bennie and the Masters, and Rare Essence before unsuccessfully trying out for Living Colour’s bassist spot, after Muzz Skillings left the band. Deciding to go solo, Ndegeocello, has the distinction of being Madonna’s Maverick Records first signings and while achieving a fair amount of commercial success. Her collaborative cover of Van Morrison’s “Wild Night,” with John Mellencamp peaked at #3 on the Billboard Charts in 1994 and “If That’s Your Boyfriend (He Wasn’t Last Night)” peaked at #73 later that year. Adding to a rapidly rising profile, she collaborated with the legendary Herbie Hancock on a track for Red Hot Organization’s AIDS awareness, tribute compilation Stolen Moments: Red Hot + Cool, which was named Time Magazine’s “Album of the Year.”  Her cover of Bill Withers‘ “Who Is He (And What Is He to You)” was a #1 Dance Hit in 1996 and was briefly featured in the major motion picture Jerry Maguire, and she landed Dance Top 20 hits with “Earth,” “Leviticus: Faggot,” and “Stay.” Along with that she collaborated with Madonna, playing bass on “I’d Rather Be Your Lover,” and contributing a verse at the last minute, after Tupac Shakur had criminal charges filed against him. Additionally, Ndegeocello has collaborated with Chaka Khan, rapping “Never Miss the Water,” a single that landed #1 on Billboard‘s Dance Club Charts and peaked at #36 on the Hot R&B/Hip-Hop Singles Chart. Additionally, Ndegeocello has collaborated with the likes of Basement Jaxx, Indigo Girls, Scritti Politti, The Blind Boys of Alabama, The Rolling Stones, Alanis Morrissette and Zap Mama.

Ndeogecello has also had her music featured in the soundtracks of How Stella Got Her Groove Back, Lost & Delirious, Batman & Robin, Love Jones, Love & Basketball, Talk to Me, Tyler Perry’s Daddy’s Little Girls, The Best Man, Higher Learning, Down in the Delta, The Hurricane, Noah’s Arc: Jumping the Broom and Soul Men. And interestingly enough, Ndegeocello has managed the rare feat of achieving commercial success while arguably being one of the most uncompromisingly, iconoclastic and unique artists of the past 25 years. But perhaps more important Ndegeocello has been credited as being at the forefront of the neo-soul movement — thanks in part to a sound that routinely draws from hip-hop, classic soul, rock, reggae, jazz, and singer/songwriter/balladeer-like pop. She has also written and composed a musical influenced by James Baldwin’s The Fire Next Time, titled Can I Get a Witness?: The Gospel of James Baldwin and she released a gorgeous tribute album to Nina Simone, which featured collaborations with JOVM mainstay Cody ChesnuTT and others, which add to her iconoclastic and difficult to pigeonhole reputation. 

The renowned bassist, singer/songwriter and rapper’s latest album Ventriloquism is slated for a March 16, 2018 release and the album will feature covers of songs by TLC, Janet Jackson, Tina Tuner, Prince and others, all of which have been influential to Ndeogeocello’s work — but with a unique take. And if you had been following this site earlier this year, you may recall that I wrote about her folksy Harvest-era Neil Young/Fleetwood Mac-like cover of Force MD”s smash hit “Tender Love,” a rendition that eschewed the 80s keyboard pop cheesiness of the original, which made it so beloved and awkward — while retaining the song’s earnestness, pointing out that well-written songs can be interpreted in countless ways and still be as wonderful as we remember.  Ventriloquism’s latest single is a slow-burning, atmospheric cover of TLC’s smash hit “Waterfalls” that manages to slow the tempo and the melody down to the point that it turns the song into something familiar yet kind of alien, all while retaining the sense of loss and confusion of the original. (I should note that Left Eye’s verse is removed — perhaps for obvious reasons.) Much like it’s predecessor, Ventriloquism’s latest single continues Ndegeocello’s larger commentary on society’s narrow expectations of what Black American music should sound like, be like and thematically concern itself with. 

Produced by Inga Eiriksdottir, directed by Damani Baker and featuring gorgeously cinematic work by director of photography Thor Eliasson, the recently released video for Ndegeocello’s rendition of “Waterfalls,” features a diverse, international cast and although shot in Iceland, the video consists of surreal yet symbolic visuals that at points nods at the original. 

New Audio: Meshell Ndegeocello Releases a Folksy Cover of Force MD’s “Tender Love”

Born Michelle Lynn Johnson to US Army Sergeant Major Jacques Johnson, a saxophonist and Helen Johnson, a health care work, the Berlin, Germany-born, American-based singer/songwriter, rapper and bassist Meshell Ndegeocello was raised in Washington, DC where she attended the Duke Ellington School of the Arts and Oxon Hill High School. When she turned 17, she adopted the name Meshell Ndegeocello, with the surname, as she has explained meaning “free like a bird in Swahili.”

In the late 80s, Ndedgeocello gigged around DC’s go-go circuit, playing with bands like Prophecy, Little Bennie and the Masters, and Rare Essence before unsuccessfully trying out for Living Colour’s bassist spot, after Muzz Skillings left the band. Deciding to go solo, Ndegeocello, has the distinction of being Madonna’s Maverick Records first signings and while achieving a fair amount of commercial success. Her collaborative cover of Van Morrison’s “Wild Night,” with John Mellencamp peaked at #3 on the Billboard Charts in 1994 and “If That’s Your Boyfriend (He Wasn’t Last Night)” peaked at #73 later that year. Adding to a rapidly rising profile, she collaborated with the legendary Herbie Hancock on a track for Red Hot Organization’s AIDS awareness, tribute compilation Stolen Moments: Red Hot + Cool, which was named Time Magazine’s “Album of the Year.”  Her cover of Bill Withers’ “Who Is He (And What Is He to You)” was a #1 Dance Hit in 1996 and was briefly featured in the major motion picture Jerry Maguire, and she landed Dance Top 20 hits with “Earth,” “Leviticus: Faggot,” and “Stay.” Along with that she collaborated with Madonna, playing bass on “I’d Rather Be Your Lover,” and contributing a verse at the last minute, after Tupac Shakur had criminal charges filed against him. Additionally, Ndegeocello has collaborated with Chaka Khan, rapping “Never Miss the Water,” a single that landed #1 on Billboard’s Dance Club Charts and peaked at #36 on the Hot R&B/Hip-Hop Singles Chart. Additionally, Ndegeocello has collaborated with the likes of Basement Jaxx, Indigo Girls, Scritti Politti, The Blind Boys of Alabama, The Rolling Stones, Alanis Morrissette and Zap Mama.
Ndeogecello has also had her music featured in the soundtracks of How Stella Got Her Groove Back, Lost & Delirious, Batman & Robin, Love Jones, Love & Basketball, Talk to Me, Tyler Perry’s Daddy’s Little Girls, The Best Man, Higher Learning, Down in the Delta, The Hurricane, Noah’s Arc: Jumping the Broom and Soul Men.

Interestingly, Ndegeocello has managed the rare feat of achieving commercial success while arguably being one of the most uncompromisingly, iconoclastic and unique artists of the past 25 years — and she’s been credited as being at the forefront of the neo-soul movement, thanks in part to a genre defying and difficult to pigeonhole sound that draws from hip-hop, classic soul, rock, reggae, jazz and singer/songwriter pop. Adding to that iconoclastic nature, Ndegeocello has written and composed a musical influenced by James Baldwin’s The Fire Next Time, titled Can I Get a Witness?: The Gospel of James Baldwin and she released a gorgeous tribute album to Nina Simone, which featured collaborations with JOVM mainstay Cody ChesnuTT and others.

The renowned bassist, singer/songwriter and rapper’s latest album Ventriloquism is slated for a March 16, 2018 release and the album will feature covers of songs by TLC, Janet Jackson, Tina Tuner, Prince and others, all of which have been influential to Ndeogeocello’s work — but with a unique take. The album’s first single, her cover of Force MD’s smash hit “Tender Love,” finds Ndegeocello turning the slow-burning 80s piano ballad classic into a folksy, Harvest-era Neil Young/Fleetwood Mac track, complete with shuffling drumming, twinkling Fender Rhodes and harmonica. In my mind, what makes Ndegeocello’s cover truly fascinating is that she manages to completely eschew the 80s pop ballad cheesiness of the song, which makes it endearing 30 years after its release but without doing away with the song’s earnestness — while pointing out that the song manages to possess something that listeners far removed from the song’s initial release can grasp and connect to on a very visceral level. That’s what separates the great, timeless songs from the countless songs that will be forgotten 6 months or more after they’ve been released.  And on another level, the song will continue the renowned and iconoclastic Ndegeocello’s commentary on society’s narrow expectations of what black music should sound and be like.

New Audio: Nick Hakim Returns with His Spectral Take on Singer/Songwriter Soul

With the release of Where Will We Go Part 1 and Where Will We Go Part 2, the Washington, DC-born, Brooklyn-based singer/songwriter Nick Hakim quickly established a national and international profile for a sound that effortlessly blurs genres as it possesses elements of classic soul, the blues, the soulful troubadour tradition of Van Morrison and others with hauntingly spectral electronic production and a soul-bearing, confessional intimacy.

Now, it’s been some time since I’ve written about him; however, Hakim has been busy writing and recording the material that would eventually comprise his forthcoming full-length debut Green Twins, which is slated for a May 19, 2017 release through ATO Records. Interestingly, Hakim can trace the origins of Green Twins’ material to when armed with the masters for Where Will We Go Part 1 and Where Will We Go Part 2, the Washington, DC-born singer/songwriter relocated from Boston to where he was based at the time to Brooklyn. And as soon as he moved, he spent his time fleshing out incomplete songs, writing and recording sketches and lyrics on voice memos and a four-track cassette recorder. The Washington, DC-born, Brooklyn-based singer/songwriter then took his demo’d material to studios in NYC, Philadelphia and London and built upon them with a number of engineers, including Andrew Sarlo (bass, engineering and production), who were tasked with keeping the original spirit and essence of the songs intact. As Sarlo explained in press notes, for many artists, a demo usually serves as a rough sketch of what the song could eventually become; however, for Hakim, the feeling is that the demos are much more like creating a temple — and as a result, you simply clean, furnish and prepare entrants for a profoundly religious experience.

Thematically speaking, the material on the album focuses on particular aspects o this life. As Hakim mentions in press notes, a lot of the material is based on what he was thinking at that very moment, and in many ways the album consists of a series of self-portraits. “I also felt the need to push my creativity in a different way than I had on the EPs,” Hakim says in press notes. “The record draws from influences spanning Robert Wyatt, Marvin Gaye and Shuggie Otis to My Bloody Valentine. We wanted to imagine what it would have sounded like if RZA had produced a Portishead album. We experimented with engineering techniques from Phil Spector and Al Green’s Back Up Train, drum programming from RZA and Outkast, and we were listening to a lot of The Impressions, John Lennon, Wu-Tang, Madlib and Screamin’ Jay Hawkins.” And as soon as you hear the album’s first single “Bet She Looks Like You,” the confessional and intimate songwriting remains, as it’s soul-bearing to a point of being heartbreakingly visceral; but it manages to be a subtle expansion upon his sound — the song manages to remain hauntingly spectral while possessing an equally subtle, bluesy swagger.

New Video: The Classic Soul Sounds and Visuals of Nick Waterhouse’s “It’s Time”

Nick Waterhouse is a Santa Ana, CA-born, San Francisco, CA-based singer/songwriter and guitarist, who first took up gutiar when turned 12. And as teenager, he found himself increasingly interested in more obscure and ecletic Americana and blues outside of the pop and contemporary rock his peers were listening to; in fact, he’s cited Bert Berns, Mose Allison, John Lee Hooker and Van Morrison among his earliest musical influences. However, Waterhouse’s musical career started in earnest when he was a member of an Orange County-based band Intelligista, an act that was compared to The Animals and High Numbers-era The Who. After the band split up, Waterhouse went on to attend San Francisco State University — and while studying, he continued pursuing music with very little luck.

As he was purising a music career, Waterhouse was simultaneously getting more involved in San Francisco’s DJ scene; in fact, he had quickly become a fixture at tthe all-vinyl Rooky Ricardo’s Record Shop eventually taking up a job with the store. Publicly, the San Francsico-based singer/songwriter and guitairst has cited that his time working under the store’s owner, Richard Vivian was deeply influential, as it put the then-aspriing musician i touch with the city’s soul club scene — while developing a friendship with The Allah-Las’ Matthew Corriea.

His debut 7 inch “Some Place”/”That Place” was recorded at the Distillery Studio in Southern California with backing band billed as the Turn-Keys, featuring The Fabulous Souls’ Ira Raibon on saxophone. The single was hand-pressed with letterpress printed labels, and because of the single’s overall response and its rairty, collectors have snapped it up. And on the strength of that single, Waterhouse was able to assemble his own backing band The Tarots and a trio of backing vocalists The Naturelles, with whom he played shows with Ty Segall, The Strange Boys, White Fence and The Allah-las. And in between touring across North America and Europe, the California-based singer/songwriter produced The Allah-Las 2012 debut effort. He then followed taht up with the release of his first two singles as a frontman and bandleader.

Waterhouse’s third full-length effort, Never Twice was released earlier this year thorugh Innovative Leisure Records and the album finds him collaborating once again with producer Michael McHugh, who has worked with Black Lips, Ty Segall, and The Allah-Las. As the story goes, McHugh was Nick’s first producer — and as Waterhouse was about to record the material that would comprise Never Twice, Waterhouse enlisted McHugh to recrate and capture the sound of Nick’s youth while in bands in Huntington Beach.

After McHugh was on board, Waterhouse being calling his favorite musicians to join him — Bob Kenmotsu, who contributed his flute; Ralph Carney, who has played with Tom Waits and Elvis Costello contributed sax; Will Blades, a protege of Dr. Lonnie Smith, contributed organs; a highly-accomplished batch of horn planers, bassists and guitarists join in; and Leon Bridges contributed vocals on the album’s lead single “Katchi.” The album’s latest single “It’s Time” will further cement Waterhouse’s burgeoning reptuation for crafting old school, jazzy soul with an incredibly uncanny period specificity — in this case, sounding as though it were released in the mid 1950s/early 1960s, thanks to a careful attnetion to craft while adding his name to a growing list of contemporary artists, who specailzie in the classic soul sound.

Directed and edited by Laura-Lynn Petrick, the video shot on what apears to be old Super 8 Film, and follows Waterhouse as she wanders around New York and features live footage of the Californian and his backing band playing live sets — and with the grainy, old-timey footage, it adds to the song’s old school aesthetic.