Music

Micah Blue Smaldone - The Red River

For a while now, Smaldone has been the kind of singer-songwriter who deserves more attention than he's getting, and The Red River is further evidence of that.


Micah Blue Smaldone

The Red River

Label: Immune
US Release Date: 2008-11-04
UK Release Date: Available as import
Amazon
iTunes

To be sure, Micah Blue Smaldone's songs can be awfully antiquated. He sings of time long past, of hunters from ages ago, of lands we read about in books. But like Fire on Fire, the band he plays with, he never uses his old sounds as some clever crutch to rest borrowed sounds on. Smaldone channels old voices rather than co-opting them, and uses them to create folk music that is infused with a very present and immediate emotion, while still touching on themes that can resonate in near any time. The Red River touches on the darker side of human nature, and assumes that evil is not always something that exists outside of us. The sinister cadence of "A Guest" builds over six minutes until you're sure something terrible will befall that guest, and while you don't know what, you know whatever happens is well-planned. "The Clearing" is another harrowing tale, telling of a group of hardened men clear cutting the land around them.

In other places, the songs aren't quite as dark, but are much more internal. "The Red River" is an aching tale of an observer coming across a woman where the water's start, in a quarry. His description makes his feelings clear, but some tangle inside him keeps him just an observer and not the man who walks up to her. There is a glimmer of hope running through The Red River. If only in the sweet lilt of Smaldone's voice, we feel that we do have goodness in us to battle the darkness. That if we trust people to be good, sooner or later, they just might prove us right. This album isn't always a shining declaration of hope -- it explores some pretty deep, dark wells -- but it all the more powerful for its scope of emotions. For a while now, Smaldone has been the kind of singer-songwriter who deserves more attention than he's getting, and The Red River is further evidence of that.

7

In the wake of Malcolm Young's passing, Jesse Fink, author of The Youngs: The Brothers Who Built AC/DC, offers up his top 10 AC/DC songs, each seasoned with a dash of backstory.

In the wake of Malcolm Young's passing, Jesse Fink, author of The Youngs: The Brothers Who Built AC/DC, offers up his top 10 AC/DC songs, each seasoned with a dash of backstory.

Keep reading... Show less

Pauline Black may be called the Queen of Ska by some, but she insists she's not the only one, as Two-Tone legends the Selecter celebrate another stellar album in a career full of them.

Being commonly hailed as the "Queen" of a genre of music is no mean feat, but for Pauline Black, singer/songwriter of Two-Tone legends the Selecter and universally recognised "Queen of Ska", it is something she seems to take in her stride. "People can call you whatever they like," she tells PopMatters, "so I suppose it's better that they call you something really good!"

Keep reading... Show less

Morrison's prose is so engaging and welcoming that it's easy to miss the irreconcilable ambiguities that are set forth in her prose as ineluctable convictions.

It's a common enough gambit in science fiction. Humans come across a race of aliens that appear to be entirely alike and yet one group of said aliens subordinates the other, visiting violence upon their persons, denigrating them openly and without social or legal consequence, humiliating them at every turn. The humans inquire why certain of the aliens are subjected to such degradation when there are no discernible differences among the entire race of aliens, at least from the human point of view. The aliens then explain that the subordinated group all share some minor trait (say the left nostril is oh-so-slightly larger than the right while the "superior" group all have slightly enlarged right nostrils)—something thatm from the human vantage pointm is utterly ridiculous. This minor difference not only explains but, for the alien understanding, justifies the inequitable treatment, even the enslavement of the subordinate group. And there you have the quandary of Otherness in a nutshell.

Keep reading... Show less
3

A 1996 classic, Shawn Colvin's album of mature pop is also one of best break-up albums, comparable lyrically and musically to Joni Mitchell's Hejira and Bob Dylan's Blood on the Tracks.

When pop-folksinger Shawn Colvin released A Few Small Repairs in 1996, the music world was ripe for an album of sharp, catchy songs by a female singer-songwriter. Lilith Fair, the tour for women in the music, would gross $16 million in 1997. Colvin would be a main stage artist in all three years of the tour, playing alongside Liz Phair, Suzanne Vega, Sheryl Crow, Sarah McLachlan, Meshell Ndegeocello, Joan Osborne, Lisa Loeb, Erykah Badu, and many others. Strong female artists were not only making great music (when were they not?) but also having bold success. Alanis Morissette's Jagged Little Pill preceded Colvin's fourth recording by just 16 months.

Keep reading... Show less
9

Frank Miller locates our tragedy and warps it into his own brutal beauty.

In terms of continuity, the so-called promotion of this entry as Miller's “third" in the series is deceptively cryptic. Miller's mid-'80s limited series The Dark Knight Returns (or DKR) is a “Top 5 All-Time" graphic novel, if not easily “Top 3". His intertextual and metatextual themes resonated then as they do now, a reason this source material was “go to" for Christopher Nolan when he resurrected the franchise for Warner Bros. in the mid-00s. The sheer iconicity of DKR posits a seminal work in the artist's canon, which shares company with the likes of Sin City, 300, and an influential run on Daredevil, to name a few.

Keep reading... Show less
8
Pop Ten
Mixed Media
PM Picks

© 1999-2017 Popmatters.com. All rights reserved.
Popmatters is wholly independently owned and operated.

rating-image