Music

Amy Cook: The Sky Observers Guide

The Sky Observer's Guide, the sophomore project from folk songstress Amy Cook, embodies the old adage about everything being bigger in Texas.


Amy Cook

The Sky Observer's Guide

Label: Root House
US Release Date: 2007-07-10
UK Release Date: 2007-07-10
Amazon
iTunes

The Sky Observer's Guide , the sophomore project from folk songstress Amy Cook, embodies the old adage about everything being bigger in Texas. According to Cook's songs skies full of stars, hopes, ambitions and heartaches all expand and grow measureless within the Lone Star State's vast borders. Set against musical backdrops colored with the earth tones found in folk, country and pop, Cook's tales are spun with a genuine sense of wonder and suggest the songwriter as a free spirit. The album opens with its two best tracks: "Coming Home (The Eclipse)", built on a gorgeous wall of organic sound and "The Answer", a straight ahead, very accessible alt. country track. Throughout the album, Cook seeks to cast a feeling of delicate beauty, most notably realized on the unpretentious folk ballad "Sunshine" and the breezy pop of "Bright Colored Afternoons." At times, especially during the record's second half, selected tracks cannot keep up with the grand design mapped out in its initial stages. "When the Day is Done", for example, is a fairly pedestrian piece of folk rock and the guitar parts on "Pearl" seem a bit overdone in light of the song's personal tone. However, the album ends with the beautifully expansive epilogue Cook attaches to the otherwise decent "Feathers to a Crown" and no matter the scope of her writing, Cook ties the entire project together with an omnipresent sense of dignity and grace.

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Cover down, pray through: Bob Dylan's underrated, misunderstood "gospel years" are meticulously examined in this welcome new installment of his Bootleg series.

"How long can I listen to the lies of prejudice?
How long can I stay drunk on fear out in the wilderness?"
-- Bob Dylan, "When He Returns," 1979

Bob Dylan's career has been full of unpredictable left turns that have left fans confused, enthralled, enraged – sometimes all at once. At the 1965 Newport Folk Festival – accompanied by a pickup band featuring Mike Bloomfield and Al Kooper – he performed his first electric set, upsetting his folk base. His 1970 album Self Portrait is full of jazzy crooning and head-scratching covers. In 1978, his self-directed, four-hour film Renaldo and Clara was released, combining concert footage with surreal, often tedious dramatic scenes. Dylan seemed to thrive on testing the patience of his fans.

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TV

Inane Political Discourse, or, Alan Partridge's Parody Politics

Publicity photo of Steve Coogan courtesy of Sky Consumer Comms

That the political class now finds itself relegated to accidental Alan Partridge territory along the with rest of the twits and twats that comprise English popular culture is meaningful, to say the least.

"I evolve, I don't…revolve."
-- Alan Partridge

Alan Partridge began as a gleeful media parody in the early '90s but thanks to Brexit he has evolved into a political one. In print and online, the hopelessly awkward radio DJ from Norwich, England, is used as an emblem for incompetent leadership and code word for inane political discourse.

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The show is called Crazy Ex-Girlfriend largely because it spends time dismantling the structure that finds it easier to write women off as "crazy" than to offer them help or understanding.

In the latest episode of Crazy Ex-Girlfriend, the CW networks' highly acclaimed musical drama, the shows protagonist, Rebecca Bunch (Rachel Bloom), is at an all time low. Within the course of five episodes she has been left at the altar, cruelly lashed out at her friends, abandoned a promising new relationship, walked out of her job, had her murky mental health history exposed, slept with her ex boyfriend's ill father, and been forced to retreat to her notoriously prickly mother's (Tovah Feldshuh) uncaring guardianship. It's to the show's credit that none of this feels remotely ridiculous or emotionally manipulative.

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To be a migrant worker in America is to relearn the basic skills of living. Imagine doing that in your 60s and 70s, when you thought you'd be retired.


Nomadland: Surviving America in the Twenty-First Century

Publisher: W. W. Norton
Author: Jessica Bruder
Publication date: 2017-09
Amazon

There's been much hand-wringing over the state of the American economy in recent years. After the 2008 financial crisis upended middle-class families, we now live with regular media reports of recovery and growth -- as well as rising inequality and decreased social mobility. We ponder what kind of future we're creating for our children, while generally failing to consider who has already fallen between the gaps.

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Gallagher's work often suffers unfairly beside famous husband's Raymond Carver. The Man from Kinvara should permanently remedy this.

Many years ago—it had to be 1989—my sister and I attended a poetry reading given by Tess Gallagher at California State University, Northridge's Little Playhouse. We were students, new to California and poetry. My sister had a paperback copy of Raymond Carver's Cathedral, which we'd both read with youthful admiration. We knew vaguely that he'd died, but didn't really understand the full force of his fame or talent until we unwittingly went to see his widow read.

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