BEN: By the mid 1990’s Johnny Cash’s career was seemingly over. One of the last things he had recorded was Johnny Cash Reads The Complete New Testament in 1990. Four years later, rock and hip hop producer Rick Rubin brought Johnny’s music to a whole new fan base when they collaborated to make American Recordings, an album of stark, bare-bones renditions of contemporary songs, like Leonard Cohen’s “Bird On The Wire” and Nick Lowe’s “The Beast In Me”. Suddenly Johnny was everywhere and his popularity only grew with the release of 1996’s Unchained and 2000’s Solitary Man, featuring more classic songs reworked and sung with depth and feeling like only a 70 year old Cash could sing. 2002’s American Recordings IV: The Man Comes Around was the most haunting of the series, since it came out shortly before Johnny’s long time partner and wife June Carter passed away, and because it contained the heartbreaking cover of the Nine Inch Nails song “Hurt”. Trent Reznor’s lyrics about drug addiction take on new meaning when Cash sings lines like “What have I become, my sweetest friend/Everyone I know goes away in the end”. The production is first rate and Johnny’s tired and frail voice give it an extra layer of sadness and power. A truly remarkable track.
Key lyric: “I hurt myself today, to see if I still feel/I focus on the pain, the only thing that’s real”
MARK: This song is one that although is a cover, it is much better. The mellowness of the recording really highlight the lyrics and emotion. I love the backing guitar and piano notes that are played so sparsely until the chorus lifts and opens the song up. Great song!
Claudia’s Review: It’s ok, but I don’t know, I don’t love it.
BEN: “Another Day” is a classic Paul McCartney song in every way. It’s a ditty, first and foremost; meaning that it’s a slice of life pop song that’s fairly lightweight in it’s subject matter and music. It also has all of the other signature Paul qualities - It’s fun, sophisticated pop with incredible musicianship. Just the bass part alone makes “Another Day” brilliant. Not surprisingly, Paul plays every instrument in the song. He has always had an excellent sense of craft about his work, and at the time he had the added bonus of being a one man band, which means he could get the exact sound he wanted. This would effect him negatively later on, as he began putting out what many would call substandard material, but at the beginning of his solo career, he was bursting with ideas and sounds. Linda McCartney’s backing vocals have been a sore spot for many fans, but on “Another Day” they work just fine, helping Paul tell the story of an over-worked, under-loved single woman trying to make it in the big city. Like I said, classic Paul.
Key lyric - “At the office where the papers grow she takes a break/Drinks a cup of coffee and she finds it hard to stay awake”
MARK: I really like this song. It sounds like he still has a Beatle mindset. Even though he played all the parts, there is backing vocals, lead guitar, percussion additions, catchy little hooks and time changes. It’s a cool song and in a way it reminds me of a Paul Simon song… maybe because of the simplicity and vocal lines. It’s a jam!
BEN: Lovers and Poets started off as a one-off side project between pop-rock singer-songwriter Shannon Hurley and Nashville-based producer/engineer Bryan Talbot. After collaborating on a few songs, the two had a falling out and Shannon re-teamed with… me! We are now L&P. Shannon deserves most of the credit- she writes the songs and produces them, I write and perform the bass parts and we collaborate on the beats and programming ideas. “Life Is Strange” is the first L&P song and it takes Shannon’s songwriting and style in a totally new direction. The cool, detached vocals and spacey lyrics combine with the downtempo chill pop beats and slippery bass line to create something unique. “Life Is Strange” and the rest of L&P’s self-titled debut album have caught the ear of many in the upper echelon of the electronica world. Shannon’s vocal was featured on one of the biggest trance tracks of 2011 with Protoculture’s “Sun Gone Down”. Check it out here:http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9syOYpb_RdI Since then Shannon has been collaborating with some of the biggest names in the trance world and her and I are hard at work on new tracks for an L&P follow up.
Key lyric: “Standing still/The scenery is changing/This is real/My senses slowly fading”
MARK: Great beat! I love the drums and bass groove! It has a great laid back feel to it that draws you in. Shannon’s vocals really float above this song and make it a great song for driving/chillin. It reminds me of going on night drives in the dark and watching the city breath from out the window, but it kinda feels like a dream. It’s a good soundtrack for life. My favorite part is that last chord after ‘Life is Strange’ it breaks up the song and keeps pushing it forward.
Claudia’s Review: I love this song and I love the album art! ;)