» Full Dark, No Stars - Stephen King's new novella questions mankind's ability to trust others.
[02.21.2011 by Bridget Doyle]


 » The Top 30 Albums of 2010 - Fashionably, fabulously late, our favorite music (and believe me, there was a LOT) of 2010, the year that some have called the best year for music ever. And only some of those fools work here. Plenty of usual suspects, lots of ties and a few surprises that I won't spoil, including our unexpected #1.
[12.24.2010 by The LAS Staff]


 » Live: Surfer Blood/The Drums at Lincoln Hall, Chicago, IL - Remember when Weezer used to put together records that you could sing along to and rock out to? That's what Surfer Blood's show was like!
[11.04.2010 by Cory Tendering]

Music Reviews

Screaming Females - Castle Talk
»Screaming Females
Castle Talk
Don Giovanni
Trent Reznor & Atticus Ross - The Social Network [Original Soundtrack]
»Trent Reznor & Atticus Ross
The Social Network [Original Soundtrack]
The Null Corporation
Deerhunter - Halcyon Digest
Halcyon Digest
No Age - Everything in Between
»No Age
Everything in Between
Sub Pop
Robyn - Body Talk Pt. 1/ Body Talk Pt. 2
Body Talk Pt. 1/ Body Talk Pt. 2
The Walkmen - Lisbon
»The Walkmen
Fat Possum

October 23, 2008
One amusing truth about the music press is that if you do the same thing for too long, you'll catch flack for stagnating (Clinic, Dead Meadow), but if you do it for even longer, so long that the cycle loops around again, you'll be in vogue for a new generation of critics to flag their territory as the class of 'XX and talk about your "return to form." Case in point: Ghostface Killah, the most critically-beloved rapper of '08, was the most underrated Wu member of '95. Ghostface was doing the same thing then that he's doing today, with tear-stained soul samples squished beneath RZA's gritty fingers and narratives so extensive that the details bleed into other details. Except Liquid Swords et al. were supposedly so good that how could anyone have noticed? Cynics excuse the years-late love because no one else is any good anymore, and ten-to-one says they'll go off on the lack of Illmatics in Nas' non-Illmatic catalogue.

If classic soul was the Wu, Al Green would be its Ghostface. It took everyone else to bump off (but literally now) for the populace to give him the spotlight he deserves. It's like Norm MacDonald hosting Saturday Night Live after they fired him: "I didn't get funnier... the show just sucks!" Al Green hasn't done anything different for years. He had his gospel phase and returned to secular. Did an Entertainment Weekly interview three "comebacks" ago where he bragged that he wouldn't even let sound engineers clean the cobwebs off his studio's mixing boards. And his secular return has been pretty fruitful, with 2004's funky I Can't Stop as a late-career highlight, not to mention some notable contributions to hip-hop out of his control: in 2001, a scrappy, go-getter Kanye beefed up the normally tepid Talib Kweli by chopping up Green's "Simply Beautiful" on "Good to You."

So here I am, new-class critic proselytizing to you about this comfy niche veteran's return to form. But keep in mind: Lay It Down is his best in years, but the years are just as good. Why Lay it Down particularly reads like Grammy gold, and I hope it is, is because all Green needed was a star to hitch his campaign trail to. Unsurprisingly, the ever-reverent ?uestlove is always happy to oblige and accredit his heroes with a production boost. Double coup because the star in question is so obsessed with authenticity, as the cobweb-leaving stalwart Green hopes he'd better be.

So where does that leave Lay it Down? It's another Green album. The sexagenarian's voice has both sweetened and roughened with age, his rhythmic accents and off-times as measured and beautifully drawn out as ever. His chord changes are the real secret to his brew though, with jazzy hints and spiced interconnections that split and curl while even great neo-soul songsters like D'Angelo don't quite risk the complexity. And the songs are good! The same dusty mold he's always swept out, from the crawling title tune to the gorgeous "What More Do You Want From Me" to the supremely serene "Stay With Me (By the Sea)," Green's unable to escape his remarkably consistent self. Which is a good thing, considering duet partners Anthony Hamilton and John Legend have their shining collaborative moments, but are yet to prove themselves worthy successors as auteurs. But this is star karaoke for them, and they don't have to. Anything he touches turns to Green. And for the first time in years, that's better than gold.

SEE ALSO: www.algreenmusic.com
SEE ALSO: www.bluenote.com
SEE ALSO: www.lostatsea.net/feature.phtml?fid=1771174512467f887fadfea

Dan Weiss
Dan Weiss is the music editor for LAS. Formerly an editorial intern at CMJ and creator of the now defunct What was It Anyway?, his work has appeared in Village Voice, Pitchfork, Philadelphia Inquirer, Stylus and Crawdaddy among others. He resides in Brooklyn where he enjoys questionable lifestyle choices and loud guitars.

See other articles by Dan Weiss.



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