» LATEST FEATURES
LITERATURE» Full Dark, No Stars - Stephen King's new novella questions mankind's ability to trust others.
MUSIC» 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.
MUSIC» 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!
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 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.
» MEDIA DOWNLOADS
» GOT STICKERS?
--> Send an with $2 in PayPal funds to cover postage. Don't worry, we'll load you up with enough to cover your town. Then just be patient. They will arrive soon.