It's obvious from the greasy opening blues vibe in "Exodus of Venus," the title track of Elizabeth Cook's first album in six years, that something is very different. Produced by guitarist Dexter Green, this set is heavier, darker, and harder than anything she's released before. Its 11 songs are performed by a crack band that includes bassist Willie Weeks, drummer Matt Chamberlain, keyboardist Ralph Lofton, and lap steel guitarist Jesse Aycock. The tunes are drenched in swampy electric blues, psychedelic Americana, gritty R&B, and post-outlaw country. Cook has been tried by fire these past few years. She's endured six deaths – including her parents – a divorce, a stint in rehab, and more. It slowed her writing to a crawl. Exodus of Venus is her way of telling that story, and as such, its songs often stray from the narrative storyteller's manner she's previously employed in favor of a more jarring poetic style that still communicates directly.
The concerto grosso form was popularized by Corelli, and Locatelli’s Op 1 is a marvellous example of the genre: its solid craftsmanship, imaginative textures and exciting virtuosity bringing it into the top rank. These works are ravishingly performed here by The Raglan Baroque Players, Nicholas Kraemer and soloist Elizabeth Wallfisch.
In 1724, Sébastien de Brossard hailed Jean-Baptiste Drouard de Bousset as ‘indisputably the best of our composer-authors’. Although, at the beginning of the 18th century, the Master of Music at the Académies des Sciences et des Inscriptions imposed himself as the unquestionable leader of the genre, his 875 airs sérieux are little known nowadays and deserve to be brought back into the light. Such is the desire of Elizabeth Dobbin and the ensemble Le Jardin Secret, who recreate with artistry and intelligence the ‘noble, pleasant and natural’ songs of the composer, described by Titon du Tillet in his Parnasse françois (1732). Reflecting the traditions of the 17th and 18th centuries, the musicians have included improvised passages in their performance of these airs and, in particular, chosen to accompany the voice with two theorbos and viola da gamba, instruments that Bousset owned when he died.
An extremely rare live recording of the scaffold in 1968 when they were top of the charts, this album has been long deleted and never before released on CD. The Scaffold emerged from Liverpool’s early 1960s bohemian scene, the same environment that had nurtured the Beatles. The McCartney brothers linked the two, Paul’s younger brother Mike, under the pseudonym McGear, teaming up with entrepreneur John Gorman and poet Roger McGough in 1963,Britain’s most famous poet whose book of sixties beat poetry “the mersey sound” has sold an unprecedented one million copies. Their stage show, fusing softly satirical sketches with music hall bawdiness, was a hit at the Edinburgh Festival and formed the basis for several successful tours through the rest of the decade.
The super-talented singer/songwriter's acclaimed debut album was a mere planting of her capabilities and this next collection of modern soul supernovas will scope far further.