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Willie Nelson: That's Life (2021 Legacy); Willie Tributes the Chairman of the Board With His Second Album of Sinatra Classics, and It's a Beaut

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  Photo courtesy of the artist On the surface, few artists would seem more antithetical to the image of Frank Sinatra than Willie Nelson. We'll skip the revelations about his voice not giving away his age and I'll just point out that he knows his way around a standard; he's written a few in his long, storied career. I'll rely on the Wikipedia to tell you that this is Willie's 71st solo studio album. That means that the number doesn't include groups that he was in, live albums, best of, etc. When you think about it, that number is truly staggering. That's Life is Nelson's second Sinatra tribute, his first being My Way (2018), and he's quite good at it. On  That's Life, we have fairly simple arrangements led primarily by piano, ably played by arranger Matt Rollings, and some exquisite steel guitar by Paul Franklin. The rest of the musicians are too numerous to name here, but there are plenty of gorgeous strings and saxes (among other instruments

Eva Cassidy - Acoustic; Finally Released On CD, These 20 Tracks Reveal the Essence of Her Art

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Photo courtesy of EvaCassidy.com If you've listened to Eva Cassidy, you probably know the beautiful artistry that she brought to her music. In the nearly two decades since the world became aware of her career, that was tragically shortened by cancer, it seems like everything that she had recorded has been released.  Acoustic is a twenty song collection of tunes that Cassidy recorded that consist for the most part of just voice and acoustic guitar. It was first released digitally in 2017. When I discovered it on Spotify then, I went looking for information about it and found none. Listening to it these last few years, I've been impressed with several things. These recordings pretty much represent the core of Cassidy's repertoire. Even though we may be used to hearing some of this material produced in different ways, the artistry and her singing style shines clearly on these tracks.  If I didn't know differently, this set sounds like it was all recorded in one afternoon.

The Best Christmas Music of 2020; All the Scoop On New Holiday Treats from The Bird and the Bee, Karla Bonoff, Terri Clark, the Goo Goo Dolls, Kacey Musgraves, Dolly Parton, Pentatonix, Chrissi Poland, Straight No Chaser, Meghan Trainor, Carrie Underwood and Much, Much More

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Photo courtesy of the artist  As strange as 2020 was for the music business, that didn't seem to carry over to the holiday releases. Oh, there are probably exceptions to that, but by and large Christmas albums came out sounding pretty much like what we might expect.  In the description below, I will once again not harp on songs that aren't really Christmas songs like Joni Mitchell's "River," Leonard Cohen's "Hallelujah," and the like. I do really love those songs in their normal non-holiday context. I'm even starting to get used to hearing "My Favorite Things" as a Christmas song. It's easy to say that this year because two of those songs are absent from this year's crop, and the version of "River" that's on the Karla Bonoff album is so good that I am compelled to love it in spite of its inclusion.  The 2020 holidays are already weird in the sense that we will not be with most of our family and friends due to the c

Chrissi Poland - Happy Christmas; Five of Your Favorite Christmas Songs Made Truly Special On New EP

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  Photo Courtesy of Artist On Happy Christmas , Chrissi Poland delivers a five track EP that she calls "stripped down and chill." She is totally talking my language there, especially when it comes to Christmas music. These piano-based covers could not have been more well chosen if I had selected them myself. In my Christmas articles in recent years, I invariably get to the part where I bitch about songs that are not really Christmas songs (songs like Joni Mitchell's "River" and Leonard Cohen's "Hallelujah"). That said, I usually find some solace in the fact that two deserving songs are being covered more and more and are becoming modern standards. Poland opens the EP with those two songs.  Track one is "This Christmas," a song that Donny Hathaway wrote, recorded, and released in 1970. December 9, 2020 represents the fiftieth anniversary of the original release. Hathaway is an artist whose life was tragically cut short in 1979. To say that

The Dave Brubeck Quartet - Time OutTakes; One of the Greatest Jazz Albums Of All Time Is About To Get a Little Greater

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T he  Dave   Brubeck  Quartet, courtesy of the  Brubeck  family. Time Out by the Dave Brubeck Quartet, one of the most beloved jazz albums ever made and also one of the most important, is the subject of the inaugural release of a new label called Brubeck Editions. In honor of the centennial celebration of Dave Brubeck's birth, Brubeck Editions will release something very exciting on December 4, 2020. Having recently discovered master tapes from the recording sessions that produced the Time Out LP, the new album Time OutTakes mirrors the original album yet it offers a different take on each song. Listening to these different versions of such familiar and iconic fare is positively revelatory. It's almost like a concert in which they play the album in track order, but each song is played a little differently. Many thanks to the Brubeck family for making this recording possible.  I was fortunate enough to see Brubeck in live performance several times. He was always pushing the mu