Blue & Lonesome
It’s been 11 years since The Rolling Stones last released an album, but when was the last time the legendary band put out a memorable album? Sadly, the Stones’ cover album, “Blue & Lonesome” continues the “OK, but forgettable” format the band has utilized for the last 30 years or so.
The songs of Buddy Johnson, Willie Dixon, Magic Sam and others populate the track list, with the Stones wisely avoiding any too obvious choices. But it’s the kind of album fans would have killed to have the band do circa 1967, not when everyone is firmly in his 70s. Jagger’s voice sounds as sturdy as it has for decades, and the instrumentation is first rate. But overall, it feels devoid of passion.
“Blue & Lonesome” is a largely forgettable merger of blues clichés with Rolling Stones clichés. What we get is a forgettable curiosity that will no doubt give the band another excuse to tour again. Listen to the originals for a better experience, then throw on “Let it Bleed” for the millionth time.
“Queen of Everything”
On her 2014 debut, “The Only Way Down,” singer-songwriter Patresa Hartman established herself as one of the more distinctive voices in Iowa music. Her sophomore effort, “Queen of Everything,” somehow manages to leapfrog above and beyond the talent levels she had already established.
The title track establishes a lively and upbeat tone for the album, with great horn work by Rachel Gulick. On “Wooden Chairs,” Hartman allows herself to get a big more vulnerable, stripping things down to a guitar and tapping foot. Every song feels like it could work with just Hartman and a guitar, but layering in more instrumentation and musicians helps bring “The Only Way Down” to life.
In addition to the quality lyrics and vocals, “Queen of Everything” features an impressive roster of Iowa musicians, including Jenny Kohls, Gavin Moore and Renee Potts Flanagan. Producer Logan Christian ties it all together in an impressive package that lets Hartman’s material shine.
With “Queen of Everything,” Hartman is proudly carrying the torch of the Iowa Sound that dates back decades. Artists like Greg Brown, Dave Moore and Bonnie Koloc should be happy to know that Hartman is continuing the roots tradition they established while cutting her own distinctive groove into the Iowa landscape. ♦