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Christopher O’Riley – True Love Waits

8 11 2011

Listened: Tuesday July 19

True Love Waits was my introduction to Chris O’Riley back in the Radiohead heyday (2003ish). Chris does great translations of both older and newer Radiohead songs for piano. I would say his triumph actually is Hold Me To This, due to the fact that that album attacks some of the very difficult latter-day songs very successfully, but True Love Waits both is challenging and familiar, due to its mixture of complex songs (Everything In Its Right Place, Knives Out) and older, more straightforward rock songs (Black Star, Thinking About You). I think I like his version of Black Star as much as the original, and I love the extra flourishes he adds to a song as simple as Thinking About You.

I have great memories of hearing him perform his versions of these songs several times in my early 20s. However, I think I may have ruined True Love Waits recently. At the end of my last job, when I spent many hours documenting my work processes, music helped me concentrate, but it couldn’t have lyrics or it was too distracting for writing. So most of my music was out. I ended up hearing True Love Waits quite a few times by necessity and timing of the project, and therefore it has some less than pleasant connotations now. I hope with time those will fade!

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Ray LaMontagne – Trouble

8 11 2011

Listened: Tuesday July 19

Ray LaMontagne’s Trouble was probably one of my last listening-station related buys at Tower Records. It was cheap and it was one of those albums I fell in love with after only a minute or so of listening to its first track, Trouble. The music, lyrics, and vocals are immediately gripping; it begged me to buy it.

Jolene makes me gasp for breath every time I hear it. What else can I do after a song starts with “Cocaine flame in my bloodstream”? The further heartbreak simplicity of:

I found myself face down in the ditch
Booze on my hair
Blood on my lips
A picture of you, holding a picture of me
in the pocket of my blue jeans
Still don’t know what love means

Burn is also arresting, with lyrics like “Yes and try to ignore, all this blood on the floor. It’s just this heart on my sleeve that’s a bleeding”.

Ray tiptoes along the right side of the line between overwrought and believably anguished. This album is made for wallowing or remembering what it’s like to wallow, with both sorrow and aching beauty.