Music Makers — Spoon; Billy Joe Shaver
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Some recent CD releases worth listening to — or not:
“They Want My Soul,” Spoon (Loma Vista/Republic)
The Austin, Texas-born band Spoon is out with its eighth album, “They Want My Soul.” It’s a lush jangle of guitars, smart lyrics and catchy refrains that continues to set the band apart from, well, other bands you’re not quite sure you’ve heard of.
Therein lives the mystery of Spoon. They’re just good enough to make a 20-year career out of music while producing albums and songs you’ve probably overlooked.
That may not last much longer thanks to a couple of standout tracks that are certain to be late-summer earworms once “They Want My Soul” migrates into frequent rotation.
“Do You” is the one song you must know about. It asks of the listener “”Do you want to get understood?/Do you want one thing or are you looking for sainthood?” It has a great pace and is delivered with matching emotion by the band’s electrifying lead singer Britt Daniel.
While “Do You” offers straight-ahead rock, “Outlier” has a more modern feel with its danceable backbeat and ghostly keyboard echoes.
Spoon can do a little bit of everything, and does so on “They Want My Soul.” To sound this fresh after two decades of work speaks to the band’s smartness and savvy. They were one of the crowd favorites during their set at the Shaky Knees Music Festival in Atlanta this year with an energetic stage presence. Spoon is wearing its experience well these days. — By Ron Harris, The Associated Press
Billy Joe Shaver, “Long In The Tooth” (Lightning Rod)
Old cowboys love to lament that contemporary country music’s in a sorry state and guilty of casting aside sage singers and songwriters — like Billy Joe Shaver. The crusty Texan trots out that trope at the start of his new album, and then spends the rest of the record showing he still has plenty to say.
“Long in the Tooth” covers a wide range of topics in 10 songs and 32 minutes. Shaver sings about politics, war, the lessons of Jesus and the Garden of Eden, and that’s just in the space of four verses on the tune “The Git Go.”
The title cut’s a hoot, with Shaver noting that as his 75th birthday approaches, “what I used to do all night, it takes me all night to do.” He sings about the rails on “Sunbeam Special,” then rails against America’s class divide on “Checkers and Chess.”
Best of all is “I’m In Love,” a ballad beautiful in its simplicity as Shaver pledges everlasting devotion. The song’s a testament to this cowboy’s staying power. — By Steven Wine, The Associated Press