Wednesday, December 22, 2004

A bit more Court & Spark

I really believe that Witch Season from Court And Spark was one of the best releases of the year. It's a contemplative, quiet affair but has moments of sublime rocking. The band seems to have delved deeply into soul tinged country for this record. They've pushed the keyboards out towards the front of the mix and the bass seems heavier. Some of the songs are even (gasp) danceable. It's an inspired record from a band that has a tremendously consistent catalog. The reason I mention Court And Spark is because I saw lead singer M.C. Taylor play live last night at Cafe Du Nord with John Doe and M. Ward. Frankly I could take or leave John Doe's set. I love X and like much of his material on record but I was less than enthused about his live performance. So many of his songs are clearly written for a band but are being forced into a folk/singer-songwriter environment. Still it must always be a challenge to get up on a stage with nothing but a guitar and quiet a packed house. People were definitely into his set, it just didn't do it for me. M. Ward was very good. I'd never seen him live before and I'm looking forward to reviewing his new record for Stylus Magazine when it comes out in February. The crowd was really there to see M. Ward. The room swelled and people packed in when he started playing. He played almost all of Transfiguration of Vincent and was able to recreate those songs very very well. For the most part it was just him, guitar and harmonica. For some of the newer songs he played piano, I'm not sure what that will mean to the sound of the new record but given the guest players (Howie Gelb, mike coykendall, Jim James from My Morning Jacket, Vic Chestnut, Rachel Blumburg from the Decemberists) this record may well be amazing. M Ward can coax an amazingly complex array of sounds out his guitar. His voice is slight but operates on such an odd register that it becomes a unique instrument all its own.

So anyway the reason that I mention Court And Spark today is because the set by M.C. Taylor (he was solo) was the revelation of the night. It's too bad that alot of people didn't show up in time to see it, but good for me for the unobstructed view. The Court And Spark songs translated very well to the solo setting, in fact it's been a long time since I've seen someone with as much as stage presence and voice as M.C. Taylor. When I was at the show I picked up a copy of Double Roses. Excellent limited edition packaging, nice artwork. There are some great songs on this one and (as with all the Court And Spark stuff) you can but it HERE.

From Double Roses:

O Little Blackbird

Shake Sugaree


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11:39 PM  

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