‘Global Lingo’ speaks language of the planet
“GLOBAL LINGO,” various acts (Project Ahimsa)
Something gets lost in translation with “Global Lingo,” but the overall vibe shines through.
The compilation is a benefit for Project Ahimsa, a music-oriented organization that reaches out to disadvantaged children throughout the world. So far the group has helped some 10,000 kids in 14 countries.
“Global Lingo” features some of those who have been helped by the project as well as known artists from around the globe playing a broad stylistic range of music with a spectrum of vocals in a variety of languages (English dominates). Although the songs are clumsily segued together to create a continuous stream of music without breaks between cuts, these tracks still don’t really belong together.
Except, they do. Because despite their differences, these songs are unified in spirit.
So it is that the humble soul of Coco Pelia’s finger-snapping “Any Day Now” belongs alongside the plucky hip-hop of the endearing “Hello Bonjour” by Michael Franti & Spearhead with Sly & Robbie; and Erica Nalani’s folksy “Much to Do” fits as a lead in to the bumping, spoken-word, multi-lingual “Hear It Loud” by Sam Norling and Ching-Hwa featuring Voudux and Mitchy Mitch; and the Punjabi reggae of Funkadesi’s “Dolare” is a suitable follow up to the kids-choir-anchored “El Tiburon del Lago Cocibolca” by the Nicaragua-based Children of Ritmos en los Barrios.
“Global Lingo” occasionally slips into electronica-oriented comas plus a few of the middle cuts have a filler feeling to them. But in general, the disparate songs in this collection glow with humanity.
Rating (five possible): 3-1/2
Between the Trees plants surprises between throwaway cuts
“SPAIN,” Between the Trees (Bonded Records)
Between the Trees’ new sophomore release, “Spain,” is a refreshingly straightforward collection of mostly upbeat love-related songs by a talented trio of Florida men in their early- and mid-20s.
As Paul McCartney sang on “Silly Love Songs,” “What’s wrong with that?”
In fact, there’s not much significantly wrong with “Spain.” The Orlando natives may be overly locked into formula and a bit simplistic with the lyrics (and guilty of padding said lyrics with extraneous words), but their performances are solid and sometimes even special.
Produced by Jeff Powell, “Spain” is accessible to mainstream adult pop fans, alt-rockers and doe-eyed girls and young women.
“We Can Try” is an efficient opener that ties together all of the above demographics with a flavorful blend of hard-strumming cadence, sweeping chorus, plaintive vocals by Ryan Kirkland, a wildly infectious chorus and lyrics that combine melancholy with hope: “I know things aren’t quite like what they use to be ... We can try.” Conflicting emotions similarly punctuate “One Last Time (Darlin’ II),” where Kirkland sells sap with conviction: “Kiss me one last time before you go ... promise you’ll return to me.” And his vocal play brings sincerity to “Miss You” as he self-consciously confesses his obsession: “How does it make you feel to hear me say that I miss you?”
Between the Trees also shows a touching, though no less catchy, darker side with an empathetic theme for the downtrodden, “Scarecrow,” where Kirkland arches into the somber line, “Maybe I wasn’t made for this world.”
A scattering of less interesting tracks fill out the remainder of “Spain,” a listenable collection of escapist songs that meet expectations but lack distinctive elements. That’s no problem, however, because there are enough surprises on the release to tip the balance in the band’s favor.
Luke Winslow-King’s baby conjures old sound
“OLD/NEW BABY,” Luke Winslow-King (Fox on a Hill)
Luke Winslow-King has an academic background that could fill pages of a resume: He studied music from several angles at several schools and under several accomplished musicians. Yet frankly, there’s such thing as too much education, a saturation point of knowledge that might overqualify a performer and inhibit from-the-heart creativity.
Fortunately, Winslow-King is either talented enough or educated enough to make his “Old/New Baby” sound like off-the-cuff and effortless ragtime, a glorious deception. The New Orleans-based native of Michigan wrote or co-wrote all 15 compositions for the release, and though the arrangements sound like a timeless melange of spirited Dixieland jazz with notes of folk, blues and classical music, there’s a modern sense to the lyrics (no hokum about riverboats, for example) as well as Winslow-King’s charisma-filled rasp.
On “Never Tired,” for example, he sounds like a weary 21st century man longing for the comfort of everlasting love in an increasingly impatient world. Against a peppy rhythm keyed to stand-up bass, he sings of being as tired as “a racist joke” and “a husband’s rage,” but also adds, “Hope you’ll never tire of me.” Meanwhile, “Below” is a droll letter to an upstairs neighbor who takes messy showers, the upbeat pace a contrast for the irritated lyrics: “The water is coming through my ceiling and light fixture/This is extremely dangerous/It could short out and cause a fire or electrocute one of us/Not to mention how unsanitary it is.”
Winslow-King’s unconventional take on tradition works best when he’s got a kick in the beat and an abundance of horns. When he diverts into the blues/rock of “Bird Dog Blues,” his voice doesn’t make the transition, and when he slows down for “The Sun Slamming the Highway,” the road gets sludgy. And at the end, “Old/New Baby” flattens out and blows up with closer “Your Eyes, Your Eyes.”
At least the sailing was mostly smooth before the bombastic finale.
© 2009, Knoxville News Sentinel Co.
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