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Dan Wilson & Rusty Willoughby: Treasures From This Week In Music

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I write a column highlighting the new music being released each week.  I usually find a couple titles that pique my interest and spend a little time talking about them and how eager I am to add them to my collection.

There were a couple of titles this week that were on my radar and now I can share my excitement at having acquired them as opposed to pining for them.  So to borrow from my formative years watching Sesame Street, today’s episode of Verse Chorus Verse is brought to you by the letter “W.”

The title track would be pretty if Cobirds Unite were a singer/songwriter record that featured only Rusty Willoughby and his acoustic guitar.  With the help of Rachel Flotard’s harmony vocal, Barrett Martin’s vibraphone and gentle percussion, and the steel guitar of Margarethe Bjorklund, “Cobirds Unite” is what dreams are made of.  There’s an undercurrent of melancholy that runs throughout but the fragility and the beauty are so enveloping that meaning becomes meaningless and you surrender to the song, allowing yourself to float through its branches on a gentle breeze.

Dan Wilson has penned a few tunes with those kinds of melodies himself.  Live At The Pantages is a great career summary for an artist who has fronted two successful bands, embarked on a solo career, and co-written songs that have been recorded by Grammy winners and won Grammys.  Wilson performs songs from all phases of his career, presenting some of them in solo acoustic arrangements and some backed by a band.

“Free Life” is the amazing title track from his 2007 record recorded with help from Rick Rubin.  I’ve always loved the lyrics to the song and the exploration of life and its origins and I love the way he sings it.  Everything I love about the studio version is on display live but onstage it is allowed to grow into something larger by becoming smaller.  The song remains the same yet it’s something altogether different on stage, which is what a great performance and live album is supposed to do. 

About Josh Hathaway