There are several interesting possibilities this week, but I can specifically recommend Peter Case's new album Let Us Now Praise Sleepy John. "24 Hours" begins the album with a song that will certainly be on the best of list at the end of the year. This song has some of the best hooks Case has conjured up in awhile, as well as his usual literate lyrics. Besides that though, this song also has the benefit of guest Richard Thompson on guitar and vocals, which really makes this a proper record.
Interestingly though, Thompson's contribution of vocal harmonies on "24 Hours" did even more to benefit the song than his fancy guitar. Thompson's guitar playing is certainly a nice bonus, but Peter Case himself is actually a pretty fair picker. He's mostly got the fancy pickin' covered. But that second voice was really critical in the mix.
Billy Joe Shaver is Everybody's Brother. This album seems to be interested in spiritual themes, with Jesus specifically mentioned by name in three of the songs. This includes "You Just Can't Beat Jesus Christ," a duet with Johnny Cash rescued from an old demo. The album was produced by John Jr. I'd be real interested to hear what kind of Jesus songs are coming out of the guy who kicked my ass with "Jesus Christ Is Still the King" just two years ago. I'm particularly interested in that according to this article, Mr Shaver seems to think that the ghost of Johnny actually helped him write the seven-minute epic title song "Everybody's Brother."
Harry Shearer has a new album of Songs Pointed and Pointless. There are not many comedians as musical as Mr Shearer. I'm skeptical about overtly comic records. I so don't care to hear repeatedly about Adam Sandler's red sweatshirt. But Shearer was part of the brain trust for Spinal Tap and the Folksmen. That's another level of art. This might would deserve a listen, then.
For an album called Camp Meeting, I would have expected that Bruce Hornsby was making a gospel album. Turns out that he's going jazz, and fairly hardcore at that. He's taking a stab at Coltrane's "Giant Steps." He's also doing Thelonious Monk's "Straight, No Chaser."