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Thursday, March 16, 2006

They're not quite out yet, but trust me. I've been music drunk listening to these albums for the past couple of days, and have only sobered up just enough to write this before I put myself under again.

There're a few full streams available (try here or here). Now, I'll have to admit it up front. I don't know what sax player Walt Parazaider was smoking when he said they were trying to "stay away from that 'Hard Habit to Break' formula." It might've been crack, because except for a couple of tunes, that's basically the formula of the first half of the album. That's not really a slam, though. The production is well done (though, maybe a bit overdone in some places). I have to say that usually with any album (even a Chicago one), I can usually find at least one track to absolutely detest. Not in this case. I did wish it would've sounded a bit more like Robert Lamm's Subtlety & Passion, but instead it sounds like a 21st century, musically-intelligent, AOR album. And, unlike the 80s, (a) there's only one song sans horns, and even that was remixed with horns and stuck at the end and (b) they actually get to stretch as musicians. No, it doesn't sound like Chicago VII, but they're a different band with equally good musicians as well versed in their styles than any of their replacements, and that's what you hear.

And now, the one woman I'd seriously consider leaving my wife for (I know you're thinking, "What an ass!" but The Wife says exactly the same thing about me and Jet Li.):

There isn't a more experimental musician than Cassandra Wilson. None. And, I don't mean "experimental" as in "do some stupid stuff while intoxicated and then try to tell me I'm not hip enough to understand it." She's an explorer, singing in all the spaces between jazz, blues, bluegrass, rock, pop, gospel and coming back to record some of the most beautiful pieces of music (the only really applicable label) you'll ever hear. Period. End of story. I'll duel anyone who thinks otherwise.

With Thunderbird, producer T-Bone Burnett pushes her even further, throwing in some ambient and trip-hop grooves in the mix. I was skeptical at first, like when Quentin Tarantino heard that Zhang Yimou was going a kung-fu movie (Hero). I asked, "Why should she bother?" Now, I know. The album does have some tracks with the "typical" (for lack of a better word) Cassandra Wilson sound, stuff as good as anything in Belly of the Sun. Not too much in the Traveling Miles direction, but I'm not complaining.

I can honestly say it's been too long since I've been so completely absorbed in anyone's music.

Okay, I'm getting anxious and cranky. Need another dose, now.