“Anthem” is the title of the new album by Madeleine Peyroux. This album’s newly written songs emanate from producer Larry Klein suggesting that they try organizing writing sessions with a group of great musicians/writers that include Patrick Warren, Brian Macleod, and David Baerwald. Along with the newly written songs figure two previously written songs featuring Madeleine in her distinctive style: the classic title track by Leonard Cohen, and the Harold Arlen/ E.Y. “Yip” Harburg song “Last Night When We Were Young.”
This album achieves the difficult task of balancing humor, pathos, and irony, while weaving a topical thread throughout, addressing the current state of the world. Absent are any traces of preachiness or angry diatribes, and in their place are songs written from a diverse group of perspectives and vantage points: a man and a woman in a mental ward / rehab discussing their predicament, a Generation X pot-smoking gamer, a recently single woman whose lover has vanished, and a down-on-her-luck tenant in an apartment building, whose door has just been kicked in by the landlord.
From this varied cast of Raymond Carver-esque characters and more, a vivid picture is painted of the challenges that our times present for someone trying to hold on to their hope, heart, and optimism in the world that we now confront.
New Orleans based singer-songwriter Carsie Blanton has always been a little unorthodox. Raised on a commune in rural Virginia, Carsie never went to high school but was "unschooled” at home, until she left for the Oregon coast at the age of sixteen. She grew up listening to artists like Leonard Cohen and John Prine, and began taking piano lessons at age six. As Lilith Fair-era singer-songwriters like Sheryl Crow and Ani DiFranco emerged during her pre-teens, Carsie ditched the keys for a guitar and began writing songs. Before long, her voracious musical appetite led her to a lifelong love of jazz (Billie Holiday and Nina Simone), Motown (the Supremes and Sam Cooke), and songwriters from Duke Ellington to Tom Waits.
Carsie's latest release, So Ferocious, is a playful indie-pop record for smart, ferocious libertines. Blanton shows off her love for her hometown of New Orleans with brass bands and barroom piano, but blends in electronic instrumentation and environmental soundscapes to create an album that is both raw and playfully burlesque.