Our salute to roots music listens to new music from Nobody's Girl, Lara Hope and the Ark-Tones and the great Maria Muldaur.
Maria Muldaur - Let's Get Happy Together
Only a couple years shy of celebrating its 50th anniversary, Maria Muldaur's hit "Midnight at the Oasis" remains the singer's best-known song. She's released about 30 albums since then, and here she takes her sound way back to the 1920s and '30s by channeling the vintage jazz sounds of the era. The album begins with "I Like You Best of All," a fun, jaunty cut originally done by the Goofus Five with cute lyrics about liking pie and cake and such, but not as much as a lover. With an undeniable New Orleans sound, the cut is perfect for getting the party started. The title cut is sequenced second and it has the same vibe as the opener, and with lyrics like "You're high and so am I" it will likely quickly become a favorite. Spotlighted throughout the album is tuba player Todd Burdick and he shines along with trombone, clarinet and coronet players on cuts like "Be Your Natural Self," "Swing You Sinners" and a take on Irving Berlin's "He Ain't Got Rhythm." Muldaur gives her big eight piece band plenty of space here, so much in fact that the listener may at first mistakenly think, due to lengthy intros, that some of these cuts are instrumentals. Obviously Muldaur is no longer a spring chicken but her vocals here, with some age-appropriate huskiness, remain warm and appealing.
Lara Hope and the Ark-Tones - Here to Tell the Tale
This is Hope's third outing with the Ark-Tones and by now the group has a reputation for being tons of fun on record and in person. The band comes out rockin' like crazy with the hot rockabilly cut "Let's Go," which besides using typical rockabilly instruments like upright bass also sneaks in greasy sax riffing from guest player Hayden Cummings. The title cut is a speedy, country-flavored cut guaranteed to pack the floor at the roadhouse or at the barn dance while Hope's brassy and sassy vocals shine on cuts like "Whoa Is Me," the subdued and slightly ominous "It's a Crime" and the hillbilly romp "12 Minutes of Hot Water." The clever sing-along "I Drink to Your Health" closes out the effort.
Nobody's Girl - Nobody's Girl
Nobody's Girl is a three woman affair, a trio featuring singers BettySoo, Rebecca Loebe and Grace Pettis. All are Austin-based and with their own individual careers but it is clearly fortuitous that they came together here to create great cuts like the modern country of "Kansas," the rockin' "I'm gonna party tonight" vibe of "Rescued" and "What'll I Do," a bouncy pondering of what to do about a lover, who right now, wants a late night booty call. Most cuts here have what it takes to garner serious radio play, "Waterline," a take on Carole King's "So Far Away" and the tricky chant featuring "Tiger" among them. Fans of these three singers will be over the moon with this very enjoyable collaboration.