New Music: Sonya Cotton – It Is So

Sonya Cotton’s new album – It is so – (released this week via bandcamp and her personal website) is a beautiful, touching collection of songs dedicated, as Sonya writes, “…to the life and spirit of my mother, Karen Imparato Cotton.”  The album also contains the track “Song For Eric,” a tribute to Sonya’s friend Eric Bayer who died of cancer shortly after her own mother succumbed to the same disease.  Given these moments of great loss, it might be expected that an album like It is so would be somber and funereal.

And yes, there is sadness and loss in It is so. And yet, the album is also a wonderful celebration of life in all its forms.  As Sonya writes: “The album is a tribute to my mother who passed away two years ago; she had cancer.  In addition to exploring loss of many kinds (loss of life, of safe space, of hope,) the songs are also, as I see them, prayers, and celebrations of love.”

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First Listen: Bon Iver, Marissa Nadler

Thanks to NPR, we’ve got two great albums this week!  First up is one of the most highly-anticipated releases of the year: Bon Iver’s Bon Iver.  It’s certainly a change in tone from 2008’s For Emma, Forever Ago, featuring a more complicated, textured set of musical arrangements.  I’ve been looking forward to this all year, and I encourage you to join me in visiting NPR to hear Bon Iver.

Also, this week, we get to hear another eponymous album: Marissa Nadler’s kickstarter-funder Marissa Nadler.  Marissa is definitely one of the most exciting artists to come out of Boston in a while – drawing comparisons to Pink Floyd, Leonard Cohen, and Kate Bush (how’s that for a mix?) – I encourage you to have a listen here.

First Listen: Eddie Vedder – Ukulele Songs

Eddie Vedder, the Pearl Jam singer, and man-you’d-have-least-expected-to-release-a-ukulele-album-in-1993, has, in fact, released a new album called Ukulele Songs – and now you can hear the whole thing on NPR’s First Listen series. The album marks Vedder’s second solo effort after the exquisite soundtrack to the film Into the Wild, and features guests from Glen Hansard (The Frames, Swell Season) to Chan Marshall (Cat Power), and has a decidedly warm, intimate feel.  Vedder has observed that the ukulele is particularly good at bringing people together, and that its simplicity allowed for a more immediate and personal writing process.  Ukulele Songs is dedicated to Eddie’s wife and children, and is considerably warmer in mood than you’d expect.

So, head on over to NPR to listen to Ukulele Songs, and also consider reading the Rolling Stone interview.  There are videos below… enjoy!

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First Listen: New Death Cab For Cutie, Joseph Arthur

It’s Monday, and that means those loveable scamps over at NPR have some fresh delights for us!  As part of their First Listen series, you can hear new albums by Death Cab For Cutie, Joseph Arthur, and Thurston Moore.  So, why wait?  Head on over, and have a listen!

First Listen: Okkervil River – I Am Very Far

Okkervil River‘s I Am Very Far is one of those albums that I’ve been looking forward to, this year, and now I’m happy to report that NPR has it up for listening.  The album is available through their First Listen series, and can be enjoyed until its release on May 10th.  So, head on over, and check it out.  Enjoy!