MARY FLOWER—Bridges: Veteran roots singer /songwriter/guitarist/vocalist Mary Flower gets some high-powered assistance on her delightful new album, Bridges, what with folks on the order of Tim O'Brien, Tony Furtado, New Orleans sax man Reggie Houston, the scintillating pianists Mac Potts and Janice Scroggins, vocalists Rebecca Kilgore and Duffy Bishop, even her own bassist son, Jesse Wither (from the band Jackstraw) among those lending their voices and/or instruments to 14 superbly executed inquiries into a few new songs and a bunch of gems from way back in the day. Flower has a sturdy, expressive voice, clear and smooth in the style of an early 20th Century pop singer, and it's a good fit for the material.
KACEY JONES—Donald Trump's Hair: Well, you don't expect a lovely, lilting, jazzy pop song sung by a female voice in a seductive, whispery croon backed by a velvety female background chorus to be advancing lyrics on the order of, "He's got the bouffant that I vant/And I vant what I vant, like Ivana/Spending my hours up in Trump Towers/running my hands through his locks..." But so begins Kacey Jones's Donald Trump's Hair, and buddy, we are a long way from the artist's stirring 2006 outing, Kacey Jones Sings Mickey Newberry.
BILL NOONAN—The Man That I Can't Be: Throughout his new album Bill Noonan's voice betrays some hard times, and he wobbles a bit off-key here and there, but not for a second does he sound less than true to himself, any more than he ever wavers in the conviction he brings to what must have been some painful songs to write. The Man That I Can't Be is as honest a musical endeavor as anyone could ask, and that's quite enough, thank you.