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January 1, 1997

New Grass

Sam BushSam Bush, Glamour & Grits (Sugar Hill 1996) - As a founding member of the New Grass Revival, and the leader of Emmylou Harris' Grammy-winning band, The Nash Ramblers, for five years, Sam Bush finds himself astride multiple musical worlds. From straight-ahead bluegrass to soulful traditionals to pop baubles, Sam Bush and his mandolin deliver the goods. And Glamour & Grits should help spread his all-Americana, new-grass bliss.

Bush is one of Nashville's hottest session players, with credits on albums by such artists as Trisha Yearwood, Steve Wariner, and Pam Tillis. For the new album, Sam recruited such friends as John Cowan on bass, Bela Fleck (banjo on two tracks), Jon Randall on guitar, and Larry Atamanuik on drums.

Bush spent more than a year recording Glamour & Grits, which features a variety of styles, from the bluegrass "Whayasay" to the blues-oriented "All Night Radio." The album also includes a fair cover of Bob Marley's, "Is This Love?" (including Al Kooper on organ), and the gospel, "The Lord Came Unto Me."

With his ability to merge multiple styles while also staying true to his folk and bluegrass roots, Sam Bush is an original. And Glamour & Grits highlights his skills.

God's Child

God's Child, Aluminum (Qwest/Warner Bros. 1996) - The quartet of God's Child is moving into the future, physically and musically: from New York to Los Angeles, from spiky dark grooves to hook-laden supersonics. Together since 1992, God's Child is the Christian rock version of U2. And it works.

God's Child was formed three years ago in New York City when
Chris Seefried (guitar and vocals), Gary DeRosa (keyboards), and Craig Ruda (bass) recorded some demos. The group eventually signed to Qwest after meeting with label founder, Quincy Jones. "It's great to have a musician like Quincy involved," says Chris. "There's a common language."

The band's self-produced debut,
Everybody, included the hit single "Everybody's 1," which scored on Billboard's Rock and Alternative charts. After extensive soul searching, the band left its New York home in 1995 for new digs in Los Angeles. With the addition of Adam Hamilton on drums, God's Child is ready to move to the next level.

Aluminum is littered with damaged guitars, distressed mellotron, and raw vocals. But there are also new influences. "We were listening to a lot of English bands, old and new, and we were really getting into that attitude, always putting the songs first," says Chris Seefried.

Aluminum was produced by Tim Palmer (who has worked with such acts as Pearl Jam, Sponge, and Mission UK) and features a spaced-out aura. With solid musicianship and soaring sonics, Aluminum is rock and roll with style and spirit.

 

RamazzottiEros Ramazzotti, Dove C'E Musica/Donde Hay Musica (Where There Is Music) (Arista 1996) - Despite arguments that music is an "international language," pop music is usually culturally-specific. It's a rare release that can span different cultures. The 32-year-old Italian, Eros Ramazzotti, seeks to bridge this gulf with Dove C'E Musica.

I don't speak Italian, and therefore don't understand the lyrics. (The album has also been release in a Spanish version.) But I do understand the music; the album is a series of well-crafted pop ballads.

Ramazzotti has been recording since he was 18, and has a string of successful European releases under his belt. His last album, 1993's
Tutte Storie (All Stories), sold three million copies in Europe alone. Despite the international success of his eight albums, Ramazzotti also tries to maintain a private life. Next to music, soccer is his passion, and he is the president of Nazionale Cantanti, a soccer club comprised entirely of Italian musicians.

Dove C'E Musica is a smooth, unified pop album that would make any United States producer proud. Which isn't surprising, since the project includes such skilled session hands as Michael Landau (who has recorded with Celine Dion and Mariah Carey ), bassist Nathan East (who has recorded with Eric Clapton , Mick Jagger , and Phil Collins ), and a pair of highly-touted Quincy Jones' sidemen: percussionists Lenny Castro and trumpeter Jerry Hey.

I can't point to any songs on
Dove C'E Musica as a special favorite (probably because I don't understand the lyrics). However, I do like the ballad, "L'Aurora." But the overall result is satisfying, and should reward fans of international music.

 

Jonell MosserJonell Mosser, Around Townes (Winter Harvest 1996) - Townes Van Zandt may be a legend in the Austin, Texas singer-songwriter scene, but he's no household name. Blues belter Jonell Mosser seeks to change that with Around Townes.

Mosser is a well-respected performer, having worked with such artists as
Bonnie Raitt, B. B. King, and David Hidalgo of Los Lobos . The 13 tracks on Around Townes showcase her talents; such songs as "I'll be Here in the Morning" and "St. John, the Gambler" have an intellectual spark.

However, while Mosser's delivery is heartfelt, the songs don't have the same emotional impact or biting insight displayed on
Jennifer Warnes' fabulous collection of Leonard Cohen numbers entitled Famous Blue Raincoat. Around Townes aims high, but doesn't score a bull's eye.

-- Randy Krbechek

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