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Emeli Sande & Opinions on Low

UK singer-songwriter Emeli Sande performs live in the studio. And later, Jim and Greg review the latest from Minnesota "slowcore" band Low.

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Rock lost two behind-the-scenes heavyweights last week: America's first rock critic Paul Williams, and record producer Phil Ramone. Williams launched Crawdaddy! magazine while still in college, beating Rolling Stone to the rock-criticism game by a year. Never one to dwell on the rock's celebrity aspect, Williams found less commercial success than prot‘eg’e Jann Wenner, but his intellectual criticism was an inspiration for rock critics to come (Jim and Greg included).

Phil Ramone's contributions to classic records like Dylan's Blood on the Tracks and The Band's self-titled album made him a sought-after producer for over half a century. But Greg says it's his work with Paul Simon that cements his reputation. Greg plays Simon's "Gone at Last" in remembrance of Ramone.


Emeli Sande

Emeli Sande went from virtual unknown to performing at the 2012 Olympics closing ceremonies, and in between she penned songs for Leona Lewisand even Susan Boyle. She's also made it her personal mission to put the poetry back in pop music. It's a mission that has caught on in the U.K. Emeli received a Brit Critics Choice Award (previously won by Adele and Florence + the Machine) and was asked to open for Coldplay on a recent American tour. So Jim and Greg were eager to have this rising star perform in the studio. They describe her music as a mix of Nina Simone and Lauryn Hill.

reviewThe Invisible WayThe Invisible Way available on iTunes

Low The Invisible Way

There's a lot to be impressed by when it comes to Low. First, they've consistently made good records for two decades. Second, the two core members, Mimi Parker and Alan Sparhawk, have managed to do all that while maintaining a marriage and family. On the most recent Sub Pop release The Invisible Way, the band has tweaked the formula a bit, and for the better, according to Greg. Bassist Steve Garrington is playing a lot more piano. And Mimi is singing more. Greg loves her voice, especially on anthems like "So Blue." Professor DeRogatis has always given Low a B+, but Jim thinks The Invisible Way is an A+ masterpiece. The songwriting, and especially the religious imagery, is deeper and more ambiguous giving Low a double Buy It.



“Pancho and Lefty”Townes Van Zandt

After a recent experience seeing Emmylou Harris, Greg was reminded of the songwriting talent of the great Townes Van Zandt. Many, including Ms. Harris, have performed his song "Pancho and Lefty," but it's the Townes original that Greg wants to have with him on the island. The song tells the tale of two men living on the margins of society, and wonders who fares better: Pancho, who is betrayed and left to die, or Lefty, who is left alone "livin in cheap hotels."

Featured Songs

  1. Ono Plastic Band, Give Peace a Chance, Give Peace a Chance (Single), Apple, 1969
  2. Paul Simon, Gone at Last, Still Crazy After All These Years, Columbia, 1975
  3. Emeli Sande, Heaven, Our Version of Events, EMI, 2012
  4. Emeli Sande, Next to Me, Our Version of Events, EMI, 2012 Live on Sound Opinions
  5. Emeli Sande, Where I Sleep, Our Version of Events, EMI, 2012
  6. Emeli Sande, Imagine, Our Version of Events, EMI, 2012
  7. Chipmunk, Diamond Rings, I Am Chipmunk, Sony, 2009
  8. Emeli Sande, Every Teardrop is a Waterfall, Unreleased, Live on Sound Opinions, 2013
  9. Emeli Sande, Read All About It, Our Version of Events, EMI, 2012 Live on Sound Opinions
  10. Emeli Sande, Lifetime, Our Version of Events, EMI, 2012
  11. Low, Plastic Cup, The Invisible Way, Sub Pop, 2013
  12. Low, So Blue, The Invisible Way, Sub Pop, 2013
  13. Townes Van Zandt, Pancho & Lefty, The Late Great Townes Van Zandt, Tomato, 1972
  14. Jim Croce, Operator (That's Not the Way It Feels), Photographs & Memories, Castle Music, 1974
  15. The Beatles, Dear Prudence, The Beatles, Apple, 1968
  16. R.E.M., Fall on Me, Life's Rich Pageant, I.R.S., 1986
  17. Prince, Raspberry Beret, Around the World in a Day, Paisley Park, 1985
  18. James Murphy, 45:33, 45:33, DFA, 2006
  19. Bruce Springsteen, Born to Run, Born to Run, Columbia, 1975
  20. Bruce Springsteen, Atlantic City, Nebraska, Columbia, 1982

Footnotes Jim remembers Paul Williams Phil Ramone“Gone At Last” Crawdaddy! Magazine Jann S. Wenner Emeli Sande Greg's profile of Emeli Sande Low

Low on Sound Opinions > show/286 Greg reviews Low Greg on Emmylou Harris Townes Van Zandt