* Carrie Rodriguez — Love and Circumstance (Ninth Street Opus)
She may not be as well-known as Allison Moorer or Patty Griffin, but fellow alt.country-leaning singer Carrie Rodriguez packs the pipes and personality to tackle a collection of cover tunes, just like Moorer and Griffin did in recent years.
Love and Circumstance (due April 13) finds Rodriguez – who’s made her mark playing fiddle for the likes of Chip Taylor and Alejandro Escovedo — kicking things off with a great slow-burn version of “Big Love” (a forgotten gem by the 1990s supergroup Little Village), followed by covers of songs written by Lucinda Williams (“Steal Your Love”), Townes Van Zandt (“Rex’s Blues”), Hank Williams (“I’m So Lonesome I Could Cry”) and others. Buddy Miller lends harmony vocals to a great rendition of “Wide River to Cross,” which he co-wrote with wife Julie.
* Christine Ohlman & Rebel Montez — The Deep End (Horizon Music Group)
Bonnie Raitt fans who are eagerly waiting for her to release a new studio album might want to check out the latest from singer/guitarist Christine Ohlman. On The Deep End (due April 6), singer/guitarist Ohlman covers the same kind of bluesy territory as Raitt, only with a little more grit and kick.
There are big-names galore throughout The Deep End, such as ex-NRBQ guitarist Al Anderson, Mott the Hoople frontman Ian Hunter and former Band drummer/singer Levon Helm. The best guest spots come from Dion DiMucci (“Cry Baby Cry”) and Marshall Crenshaw (“What’s the Matter With You Baby”).
* Various Artists — British Invasion (Reelin’ in the Years Productions/Voyage Digital Media)
As entertaining as VH1’s Behind the Music series was, it often amped up the drama in the lives and careers of featured artists even if it wasn’t interesting or relevant. Not so with British Invasion (out now), a handsome five-DVD boxed set chronicling the careers of 1960s stars Dusty Springfield, Herman’s Hermits, Gerry and the Pacemakers and the Small Faces.
At the core of each volume are concert and TV performances from the peak of each artist’s career, and those are surrounded by new and archival interviews. The result: entertaining, informative documentaries without unnecessary filler.
Liner notes from the likes of Grammy Award winner Rob Bowman and others provide great insight and context. The set’s fifth disc contains an hour-plus of unseen Springfield and Herman’s Hermits performances, plus more than 90 minutes of extra interview footage with Peter Noone, Gerry Marsden, Kenney Jones and Ian McLagan.
— By Chris M. Junior