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To quote many of the music reviews coming in on singer-songwriter Sufjan Steven's new album, "this might be the year's masterwork." Every once in a while a record comes along with such breathtaking creativity and audaciousness and Illinoise is this year's model.
Some quick history: In 1993 the seminal alternative-country band Uncle Tupelo broke up due to differences between their co-leaders. Jeff Tweedy went on to form Wilco, and Jay Farrar went on to form Son Volt - the more traditional leaning of the two bands that resulted from the split.
The charismatic and charming Erin McKeown first came to XPN listeners’ attention five years ago with her debut album, Distillation, a collection of quirky, folksy songs infused by her passion for jazz and blues. Since then, McKeown has greatly matured and on her new album she continues to create a singular sound unbound by genre restrictions.
John Hiatt is a consummate singer-songwriter who has long been a core artist on XPN. On Master Of Disaster Hiatt teams with legendary Memphis producer Jim Dickinson and his sons Luther and Cody of the North Mississippi All Stars and bassist David Hood who for years played with the Muscle Shoals studio collective.
Vocalist Lizz Wright was introduced to XPN listeners in 2003 when she released her debut album, Salt. With an eclectic mix of traditional jazz, R&B and soul/folk, Wright’s sultry vocals and warm, organic songs quickly won fans around the world with Salt's release and Lizz’s dazzling live performances. Salt was an XPN Featured Album of the week in June of '03, and came in at no. 21 in the Top 50 Countdown that same year.
Many curious music fans want to know: Can Coldplay do it again? Can they follow-up their masterful 2002 release with a collection of songs as good as, if not better than A Rush Of Blood To The Head? The answer is yes - X&Y has many of the musical Coldplay-isms in place to make this their best record yet.
Ever since jazz guitarist John Scofield was a kid, the music of Ray Charles had a significant influence on him. So when Verve Records’ President Ron Goldstone approached Scofield with the idea of doing a tribute album to Charles, Scofield was game.