March 24, 2013

Tuesday, March 19: "Blowin' Smoke" and "Money In My Pocket"

Technically, I'm on Spring Break this week. Mother Nature didn't get that memo though, and I'm snowed in. Again. Fortunately this makes for the perfect opportunity to give my belated review of this week's two free singles.

Miss Kacey Musgraves is looking to make it as a country star with her first studio album, Same Trailer Different Park. As she is still in the process of establishing her online presence, this acoustic performance of this week's free single, "Blowin' Smoke," was the best I could find for your listening pleasure.

Kacey's music embraces the traditional country western ideal of music as a means to tell a story. Her song invents a handful of imaginary nine-to-five, working women that embody the classic tale of the dead-end job in the sleepy town. Her lyrics and rhyming schemes are clever and give a twist of humor to what is, at heart, a very sad story. Kacey's voice is awful smooth, with a country twang that is more subtle than the abrasive drawls heard in much country music. It sounds familiar and sweet, and is meant for this kind of music.

This single is far from the best track on the album. "Silver Lining" sets the tone of the album - melancholy, pensive country music for women - and it does it well. Her 2012 single, "Merry Go 'Round" makes a successful reappearance, and is my favorite song off the album because of its brilliant lyrics. "Dandelion" is another sweet n' sad song in the same vein as "Silver Lining". I also really enjoyed "I Miss You" and the album's closing song, "It Is What It Is" (in spite of the use of steel guitar).

Normally I would toss out a score right about now, but I'm going to hold on to that for a moment. There is a method to my madness - promise.

I continue to be baffled by iTunes' growing fascination with reggae music, but I'll roll with it, even if it means learning to embed SoundCloud players into my posts. This is some new age technological wizardry, right here.

Zambo Buchanan's the name, and reggae is his game. As his alias, Tafari - as in "rastafari" - he has released three EPs, all of which have featured his most popular single, "Money In My Pocket". With his most recent EP, we get a couple of remixes of the original track featuring big name reggae artists Beenie Man and Big Youth (the latter is 63 years old, if you can believe it).

I continue to develop my appreciation for this genre. It's got a nice groove to it, and I am, as always, a sucker for the harmonies. I even kind of like that ridiculous air horn blare that recurs throughout the song. I would say more if I knew more about reggae, but my commentary ends here. Kind of.

Now, before I score these songs, I have to explain something. I don't actually like either of these songs. They're not getting uploaded to my iPod, and I will probably never listen to them again. But that's not because they're bad songs.

I think both of these artists are talented and producing good music, but I am not their intended listener. I am neither an oppressed, middle American teenage girl just looking to make it in the big world, nor a hip, Jamaican club star looking to groove with an attractive girl on the dance floor. But those audiences exist, and those people would love these songs, and should listen to them. That said, this week I'm trying to score objectively, which is counterintuitive for a music review. Regardless, I am suspending my personal identity as I judge these two free downloads. Keeping that in mind, I give

"Blowin' Smoke":  4 out of 5

"Money In My Pocket":  4 out of 5

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