A and I have embarked on an amazing road trip to sunny, mountain-y Colorado, so this section of this week’s record store report comes to you on location from a lovely bed and breakfast just south of Cripple Creek (the state’s premier gambling mecca, from which I’m happy to report I made off with a cumulative total of $117 last night, thanks to a series of atypically shrewd choices at the roulette table as well as a shockingly loose Monopoly slot machine). I’m sitting out on the second floor veranda typing these very words, and I can’t even put into words the graceful glory of the view beyond this deck’s rails. And I certainly can’t think of three more astoundingly good artists than these to provide this morning with an appropriate soundtrack:
In just a handful of months, when we’re all counting our lists (and checking them twice, natch) of this decade’s finest achievements in music, and happily hurling hosannas upon the heads of those responsible for same, better believe that two of the names you’re going to hear invoked more than once — at least on this compiler’s list — are David Gray and
Michelle Branch, which brings me to wonder all the more if it’s fate, coincidence, or just sweet, stunning serendipity that they have just concurrently released their long-awaited new singles. I happened to catch Gray’s latest effort, the masterfully taut “Fugitive,” playing on KGSR a few weeks ago, and my first impression honestly wasn’t so hot. I couldn’t be more thrilled to reveal to you now how foolishly silly that knee-jerk analysis was: the track, which teases Gray’s forthcoming seventh studio album Draw the Line (which is due September 22, and which features a sure-to-be-spine-tingling duet with the queen herself, my divine Annie Lennox, and if that’s not enough to impel to you to camp out in front of your favorite record store, I don’t know what could), picks up right where his shattering 2005 masterpiece Life in Slow Motion left off, and finds Gray dabbling in and pulling from an ever more lushly adventurous palette of instrumentation. One listen to this reminds with such powerful precision why Gray remains the finest lyricist of this (or perhaps any) generation. As for Ms. Branch, her third solo album, Everything Comes and Goes, has bounced on and off the release schedule for most of the past two years, and while there is still no firm date for its arrival this fall, we at least have a delectable new morsel with which to whet our appetites, with her crazy-catchy latest single “Sooner or Later,” which thankfully finds her continuing down the path she began blazing with The Wreckers, the country duo she founded three years ago with pal Jessica Harp. The band is currently on an indefinite hiatus while Harp and Branch tend to their solo careers, but it’s clear from “Sooner” that Branch has taken Nashville into her bones. And whether they realize it or not, Nashville is all the better for it.