Jewel – Picking Up The Pieces

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In the mid 90’s I’d often buy a CD based on a gut feeling or based on the cover art. It wasn’t an exact science, but in early 1995 I picked up the debut album by Jewel called Pieces Of You. Hipster alert – that was a full 18 months before the album started to become a huge hit. Anyway, at the time Jewel seemed to be marketed to the Lilith Fair alternative crowd which was (and still is) something I quite like. In all honesty, I don’t think the record company had any idea what to do with her. An album full of acoustic songs that hinted at pop but bathed in ultra personal lyrics. I didn’t (and still don’t) think it was a masterpiece, but there are 7 or 8 songs from that record that I’ve played over and over throughout the last 20 years. The tracks played live or cut as b-sides during that era were also very strong, leaving open the possibility of an entire alternate album made up of non album tracks. Sad to say, but I have had a hard time relating to anything else Jewel has released in the same way as that debut album. When I happened to see something promoting her latest record as a sequel of sorts to her debut, I couldn’t help but get a tad excited to give it a spin (or shuffle, as it were). Picking Up The Pieces more than meets the high points of her debut – it just may be the finest record Jewel has released to date.

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Coffee Thoughts – An Interview With Amy Hill

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I recently had the chance to virtually sit down with Brighton, England’s Amy Hill, who recently released her debut album, Place of Mind. Amy’s record reminded me of the best bits from Jewel’s debut record, Pieces of You and is one of my favorite records of the year.

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Dolly Parton – I Will Always Love You

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Attack of the Killer Track! is a series that explores tracks from artists from a variety of genres. Some of the tracks were singles, some of them were obscure b-sides or long forgotten album tracks. One thing is certain – all of them are killer tracks.

“I Will Always Love You” is a song that will now always be associated with the tragic life of Whitney Houston. In fact – I’d be willing to gamble that quite a few people don’t realize that Miss Houston didn’t pen the song due to the popularity of her version. The song was written by Dolly Parton in 1973 and released as a single on June 6, 1974 (she later re-recorded it in 1982 for the soundtrack to the film The Best Little Whorehouse in Texas). Dolly Parton had gotten her start singing girl group type songs (she appears on several of my 60’s girl-group box-sets, most notably One Kiss Leads to Another). She didn’t really hit her stride until she hooked up with Porter Wagoner as part of his syndicated television program. Several duet albums followed with several chart hits in the early 70’s. The professional partnership had reached its logical conclusion by 1973 or 1974 and Dolly captured all of her feelings about the end of this relationship in “I Will Always Love You”. While I can appreciate the Whitney Houston version, restraint goes a long way in my book. The way the words roll off Dolly’s tongue, the sadness lurking – it’s all there for us to experience for eternity. Author Curtis W. Ellison stated that the song “speaks about the breakup of a relationship between a man and a woman that does not descend into unremitting domestic turmoil, but instead envisions parting with respect – because of the initiative of the woman.” I couldn’t have said that better myself. Key lyrics:

And I hope life, will treat you kind
And I hope that you have all
That you ever dreamed of
Oh, I do wish you joy
And I wish you happiness
But above all this
I wish you love
I love you, I will always love

Honeychurch – Will You Be There With Me

The day Whitney Houston died I was listening to the new Honeychurch cd, driving on the freeway, formulating a review in my head (to coincide with the launch of this site). Throughout Honeychurch’s history they have received tons of well deserved attention for their covers of The Magnetic Fields, Neil Young, and Dolly Parton. Ah yes, Dolly Parton. The author of “I Will Always Love You” , a song which was made (even more) famous by a certain Miss Houston. I had to laugh as I watched an argument break out on a website over who actually wrote the song – a Whitney fan was in disbelief that Dolly Parton had written this song, a song so associated with Whitney Houston that it was instantly in the charts again once she had passed. Honeychurch – Dolly Parton – Whitney Houston – back to Honeychurch. With their new record “Will You Be There With Me”, Shilough & Larissa Hopwood of Honeychurch have created a masterpiece.

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