This fourth release by Norwegian vocalist Solveig Slettahjell and the Slow Motion Quintet offers another magical experience. On Good Rain, these creative and busy musicians expand the musical language that they began to explore on their previous release, Pixiedust (Curling Legs, 2005). In addition to Slettahjell, the group includes trumpeter Sjur Miljeteig, formerly of the jazz-pop-electronica outfit Jaga Jazzist and one of the leaders of the art-rock group Friko; keyboardist Morten Qvenild, who leads In The Country and Susanna and the Magical Orchestra; bassist Mats Eilertsen; and drummer Per Oddvar Johansen. The quintet flirts with pop and art-rock and even trip-hop, aiming to position the jazz vocalist as an artist again within a popular form, but avoiding banalities and without giving up its intelligent elitist aroma.
Although the Prisonaires are remembered for the song "Just Walkin in the Rain," this collection proves that they were a fine pop/gospel group. Johnny Bragg was a huge fan of the Ink Spots and their lead singer, Bill Kenny, and it's no wonder that much of the material on this disc has that smooth crooning style favored by pre-rock & roll vocal groups.
Eric Andersen got his start as a singer/songwriter just about the time the folk revival went bust in the mid-'60s, when the phrase "singer/songwriter" wasn't familiar, as it is today. Now, some 40 years later, Andersen continues to follow his muse, which includes a deep investment in the blues on the live Blue Rain. Andersen's voice seems to have grown richer and has developed more texture over the span of time, something that rarely happens to rock singers; as a result, his readings of familiar lyrics carry more weight. He kicks off the set with a slow, menacing version of Fred Neil's "The Other Side of This Life." For folk fans, the song is overly familiar, but Andersen's vocal provides a darker underpinning than the usual, adding a new dimension to this well-worn classic.
It's likely that a large portion of the audience Del Amitri won with the lightly infectious, incessantly catchy "Roll to Me" thought of the Scottish group as a new band, not an outfit that had been recording for over a decade. That may be one of the reasons why Hatful of Rain: The Best of Del Amitri was released in 1998, a mere three years after "Roll to Me" climbed into the Top Ten. (It could also be that the follow-up, Some Other Sucker's Parade, stiffed on the charts.) In any case, Hatful of Rain is an excellent overview of Del Amitri's career, containing no less than 17 tracks, including all of their American and British hits. It may overlook their early independent singles, yet the consistency of their major-label work in the '80s and '90s gives the collection a sense of cohesion, even if it is sequenced out of chronological order. What matters is that Hatful of Rain contains everything that a casual fan could want while reconfirming their stature as a solid singles band to their core constituents – and that's everything a good greatest-hits album should do.
Vladi Strecker, Cinematic, Frank Borell, Chillwalker, In Credo and many more.
Includes continuous mix by DJ Maretimo.