Thievery Corporation's Eric Hilton and Rob Garza have always treated the line between acoustic and electronic music as a drunken sailor might, unpredictably falling on one side or the other with equal frequency. By this measure, The Richest Man in Babylon is their soberest effort to date, striding confidently into jazz, soul, world beat, and other styles with a direct, reverential approach. The band's last record, Sounds from the Verve Hi-Fi, featured a set of classic jazz tunes unadorned with remixes or reinterpretation. But the songs on Babylon are originals, incorporating not just jazz but Afro-beat, Brazilian dance, Persian and Indian music, reggae, and psychedelia, all while making expert use of new and old collaborators like Sleepy Wonder, Lou Lou, and Shinehead. Icelandic singer Emiliana Torrini makes an instant impression on the first track, "Heaven's Gonna Burn Your Eyes," her voice freeing the song's melody and structure with just a few hypnotic bars. It's hard to call this an electronic record at all; even their dub-influenced tracks miss a certain studio sheen, as if Hilton and Garza simply waded into a sweltering Jamaican beach party and hit record. But while it misses the ambient, ethereal edge that made The Mirror Conspiracy a downtempo classic, Babylon satisfies with organic energy and tasteful eclecticism.
Kenny Chesney treats his first-ever live album as a celebration, collecting 29 highlights recorded at some point over the 2010s. By casting such a wide net, Chesney has plenty of room for covers and cameos in addition to the hits, but it's also telling that Live in No Shoes Nation concentrates on all the music he's made following the release of 2001's Greatest Hits. Starting with 2001's No Shoes, No Shirt, No Problems, he's hit his sunny stride, specializing in mellow beach tunes, slightly sad ballads, drinking tunes, and arena anthems, all of which are featured on this double-disc set. If the crowd noise sometimes seems a bit heavy-handed, the roar underscores how Chesney entertains on a mass scale, and that's perhaps the one revelation of the record: based on this, calling his fan base a nation isn't much of an exaggeration. While Live in No Shoes Nation is quite slick in both its performance and production, part of its charm is that it's such a professional affair.
The 35th anniversary Eye in the Sky collector's box set includes 3 CDs (CD1: Original Album Expanded + bonus tracks, CD2: Eric Woolfson's Songwriting Diaries, CD3: Previously Unreleased Bonus Material and Disc 4: 5.1 Surround Sound and Stereo HD version of the original album on Blu-ray)…
Unquestionably, the clarinet quintets of Mozart and Brahms have earned time-honored and well-deserved places in the repertoire of clarinetists worldwide. In the informative and well-written annotations by Eric Hoeprich, we read that “they embody the maturity, depth, experience, and possibly even a premonition of an otherworldliness soon to be experienced firsthand.”