Gordon Lightfoot Book, Music and More!

The home of music journalist Nicholas Jennings, author of Lightfoot, the definitive new Gordon Lightfoot biography from Penguin Random House.

Music Review: The Weeknd - Beauty Behind the Mask

Music Review: The Weeknd - Beauty Behind the Mask
Abel Tesfaye, better known as the Weeknd, is ready for his close up. The 25-year-old Torontonian, who was raised by his single Ethiopian-Canadian mother, first came to wide attention when Drake featured him on key tracks for his Take Care album. The alt-r&b singer then landed a hit song, “Earned It,” on the Fifty Shades of Grey soundtrack. Recently, the Weeknd’s star went supernova, thanks to his smash “Can’t Feel My Face” becoming the undisputed song of the summer. Now Tesfaye has a new album that includes those songs plus another dozen deliciously moody and melodic numbers, including the suitably dark “Dark Times” with Ed Sheeran and the woozy “Prisoner” featuring Lana Del Rey. Along w...
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Music Review: Carly Rae Jepsen - Emotion

Music Review: Carly Rae Jepsen - Emotion
Canada’s pop queen faced a frightening prospect trying to match the success of her worldwide smash “Call Me Maybe.” But rather than duplicate the song, which inspired endless covers, parodies and celebrities lip-dubs, Carly Rae Jepsen experimented. For her new album the 29-year-old native of Mission, B.C. sought out a diverse range of writers and producers. The result is a sugar rush of ’80s-style synth sounds with some refreshing hints of sadness. Songs like the infectious “I Really Like You” explore Jepsen’s specialty: the infatuations and flirtations of first love. Nods to the ’80s include “Boy Problems,” a Madonna-style disco number, and “All That,” which boasts a Prince-like sensuality....
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Blog Post: Amy Helm - Didn't It Rain

Blog Post: Amy Helm - Didn't It Rain
She’s hardly a newcomer, but 44-year-old Amy Helm is finding her own voice. She grew up as the daughter of Levon Helm, legendary drummer for the Band. Amy recorded three albums with country quartet Ollabelle and spent a decade in the Midnight Ramble band with her dad, who died in 2012. Now the mother of two has released Didn’t It Rain , her stunning solo debut that features Levon’s final sessions. Highlights include Amy’s inspired gospel opener and her soulful version of the Sam Cooke classic “Good News.” Her father can be heard drumming on three tracks and counting off the intro to “Spend Our Last Dime.” Says Amy proudly: “He had a vision for me before I had it for myself.” 
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Music Review: Mika - No Place in Heaven

Music Review: Mika - No Place in Heaven
Mika’s 2007 debut, Life in Cartoon Motion , showed flashes of pop brilliance, with a debt to Freddie Mercury and Elton John. But his followup albums were disappointingly inconsistent. His fourth disc is the first to fully realize the depth of his gift for expansive melodies, glorious hooks and complex lyrics. It’s also the first to show his knack for catchy French songs like “Boum Boum Boum,” already a chart-topper in France. No Place in Heaven is bursting with the kind of infectious, whipsmart songs Mika showed he was capable of with his smash hit “Grace Kelly.” The new album features too many highlights to mention, but standouts include the barnstorming “Talk About You,” the giddy, handcla...
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Music Review: Neil Young + Promise of the Real - The Monsanto Years

Music Review: Neil Young + Promise of the Real - The Monsanto Years
It’s not just the agrochemical multinational corporation that Young targets on his new protest album, but big-box chains like Wal-Mart and Starbucks that are “too big to fail, too rich for jail.” Working with Willie Nelson’s sons Lukas and Micah, the raging rock legend tackles topics from worker exploitation to genetically modified foods.
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Music Review: Tame Impala - Currents

Music Review: Tame Impala - Currents
Kevin Parker, frontman for the Western Australian psych-rockers, has eclectic tastes, from Led Zeppelin to Britney Spears. His band’s third album has plenty of diversity, featuring the disco funk of “Less I Know the Better” and the slow and hypnotically moody “Cause I’m a Man,” which amounts to wildly trippy lounge music.
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Music Review: Joss Stone - Water for the Soul

Music Review: Joss Stone - Water for the Soul
Joss Stone is best known for her 2004 debut The Soul Sessions , which paired her smoky vocals with a classic r&b sound. But the singer from Devon, England has been feeling the island vibe ever since meeting Bob Marley’s son Damien in SuperHeavy, the short-lived supergroup with Mick Jagger, Dave Stewart and A.R. Rahman. For her seventh album, Stone embraces a more global sound, dabbling South Asian percussion on “Stuck on You” and Spanish guitar on “Let Me Breathe.” There are still hints of her trademark soul on songs like “This Ain’t Love.” But she and Marley cook up mostly sunny reggae on the album’s 14 tracks. Their “Wake Up” duet is a dancehall-flavored warning about the power of subl...
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