Lately, acoustic-based folk and pop music have been scattered all over the airwaves. The style, which has been gaining momentum for the last couple of years, finally reached a peak with such artists as Shawn Colvin, the Indigo Girls and Lisa Loeb.
Well, Loeb is back with a sophomore effort. As for Colvin and the Indigo Girls, we'll probably have to wait for maybe another year. But in the meantime and aside from Loeb, here are some other folk-based albums by new and upcoming artists in the business.
BOX SET; "Thread" (Capricorn). * * 1/2
Don't let the name fool you. This is not a band that has four or five CDs shoved in it's jewelry case. It's really the band's name.
This five-member San Francisco-based band takes its city's musical history seriously, a la Grateful Dead. They know how to jam acoustically and electrically. And with laid-back, easy-going harmonies, you can't help but find happy thoughts throughout the listening experience.
When you really hunker down to hear the different textures in the music, you find a lot of Americana, folk, subtle country and lots of open road-trip music.
"Back To You" is highlighted with a pleasant harmonica that isn't as dominant as what you would find in a Blues Traveler jam.
But "Thread" is not all feel-good and happy thoughts. There are some darker images that rear their faces. "A Little Colder," "One Step" and "Sleep" are not menacing but poignant and lonely.
LISA LOEB; "Firecracker" (Geffen). * * 1/2
This is a nice little pop-folk album - Pleasant, poignant and very melodic. But it lacks a memorable cut like "Stay" that was the feature single on her debut album, "Tails."
However, `I Do" is getting a lot of video airplay on VH1 and MTV, and it's a great strumming tune.
Loeb is a champ at throwing her emotions out in the great wide open. There's a boldness in her lyrics. She's not afraid to confront the problems in a relationship and find herself in an empowering stance - an undoubtedly large step from "Stay."
What makes her formula work is her vocal delivery. Her voice brings to mind images of a frail kitten walking cautiously on a sheet of thin ice.
LAUREN WOOD; "Lauren Wood" (Bad Art Records). * * *
Multi-instrumentalist/singer Lauren Wood has a way with drawing the listener to her soul.
On the first listen, her self-named debut album appears to be unobtrusive. But by the second listen, you need to stop what you're doing to really listen to what's going on. If you don't you'll miss it.
The music flows. She moves from acoustic, almost folklike riffs to bouncing Beatles-esque runs to nearly psychedlic grooves throughout the 13 tracks. And each song is injected with her earthy, haunting vocals.