I teach a class on grants for Columbia University’s Masters Degree in Fundraising Management program. Each week, I end my lecture with a recommended writing soundtrack for students because a) I love to listen to music while I write and b) heck . . . I just love to listen to music.
So, friends, I have decided to add a new feature to Grantworthy, the periodic sharing of five albums I like to plug in as I work. Without further ado.
Cavalcade by Cold Satellite. This album will be officially released on May 21. I picked mine up at the opening show of their tour about a month ago and it is, by far, my favorite album of 2013. Amazing lyrics adapted from the poetry of Lisa Ornstein by bandleader and singer Jeffrey Foucault. This is an amazing, alt-country Americana album that moves from dark to light, from dense to open air. Select track: “Sleepers Wake”
Little Broken Hearts by Norah Jones. This was my favorite album from 2012. The amazing vocal talents of Ms. Jones is matched with the deft and creative production of Danger Mouse. Haunting melodies collide with upbeat pop. Select track: “Miriam”
The Dirty South by Drive-By Truckers. This 2006 effort was recorded when the band boasted three songwriters — Patterson Hood, Mike Cooley and Jason Isbell — who are Americana rock’s answer to Lennon, McCartney and Harrison. Gothic southern tales of desperation woe and sweet tea and, I kid you not, a three-song set about famed Tennessee sheriff Buford “Walking Tall” Pusser. Select track: “Sands of Iwo Jima”
Summerteeth by Wilco. Digging back into the oldies here (1999!), this album shows front-man Jeff Tweedy and his one-time partner and foil, the late Jay Bennett at the peak of their creative powers. Nineties grunge rock collides with acoustic folk and mellotron-driven Beach Boys harmonies on an album where every song is written in a different style, voice and measure. Select track: “Via Chicago”
My Maudlin Career by Camera Obscura. From the highlands of Scotland comes this fabulous little band that writes and records music that I can best describe as follows: imagine if Nancy Sinatra and The Beach Boys were put in a time machine and transported to 2011 London and herded into a recording studio? The result — this album which I consider to be my “go-to” summer listen. Select track: “The Sweetest Thing”