Caroline Herring
Signature Sounds Recordings

Camilla, a small town in Georgia, is the centerpiece of Herring’s latest album, a narrative of frank anecdotes, confessions, and acoustic alternative folk. The self-titled track, which introduces the CD, focuses on the violence inflicted on nonviolent civil rights protesters and violence against women: “Mama, sweet mama/Why are you beaten/Why are your babies scattered on the ground/The sheriff slapped me/And then he struck me down/He kept on kicking till I blacked out.” By song’s end, the speaker asks if her occupation as a lawyer is enough, but her spiritual transformation as an advocate of human rights through poetry & singing is initiated and courses throughout the rest of the songs.

Such a piece captures Herring’s plaintive vocals set to simple yet effectively honest and thought-provoking commentary. The ability to paint scenes in easy terms with little ornamentation allows the listener to be reeled into her messages, which are apparent on the album’s cover and insides, featuring themes of equality and peace and civil rights leaders such as Martin Luther King, Jr., Fannie Lou Hamer, and James Lawson. Such topics strengthens her recognition as Best New Artist at the 2002 Austin Music Awards and the admiration shown by adoration by artists such as Mary Chapin Carpenter, who accompanies her on “White Dress” and the a cappella effort of “Traveling Shoes.”

But Camilla also touches on ecological destruction in the Appalachian-influenced “Black Mountain Lullaby” and explores patriotism in “Maiden Voyage,” which quotes Woody Guthrie’s perennial “This Land Is Your Land,” like “a mighty river running through my soul…a new day has come.” The jug band stomp tradition wings “Fireflies,” and an interpretation of a traditional folk tune from 1840, “Flee As a Bird,” is a tribute to the lasting power of folk music.

While Camilla recounts Herring’s youth in a small Southern town and vivid imagery, the album has worldwide implications in its storytelling and messages that wish for liberty and happiness to all without sounding overtly preachy and damning. And with a sweet, fluid vocal delivery and genuine lyricism, this is sure to make her known as one of the best folk musicians and songwriters of her time.

by Jeff Boyce


Carlos Núñez
Sony Music Entertainment

The first images that comes to mind with bagpipes are usually those of Scottish men dressed in kilts while playing unpleasant music. Galician bagpipe player Carlos Núñez, however, is able to fully overcome this stereotype by finding interesting and innovative ways to combine musical textures in his double CD album Discover.

Musician Carlos Núñez first began playing the Galician bagpipes at the age of eight in Vigo, Galicia, Spain. Núñez then experienced a musical revolution after the fall of the Franco dictatorship, an event that greatly influenced his musical style. After honing his talent for the Galician bagpipes, Núñez was eventually asked to perform several times with The Chieftans and even began touring the world with his own music. Today, he continues to tour around the world, playing at a wide variety of venues while continually learning and spreading his music to the masses.

Recently, the Galician musician has released a new double CD album titled Discover. The music in this album can best be described as traditional in sound and yet diverse in musicality. With previously unreleased pieces such as “Para Vigo Me Voy” and “Alborada de Vigo,” Núñez is able to bring the listener back to times of the Celtic cultural renaissance where Celtic music soared to new heights. Other artists such as Los Lobos, Jackson Browne and Sinead O’Connor contribute to a vast majority of the songs by combining their own instrumental and vocal talents with Núñez’s music. This brings much diversity to the overall thematic sound of the album as some songs contain orchestral accompaniment while others simply have fiddle or harp accompaniment. Overall, the album does an excellent job at giving the audience a good perspective of Núñez’s skills not only as a performer but as a musician.

by Michelle Marie Garcia

The Beethoven Journey

Leif Ove Andsnes
The Beethoven Journey -
Piano Concertos Nos. 1 & 2

Leif Ove Andsnes has been performing internationally and recording piano music since he was just 19 years old. Twenty-three years later, Andsnes is recording for the first time music composed by the revered Ludwig van Beethoven. This first album of The Beethoven Journey contains Andsnes’s recordings of Beethoven’s Piano Concertos Nos. 1 & 3, which were recorded live in Prague with the Mahler Chamber Orchestra. Andsnes comments in the 2012 CD’s cover booklet that “Beethoven’s music is for me the most human and deeply spiritual music there is,” and his music in this album communicates just that.

The most interesting part of the listener’s experience in this new release is the stark contrast between the two concertos. Although the tones are so different—one cheerful and the other one somber—the deep emotion behind each is consistent and moving. The first concerto is in C major, which is considered a light key, whereas the third concerto is in c minor, which is associated with a much darker tone. This contrast provides the album with a wide and full spectrum of sentiments and styles. The last movement of Piano Concerto No. 1 is one of the liveliest movements in Beethoven’s entire repertoire, and Andsnes brings it to life. The rhythmic excitement surges throughout the movement and the exhilaration of the musicians is apparent in the energy of the piece. As the listener dives into Piano Concerto No. 3, it’s immediately apparent that this concerto is of an entirely different temper. The melodies and voices of the first movement are extremely complex as they trace and layer each other throughout the orchestra, as well as in and around the piano. Escalating scales characterize the piano entrances and a real sense of anger and intensity is conveyed through them. Across the three movements, there is definitely a building, waiting tension and drama, and at the echoing of the very last chord in the third movement the listener might find herself letting out an entranced breath.

For Leif Ove Andsnes, this is only the beginning. The Beethoven Journey is a four year, four season event in which Andsnes plans to cover about 50 cities, giving 150 performances, and perfecting all five of Beethoven’s piano concertos. Already an internationally acclaimed Norwegian pianist, Andsnes’ unique journey is attracting listeners and music enthusiasts all over the world, only adding to Andsnes’ already extensive collection of musical acclamations. In the past he has been given Norway’s most distinguished honor, Commander of the Royal Norwegian order of St. Olav, the Peer Gynt Prize, the Royal Philharmonic Society’s Instrumentalist Award, the Gilmore Artist Award, and many more. This album is just an introduction into the journey, and the extent to which it captivates the listener validates Andsnes belief in Beethoven’s vision that music and art can change the world.

by Olivia Lin