Wednesday, March 14, 2012

Driver Friendly, Ruthie Foster, Ben Kweller - CD

March 2012 CD Reviews

I didn't have a chance to interview anyone for my 52 Weeks of Austin Musician Interviews for this week (my two lined-up interviewees fell through) so instead I'm going to offer you three CD reviews. This is what I've been listening to lately. I also included some of the FREE places these bands are going to be performing this week. Take a read, take in a show, and buy some Austin music.
- Sean Claes, INsite Editor

Driver Friendly
Bury A Dream
The long-awaited follow up to 2008’s Chase The White Whale is finally coming out on April 24. I’m happy to say in the last 4 years, while the boys of Driver F have matured a bit more musically (and have elongated their name to the original “Driver Friendly”), Bury A Dream provides same great sound that made me fall in deep musical like of their last effort.

The Driver Friendly sound is fun rock anthems that beg you to sing at the top of your lungs while moving your feet to the beat. The songs, driven by drums, horns and guitar, are as fun to listen to as they are lyrically powerful.

It seems the buys of Driver F are searching for answers in this album. Several of the tracks bring up mental battles with the metaphysical. “Ghosts” kicks the CD off and sets the stage with the single line of “It’s not death that scares us, it’s the ghosts we cannot see.”

This album is chock full of gold. Key tracks are “Messidona,” “Do Whatever You Want,” and “You’re A Legend, Sir.” If I had to choose a favorite track, the faith driven “Lost Boys” would be it. It’s also the track that contains the line which became the album name.
They release Bury a Dream on April 24

To see their schedule for this week, visit Or, just check them out anytime at

Ruthie Foster
Let It Burn
The cliché is true in this instance. Ruthie Foster could sing the phone book and I’d listen. In Let It Burn, Foster mixes a couple of originals in with an album of covers.

Foster picked some impressive obscure tracks to cover. She delivers a powerful cover of Adele’s “Set Fire to the Rain,” a nice laid-back delivery of Los Lobos’ “This Time” and gives John Martyn’s “Don’t Wanna Know” her signature treatment.

Let it Burn also contains a couple of well-known tracks rearranged and reimagined for Foster. The Pete Seeger track, “If I Had a Hammer” is much more sultry and soulful and if I didn’t know “Ring of Fire” was a Johnny Cash song, I’d have a hard time believing the gospel-tinged blues song was a cover.

I think it’s a testament to the songwriting of a musician when originals can be speckled in the middle of well-respected and they hold their own, and in Let It Burn Foster gives us “Aim For The Heart,” “Lord, Remember Me” and “Welcome Home.”

As if Foster’s voice wouldn’t be enough to make me really enjoy this album (it is), she has some amazing guest-vocalists in The Blind Boys of Alabama and William Bell.

It was recorded in New Orleans with some phenomenal players who helped bring to life the tracks contained within Let it Burn. Musicians included Ike Stubblefield (keys), George Porter Jr. (bass), Russell Batiste (drums), Dave Easley (guitar) and James Rivers (sax).

Although the music was amazing, I have to say the track that blew me away was the acappella “The Titanic” which features only Foster and The Blind Boys of Alabama. It closes the album out…beautifully.

She plays a free show on Wednesday March 14 at 12:30p at the Red Eyed Fly and at 3:30 at Dogwood (Formerly Mother Egan’s). She plays again free on Thursday at Waterloo Records at 4:30p before her 2 official showcases Thursday night.

Of course, she may be coming to your town soon as she’s on tour, so check for tour information.

Ben Kweller
Go Fly A Kite
I have to admit, I’ve been on the fence about the music of Ben Kweller. When he made Austin his home a few years ago, got a little excited. Then I met him and he was one of the most genuine people I’ve had a chance to shake hands with in the industry.

So, when he released a country album in 2009 I happily gave Changing Horses a chance. I even made him the cover story of the February 2009 issue of INsite.

Fast forward three years and Kweller came back to the pop-rock table with Go Fly A Kite. I’m digging it. He brings a sound that is classic a la Beatles and Roy Orbison mixed with the production and swagger of current tunes.

He kicks the album off with a guitar driven tune called “Mean To Me” that drives home the this is not a follow-up to Changing Horses as much as it’s Kweller reclaiming his place on the rock stage. During “Jealous Girl” he seems to channel the sound of Tom Petty. He rocks out during “Time Will Save The Day.” The upbeat “You Can Count On Me” bops along at a nice pace to close the album.

My favorite track on the CD is the telling and gospel-influenced “Full Circle.” It’s a little comical to me, here I am reviewing an album and the key track I find is about the negatives of judging people.

“As I burned all the books I read. I recalled somethin’ someone somewhere said; ‘There’s so much in us you don’t see.’ Don’t judge anyone because everybody comes full circle. I’ve come full circle.”

If anyone has earned the right to write a song warning people of being judgmental, it is Kweller. The child prodigy (Remember Radish?) has grown into a well-rounded musician. He’s earned his solid setting as an Alternative musician as he can seamlessly dive into different genres and perform music with heart, emotion, and skill.

The entire 38 minute album is a joy to listen to. To find out more about Kweller, visit

He’s playing at a few places in Austin this week. The ones I was able to find two free shows: 3/14 (You must RSVP)
at The Stage on 6th (508 E. 6th) at 5:00p and on 3/17 he plays the annual SXSan Jose at 7:00p at Jo’s Coffee (1300 South Congress).

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