Trax

Trax

By Bliss 03/21/2013

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 TIFT MERRITT & SIMONE DINNERSTEIN, Night (Sony Classical): (4 stars out of 5)
This graceful, unexpected collaboration positions classical pianist Dinnerstein’s sensitive interpretations of Bach, Purcell, Schubert and Daniel Felsenfeld’s “The Cohen Variations” like mood cushions between moving renditions with Merritt of material by Patty Griffin, Billie Holiday, Brad Mehldau and Merritt herself (particularly “Still Not Home” and “Colors”). The recording’s spare, reverberant ambiance complements Merritt’s affecting soprano. The singer-songwriter’s insistence on exploring varied musical avenues — country-dusted balladry, Southern soul, pop — may confound marketing execs and some fans, but her choices reveal interesting dimensions of her artistry. tiftmerritt.com

NICKODEMUS, Turntables on Las Ramblas (Wonderwheel): (3.5 stars out of 5)
The latest installment in Wonderwheel’s compilation series is a zesty dance platter crammed with beats and voices collected by DJ Nickodemus on a recent foray to Barcelona. That city’s infamous party atmosphere is robustly celebrated as myriad rhythms and traditions (cumbia, dub, funk, gypsy, samba) merge on tracks like the AndyLoop & Toti remix of Catalan rumba stars La Troba Kung-Fu’s “Barcelona.” Other highlights: Novalima’s “Macaco,” Carlos Barbosa & Blasterjaxx’s “Toca Flute” and Sujinho’s thumping remix of Nickodemus’ “Los Tarantos.” wonderwheelrecordings.com

THE MAVERICKS, In Time (Valory): (4.5 stars out of 5)
It’s been 10 years since the Mavericks’ last self-titled studio release, and this long-awaited reunion expands on the romantic eclecticism that excited fans and stymied record labels. Raul Malo’s velvety tenor soars as electric guitars twang and drums shuffle, but the lush, richly rhythmic orchestrations — and the Nashvilled-based band’s sound — are defined more by roadhouse piano, mariachi horns, Tex-Mex accordions and Latin percussion. Highlights: “Born to be Blue,” the swoony standard-style “Forgive Me,” epic “(Call Me) When You Get to Heaven” and rousing closer “Ven Hacia Mi.” At the El Rey in LA Tuesday. themavericksband.com

RICH MCCULLEY, The Grand Design (self-released): (3 stars out of 5)
McCulley knows his way around smart pop hooks. Proof’s in these 12 tuneful compositions, most co-written with guitarist Todd Herfindal and/or LA singer-songwriters such as Grant Langston and Bob Woodruff. Informed by loss and McCulley’s initiation into fatherhood, those collaborations provide variety as he segues from country-flecked confessions like “Promises” (co-written with Tommy Rickard) and “Don’t Know What to Do” (co-written with Shawn Davis) to the touching “A Little Bit Broken” (written with the late Amy Farris). At the Cinema Bar in Culver City Saturday. richmcculley.com

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