Narrative-Free Takes (March 5, 2018, Columbia, Missouri)

Sara and Maybelle Carter: An Historic Meeting–Something about the Carters’ stoicism hypnotizes me, as does their hard-earned authority. You do wonder if the hand that rocks the cradle can change the world (again), and do they have some kind words for immigrants (in a song that’s a sister to their stunning “Hello Stranger”). And: Maybelle’s autoharp is up in the mix, a wise choice.

Wu-Tang: The Saga Continues–And I almost wish it didn’t. While for a new group this might raise eyebrows, the multiple absences lead me to a regrettable conclusion: those who never thought the group had soul in the first place will have to acknowledge its presence then as a result of its absence here. If that makes sense.

Bettye LaVette: “Things Have Changed”–After nailing my ass to the wall with I’ve Got My Own Hell to Raise and a Memphis show I saw on the subsequent tour, LaVette’s raw magic has quit working on me. She often sounds so in love with the effects she used in just the right places on that album that she’s just used them as much as possible since, though if the material is just right, it just doesn’t matter. This lead cut from her coming album, a set of Dylan covers? I love the song so much I can’t really tell, but the world-weary fabric-rip in her exhortations suits the lyric.

Young Fathers: “In My View”–“In my view / Nothing’s ever given away / I believe / To advance, then you must pay / … When I leave / You’ll be dancing on my grave / … I wanna be king / Until I am.” Pretty intriguing, until the video (above) ruins it, if you’re watching it. Or does it? The thing (that last line, the video’s close) takes a weird, telling turn.

Janelle Monàe: “Make Me Feel”–I’m right about next to nothing without hindsight, but I once told a classroom of students (six years ago) that Janelle was going to be a big star, and even if that didn’t happen, she’d never be boring. I seldom need confirmation–but I’ll take it!