Austin360 On The Record: Kat Edmonson, Vince Bell, more

Kat Edmonson plays songs from her new album “Old Fashioned Gal” at Waterloo Records on May 17 and at ACL Live on May 19. Contributed/Glynis Carpenter

Generally our Austin360 On The Record roundup features local artists, but we occasionally include new work from artists who once called Austin home and thus still have connection to the city’s music community. This week we spotlight two such recent releases.

Kat Edmonson, “Old Fashioned Gal” (Spinnerette). “If I had a voice, I would sing, and be satisfied,” Edmonson wishes longingly on “A Voice,” the most immediately arresting track on her fourth album. It’s pure irony, of course: Above all else as a musician, Edmonson has a voice, an exquisite instrument that’s also rich in personality. Her singing is just quirky enough that it may be an acquired taste, but those who love it likely will fall hard for “Old Fashioned Gal,” which features 11 new original songs written with (true to the title) old-fashioned flair. Edmonson first rose to prominence while living in Austin from 2002 to 2011, recording her 2009 debut “Take to the Sky” here. Her style is a throwback to the mid-20th-century heyday of classic jazz vocalists, and she clearly knows this realm intimately, as both composer and lyricist. The territory accommodates both sprightly whimsy and heartfelt balladry, but it also depends heavily on getting the arrangements and production just right. That’s where Edmonson and associate producer Aaron Thurston excel, dressing the songs immaculately with strings, piano and soft symphonic instrumentation to support but never surpass her voice. Edmonson sings, and we’re satisfied. Playing May 17 at Waterloo Records and May 19 at ACL Live. Here’s the video for the title track:

Vince Bell, “Ojo.” A rising-star songwriter in 1970s Austin, Bell nearly lost his life in a 1982 car crash that required a decade of recovery. His 1994 debut album “Phoenix” was one of the finest singer-songwriter albums of the ’90s; two more studio records and a live collection followed, but “Ojo” is his first release in 11 years. It reunites him with musical visionary Bob Neuwirth, who produced “Phoenix,” but they’re after something entirely different here: “Ojo” is mostly a spoken-word affair, set against a mood-enhancing soundscape that underscores the mystical flights and hard truths of Bell’s poetry. Also returning from “Phoenix” is masterful multi-instrumentalist David Mansfield, adding banjo, dobro, lap steel and violin to a mix that includes flute, bass and various percussive accents. Sweet-voiced singer Laura Cantrell contributes perfect harmony vocals to the gorgeous tune “If You Walk Away,” one of two departures from the spoken-word format. Like the journey back from the abyss that Bell navigated a lifetime ago, “Ojo” travels through plenty of dark territory, but there’s always light lurking on the horizon. “Music changes the world,” he concludes on the album’s final track. “I’d like to change it a little bit my way.” He’s done that, indeed. Here’s “If You Walk Away”:

OUT THIS WEEK

Marmalakes, “Please Don’t Stop” (Austin Town Hall). We gave the indie duo’s first full-length release, and first of any kind in five years, its streaming premiere on Austin360 last week. Here’s a live version of the track “Not Gonna Control You”:

Johnny Fury, “II.” The follow-up to this guitarist and singer’s 2014 self-titled debut features traditional blues with jazz overtones, recorded at Wimberley’s Yellow Dog Studios and Austin’s 512 Studios with a cast including Glenn Fukunaga, Omar Vallejo and Bukka Allen. Supplementing seven original tunes are a cover of Magic Sam’s “All Your Love” and an updated take on Marvin Gaye’s “Mercy Mercy Me (the Ecology).” Release show May 11 at Bat Bar. Here’s the video for the track “Chronic Blues”:

COMING SOON

  • MAY 18: Kelly Willis, “Back Being Blue” (Thirty Tigers), release show June 2 at Stateside at the Paramount.
  • MAY 18: Jason Boland & the Stragglers, “Hard Times Are Relative” (Thirty Tigers), playing May 19 at Dripping Springs Ranch Park.
  • MAY 18: Chris Sensat, “Rye.”
  • MAY 20: Paper Moon Shiners, “Illusions of Composure” (Shiner), release show May 20 at One-2-One Bar.
  • MAY 23: Christina Cavazos, “Mile Marker” EP, release show May 23 at Sahara Lounge.
  • MAY 25: Brownout, “Fear of a Brown Planet” (Fat Beats), release show June 2 at Mohawk outdoor.
  • MAY 25: Patricia Vonne, “Top of the Mountain” (Bandolera), release show May 26 at Continental Club.
  • JUNE 1: Dave Alvin & Jimmie Dale Gilmore, “Downey to Lubbock,” release show June 2 at Antone’s.
  • JUNE 1: Hooka Hey, “War Cry,” release show May 31 at Sidewinder.
  • JUNE 1: Zack Varner, “Blues in the Nude.”
  • JUNE 8: Jesse Dayton, “The Outsider” (Blue Elan).
  • JUNE 15: Tish Hinojosa, “West,” playing June 8 at One World Theatre.
  • JUNE 15: Half Man, “Room to Grow.”
  • JUNE 22: Giulia Millanta, “Conversation With a Ghost” (Ugly Cat).
  • JULY 13: Jimmy LaFave, “Peace Town.”
  • JULY 20: Belle Sounds, “The Sea Within,” release show July 21 at One-2-One Bar.
  • JULY 27: Israel Nash, “Lifted.”
  • AUG. 3: Kevin Galloway, “The Change” (Nine Mile).
  • AUG. 24: White Denim, “Performance” (City Slang).
  • SEPT. 21: Jonathon Zemek, “Hillcrest.”

READ MORE: Check out all our recent Austin360 On The Record roundups