Singer-songwriter Lynn Drury is one of those local artists who's been living in post-K limbo: she gigs and visits frequently enough in town, but after floodwaters almost completely destroyed her Broadmoor home, she's been hanging her hat more or less permanently in Memphis. All You Need also came to fruition in limbo -- the 10 tracks were mostly written pre-K in New Orleans and recorded between producer Jimbo Mathus' Sweet Tea Studios in Clarksdale, Miss., and Piety Street Studios here in New Orleans. The record itself, however, happily doesn't reflect that transience, as if expulsion from her familiar context helped a frequently uneven performer find a center. The assembled cast of characters on All You Need surely helped -- former Squirrel Nut Zipper and Buddy Guy sideman Mathus guested on guitar, as did Memphis musical all-star Dave Easley. Solid instrumentation works major voodoo here on songs that seem airy and disconnected when performed solo acoustic, locking them into a sweet spot that sounds mature, controlled and surefooted. The album kicks off with two high-energy winners -- "Down the Road" and "Better Than the Radio" that find Drury singing in a lower register than usual, chewing her r's and l's like Lucinda Williams. Paul Taylor's drumming stars on "You'll Know" as his rattling snare evokes hill country fife and drum traditions and on "Rainbow's" slow march. "Baby Do Right" also shows it knows where it's going -- sexy, certain and measured with a shout-out to New Orleans: "This bar town's going under / you can never steal its thunder away." All in all, All You Need shows maybe all Drury needed to come into her own was a solid band. The CD-release party for All You Need will be Friday, June 23 at Le Bon Temps Roule, 4801 Magazine St.
The Junior League
(Greenleaves Sound Recordings/Retrophonics)
The "League" part may be misleading -- the album was, in fact, recorded entirely by frontman Joe Adragna -- but the album title is spot on. The debut release from the Junior League, which now does boast bona fide members, is a beautifully woven collection of luminous, melodic '60s-style pop songcraft in the vein of the Revolver-era Beatles or Syd Barrett's Pink Floyd with plenty of tambourines and handclaps. (The band had been playing live in New Orleans since last May, but Adragna recorded the songs solo in Florida in the months following Katrina.) With pop hooks aplenty and a full, jangly sound, it would be easy to karaoke an early Fab Four or Kinks hit over the top of any track, but Adragna's vocals instead stand alone -- plaintive, high and a little intense, recalling Old 97's frontman Rhett Miller. Conflicted love songs shine, as Adragna's split-personality, wry lyrics evoke the optimist/pessimist interplay of some early Lennon and McCartney, on "Hear My Voice" ("I remember our first kiss / too bad you couldn't be there") or "Would You Believe" ("I hate you more with every day / soon you're gonna notice / when you stand on your own I'll be there to knock you down"). Catchy's CD-release party will be Saturday, June 10 at the Circle Bar, 1032 Lee Circle. -- Fensterstock