This Sunday is the season finale of HBO show Enlightened, starring Laura Dern as Amy Jellicoe, a woman who has a nervous breakdown after her self-destructive tendencies cause her life to implode. Like the show's creators, I'm afraid this may be the last-ever episode of Enlightened. I'm not sure I can describe how fantastic Enlightened is and convince you to tune in for the final show, but I'll try my best.
Enlightened is a darkly comedic look at California new age pseudo-spirituality, corporate culture, and misguided activism. It's also a serious look at addiction in a multitude of ways—from substance abuse to Amy's own reliance on her newfound spirituality to temper her rage and justify her terrible behaviors.
I have never understood why reporters so rarely ask Jenny Lewis about the rich religious critique that has pervaded her work since the earlier days of Rilo Kiley. There is just so much there. I think I will scream if I hear another reporter ask her what it's like to look hot in indie music, why Rilo Kiley really broke up, and whether or not her indie purist fans think the country album/major label/Jenny & Johnny project was a sellout.
Here's the band singing their 2004 single, "It's a Hit":
So, Mountain Goats frontman John Darnielle, songwriter and poet laureate of the existentially anguished, identifiesas a feminist and has even said that his feminist ideals conflict with his Catholic faith. When I first heard this, I was quite surprised. Why? Well, listen to one reason, a song called "Bad Priestess" (lyrics).
Don't Explain, a collaborative effort between blues revivalists Beth Hart and Joe Bonamassa, hit stores yesterday. It features a range of traditional blues, soul and even gospel classics first made famous by the likes of Billie Holiday, Etta James, Ray Charles and Aretha Franklin. Of course, the intention is homage, but the artists are facing criticisms about cultural appropriation.
The opening track, "Sinner's Prayer" (lyrics) was recorded by both Lowell Fulson and Ray Charles in the 1950s. Here's their version:
Americana artist Gillian Welch has always included southern Christian imagery in her work. Though not native to the South, her music is at its most comfortable when it explores the tragedy and violence of working-class survival in the region. Welch and partner David Rawlings write and record sparse songs unlike any others. In part, this has to do with Rawlings' masterful guitar work, but it also stems from Welch's unuusal singing voice.
See "The Way it Goes" from new album, The Harrow and the Harvest (lyrics here):