This is part of a series suggesting ingredients for mixtapes or playlists on a variety of themes.
Whether you have a special someone to be your valentine this year or not, we’ve got you covered with this genre hopping “two-fer” mixtape of old and new songs ranging from easy listening to rock, pop, R&B, and lesser known indie singer-songwriter folk stuff. Side A is just the thing for happy couples to play while celebrating Valentine’s Day with a romantic evening alone – or, if the love affair’s over, flip it to Side B and let the music keep you company this Valentine’s Day. Either way, it’s a night spent with some great music.
Links to artist websites are provided for each track – a good way to learn more about the artists or to catch up on their latest news. Many of them are working on new recording projects for 2012.
SIDE A: VALENTINE
1. Galileo (Someone Like You) – from Since Kyabram by Declan O’Rourke
When Irish troubadour Declan O’Rourke wrote this song, he thought no one would want to hear it. But he liked it and says he only finished it because he thought his family might enjoy it. He was more than a little surprised when he learned Josh Groban picked it up for inclusion on one of his albums – and a little sad to say goodbye to “his little song.” Since then, it has been covered by numerous artists and is destined to become a romantic standard.
2. At the End of the Night – from The Dreaming Sea by Karen Matheson
It’s easy to see why Sean Connery would describe Karen Matheson as having “a throat surely touched by the hand of God.”
3. Only One Angel – from Austin Skyline by Jimmy LaFave
Few artists can put romance in a song like Austin-based singer songwriter Jimmy LaFave does.
4. Whisper My Name – from Heat Sin Water Skin by Betty Soo
From the 2009 album produced by Gurf Morlix (Lucinda Williams, Mary Gauthier, Slaid Cleaves). Betty Soo, a Texas native of Korean heritage, has received songwriting awards at the Kerrville New Folk and Wildflower Festivals, among others. When asked whether her name is a stage name, she says on her webpage, “No, I guess I’m just lucky that way. It’s right there on my birth certificate. Soo is my dad’s middle name, too. Yep, he’s a boy named Soo.”
5. Ring Upon Your Finger – from Matthew Barber by Matthew Barber
Ring Upon Your Finger by MatthewBarber
From the Toronto-based singer songwriter’s newest album, recorded on an analog 8-track machine in Barber’s basement home studio. Barber was inspired to use this method after reading in Keith Richard’s autobiography that 8-track was Richards’ preferred format for recording. The melodic instrumental hooks on the song are reminiscent of the late ’60s and early ’70s.
6. Open Window (The Wedding Song) – from Sarah Harmer by Sarah Harmer
There’s a reason for the parenthetical phrase in the song title. Harmer, a Canadian singer songwriter, wrote the piece for her friends’ wedding. Beautiful.
7. Valentine’s Day – from I Feel Alright by Steve Earle
It’s hard not to forgive when a song is sung with this much sincerity.
8. I’m Alive – from Mayhem by Imelda May
Imelda May is a London-based Dubliner who has carved out a niche for herself as a girl who can definitely rock ‘n’ roll. On her latest album, Mayhem, she impressively adds several tracks that venture into jazz and blues territory. The swinging Hawaiian-tinged “I’m Alive” is one of the album’s many standouts.
9. The Valley Below – from Notes from the Underground by Elliott Murphy
Elliott Murphy, one of the most under-appreciated artists in the music business, performs a slow-burning romantic tune about the sacredness of pure and honest love.
10.Valentine – from Silver Lining by Nils Lofgren
Former E Street Band member Nils Lofgren is joined by ‘The Boss’ on backup vocals in one of Lofgren’s best compositions ever. Includes a very impressive long guitar outro.
SIDE B: NO VALENTINE
1. No Valentine – from Somewhere Left to Fall by Amelia
Sample it here (track 3 on the page)
From the Portland-based group’s debut album. All of Amelia’s albums are worth checking out. The only problem is there’s not enough of them. This is a band that definitely deserves more attention.
2. I Can’t Stand the Rain – from I Can’t Stand the Rain by Ann Peebles
Ann Peebles’ now classic recording from the ’60s sounds every bit as good today as it did then. It’s easy to see why it is considered one of R&B’s best songs.
3. Bad Time – from Tomorrow the Green Grass by The Jayhawks
A very catchy cover of an old Grand Funk Railroad song.
4. Cupid Must Be Angry – from The Convincer by Nick Lowe
Despite the not-so-happy subject matter, British singer-songwriter Nick Lowe makes this one a real feel-good song.
5. Casa Nova – from Manzanita by Mia Doi Todd
Includes a very nice instrumental break with sax and trumpet in the middle.
6. 59th Street – from Lakeville by Amy Correia
Lakeville was recorded with Amy’s own money and was subsequently licensed to Nettwerk and released on that label in 2004. Her next album, released in 2010, was fan-funded. According to Wikipedia, “the story was picked up by Anthony Mason for CBS News, who featured Correia as one of a growing number of artists who are looking to their fans rather than a label to fund their albums.” Cheers to Amy for choosing to do things her own way rather than being subject to the whims of music business executives.
7. Please Send Me Someone to Love – from Philadelphia (Original Soundtrack) by Sade
This smooth-as-silk piece can also be found on Sade’s Greatest Hits album.
8. The Tennessee Waltz – from Don’t Smoke in Bed by Holly Cole Trio
Sample it here. With knock-out vocals and a smoky harmonica, this has got to be one of the best versions ever of this old familiar tune.
9. Hallelujah – from Live at the Blue Door by John Fullbright
This song’s been covered by many, but Fullbright’s version is one of the best. He really nails it with a style all his own. Keep an eye on Fullbright. He’s definitely going places.
10. That’s All, Amen, Close the Door – from Mock Tudor by Richard Thompson
Sample it here. From the album which many consider to be Thompson’s best. And so, as the song title says, ‘that’s all,’ folks.
Enjoy. On Valentine’s Day – or anytime.
(For more great songs for Valentine’s Day, you can like Noisetrade’s page on Facebook and download their free gift sampler “25 Love Songs” from various artists including David Mead, Matthew Perryman Jones, Rosie Thomas, Marc Broussard, Josh Rouse & more.)
Kezzie Baker lives in the heartland of America and if there’s one thing she likes better than listening to all kinds of music, it’s talking about it. There are just way too many truly great artists that never receive the notoriety they deserve. She tries to do what she can to change that by spreading the word around to anybody who will listen.
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