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4Play: Nic Dawson Kelly, Chet Baker, Various Artists, Tom Waits

Kristi Kates - February 7th, 2011
Nic Dawson Kelly - Old Valentine - 101
This debut set from the newbie Brit singer-songwriter finds him inviting over a few pals to help fill in his genre-crossing songs, including Portis head’s Jim Barr and Primal Scream’s Marco Nelson. Set on a foundation of folky guitars and rattling harmonicas, the set focuses on old Valentine’s Day love letters to sketch portraits of what seem to be a couple of Kelly’s
old loves. “Thursday 3-23” secures its harmonica right next to uplifting banjo riffs, while “The Musician” leans more on ‘50s/’60s era rock-folk, and “Delicate” showcases Kelly’s pensive, lovelorn vocals.




Chet Baker - My Funny Valentine: The Best Of - EMI
Classic Chet is a great choice for Valentine’s Day (or any other date night), and this album is no exception. This 2010 collection features over two dozen standout tracks from the jazz icon, including, of course, that classic title track (a great live version); also included are plenty of other tunes perfect for the dinner table or dancing afterwards. You’ll get (as those late-night TV infomercials say) Chet’s takes on such songs as “Love Walked In,” “I’m Through with Love,” “You Don’t Know What Love Is,” “What a Diff’rence A Day Made,” and 21 more of Chet’s best.



Various Artists - Valentine’s Day Motion Picture Soundtrack - Big
Machine A collection of songs from the (aptly-named) 2010 big budget movie (starring an ensemble cast that includes Julia Roberts, Topher Grace, Ashton Kutcher, Bradley Cooper, and Taylor Swift, among others), this set brings together - what else? Romantic songs to accompany the characters as they wander around L.A. on the holiday itself. Jewel’s new track, “Stay Here Forever,” and Swift’s “Today Was a Fairytale” anchor the set, while other tunes are contributed from the likes of Jamiroquai, The Bird and the Bee, Sausalito Foxtrot, and Steel Magnolia.



Tom Waits - Blue Valentine - WEA
This credibly remastered version of a classic set from Waits definitely does justice to his distinctive, gravel-filled voice and unique song stylings. That said, Waits’ music isn’t necessarily for everyone. His bluesy, jazzy blend is full of depth, but sometimes too much, as he sings floridly of the darker underbellies of life and society. His cover of West Side Story’s “Somewhere” is a standout in its uniqueness, but some of the other songs are more melodramatically angst-ridden than the most eye-rolling of today’s emo-pop bands.


 
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