Music to make the summer a little easier [pg. 24]

Summertime, as they say, and the living is supposed to be easy. Well, in Israel, nothing is easy, especially this summer.

jewel disk 88 298 (photo credit: )
jewel disk 88 298
(photo credit: )
Summertime, as they say, and the living is supposed to be easy. Well, in Israel, nothing is easy, especially this summer. With the precarious military and security situation, children at home with nothing to do, and the mercury constantly rising, this summer is in dire need of some soothing music for the soul. Here are four good bets to cool down the hottest collar. JEWEL Goodbye Alice in Wonderland (Hed Artzi) Growing up in public is never graceful, and teen Alaskan folkie-turned-sophisticated adult chanteuse Jewel has had her share of turbulence on her career trajectory. But Goodbye Alice in Wonderland finds the singer on solid footing, retreating from the uncharacteristic dance music of 2003's surprise hit 0304, and settling into the more familiar tuneful singer-songwriter mode. Whether focusing on the radio-friendly pop of "Again and Again," the Sheryl Crow-tinged sing/talk of "Satellite," the melancholy but powerful country waltz "Last Dance Rodeo," or the rip-roaring autobiographical narrative "Stephenville, TX," this personal song cycle is Jewel's most cohesive, mature effort. But thanks to her growth as a songwriter and the punchy production sensibilities of Rob Cavallo (of Goo Goo Dolls and Green Day fame), the songs and the album work just as well as individual pop nuggets. CHRIS ISAAK Best of (Hed Artzi) Much like Marshall Crenshaw did back in the late Seventies with Buddy Holly power pop, Chris Isaak managed to capture a musical era (in his case, the brooding romanticism of Roy Orbison and the stripped down sound of Sun Studios) and make it sound completely timeless. This Best of collection offers 18 takes on his endearing style of rockabilly, including the ominous sounding hits "Wicked Game," "Baby Did a Bad Thing" and an uncanny cover of Orbison's "Only the Lonely." Isaak fits the role of journeyman rocker well, but on this compilation, the sum is greater than the parts. Perfect for those sultry summer nights, with or without a David Lynch movie screening nearby. JASON COLLETT Idols of Exile (NMC) One of the brightest singer/songwriters on the Toronto music scene, Jason Collett is part of the indie rock collective Broken Social Scene. Idols of Exile reflects Collett's appealing alt-country songwriting chops, and is a more folksy and introspective affair. Half of Toronto's indie heroes are in tow, but they don't detract from the shaggy warmth and personality Collett displays. "I'll Bring the Sun" and "Hangover Days' are among the standout tracks on this feel-good, thinking fan's album - proof that the sun shines as far north as Canada . VARIOUS ARTISTS Our New Orleans - A Benefit (Hed Artzi) This unbeatable lineup of New Orleans jazz, R&B, zydeco and gumbo greats reminds us that the new hurricane season has begun, with net proceeds from sales going to Habitat for Humanity. Featuring native sons like Allen Toussaint (fresh off his highly acclaimed collaborative album with Elvis Costello), Irma Thomas (with the apt scorcher "Black Water Blues"), and the epitome of New Orleans blues funk, Dr. John, the 16 selections percolate and simmer like only a Bourbon Street stew can. Add to the mix The Preservation Hall Jazz Band, Buckwheat Zydeco and a monumental version of Randy Newman's "Louisiana 1927" performed by the author with the Louisiana Philharmonic Orchestra, and you've got enough steam built up to stop the floodgates. After sweating through this set, summertime will truly be easy.