This isn't just make-out music. Norwegian leader Tord Gustavsen -- having recorded Changing Places and The Ground previously on ECM with Harald Johnsen on bass and Jarle Vespestad on drums -- has assembled a more upbeat, less somber collection of originals this time out. While it joins in the soothing Bill Evans-Keith Jarrett-Brad Mehldau tradition, Being There conforms to piano trio expectations only long enough to transform them. "Blessed Feet," for example, builds up bluesy anticipations before it launches into a lyrical, haunting theme, even developing some R & amp;B sass before diminishing to a quiet conclusion. "Still There" leaves plenty of space around just the right notes; it's quiet, persistent, enduring. After the dreary, autumnal opening of "Vesper," a little plinked phrase sends out shoots of hope; plucked bass notes contend with piano chimes, like ripples in water, until an unresolved ending. All those fancy chord changes, and a good choice for your next candle-lit dinner too.
-- MICHAEL BOWEN
DOWNLOAD: "Blessed Feet"
Time on Earth
& lt;span class= & quot;dropcap & quot; & F & lt;/span & or their first record of all-new material since 1993's Together Alone, Crowded House mines some of those same veins of pop gold that powered their music since the band formed in 1986 and hit it big with "Don't Dream It's Over." But Time on Earth is also a dark album, sometimes even morose, made so perhaps due to the suicide of original drummer Paul Hester, to whom this record is dedicated. Unfortunately, the overall effect is to make this an uneven outing -- perhaps no surprise for a band that was broken up for a decade.
Still, the songcraft is solid, coming from Neil Finn, one of the great pop songwriters of the past couple decades. If you're a Crowded House fan, it's worth adding to your collection, but if you're looking for a better record, check out Everyone Is Here, a 2004 record he cut with his brother Tim under the name the Finn Brothers. Or if you have no idea who Crowded House is, buy their self-titled debut -- it's a classic.
-- TED S. McGREGOR JR.
DOWNLOAD: "Don't Stop Now"