Staff Picks: Ben Arnold’s “Circle ‘Round the Sun” and David Sylvester’s “Traveling at the Speed of Life”

PLUS: The Home Fires Are Burning…My Feet! Stories from the Domestic Front from Merion Station’s Nora Barry

Circle ’Round the Sun

Ben Arnold (self-release)

This is the ninth solo album in 18 years for Roxborough’s Ben Arnold, an exceptionally soulful singer/songwriter and member of the seasoned Philly-based roots-rock outfit, US Rails. Perpetually on the cusp of wider recognition, the Pittsburgh native keeps plugging along and refining his craft. Circle ’Round the Sun is the satisfying culmination of a bicoastal creative spurt, helped along by well-heeled Los Angeles pals Zach Djanikian (Amos Lee) and Shane Smith (Los Lobos), and finished off back home with 
support from the Hooters’ Rob Hyman and John Lilley, among others. Fans of John Hiatt and Joe Cocker should connect with the exuberant opener, “Thankful.” And while the rest of the album can’t match that torrid celebratory pace, it’s solid, folk-tinged, refreshingly honest stuff. Visit —Hobart Rowland

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The Home Fires Are Burning …My Feet! Stories from theDomestic Front

By Nora Barry (Druid Media, 279 pages)

A multimedia producer and writer, Nora Barry has contributed to the Wall Street Journal, the Philadelphia Inquirer and many other publications. And, apparently, this Merion Station mom knows a thing or two about domestic angst. While much of this collection of short, witty essays clearly 
targets female readers, Barry’s biting 
humor and blunt honesty should connect with anyone negotiating the minefield 
of middle age. —Ashley Scarboro

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Traveling at the Speed of Life

David Hale Sylvester
(self-published, 377 pages)

After the 9/11 tragedy claimed a friend’s life, David Sylvester mourned as few would do. Grabbing his bicycle, he embarked on a global journey. His message to those he met across Asia, Africa and North America was simple: “Find your bike.” Hunkered down in a friend’s home in Bala Cynwyd, Sylvester came up with this honest, funny travelogue—one that proves it’s never too late to embrace what inspires you. —Emily Riley

Our Best of the Main Line Elimination Ballot is open through February 22!