Saturday, 21 August 2010

Tara Craig CD Review

Poetic lyrics and amazing vocals bring this album to life
Tara Craig is an amazingly talented singer/songwriter. Tara burst onto the Austin music scene in 2007. Her vocal skills mesmerised audiences and her lyrics cut straight to the chase. Tara’s songs speak of love, longing and freedom. Effortlessly Tara can sing a bold song with meaningful lyrics one minute and a gentle love song the next. Her songs are filled with poetic lyrics that are organic and grow on listeners like a plant encased in soil waiting to burst into the light. Tara has been influenced musically by major artists such as Patty Griffin, Joni Mitchell and Fiona Apple. Her music is also influenced by books, the world and what is going on around her and society as a whole. Tara’s songs are inspirational and have a life all of their own. AS THE LEAVES WERE CHANGING features eleven original songs that blend many musical genres together. The album begins with Until Our Voices Give Out a pop/modern folk song. Tara’s vocals are filled with passion and enthusiasm. The instrumentation never intrudes on Tara’s vocals. Resolution has more of a country feel. Tara’s vocals sound raw and instantly reel you in for a closer listen. Broadway is a delicate song. Tara’s vocals are almost angelic and earthy; the overall sound is very wholesome. City Of Sorrows is definitely a stand out song. This song has a very dramatic feel about it echoed in the instrumentation and Tara’s vocal style. Be Thou My Vision has an alt-country/modern folk feel. Tara’s vocals seem a little hushed on this song giving it added atmosphere. The Worry Song has some interesting lyrics and a really strong country vibe. Wish On You is a slow delicate song. This is a lovely song worthy of several plays. Tara’s vocals seem lighter and more alive/free. Letters And Photographs and Wishful Thinking are both great songs with outstanding glorious lyrics. Listening to this album is a bit like reading a really emotional and well written book. This is song writing of the highest quality. This Weight really allows Tara’s vocal talents to shine. Here her voice is both gravely and earthy. Letting Go is the final song on the album. This is another slow song with limited backing. Tara’s vocals enhance this stunning final song giving it added depth. This is an album of pure class – outstanding lyrics perfectly brought to life by Tara’s charismatic vocals.

Amy Estrada EP Review

A nice collection of songs from this new artist
Amy Estrada’s debut EP features five wonderful songs about life, love and happiness. Amy’s music blends together country and pop with astounding ease. Amy has been working extremely hard to make her dream of becoming a recording artist come true and finally after many years and a bit of good fortune her dream has become a reality. Amy’s musical influences include a whole host of modern female country singers. Amy’s music has a distinct uniqueness although thoroughly modern in sound her voice carries with it a touch of a more traditional country sound. As a youngster Amy could sing songs by any named artist with ease and precision. This talent has helped her get where she is today. Brand New Love is a classy country song blended with a dash of pop. Amy’s vocals are clear and crisp, sounding confident and classy. There are hints of Sara Evans within Amy’s vocal style and sound. So Take That is a modern country song with an up-tempo beat. Here again Sara Evans comes to mind upon listening to this song. How You Feel is a more traditional country song. The pace is slowed down allowing Amy’s vocals to take centre stage and really shine. Amy’s vocals are really well suited to country songs. He’s Still Mine is a faster song with a strong country feel. Butterflies is the final offering on this EP. Amy’s vocals are once again allowed to really shine on this song. This is an uplifting song, which will leave listeners feeling good and wanting more.

Mandi Leachman CD Review

Some real gems bring this album to life
Mandi Leachman’s music blends rock/pop with country. Mandi is a talented singer/songwriter hailing from Maryland. Singing has always been her passion right from an early age. Mandi has been in and out of a recording studio since the age of fifteen. RISK IT ALL is Mandi’s second solo album; her first was called BREAKTHROUGH, and features six brand new songs. All of the songs on the album are written about personal experiences and every day life. Mandi has a strong powerful voice that really commands attention. Her influences include Jewel, Tori Amos and Sheryl Crow. You Could Try has a distinct pop/rock feel about it. Mandi’s vocals are punchy and polished. This song has plenty going for it and gets better with every listen. Risk It All is a glorious slow ballad. Mandi’s vocals are delicate and dreamy on this distinctly country flavoured song. This song has a really natural earthy vibe running through it. I Just Can’t Have You is an upbeat rocky country/pop song backed with some jazzy instrumentation. It sounds a weird combination but it works and gives the song a real edge. Reach Out is a soulful country/pop ballad. Mandi’s vocals are stunning, full of emotion and tenderness. Tomorrow is another slow song with a strong country feel. Mandi’s vocals shine once again on this heartfelt number. Let Me Out is the final offering on the album. Mandi ends the album on a high note with another fantastic ballad. There are hints of Carrie Underwood when Mandi sings a slow ballad. Although this album is quite short it contains some real gems.

Shelby Horner CD Review

Beautiful ballads and quality fast paced songs
Shelby Horner’s music appears on first listen to blend together a touch of James Taylor with a big dash of George Strait, the end result is some amazing music, succulent ballads and high quality songs that really deserve to be heard more than once. Shelby’s music is modern country but with a pure feel to it. Shelby has been skirting with success for many years with many critics saying 2010 will be his year, the year he finally makes it big. The album starts off with the title number Keep Me Off The Street. This is a pleasant ballad, pleasing on the ear. Shelby’s vocals are strong and interesting packed with plenty of character and emotion. There is a certain charm in Shelby’s vocal style. Faith And Farmin' is a faster rockier song with a strong message. Baby I Bet is a delicious slow song. The lyrics are perfectly written and worth a close listen. Shelby’s vocals are spot on. None Of The Above is an upbeat modern county song, which has a touch of Garth Brooks about it. Can We Dance is a magical ballad. Shelby’s vocals take on a wonderful velvety quality and definitely remind me of James Taylor. Northern Born Southern Bred is a rousing rock/country song. Shelby’s vocals remind me of Waylon Jennings, thoroughly modern but with a distinct old country twist. Take A Chance is a dreamy slow ballad. You Won’t Be Lonely Long is a strong modern country song with a catchy vibe. This is definitely a radio friendly number. Hellbent On Havin' Fun is a punchy modern country song. Two Souls is an infectious ballad. Once again Shelby sounds a little like James Taylor. Shelby sings with a lot of passion and emotion really bringing the song to life and giving it a life all of its own. The album ends with I’m No Pushover Now. This is a strong up-tempo song with great vocals. This album is a real joy to listen to. The ballads, of which there are many, are delicate and soulful. The upbeat rock/country songs are all done well and merit a place on the album.

Matt Bailie CD Review

Ballads galore make this a gorgeous album
Matt Bailie was born in June 1987, talented and obsessed with music. Matt’s childhood was ripped apart when his father, entertainer David Bailie, died in a plane crash leaving his wife Catherine to bring up their son on her own. Matt now has a daughter of his own to take care of. Already Matt’s music has made an impact on the Floria Country Music charts. Matt’s self-titled album is packed full of contemporary country songs. Man Behind These Eyes kicks the album off. Matt’s vocals instantly remind me of Gary Allan. There is a richness in his voice; you can tell that he is singing from the heart. There is a gritty determination echoing throughout Matt’s words. Send Me A Butterfly is a lovely slow country ballad. Matt’s vocals are tender and passion filled. Feels Like Freedom is a slightly faster country song. Matt’s vocals are superb, constantly engaging and intoxicating. The Getaway has more of a true country feel. This is another slow song enhanced by Matt’s rough vocal style. Cadillac Dreams is a great modern country song. Matt sounds a lot older vocally on this number. Nothing Left For Me is a delightful ballad. Listening to Matt’s music I am heavily reminded of Brad Paisley and Kenny Chesney. Where Are You Now is a sensitive ballad with memorable lyrics. This’ll Be A Memory is a gorgeous ballad in the style of Collin Raye. The Road That Leads To You sees Matt’s vocals take on an added maturity. This album is littered with amazing ballads all begging to be heard over and over again! Great To Be Alive is an upbeat rocky country song that reached number one on the Floria Country Music Charts in 2009. Listening to it you can quickly see why it did so well. All too soon the final song arrives and believe me it is way too soon. Only God Knows Why is an emotional song about soldiers who go off to fight for their country and never make it back home and how even in these tough times you should never lose sight of your faith. This is quite a patriotic song to end the album on and also a very special song. Matt’s words are sung with sincerity and great emotion. This album is of a consistent high standard, every song deserves its place here.

Ken Domash CD Review

Definitely charge your batteries before listening to this rocky country album
Ken Domash is a singer/songwriter from St. Louis, Missouri. Ken made a name for himself playing at a local pub for several years before heading off to Nashville with his dream of recording an album. Ken’s style of country is thoroughly modern, very rocky and upbeat. Ken has a strong voice and a distinctive edgy sound. Ken’s influences come from all kinds of musical genres not just country. The album kicks off with the title track Countrified, an upbeat song with a catchy foot stomping vibe running through it. Ken’s vocal style reminds me of a cross between Richie McDonald and Collin Raye but with a rousing rocky twist. Countrified is Ken’s debut single on country radio. Ding Dang Darn It is a typical modern country song with Ken’s great vocal style bringing it to life. The second single to be released from the album. I Been There is a good quality rousing country song. Lie With Me is more of a ballad. This is a lovely song with laid back instrumentation and gentle vocals. She Drove is a bluesy rock/country song. This is an enjoyable song that deserves to be heard on country radio everywhere. Pull The Trigger is a very rock orientated country song. Saddle Up is another heavy song with a typical modern country/rock vibe running through it. It Doesn’t Matter allows Ken to show off his vocal skills. This is an extremely fast paced rock/country song. I am reminded here of some of Garth Brooks’ rocky/rodeo country songs. Push Me is a glorious song, the mood changes completely here. Suddenly the fast pace grinds to almost a sudden halt. A welcome breather some might say! Ken’s vocals slip effortlessly between rousing rocky fast paced songs and slow delicate ballads. Moonbeam is a charming country song. This song sees the pace picked up again but not to full throttle. Until The Pain’s All Gone is a rocky country song with some great lyrics. The final song is a slow ballad entitled Thank You. Once again Ken’s vocals are allowed to shine. If you like your country modern and rocky then this album is a must for you.

Friday, 20 August 2010

Spike Flynn - It's Alright CD Review

Songs everyone listening can resonate with
If you like music that really means something and comes from the heart then you will love IT’S ALRIGHT by Spike Flynn. Spike is a singer/songwriter who grew up in New South Wales, Australia. His music blends country with traditional folk. There are echoes of Bob Dylan in Spike’s style of music, which is emotional and rich in depth and texture. The songs on this debut album give an insight into Spike’s life and the experiences he has had to go through to get to this point in time. This is an album that deserves to be listened to closely as his words are like wonderful poetry set to music. The album opens with the title track It’s Alright. Spike’s vocals are earthy and raw. The instrumentation blends folk/country with a dash of jazz. Falling Rain Blues is a blues infused country/folk song. There is a very traditional feel to this thoroughly modern song. Silver Nitrate Serenade is a slow really organic song brought to life by Spike’s charismatic vocals. The saxophone adds more depth and character to the song giving the instrumentation a jazzy feel. Falling Into Love (Out of Self Defense) has a more old time country feel. Spike’s gravely vocals make listeners feel like they are slipping backwards into a time gone by. The content of this song is perhaps more positive than many of the others on the album, a small chink of sunshine bursting through the darkness. Hard Times is an extremely sad song, which Spike brings to life with his evocative vocals. This is a wonderful song that really brings the album to life. Runaway Train is a faster paced country/folk song again with a more positive edge. The Penny Whistle Lament sees the mood slow once again. This is a breath taking song with interesting lyrics that hopefully we as listeners can all resonate with. That’s The Way It Goes is a simple country/folk song brought to life by Spike’s vocals. The lyrics speak of the ups and downs in life and the choices we are all forced to make at some point in our lives. All too soon the album comes to an end with a fantastic song called Hold On. This song suggests through its lyrics that whatever you have been through in life keep holding on. A positive message to end this beautiful album on! This album contains everything you want an album to contain – memorable lyrics that come straight from the heart and songs you will be eager to play over and over again.

Briana Hardyman Gig Review July 2010

Following her successful previous visits to The Beehive the brilliantly talented singer/songwriter Briana Hardyman returned on the 21st of July. It was another excellent night, which saw Briana accompanied by talented guitarist Doug Sies. Briana made time before the show to talk to people she had met at The Beehive previously. She started off the show with the John Prine song Angel From Montgomery, a great favourite with the audience. It is a song she likes to start her shows off with as it always goes down so well. Angel From Montgomery is featured on Briana’s current album PEOPLE LIKE ME. She continued with other songs from her CD including the Fred Elgersma song Alcohol and Pills. This song perfectly suits her strong voice. Briana went on to perform the Jennifer Nettles song Stay. Briana’s version of this smash hit is almost better than the original. Briana makes this song her own with her passion filled vocals. She could certainly give Jennifer Nettles a run for her money! The show continued with a brilliant version of the song Hurt and Love Doesn’t Die also from her current CD. Once again this went well with the audience. Briana is a firm favourite with the Swindon crowd and she proved this again with the support she got for her latest performance in the town. Briana performed the 1960’s hit Runaway, adding her own character and emotion to the song. The evening continued with the Bob Dylan song To Make You Feel My Love. Briana spent two and a half hours singing solidly with no intervals, something that not many artists do nowadays. The evening came to rousing conclusion with the old spiritual song I’ll Fly Away, which had the audience joining in, as well as a great version of the popular Sheryl Crow song My Favourite Mistake. Briana certainly entertained the audience with her non-stop music. Hopefully it will not be too long before she returns to the town.

Courtney Yasmineh Gig Review

The last time Courtney Yasmineh appeared at The Beehive she went down a storm and had people begging her to return soon. Courtney’s latest show was as good if not better than her first in Swindon. Courtney brought along her new band as well as the talented singer/songwriter and producer Jeff Arundel to open the show for her. Jeff opened the show for Courtney on her last visit. His James Taylor soulful/blues vocals mesmerising the audience. This time around Jeff played his guitar accompanied by Courtney’s band. His set was up-tempo and thoroughly enjoyable. Plenty of excellent guitar playing really brought Jeff’s songs to life. Courtney joined Jeff on vocals for a fun packed version of the Bill Withers classic song Ain’ No Sunshine. Although impromptu and unrehearsed both artists sounded amazing and got a lot of applause. Jeff is working on a new album, which promises to be a real treat for music fans everywhere. A short interval and Courtney and her band were in full swing. Courtney’s music is hard to pigeon hole, sounding a cross between Fiona Apple/Paula Cole and Nanci Griffith, with on her slower songs, a touch of Victoria Williams. Performing most of the songs from her latest album BEAUTIFUL LONELY plus a few older songs from previous albums Courtney excited the audience and really gave them a night to remember. Pleasant banter with the audience in-between songs gave a chance for a few laughs and anecdotal stories. Courtney performed a wonderful version of Stones, which is a really beautiful song brought to life by a rousing verse about three quarters of the way through. As always Daydrunk went down a treat. This is a lively song that really engaged the audience. Courtney performed her catchy song Part I Like, the rousing rocky song Luna Moth and the beautiful Stars. Stars is one of those of those songs you cannot help but fall in love with. Slow vocals and moody music creating a very alt-country sound and dark Jace Everett style vibe. A lot of Courtney’s music has that vibe, which is maybe why she is so popular. Courtney’s new lead guitarist Casey Smith provided some blistering guitar work throughout the evening, taking centre stage on several of the songs. He also provided harmony vocals. Courtney performed a stunning version of the title song from her current album Beautiful Lonely. Another highlight of the evening was an upbeat rendition of Hurt A Girl, also from Courtney’s latest album. The evening ended with Courtney performing two songs alone – just her and her guitar. Courtney has an amazingly powerful voice that booms out across the room. Her final offering of the evening was an emotional rendition of the Nanci Griffith classic Hard Life. Courtney promises to return next year hopefully bringing with her a new album.

Joshua Thomas Song Review - New Songs

What Did I Do is a magnificent song bursting with drama and atmosphere. A gorgeous rock/alt-country song with a dark, ghostly vibe running through it, echoed nicely in the backing music. This sound would not sound out of place on the sound track to the television show True Blood. Joshua’s vocals are haunting and edgy, never too forceful. This is one of those songs you cannot wait to hear again and again.

My My My is a blues infused rock song. Joshua’s vocals are intense, full of texture and passion. This song as a very earthy feel about it. Although quite a simple song it still leaves a lasting impression on the listener.