Sunday, 20 March 2011

Kristen Leigh - Making Friends With Ghosts

An emotional rollercoaster ride through the darkness and into the light
If you like alternative folk then you will adore the new album from singer/songwriter Kristen Leigh. Her music mixes many styles and genres together whilst blending together lyrics that cover a whole range of emotions. The album has a distinct rawness about it and flicks between ballads to rockier folk numbers with effortless ease. Influenced by traditional folk artists as well as Patty Griffin, Tori Amos and Bob Dylan, it is easy to see how these artists have affected Kristen’s music. MAKING FRIENDS WITH GHOSTS is Kristen’s third album, all of which have been independently recorded. This album features a whole range of instrumentation from the piano to the accordion and the flute to a medieval harpsichord. The premise for this new album is about coming to terms with the past and dealing with the emotions and experiences that have caused hurt, sadness and longing along the way. The album goes through patches of light as well as patches of darkness. Some of the songs are very introspective whilst others are light and less emotional. After a short introduction Kristen bursts to life with the song Remember Who You Are. This is quite a heavy, dark song with haunting vocals. Kristen’s vocals are intoxicating and her carefully crafted lyrics are also well worth a listen. The Space In The Distance has a slightly more up-beat feel but once again this is quite a dark introspective song. A short piano interlude breaks up the gloom and gives listeners a breather from the intense lyrics of the opening two songs. Going All In sees the intense mood resume. Kristen’s vocals are distinct and full of depth and emotion. Stouffer Chemical Company has a real alt-country feel. Sunday Afternoon is another song with a strong dash of alt-country perhaps in the style of Lucy Kaplansky. Kristen’s vocals are gentle almost subdued. Little Star (The Lullaby) is a softer number, which allows Kristen’s vocals to really shine. Day Off is a catchy quirky song. The beat is up-tempo and the mood light. Right Where I Am is another lyrically strong song about life. Sacred Heart is a striking ballad with some lovely instrumentation. This song is very atmospheric and stands out as one of the highlights of the album. California (If You Go) is a slow song with gentle musical backing. Weathering The Storm and Gratitude are songs about redemption and fall at the end of the album. This album is like a personal journey through the medium of song and music. Both of these songs are anthemic and have a slight rock vibe. There is a lot of darkness seeping through the songs and lyrics contained on this glorious album but the music and vocals are of such a high quality that you will want to listen to the album over and over again.

Heather Marie Song Review

Heather Marie is a talented 40’s and 50’s tribute/war time singer. Her voice is sensual, evocative and quite magical. Her vocal talents really suit the songs of the 1940’s and 50’s that she chooses to sing. Listening to her voice you are instantly carried back through time to an era long gone by.

Heather Marie sweeps listeners along with her stunning looks, graceful demeanour and passion filled voice. Hearing one song is never enough.

She has performed throughout the North West, dazzling audiences with her on stage presence, which is perfectly in-keeping with the era she represents.

Heather Marie has been influenced by some of the top singers of the 40’s and 50’s like Doris Day, Rosemary Clooney, Dame Vera Lynn and Connie Frances.

Not only can Heather Marie sing like an angel she also looks like one modelling fashions from the period with ease whilst up on stage giving a knock out performance. She can carry off a slow sophisticated song as well as more fun rock ‘n’ roll songs with an up-beat tempo.

Heather Marie can often be found performing at private parties, clubs, weddings and World War 2 dances. She also tours the UK under her own name with her own musical show.

I’ll Be Seeing You – Heather Marie brings this song to life with ease. Her vocals are natural and quite astounding. She really does sound like an angel! Listening to Heather Marie is like putting on an old vinyl album from the 40’s/50’s. She allows the songs she sings to remain old fashioned and in-keeping with the period. Her vocals are clear and crisp yet they still retain their old fashioned charm. This particular song really suits Heather Marie’s vocals. This is a slow and melancholy song that is brought to life by a shinning vocal performance.

Winter Wonderland – Heather Marie performs this Christmas classic effortlessly. Her vocals are up-beat and classy. Heather Marie mixes in a dash of jazz to bring the song to life. Although a Christmas song when you listen to Heather Marie performing this timeless classic you would be more than happy to hear it all year round.

That Old Devil Called Love – This is a classic song that has been covered by many different artists over the years. Heather Marie puts her own stamp on this slow jazz infused song. Her voice is light and breezy giving the song a fresh feel. Heather Marie’s voice really suits this style of song. Heather Marie is able to bring the song to life with her vocal tone, emotion and personal charisma.

Rocking Around The Christmas Tree – Heather Marie really brings this up-beat Christmas song to life with her bubbly vocals. Listeners will want to get up and dance upon hearing this popular Christmas song. Once again Heather Marie’s vocals are clear and crisp. Personally Heather Marie’s version of this song is the best I have ever heard.

When You Wish Upon A Star – Heather Marie sings this classic song with plenty of class and style. Her sultry, sexy vocals really give this song depth and character. Listening to this song you could easily think you were lying on a green lawn somewhere chilling in the sun. Heather Marie never over emphasises the lyrics, she just lets them take their natural path. Her vocals never over shadow the backing music, allowing listeners to really think they have gone back in time.

Overall it is a real joy to hear Heather Marie performing songs of the past without spoiling them or changing them too much.

Lucy - Spirit Man

A truly magical experience is offered here
SPIRIT MAN is a four track EP from up and coming singer/songwriter Lucy. Lucy’s vocals are warming and extremely pleasant on the ear. Her music transcends many genres including folk, alt-country and pop. Lucy’s songs sound mature and sophisticated. They have a dreamy almost relaxing quality, with quite an enchanting sound. The first song on the EP is the title track Spirit Man. Lucy’s wonderful vocals will instantly engage listeners. They are tender and quite joyful to listen to. This song has a really haunting sound. There is a great deal of atmosphere being projected here through the backing instrumentation and Lucy’s vocals. Spirit Man has a strong pop feel intertwined with a big helping of folk. Muse is a highly polished pop/folk song. This song appears to have a life all of its own. The music has a magical quality and once again Lucy’s vocals are engaging and infectious. Oregon Rain has more of a folk/alt-country sound. Lucy’s vocals are special there is no doubt about that. This is a slow paced song again packed with tons of atmosphere. Time Has Spoken is a dramatic song, which blends traditional folk with classical music. The end result is something quite amazing and really worth a close listen. The four songs on this EP are all magnificent but being so short the experience ends before it has really begun and believe me this is an experience. Let’s hope it isn’t too long before Lucy releases a full length album.

Diana Johnstone Gig Review

Diana Johnstone’s new album THE TROUBLED HEART was reviewed in the March issue of Maverick. The album was praised and as a result I was keen to see her perform live. Upon hearing that Diana was playing a gig at The Beehive in Swindon I was eager to see her in the flesh and hear her perform songs from her new album and her previously released album LEARNING TO WALK. I was not to be disappointed. Diana Johnstone is a talented singer/songwriter with a gentle warming voice. She performed on her own for the majority of the show; however on two songs she was joined by David Wells on guitar. Diana started the evening off with If I Were A Bird from her LEARNING TO WALK CD. This is a very atmospheric folk song, which gave Diana the chance to really show off her wonderful vocals. She went on to sing a lovely song called Phone Box In The Rain from her latest album. Diana played the guitar throughout the evening. Although the audience was small in numbers those who had gathered to see Diana play live really appreciated her style of music and her delightful songs. In-between the songs Diana talked about the stories behind the songs. She also spent time talking about her love of the little fishing villages around Plymouth in Devon where she was born. The first half of the evening came to an end with Little Light a country/folk song from LEARNING TO WALK. Diana spent the break chatting to the people who had come to see her play. The second half of the evening began with This Wave, which is another lovely song. Diana writes all of her own songs. Diana performed an excellent version of Tired Of The Blues and The Turning Of The Tide. Turning Of The Tide is a great folk song with some typically traditional lyrics. As with all good things, they must come to an end. After lots of applause Diana finished the evening off with another great song from her latest CD called All My Love’s In Vain. I think Diana certainly saved the best till last as this was a really special song to end the evening on. I for one went home having had an excellent evening filled with some really lovely music.

Samantha Darnell Songs

Samantha Darnell is an up and coming young singer/songwriter with bags of talent and an amazing voice. Music has been in Samantha’s blood from a very early age. Samantha’s voice is fresh and interesting on the ear. Her songs have depth and body. Butterflies Don’t Lie is an upbeat song with a rocky edge. This song has a catchy hook that will soon have listeners singing a long with the lyrics. The lyrics are cleverly constructed and definitely worth a close listen. Samantha’s vocals are edgy and quite intoxicating. This song has the makings of a top pop/rock single that will appeal to fans of artists such as Pink and Gwen Stefani. I could easily listen to this song over and over again as the more you hear it the better it gets. Don’t Say You Love Me is a slightly heavier song. Samantha’s vocals instantly bring to mind Gwen Stefani, but a younger, fresher version. Samantha doesn’t copy any one persons musical style, her music is distinctly her own. Once again this song has a lot of depth and character, this shows in the lyrics and the drama Samantha effortlessly brings to life through her varying vocal range. Summer Boys has a really catchy musical introduction. This song definitely has a rock feel to it tinged with pop. Another catchy song that needs more than one listen. Samantha creates a lot of atmosphere with her delightful vocals, which switch between delicate and charming to rowdy and rocky with infinite ease. Samantha’s music is a real delight to listen to and these three songs just leave me so eager to hear more, much, much more.

Gini Woolfolk - In The Springtime

Sometimes an album makes you really stop and listen – this is one such album
Gini Woolfolk’s new album IN THE SPRINGTIME brings together a really earthy traditional blend of country/folk. There are definite hints of Emmylou Harris in Gini’s vocal style. Talented musicians like Dan Davidson and Jon White bring this album to life and give it plenty of atmosphere and charm. The instrumentation is varied with everything from the guitar to the Dobro being featured. Cold, Hard Facts Of Love gets the album off to a flying start. Gini’s vocals are refreshing in sound, sounding modern yet thoroughly old-fashioned at the same time. This is an upbeat opening song that moves a long at a fast pace. The Water’s Edge is a slower song with a strong folk vibe running through it. Up The Mountain is a quality traditional country/bluegrass song. The instrumentation on this song really brings it to life and transports the listener to a different era. When The Ice Melts is a lovely song and definitely one of the highlights of this glorious album. Gini’s vocals have a slightly more modern feel on this particular number. You’re Beautiful is a heavier song with a strong modern folk feel. Gini’s vocals are deeper and less traditional in style. Lovebugs is a fast paced jolly song with an old-fashioned feel. The Hardest Part sees the mood slow a little. The instrumentation slips well and truly into the background on this song allowing Gini’s wonderful vocals to really shine. Three Bullets is a catchy folk/country song. This is a fast paced song, which reminds me of Mary Black and Seth Lakeman. If you like songs that tell a story then you will love this song. The title song In The Springtime is a charming country song. Gini’s vocals are rich and delightful. This song certainly deserves its place on the album. The final song comes all too soon. This is one of those albums you find yourself never wanting to end. Wild Mountain Thyme is Gini’s take on the popular Scottish folk song Will Ye Go, Lassie Go. Gini brings this song to life with her wonderful vocals. She certainly puts her own stamp on this song, giving it a lovely upbeat feel. It is hard not to fall in love with this album. It is just packed full of amazing songs about everything from love to loss and anger to hopefulness. There is so much energy contained in these songs. This album will appeal to fans of traditional country, modern country and folk that transcends modern and more traditional genres.

Doug Bruce - A Good Place

A nice mix of ballads and faster paced country songs
Doug Bruce is a Texas born singer/songwriter who now lives in Bendigo, Australia with his Australian wife and child. Doug’s blend of country music has already seen him receive some high praise as well as several awards. Doug has been performing on stage for many years as a drummer and backing singer but it is only in more recent years that he has taken centre stage and showed the whole world what a wonderful wholesome country singer he is. Doug’s album A GOOD PLACE is packed full of country songs that will appeal to fans of more modern country. Doug wrote six songs on the album. The album gets started with Good Place For Love, which Doug co-wrote with Bill Shore. Doug has a lovely country voice that is reminiscent in style of artists such as Alan Jackson and Brad Paisley. This is quite an upbeat song, catchy and easy on the ear. The Bed You Lied In has a more modern feel. This is a top quality country song in the style of Brooks and Dunn. This song has the potential to be a great single. Museum Of Love is a faster punchy song definitely more suited to fans of rocky rowdy country. Don’t Let Me Stay Too Long is a slow ballad. Doug’s vocals are quite stunning on this beautiful song. Having What You Want is another high quality country song with a Brooks and Dunn feel about it. Honky Tonk Shoes instantly reminds me of Alan Jackson crossed with Toby Keith. This song is what some might call a typical country song – fast paced and quirky. Man In The Mirror is an amazing slow ballad in the style of George Strait. The lyrics are well worth a close listen as this is a really expressive emotional song. Sweet has more of a rocky feel. Coffey Road is a beautiful slow song. The lyrics give this song plenty of atmosphere. Lost Weekend is a thoroughly modern country song once again in the style of Alan Jackson. Hey Mister sees the mood slow to almost a stop. This is most definitely the icing on the cake as far as this album is concerned. This is a lovely slow song crammed full of emotion. Doug’s vocals really bring this song to life. The Gang’s All Here is another typical country song done well. The album ends on a high with another amazing song called Close Enough. This is a classy more old style song. This album has a song for everyone.

Codie Prevost - Get Loud

Hopefully this is the album to make Codie Prevost into a big star!
GET LOUD showcases another stunning mix of country/rock from the popular American artist Codie Prevost. This is Codie’s third album with his first released in 2005. On this album Codie was given the opportunity to work with one of Canada’s top producers Tom McKillip. Tom brilliantly harnessed Codie’s sound and style bringing it to a head on this high quality album, which blends together self-penned songs with songs from some of the best Nashville writers around. Still waiting to really make his mark on the country music scene Codie’s live shows are always entertaining and popular with audiences. This album could well be the album to catapult Codie to international fame and stardom. Rolling Back To You has a lovely rock/country vibe running through it. This isn’t a heavy song; it is a pleasant song with much warmth emanating from Codie’s vocals. Honky Tonk Groupie is more of a fun up-tempo song, which brings to mind Big and Rich. The title song Get Loud is rocky and rousing in style. I’m Okay is a tender slow song. This song was written for a friend who was dealing with the loss of her brother. Codie’s vocals are full of tenderness and emotion throughout this track. Standing Still is a lovely up-tempo country song. This song is one of those songs that just grows on you and begs to be heard time and time again. Cruising Song is a driving song. Codie’s voice stands out because it is just that bit different. From Where I Stand is a glorious slow ballad that will tug at the heartstrings of many listeners. This is a beautiful song. You’ve Got What Gets Me is a rousing rocky song, quite heavy in style. This song will appeal to fans of Rascal Flatts. Finish What He Started is a catchy country song. How To Forget is the kind of song you would expect to hear Collin Raye singing. The lyrics are emotive and Codie’s vocals are tender. Famous is another high octane song, more rock than country. The album ends with Codie’s take on the popular song Cotton Eye Joe. Perhaps not the best song to end this classy album on but then again it is only a bonus track. There is a nice mix of styles on this album. The slow ballads are just amazing and the faster rocky songs are of a good high quality so definitely worth a listen!

Charlotte White Songs

Charlotte White is a young lady with a dazzling voice. If you could bottle the voice of an angel then Charlotte definitely has that voice. Her vocals are tender and gentle, quite magical and full of energy and vibrancy. She has the kind of voice you cannot help but fall in love with; it is intoxicating and quite infectious. Her songs effortlessly cross the boundaries between country and gentle but classy pop. When I Am With You is a country/pop song. Charlotte’s vocals bring to mind an early Dolly Parton blended with a stripped down version of Christina Aguilera. Her voice is just amazing to listen to; it quite literally blows you away as a listener. There is a lot of emotion pouring out through Charlotte’s voice. This song is the kind of song you want to turn up loud and put on repeat play. There is a touch of soul intertwined with the country and pop that oozes from this song. Unfaithful Man is another brilliant song that once again blends a lot of musical styles. There are touches of Olivia Newton John, Allison Moorer and Juice Newton in Charlotte’s heart rendering vocals. Charlotte’s vocals are the real highlight here. Treat Her Right is a great country song. Charlotte’s vocals are raw and raspy giving the song a really organic feel. This song feels really evocative because it has such a stripped down sound and feel. Listening to this song you can easily imagine you are in a café or bar somewhere with a roaring open fire listening to Charlotte singing, sat on a stool with just a guitar for company. This is one of those songs that makes you stop in your tracks and think wow! Nobody Loves Me Like The Blues sees Charlotte slip into a jazz/blues mood. There are hints of Mandy Barnett crossed with Patsy Cline here. Charlotte’s vocals really suit this style of song. This song feels really classy. Lonesome Train is a country song with a really soulful feel. Once again I am reminded of Dolly Parton in her early days combined with a touch of Tammy Wynette. Charlotte’s voice is timeless and feels so natural never forced. A King Like You has more of a pop feel. This is a stunning evocative song. The lyrics are wonderfully constructed and tell a really moving story. A close listen will easily move listeners to tears, as it did me. Sensitive vocals give this song an earthy raw feeling. Are You With Her Again sees Charlotte sounding a lot like Jewel on some of her earlier releases. This is another lovely slow song with luscious vocals. A Love Like This is a great slow song once again bulging with emotion, an emotion that feels raw and untapped. This song has a strong country sound. Down is another song full of sensitivity and vulnerability. The lyrics are emotive and so spot on. There is a feeling of darkness that overwhelms this slightly heavier song. Listening to Charlotte’s songs you feel like you have opened a great novel, with each chapter taking the form of a song. Listening to these songs is like taking a soul cleansing ride. Charlotte’s vocals on this song are deeper and full of angst. Here I am reminded more of artists like Paula Cole blended with a touch of Kathleen Edwards. What Would It Be Like is another great singer/songwriter song. Charlotte’s vocals are edgy and captivating occasionally slipping into a more typical pop sound, however it is never too long before Charlotte steers her vocals back towards a more organic unpolished sound. It is a real treat to here Charlotte’s music. Each song brings with it something new and quite wonderful. It is like dipping your hand into a box of chocolates never quite knowing what you are going to get. Charlotte’s vocals are really glorious and really pleasant to listen to because they are so varied in style. Hearing these songs just makes you want to hear so much more. It is like the book is only half finished, left on something of a cliff hanger.

Neptune’s Car - Strawberry Moon

A beautiful blend of country and folk from a talented new duo
If you like your country music with more than a dash of folk you will love the debut album from Neptune’s Car. Neptune’s Car is a duo made up of Steve Hayes guitarist and songwriter and Holly Hanson singer/songwriter. Holly’s vocals are tender, warm and quite evocative with each song taking the form of a story or tale. Steve’s guitar playing complements Holly’s vocals perfectly giving each of the songs depth and character. This is an album that will appeal to everyone because it is so innocent and simple, yet classy and well constructed. Joining Holly and Steve are David Eure on the violin, Sven Larson on upright bass and Zeke Martin on percussion. Follow This Highway gets the album off to a glorious start. Holly’s vocals are fresh and light. This song has a strong traditional folk/country feel. The title song Strawberry Moon is a beautiful country song with a classical country sound. Lighthouse Keeper is a charming song that tells of the life of a lighthouse keeper. Simple and rather sweet this song just begs to be heard. Full-Moon Night has more of a traditional country feel. Holly’s vocals lose their delicate edge on this vocally heavier song. Five Point Star is a wedding song. With all of the songs on this album it is worth taking time to listen to the lyrics as they hold the key to this feast of musical delights. Sparks is another excellent country song. Ocean-Born Mary is a lyrically strong story telling song, which blends folk and country together. Throughout this album there are hints of Nickel Creek and Alison Krauss but Neptune’s Car do not need to be compared to any other artists. This is a strong musical duo whose music can stand on its own two feet. Roll With The Tumbleweeds allows Holly’s vocals to really shine brightly. Where The Moon Shines On The Chrome is a slow paced song with a strong country feel. Here Holly’s vocals are delicate. The Charm came about after Holly gave her two sons a lesson on pirates and life at sea. Diamond Pond is an upbeat song with quiet a modern feel. Stonewalls and Fences ends the album on a high. This is a pleasant folk/country song, which Holly once again brings to life with her vocals. It is hard to find any fault with this debut album. The songs are beautiful and the overall atmosphere created is perfect.

Violent Kin - Velvet Hideout

Every song on this EP has the potential to be a big hit!!!!
Violent Kin are a brother and sister duo from Canada. Their music is a rocky blend of electro pop. VELVET HIDEOUT is their newest release and is a great follow on from the duo’s 2009 full length album BITTER BLOOD. This four track EP gives existing fans a chance to hear new material and new fans an opportunity to see what the duo are all about. Naturally they have been compared to other existing musical artists such as The Ting Tings but Violent Kin have a unique sound and style all of their own with both siblings taking a turn on lead vocals. The first song on the new EP is also the title track Velvet Hideout. The opening introduction music is dramatic and varied. From this music it is hard to tell what kind of song you are going to get. Velvet Hideout is in fact quite a heavy pop/rock song. This song has something about it that makes it really appealing and quite quirky. The end of the song is quite heavy giving the song a really dramatic conclusion, which leaves the listener definitely wanting more. Wolf is a great electro pop song with a heavy dash of rock thrown in for good measure. Occasionally there are hints of No Doubt but that isn’t a bad thing at all. I can instantly imagine hoards of people dancing to this song in a club or at some outside festival. Keep Your Balance is another great electro pop/rock song. Everything here is brilliant – the music and the vocals. This song deserves to be a big hit. This is certainly the kind of song you want to turn up when it comes on your radio. The music here reminds me a little of the classic Gary Numan song Cars. Good Girl brings this excellent EP to a close. The opening music brings to mind Roxy Music but this is no Roxy Music track. This song is another song that would do well I feel as a single. Once again great vocals make this song a stand out track. All four of the songs on this EP have great potential, all are strong vocally and really catchy in their own way.

Tami Renè - Take It Back

A classy second album featuring some really topical lyrics and poignant songs
TAKE IT BACK is Tami Renè’s second album. On this album Tami’s vocals take on more of a country/pop sound. Tami’s voice is distinctive and pleasing on the ear throughout this classy album. The album opens with Something an upbeat song with a strong country/pop flavour. Tami’s vocals appear to be bursting with energy. The title track Take It Back blends blues and country together. Tami’s voice is highly polished on this song, which is heavier than the opening track. There are definite hints of Wynonna Judd here. The Hell Is Going On is an extremely topical song just right for the current economic climate. Tami sings this song with conviction. A powerful song with a strong message running through the lyrics. It is worth buying this album just to hear this song. My Way Back Home is a slower song that also contains another strong message within the lyrics. Tami’s vocals are more laid back on this dreamy yet poignant song. Strangers To Me is another excellent song, which showcases Tami’s amazing vocals. It is hard to compare Tami to any one artist as her music and vocals cross so many different musical genres. Although not pure country there is enough of a country flavour running through this album to keep most country fans happy. Every song on this album deserves its place. You’ve Met Heartache is a song about finding good in every situation that arises in life. This is an uplifting song about picking yourself up no matter how hard you fall down. A positive song that makes you feel better about yourself upon hearing it. Stories After Dark is a slow gentle song. Tami’s vocals are delicate and haunting. This is a beautiful song full of love, promises for the future and romance. This track has all the makings of a classy wedding song. Anytime is an upbeat song with a country/pop feel. Missing You is a slightly heavier song. This could be quite a miserable song but Tami keeps the mood upbeat. Working Mom tells of Tami’s own experiences as a working mother. Tami’s vocals are enigmatic and charming. This is quite a dramatic song with brilliantly constructed lyrics. Holiday In You is perhaps the least emotive song on the album. This song is bright and breezy and gives listeners a rest bite from the emotional rollercoaster the rest of the album provides. The final track on the album Satan’s Mistress has quite a country rock feel. It is easy to imagine Tami performing this song on a big stage with lots of flashing lights. A punchy song to end the album on. This album ends on a high leaving listeners wanting more, much more.

Tori Sparks Gig

The attractive and talented Nashville artist Tori Sparks dazzled The Beehive audience in a glamorous red dress and boots. Tori performed a fine selection of her songs putting plenty of emotion into her vocals. Tori’s songs blend together an interesting mix of Americana, country and blues. The first song Tori performed on the evening was Cold War from her 2007 release UNDER THIS YELLOW SUN. This was followed by Penny On A Rail from her latest album THE SCORPION IN THE STORY. Tori played guitar throughout the evening, explaining the stories behind the songs most of which related to people and places that she had come across on her travels. She continued with two more songs Tall Towers and Blue Tattoo from her latest album. These songs highlighted Tori’s musical versatility. One song that went down really well was her excellent bluesy flavoured song Days And Days And Nights. In-between her own songs Tori did a great cover of the Bob Dylan song Make You Feel My Love. Once again this song got a good response from the audience. The second half of the evening continued with more emotional vocals and excellent songs from Tori’s new and previously released albums. The audience were really impressed with Tori’s music and songs, clapping and cheering loudly in-between songs. Tori performed two more great songs Free and Mama. As the evening came to a close it was clear Tori was not going to get away without performing a few more songs. In the end Tori left the thoroughly happy audience with a delightful performance of Summertime. Tori was happy to chat and sign CD’s and autographs in the interval and after the show had ended. All in all this was an excellent evening with wonderful music provided by an extremely talented young singer. I would recommend music fans of all genres go and see Tori Sparks if they get the chance as they certainly will not be disappointed.

Emily Hackett - As It Comes

This EP will certainly wet listener’s appetites
Emily was born in Cleveland, Ohio and raised in Atlanta, Georgia. Influenced by many musical genres whilst growing up Emily was writing her own songs at the age of twelve. Emily’s music blends many different genres of music together with Emily preferring to sings songs she likes no matter what their style and sound. Refusing to be pigeon-holed Emily has a distinctive voice that stands out from the crowd. Her songs are mostly written from a female perspective but they will automatically appeal to listeners of all ages and sexes because they are of such a high quality. Emily’s songs are written about obsession, frustration, life and love. Emily’s new EP features four classy tracks that really allow Emily to show off her singing and writing talents. The EP opens with a song called Nashville. This song has a country/folk feel echoed in the instrumentation. Emily’s vocals are interesting and full of character. This song sounds thoroughly modern yet because of its injection of folk it also retains something of a traditional sound. I Want A Boy has a totally different sound to the opening track. This is most definitely a modern country song with fresh uplifting vocals. A rather charming song that is easy on the ear. Damage Free is a heavy rock infused country song. This song will appeal to fans of rockier rowdy country music. Emily really belts out this track proving that she is anything but a one trick pony. Runaway is similar in style. Once again this is a heavy rocky country song. It is a shame that there are not more songs on this EP as it feels like it ends before it has really begun. Emily certainly teases and tempts listeners with these offerings and the promise of something really good to come in the future.

Haun’s Mill - Haun’s Mill

Music that speaks of times gone by mixed with lyrics that are relevant today
Haun’s Mill are definitely unique in their musical style. Once a duo and now a five-piece band based in Austin Haun’s Mill creates music more associated with times gone by. The subjects covered in their songs range from economic troubles to murder. Popular with audiences, who can resonate with the lyrical content of their songs, this group’s music is brought to life by Eliza Wren’s delicate vocals and the more organic sound of Nord Anderson’s vocal style. The group is completed with BB Melanson, Mike Crandall and Hyrum Summerhays who play a range of instruments from stand up bass to accordion. The music on this album is a clever interwoven mixture of country, folk, Americana and bluegrass. Set Me Free gets the album started. Eliza’s vocals take centre stage on this traditional sounding song. Her voice is quirky and engaging, definitely a voice you want to hear more of. New York City has a slightly more modern feel. Eliza is joined on lead vocals by Nord. Their voices really complement one another creating a great sound and atmosphere. Blind Draw is full of great instrumentation and then all of a sudden Eliza’s magical voice bursts through the music. Listening to this song it would be easy to think you were watching an old black and white film. There is so much character in the vocals and music provided. Paul sees Nord take a turn on lead vocals. Nord’s vocals are very different from those of Eliza’s often sounding raw with a velvety quality. Nobody Followed has a charming folk/traditional country sound. Eliza’s vocals are fresh and delicate whilst the instrumentation appears very old fashioned. Fitzcarraldo is an atmospheric folk song. Haven’t Felt This Way In Days has a slightly more modern sound with Eliza once again taking the lead on vocals. Forsaken allows Eliza and Nord to harmonise wonderfully, their voices sound amazing when intertwined together. The Flu is quite a dark song about dying and being ill. Mt. Pleasant brings the album to quite a dramatic close. Nord takes charge on this final song, which with its musical backing sounds sinister and dark. The lyrics in this final song speak of murder. Nord’s vocals are earthy. This collection of songs really stands out because they are so interesting and musically they are so very different. This album will suit music fans who like music that is quirky and more than just a catchy song.

Sidney Thompson - Colors

Amazingly strong songs from this young singer/song writer
Sidney Thompson is an exciting new artist with an amazing voice. Sidney’s vocals make her sound a lot older than her tender teenage years. They are soulful and intelligent, enigmatic and charming. Sidney wrote all of the songs on her debut album, which is full of intensity and passion. This album is made all the more remarkable by the fact that Sidney only took up singing and song writing in the past couple of years. Sidney comes from McKinney, Texas and is already being touted at the next big thing in the world of music. The album starts off with a classy track called Just Anyone. This is a song about giving up your heart. Sidney’s vocals are raw and effortlessly blend country and soul together. Sidney’s style and sound is a mixture of Shelby Lynne on her more soulful country albums and Joss Stone in her early days. A slow song Just Anyone gives Sidney a chance to shine and show off her talents. Many listeners will be able to resonate with the lyrics of this song. Colors is heavier and more upbeat than the opening song. Sidney’s vocals are strong and clear. Dance is a delightful song with a strong summery feel carried through the vocals and into the background instrumentation. Hold On is a rockier song that would not sound out of place in the pop charts. Clocks has more of a country feel. Sidney’s vocals are once again engaging and pleasurable to listen to. Better Side Of You is a rockier song but Sidney’s vocals still retain their soulfulness. Watching is a stand out song vocally. Sidney’s vocals change with ease from delicate and soulful to rocky and upbeat. Broken Glass is the final song on the album. This song mixes pop and country together. A great final song packed with plenty of angst. All of the songs on this album are great and could easily be released as singles. Sidney’s vocal style will appeal to fans of both country and pop. Definitely one to watch!

Blackheart Gig November 2010

After a highly successful and enjoyable tour of Australia and New Zealand Richard Pilkington and Chrissy Mostyn, otherwise known as the talented British duo Blackheart, returned home to continue their tour on familiar soil. Chrissy and Richard always get a good welcome when they play in Swindon at The Beehive. Before the gig started they chatted enthusiastically about their tour. The first set started with a new song that they wrote in Tasmania called Waiting For Light. This was an excellent song. The first set continued with Wonderland from their 2007 album release INDIGO, Unlike Water, which was used in a kitchen advert and Are You Coming Home from their INVISIBLE album. Richard enhanced the songs with his amazing guitar playing. Blackheart are hoping to record a new album in January 2011, which will include the new songs played for Swindon fans. The penultimate song of the first half was another new song called Don’t Throw It All Away, which was highly appreciated by the audience. The set ended with a bluegrass style song You Say, You Say. The second set started with the opening song from their INVISIBLE album Wednesday Afternoon followed by Thank God You Found Me, a nice song, from the same CD. Chrissy and Richard went on to perform a great version of 01204, which is the postcode of Richard’s home town. Two more new songs followed Here I Go Again and Hold Our Breath, which Chrissy told the gathered audience, was written in her kitchen. With Christmas fast approaching the duo performed Christmas Day In Dublin, which was written in Ireland. This is a lovely song just right for the time of year – well written and sung beautifully. Richard did some guitar numbers, which always go down well with fans. Lively and very entertaining it is always a treat to hear Richard playing the guitar. The evening was rounded off with two popular songs from their past albums 94 Years and Farewell. As always Richard and Chrissy put on a wonderful show. They are two really talented performers. All that remains is to wait eagerly for the release of their new CD.

Tanna Key - Wasting Paper

This is one of those albums that really makes you sit up and take notice
Seventeen year old Tanna Key is an up and coming singer/song writer who is just bursting with talent. Tanna’s debut album contains ten delightful songs that switch from up-tempo to emotional with ease. The opening and title song Wasting Paper is a lively up-tempo song. Tanna’s vocals are impressive and strong. Her voice is distinctive and although similarities between Tanna and Taylor Swift can be drawn, Tanna proves with little effort that she can stand on her own two feet and really belt out a song. Kiss Of The Sun is another modern up-tempo song with more of a country edge than the opening number. Incredible is a deliciously slow ballad. Tanna’s vocals are stunning on this glorious solid country song. Caught Up is another wonderful country offering. There are touches of an early Faith Hill if you listen closely. Shatter is a beautiful song. Tanna’s voice takes on an angelic tone for this slow pop sounding number. Stop Me is a modern country song about romance. The lyrics are catchy and cleverly constructed. Beautiful is an incredible slow modern country song. The whole of this album has a wonderful fresh feel to it. Each song is a real joy to listen to. One Tear In The Rain is a slow paced country/pop song. Tanna’s vocals give the song depth and plenty of emotion. Those Eyes is a classy modern up-tempo country song. This song is rousing and perhaps the heaviest song on the album. One Broken Heart Too Late brings the album to a close. Once again Tanna provides listeners with a breathtaking ballad that really makes you stop and listen. Tanna’s voice on this final number is crisp and clear. This is a high quality album with all ten songs deserving their place.

Art and Lisa - Healin Time

There are big things ahead for this talented duo!
Following the 2009 release of LEARNING TO BREATHE AGAIN, Art and Lisa return with a stunning new album featuring a classy collection of country/folk songs. The songs are packed full of sensitive lyrics and warming vocals that will literally take your breath away. HEALIN TIME is produced by John Inmon and is an album that transcends many different eras. John Inmon plays guitar on the album alongside Richard Bowden on fiddle. The lyrics throughout this album speak of sorrow, lost love, families torn apart and feelings of despair and disillusionment. The opening song on the album Steal The Heart features some wonderfully earthy vocals from Lisa. Her voice is tender yet raw. Art harmonises as the song progresses, his voice blending perfectly offering depth to the song. Long Gone sees Art taking the lead on vocals with Lisa harmonising. Art’s vocals are rootsy and organic in nature. There is a striking contrast between the pairs vocal style but it never detracts from the message the album is trying to project. This is an emotional album where words are important. Mama’s Prayers is more of a traditional country song. The fiddle is prominent on this up-beat song, where once again Lisa takes a turn on lead vocals. Healin’ Time is a much heavier country song. Lisa’s vocals are powerful, whilst Art’s are gruff and give the song character. Sands Of Lubbock sees Lisa in dazzling form. Her vocals are magical on this stand out number. This song oozes with emotion. Broken Without You (Briana's Song) is a traditional sounding country song. Instrumentation is important on this delicate number. Mother Of Pearl sees Art on lead vocals. Listen closely to the lyrics of this song – this is story telling at its very best! When Am I Gonna Learn is another charming country song with Lisa on lead vocals. Saint sees Art on lead vocals. His voice is captivating and quite haunting. The final song on the album was written by Walt Wilkins. Healing Waters is a charming song, which sees Lisa and Art harmonise wonderfully. This song brings the album to a natural conclusion. This album ticks all of the right boxes and will hopefully see Art and Lisa brought to the forefront of country music.

Hannah Latone - A Million Emotions

Vocals take centre stage on this engaging debut album
Hannah Latone is a new name in the world of country music. Born and raised in Georgia Hannah’s music has been compared with the likes of modern country artists Carrie Underwood and Taylor Swift as well as to more bluesy artists like Bonnie Rait. A MILLION EMOTIONS showcases Hannah’s stunning vocal talents as well as her writing talents with three songs on the album written by Hannah. Love Lockett kicks the album off; this is a heavy slightly rocky country song. Hannah’s vocals are strong and engaging on this rousing opening number. You Won’t is a pop/country song written by Hannah. There are definite hints of Taylor Swift here. This song has future hit written all over it. Hannah’s confident vocals will appeal to listeners of all ages and genres of music. Is It Raining is a slow modern country number. Hannah’s vocals on this song have a real edge to them. You’re No Good sees the pace pick up once again. This song will sound familiar to many music fans. With bluesy overtones I am reminded here of Linda Ronstadt’s version of this classic song, which charted in 1975. Next Dream Goin’ By is a lovely modern country song. Hannah’s vocals are tender and full of passion. God And His Guitar is a catchy up-beat country song, which is very pleasing on the ear. Ruby Shoes (Click My Heels) is a great slow country number. Hannah sounds at her best on this striking song, which is for me the real highlight of the whole album. Tears Only Run One Way is a modern country/pop song. This song has a lot of potential due to its catchy hook. A Million Emotions is the title song and was once again written by Hannah. Hannah sounds raw and fresh on this up-beat country song. Baby That’s The Way is a lovely slow ballad that allows Hannah to shine once more. This song is beautiful and Hannah’s vocals really bring the song to life. This album gives listeners a chance to enjoy some lovely slow paced country songs as well as some more predictable up-beat country/pop songs. Hannah’s vocals are the star here, shining throughout the album on each and every song.

Amber Lee And The Anomalies - Indelible

Fun songs with great music and wonderful vocals bring this high octane album to life
INDELIBLE is a delightful album that fuses together folk, Americana and a dash of pop. This album isn’t for the faint hearted but lovers of something that little bit different who will love the quirky songs featured on this album along with the odd array of instruments used to bring each song to life. The accordion takes centre stage on this album giving all of the songs a unique sound and style. It is the mission of Amber Lee Baker to make the accordion more popular and to show that it can be a sexy instrument. This new album from Amber features a full band that play drums, bass, cello, harp, brass and woodwind instruments as well as the guitar. Amber’s debut album ESTUARIES was released in 2008 since then Amber has spent her time touring, often as a one woman show, and promoting the accordion. The album starts off with Accordions Are Leading The Show, an up-beat catchy song, which sounds kind of crazy on the ear but in a good way. Amber’s vocals are reminiscent of Rosanne Cash, although they have very differing styles of music. The lyrics are fun, the music refreshing and Amber’s vocals captivating. Waltzing Just By Holding Hands is a slow song featuring an array of musical instruments. This song is about getting old and becoming too old to dance. This is a lovely country/folk song with heartfelt lyrics. Alpha sees the accordion take centre stage. Amber’s vocals really stand out above the music and make you want to listen closely to the lyrics of the song. I Should Know Better is a catchy up-tempo song where once again Amber sounds a lot like Rosanne Cash vocally. Caught In Your Tune is a slow quirky song with instrumentation that really gets under your skin. Crocuses is a folk song with a dramatic feel. The mood is a lot darker on this number bringing to mind Kate Rusby or Bill Jones. You Smile And I Melt sees the mood lighten again. This is a jolly song where the instrumentation takes centre stage. At times it feels like Amber has picked up every instrument available and thrown them all into the mixing pot. This is not a bad thing – far from it. The First Pancake Polka is a catchy song about pancakes. Some might cringe at the kookiness’ of this song but others will laugh and sing along. The album ends with two instrumentals. The first is Accordions Are Leading The Show, the second Waltzing By Just Holding Hands. Both sound striking and well worth adding onto the end of the album. Listening to the instrumental version of Waltzing By Just Holding Hands is just like listening to a films soundtrack. The music is breathtaking and so emotive. A real high note to end the album on.