Friday, 22 April 2011

Rachel Brooke - Down In The Barnyard

Rachel Brooke’s new album DOWN IN THE BARNYARD is just perfect for fans of traditional old style country. Rachel has been getting a lot of praise for her music and rightly so. Her voice is just perfect for the old timey country songs she sings. She has been compared to The Carter Family and even totted as a female Hank Williams. The album kicks off with The Barnyard. A slow song packed full of traditional vocals and backing instrumentation. Rachel’s voice was made for singing country/bluegrass songs. Lonesome For You has a slightly more modern feel than the opening song. Listening to this song Stacey Earle comes to mind maybe mixed with a bit of Gillian Welch. Must Be Somethin’ In The Water is a slow haunting song. With the popularity of The Secret Sisters souring this release should certainly do well! City Of Shame is a lovely traditional country song. Me and Rose Connelly is a softer song with less of a raw organic sound. Rachel’s vocals are more polished on this pure country number. How Cold is another great old timey country/bluegrass song. Meet Me By The Apple Tree is a pleasant old fashioned country song. The Legend Of Morrow Road hides a story within its lyrics. With crackly backing this song has plenty of atmosphere. Please Give Me A Reason is a fine country song. Rachel’s voice never grates, if anything it gets more pleasing on the ear with every song. Gather And Hear concentrates more on the instrumentation than vocals. Mean Kind Of Blues sees the mood change completely. This is a heavy country song with plenty of angst. I Don’t Worry has some great instrumentation. The final song on the album Don’t Forget Me When I Die is a lovely bluegrass number. All in all this album is rather charming and has some delightful songs that showcase old timey country/bluegrass really well.

Secret - Merritt Whitley

Simple songs about love and romance brought to life by some great vocals
If you are a fan of Taylor Swift’s music then you will adore the new album by Missouri native Merritt Whitley. Her vocals are easy on the ear and her songs blend pop and country together effortlessly. SECRET opens with a vocally strong country/pop number entitled Landslide. The lyrics are polished and Merritt’s vocals are charming. The title number Secret is a great song definitely in the style of Taylor Swift. This song has masses of potential and could easily be a pop/country crossover hit. Merritt’s vocals are fresh and breezy, definitely pleasant to listen to. Beyond Amazing is a lovely ballad with heavy instrumentation. Merritt’s vocals rise to the challenge proving she can really belt out her vocals when she has to. One Last Time has a raw quality about it. Merritt’s vocals appear more honest and open on this outstanding song. Midnight Skies is a charming pop/country song. Merritt’s vocals are the stand out feature once again. When I Am With You is a rocky country/pop song. Merritt’s vocals sound youthful on this song about being with someone you love. Merritt’s lyrics are from the heart and are written about her own life experiences. Many of her songs tell stories, which are constructed through the lyrics, vocals and backing instrumentation. Dear Sean is a modern country song about saying goodbye. Lost In You is an up-beat modern pop/country song. Merritt’s vocals sound refreshing on this number, it is almost as if she has received an injection of happiness from somewhere. Eternally Yours is a lovely slow ballad. Merritt’s vocals are full of emotion. Just Words is a heavier country song. There is a touch of Carrie Underwood in Merritt’s vocals on this number. Lifes Always Complicated is a simple modern country song about love and romance. With plenty of popish vocals throughout this album Merritt will appear to fans of more than one genre of music. The final song comes all too soon. Quicksand is a slower song with a strong country vibe. This album features some strong songs that will appeal to younger country/pop music fans as well as a few older ones.

Sheila Marshall - What If I Was

Powerful vocals, rocky blues infused country songs and some top quality instrumentationSheila Marshall is an exciting modern country singer with bags of talent and amazing vocals. Sheila’s music combines country with roots, blues and soul. Sheila’s new album WHAT IF I WAS features eleven stunning tracks and was co-produced by Kyle Cook, lead guitarist with Matchbox 20. The album kicks off with the title track What If I Was. Instantly you can tell that you are listening to something special. Sheila’s vocals are raspy and have a distinct edge about them. There are hints of Wynonna Judd mixed with Bonnie Raitt. What If I Was is an up-beat song with a strong rocky/blues feel. What Will You Say sees the mood lighten a little. This is a top quality country song. Sheila’s vocals are spot on here making this song a real pleasure to listen to. Story Ends is another excellent song. There are many sides to Sheila Marshall’s singing and vocal talents and with each of the three opening songs you see one of those sides. Even If It Hurts is a rocky country song. Nothin's Been Right is a real highlight; this is most definitely a country song through and through. Brand New Day is a country/pop song with more emphasis on the country. Sheila’s vocals are very pleasurable to listen to. Livin’ On Love is a blues infused country song with a strong rock vibe. I am reminded here of Reba McEntire on some of her heavier numbers. Believe is a slow song, Sheila’s vocals are softer on this ballad. At times Sheila’s vocals bring to mind Martina McBride on some of her earlier albums. Angel From Montgomery, will sound familiar to many listeners. Sheila is joined on vocals here by Jeremy Plato. Going Down is a fast paced rocky country song. The backing instrumentation on this song sounds amazing and is worth a close listen. The final offering on this delightful album is The Big Revival. This is a blues infused rock/country song. This song suits its place at the end of the album with its heavy backing instrumentation and vocals. Overall this is an album packed with an interesting mix of songs. The highlight throughout has to be Sheila’s stunning vocals.

Hannah Rae Beale - Hold Tight

The vocals are the real star here!!!!
Hannah Rae Beale’s vocals are intoxicating and emotive. Her songs are heartfelt and moving, always sung and written from the heart. Although only eighteen years of age her songs are lyrically strong and her vocals echo someone a lot older in years. Jeana opens the album. A slow song, the emphasis is definitely on vocal ability and lyrical content. The backing instrumentation allows the song to flow along gently never obstructing the delicate vocals. Jeana has a country/pop feel perhaps leaning more towards pop than country. Keep Talking is a stunning song with classy vocals. Once again it is the vocals that take centre stage. I find it hard to compare the vocals to those of any other singer, I guess there are hints of Jewel every now and then but that’s as far at it goes. Hold Tight is the title track. This is a lovely gentle song with a strong country vibe. Fallen Again is a slightly heavier country/pop song. Defined By A Phone Call is a great modern country song. At this point in the album the vocals seem to harden a little and the mood becomes heavier. These Questions is a moody country/pop song. Insecure follows on in a similar style. This song has more of a pop/blues feel about it. The album ends with the opening track sung in something of an unplugged fashion. The rawness of the vocals makes it well worth ending the album with this glorious version of the song. If you like songs that sound classy but not over done in any way then you are bound to love this delightful album. Although quite short it is definitely worth a close listen.

Deafened by Sarah Vann

Impressive songs that really scream out qualityDEAFENED is Sarah Vann’s first full length album. Based in Calgary Sarah has already made quite a name for herself in the world of music. Sarah’s vocals are unique, her songs are thought provoking and full of interesting lyrics and overall her music makes you feel like you are on an adventure. It is hard to categorise Sarah’s music because it stands alone, that said there are some elements of folk and pop mixed into the songs on this classy new album. Walk Beside Me gets the album off to a flying start. Sarah’s vocals are captivating and really bring the song to life. This song could easily be played on country radio stations as it has a strong alt-country feel. The Library Song is a quirky song with interesting instrumentation. Sarah’s vocals have a quaint old-fashioned sound on this rather charming fanciful song. In Flight has a slight jazz feel about it. Catchy and once again quirky, this song has instant appeal. Demon Love is more of a country/pop song. Sarah’s vocals are the star of the show here. They most definitely have the wow factor. What I Believe is a slower song that again has a slight jazz vibe running through it. There are touches of Nora Jones on this song. The backing instrumentation is gentle and moody giving the song plenty of atmosphere. An enjoyable highlight! Deafened is not only the title song it is perhaps the best song on the whole album. This song mixes together folk, roots, alt-country and a small touch of jazz. The end result is a great song that deserves more than one listen. Take Hold is another stunning song with a melancholy feel about it. This is definitely a song for the long summer months. You Take Me Away is a slow classy track with some luscious velvety vocals. Listeners to this song could easily be reminded of Shelby Lynne; they have the same soulful sound. Every Side is a more up-beat song. All too soon the album comes to a conclusion with the simple song Stars. I was hoping for something a little more breath taking to end on but Stars is in keeping with the mood of the rest of the album. I think Sarah Vann’s vocal style is one you are either going to love or hate. This album is impressive and worth the wait.

Lisa Miller - Out Of The Blues CD Review

Ten top notch blues infused country songs
Lisa Miller’s debut album is packed with original songs that blend together country and blues. Lisa’s vocals really suit this style of music and sound amazing throughout the album. Her lyrics are honest and written from the heart. OUT OF THE BLUES gets off to a good start with the opening song Talk, Talk, Talk. Lisa’s vocals are strong and although quite a heavy, rocky song, never overshadowed. This song is packed full of blues infused country. Three Hours is a slower song with more of a country feel. This is a charming song with gentle backing. Waterin’ Hole is a really bluesy number. Lisa’s vocals are the star of the show, distinct and powerful they really grab you and make you want to listen to more. Drama Queen is a heavy country song. Find The Joy is a lovely slow ballad. Lisa’s vocals are quite magical. The lyrics are rather charming and the melody rather infectious. State Of Mind is an up-beat country song with a rather traditional sound. Storm Stirrin' is a magnificent blues/country number. The backing instrumentation is heavy and Lisa’s vocals are on top form. You’ve Got To Cry is a slower song. Lisa’s vocals are a lot gentler on this traditional sounding song. What Am I Gonna Do is a very pleasant country song. This song has a modern country feel. The title song Out Of The Blues completes the album. This is another country song infused with a heavy dash of blues. The backing instrumentation is stunning and Lisa’s vocals are splendid. There is so much to take in on this album one listen is never going to be enough.

L.E. Ruben - King For A While CD Review

Jazzy country done amazingly well
If you like your country raw and traditional sounding then look no further than the new album by L.E. Ruben. KING FOR A WHILE features a stunning collection of country/folk songs brought to life by a whole range of musical instruments including an upright bass, trumpet, banjo and mandolin. The album was mastered, mixed and engineered by Phil Joly and produced by Lindsay Rubin, Dave McNamara, and Phil Joly. Gentle vocals are the order of the day on this rather lovely album full of magical songs. The title track is also the opening song. King For A While is a dreamy country/folk song. L.E. Ruben’s vocals are soft and haunting. Musically I guess you could compare L.E. Ruben to the Be Good Tanyas. Best I Can is an old fashioned country song with a touch of jazz in the vocal style and instrumentation. The trumpet gives this gentle song an added dimension. Surrounded is a slow country/folk song. Take This Ride is another country song infused with a touch of jazz. Perhaps more modern that some of the other songs on this album Take This Ride is a strong song and perhaps the stand out song from the album. Capture This sees the music slip back into a more traditional sound and style. How Do I Hold is a lovely traditional sounding song brought to life by some wonderful instrumentation. Only Love is a jazzy country song. The final song Of September is another lovely song that blends country with a touch of jazz. Fans of Madeleine Peyroux would not be disappointed with this album as there are a lot of musical and vocal similarities.

Saturday, 2 April 2011

Howlin' Lord - Gold Fury

This could be the best album of 2011 Howlin’ Lord are a UK alt-country/folk band made up of Mark 'Howlin' Lord' Legassick on lead vocals, banjo, keys and guitar, Mark Furnevall on bass and backing vocals and Thomas Elgie on drums and harmonica. A popular live act in the UK and Ireland Howlin’ Lord produce songs that are atmospheric, haunting and very dark as well as songs that scream rock and roll. GOLD FURY features ten interesting tracks that will have music lovers everywhere excited. The album opens with Once Proud Town. The backing instrumentation music makes you think that you are in for a synical country song but Once Proud Town is more Jack White/rock and roll than country. A catchy song with an up-beat tempo. All the songs on this album were written by Mark Legassick. At once you can tell that Mark is obviously a talented song writer. You Again has more of a country vibe running through it. This is another up-beat song. Wade Right In sees the mood slow right down. This is a gorgeous ballad. Mark pours a lot of emotion into this song. Bright Lights is another slow paced song with a rousing musical segment towards the end. Although a studio recorded album listening to this song you could be forgiven for thinking the band are right with you in the room performing live. From My Seat At The Bar sees the talented singer Beth Rowley join Mark on lead vocals. This is a great folk/country song. Mark and Beth’s voices complement each other perfectly. This is definitely one of the gems on this splendid album. Egyptian Cotton is a slow song that sounds like it has been dug out of the music archives. Mark’s voice is gravely and raw. It is hard to compare Howlin’ Lord to any one else as they are so unique. At times there are hints of Jack White and Justin Townes Earle. Glass Eyes is a high octain song with a definate rock feel. This song would not sound out of place in the singles charts where it could be compared to music by Kasabian or The Raveonettes. Ten Paces sounds like it has been taken straight off the soundtrack to True Blood. Mark’s lead vocals on this track could definetly give Jace Everett a run for this money. The backing instrumentation on this track is phenominal. Funny Way Of Wining is another fast paced rock/country song. Leaves brings the album to an amazing close. This is another really atmospheric song that suits its position on the album. Rousing and anthemic this is the kind of song you can imagine thousands singing along to a concert. This album is rich in lyrical content, stunning instrumentation and striking vocals.