Category: Album Reviews
By Alex Teitz
You remember the point you first heard Lady Antebellum and told all your friends, and they already knew. Don’t make the same mistake with Cotton Wine. This Nashville duo has the same mix of pop, rock, country and bluegrass that other acts should envy. Cotton Wine is Brandon James and Femke Weidema. Neither are Nashville natives but have adapted to their new home easily. Listening to their self-titled EP, the word that comes to mind is home.
The 6 song EP features both originals and collaborations. “Murder Song” is a brooding duet that recalls the best of The Civil Wars with a strong hook. “Love Me Wrong” is a country single with a strong guitar and drum beat. “Corn In The Cotton Field” is a song about personal empowerment that begins with a harmonica intro. It is an anthem and a march that screams for radio airplay. “Bloody Mary” is a bittersweet ballad that features bass and a slightly reverb bridge. “Warning” is a superbly arranged country love song. It has a banjo intro and a subtle violin hidden within. “When You Know You Know” is a country ballad that alternate between Brandon and Femke. It recalls the best of country duets and is similar to Thompson Square. Femke has a bell like vocals that resonate long after the songs.
Cotton Wine will explode and when they do, you don’t want to be left behind. Buy and stream the EP NOW at www.cottonwine.com
Posted in Album Reviews Tagged with: Cotton Wine
By Alex Teitz
Imagine landing in Oz and walking from one colored kingdom to the next. This might give you an idea of the playful, ever changing world of Christina Orbe’s debut CD. Orbe, working in conjunction with Jahon Mikal, weaves a complete world with electronics, guitars, drums that recalls the best of the 80’s mixed with an experimental nuance.
Orbe’s voice has hints of Kate Bush to it. Her smooth timbre resonates in every song as a guide. Her songwriting style is not simple. No song is just a ballad or pop song. It has the flavor and texture that cartwheels through your mind. Both “Circus Star” and “Parasol” bring in the big top sounds of a circus. “Parasol” weaves in a quick lyrics and a strong hook. “Escape” is an in your face song with a punkish beat wrapped into it.
The nine songs of Invisible Kingdoms walk into your mind with a smile. When you finish there is no desire to return home from these magical kingdoms. For more information visit www.orbe-orbe.com
Posted in Album Reviews Tagged with: Invisible Kingdoms, Orbe Orbe
Jessie Torrisi’s debut album feels like a warm blanket on a cold night. It is familiar, welcoming and fulfilling. Torrissi, a sometimes journalist and drummer with a hoard of NY bands, brings a sweet Southern drawl to an album filled with facets of love and journeys. Labeling Torrissi is hard to do. She is America, country and seems to elicit both Patsy Cline and Bonnie Raitt at the same time.
The album is filled with a mixture of fast moving tracks and slow moving ballads. Your foot doesn’t stop tapping during “Runaway Train” and “Cannonball.” The luxurious visuals painted during “Breeze in California” fill the senses. It is a personal favorite and demonstrates a passionate love of lyrics. The biggest disappoint to the album is it is so short when more songs are begged for.
It is cliché to say this is an album to own and cherish. It is natural and soft and will keep your ears as warm as your soul. Cuddle up with it, and someone you care for. Torrissi is touring so see her and scream for more songs, more albums and more from this new voice. For more information visitwww.jessietorrisi.com
Posted in Album Reviews Tagged with: Brûler, Brûler by Jessie Torrisi
If there is ever a reason to not download something, Postcard is it. It is a CD of 8 songs but the magic is hearing them in their pure produced form off speakers. The complete package is alive and original.
Palmer’s name may be familiar. She has played with Devotchka, 16 Horsepower, M. Ward and many others. For this album she has assembled her own band including Tim Husman on drums, Audrey Marold on accordion, Ryan Drickey on cello, and Charles Parker Mertens on upright bass. Palmer demonstrates her multi-instrument proficiency playing Nyckelharpa, violin, guitar, keyboard, cello and more. Did I also mention she sings?
Palmer’s voice is reminiscent of Enya or Kate Bush with a subtler, softer range. Her Swedish accent flavors her English songs with a distinct presence, and makes her traditional Swedish folksongs come very alive. The music can’t be classified. At one point it sounds like a classical string quartet, or straight folk songs. Then you go a chord and it is a hook ridden pop song that begs to be danced to. Palmer’s music is easy accessible to those used to Devotchka, Dresden Dolls. People who love pop will also be drawn into this easily addictive music.
There are eight songs on the album including two traditional Swedish folk songs: Stora Stővlar and Duvardär. The title track “Postcard” is a highly addictive pop song. It is filled with the Nyckelharpa, a traditional Swedish instrument, and accordion. Another standout song is “Whaleboat” whose crystal clear imagery holds the frost in the air. “House” projects a fear of loneliness and isolation while “Time” feels like the progression of the seasons. Palmer’s lyrics are often repetitive but never seem to grow tiring. Every track is golden and worth more voluminous words than here. They are also worth multiple listens. Production on the album feels top notch for instruments that can be difficult to capture and credit must be given to Bob Ferbrache. Postcard is an ensemble and must be listened as such.
Palmer has played backup too many artists so it is a pleasure to hear her shine by herself. This solo work should mark the beginning of a new name to fill theaters everywhere. For more information visit www.myspace.com/elinpalmer
Posted in Album Reviews Tagged with: Postcard by Elin Palmer
Keri Noble – Keri Noble (Telarc)
By Alex Teitz
Keri Noble is an artist to hear at any chance you can. This Minneapolis based singer-songwriter is a combination of the best of Diana Krall meeting the soul of Etta James. She is part gospel, mixed with full-blooded blues in a powerhouse of lyrics and textured vocals. Noble’s album is produced by Jeff Arundel who also performs on many of the tracks. It features notable performances by Tommy Barbarella on piano and organ; Carolyn Boulay on violin, and Kathleen & Rhonda Johnson on back-up vocals. The album contains songs written from 2005 through 2009.
Noble’s album starts off like a shot with the strong upbeat pop songs “Watch Me Walk” and “Emily.” These songs scream for the radio, but are not the best the album has to offer. “Ooh-Oh” is a soothing ballad about healing and moving forward. It recalls Simon and Garfunkel. “Red Wine ‘Til Daylight” is a romantic ballad that caresses the listener in the mood. “Go Proud” and “Life #9” are blues songs that are both hopeful and masterly composed. The true treasures on the album are “Last Warning” and “Simple Things” where Noble has few accompaniments and her textured vocals and insightful songwriting stand by themselves. For more information visit www.kerinoble.com
Posted in Album Reviews Tagged with: Keri Noble
Deliver This Creature by Mr. Gnome
By Alex Teitz
Describing Mr. Gnome a reviewer quickly runs out of things to say. This Cleveland duo of Nicole Barille and Sam Meister are hard, heavy and raw, and, at the same time, ethereal and vastly poetic. Barille attacks the guitar with strong riffs and vicious energy while shouting lyrics that are sublime. Meister digs into drums and piano that enhances every note. Whether it is the mainstream rock song “The Machine”, or the slow ballad, “Tied” Mr. Gnome hypnotizes the ear and the rest of the body. Hidden in Barille’s breathy vocals is the poetry of Mr. Gnome such as “Disappear I melt into the wall/Quick descending wings spread break my fall” from “The Machine.” There are no quick hooks in Mr. Gnome’s music but an intuitive understanding of everything great. To compare Mr. Gnome to other bands and other duos is a crime to Mr. Gnome. They are experimental, art-rock that will kick your teeth in on the way to your soul, and leave you pleading for more. For more information visit www.mrgnome.com orwww.myspace.com/mrgnome
Posted in Album Reviews Tagged with: Deliver This Creature, Mr. Gnome
By Alex Teitz
Brooklyn based Bess Rogers is an artist you’ve probably heard and never known it. She has played guitar with Jenny Owens Young, and Ingrid Michaelson and with The Age of Rockets. On Decisions she is joined by Dan Romer (bass, organ, synth and assortment of other instruments), Adam Christgau (drums), and a number of others bringing in violin, banjo, french horn, upright bass, etc…
Decisions Based On Information is an arrangement driven pop album with a subtle flair that is extremely addictive. Rogers’ style evokes comparisons to Ingrid Michaelson and Lisa Loeb. The vocals are light and airy with songs that brush the senses. “Undone” is hook filled and fun. “Sunday” grabs you from the first second and races you with it. It is a song that becomes a carnival as it progresses. “Only One” is a ballad and lullaby wrapped in Rogers’ melody. Each song is well thought out and put together in tone and arrangement. That is not to downplay Rogers’ ability. These are fun songs in a quick intelligent album. This is Rogers’ first album and it sounds like a second or third release. Pick up Decisions Based On Information so you can say “I knew her when…” because Rogers will be famous. For more information visit www.bessrogers.com and www.myspace.com/bessrogers
Posted in Album Reviews Tagged with: Bess Rogers, Bess Rogers – Decisions Based On Information, Decisions Based On Information
Reneé McCrary – Wide Awake (2001 MamaLike Records)
Southern Louisiana native Reneé McCrary captures her audience immediately with her full, natural voice and intimate subject matter. Her debut album, Wide Awake, was years in the making and details a challenging period in her life. The passion and experience comes through in her voice and lyrics like, “If I could just hold you for one moment, then I would feel as if I held the world. But you’re always one step ahead” in “Sunday Song,” written with husband Tim.
The first song, “Got to Be,” is honest rock and roll in the vein of Alison Pipitone or Michelle Malone. The second track, “Song for Gina,” begins with a Latin lullaby on the acoustic and proceeds as a pretty but mournful dirge.
Title track “Wide Awake” borders on country, while “Don’t Hold it Inside” shows her jazzy side. “Pretty All the Time” finally suggests a bit of Cajun influence with its reggae beat and tongue-in-cheek content. She closes the album with “Wash Over Me,” a gospel song where she opens up and lets her voice wail and slide kd lang-style.
The depth and quality of these recordings suggests an untapped talent. Do not be surprised to see more of Reneé in the near future. For more information please see www.reneemccrary.com
Posted in Album Reviews Tagged with: Reneé McCrary, Wide Awake
Patty Larkin – Red = Luck (2003 Windswept Holdings LLC)
By Elizabeth Nitz
Patty Larkin has been around a while. Which is not to suggest her sound is outdated. Quite the contrary. Sure, she is considered a folk artist, but “24/7/365” is alternative to the point of being borderline rap.
Fans of Ferron will see an obvious similarity in styles. “The Crane” is unrushed, dark and sparse but powerful. “The Children” is a good tune to skip down the lane to, and “Home” is a more typical example of gentle folk to prove she’s still in that genre.
“Different World” may be the hit single from this album — radio-ready rock-and-roll Janis Ian-style with lots of diversity of mood and tempo. “Normal” is anything but… dirge-like and strange, haunting, with images of depression and despair.
The title track is a short whisper of acoustic guitar with Celtic-sounding vocals in the background. More Celtic influence is heard in the fiddling in the final song, “Louder,” which goes surprisingly well with an African thumb piano and Asian strings. This is Patty Larkin’s version of world music! For more information visitwww.vanguardrecords.com
Posted in Album Reviews Tagged with: Patty Larkin, Red = Luck
Michelle Malone – Strange Bird Volume 4 The Authorized Bootleg (Strange Bird Records 2002)
By Elizabeth Nitz
Atlanta favorite Michelle Malone is too prolific a songwriter and too good a live performer to keep fans waiting an entire year between studio albums. She releases official live bootlegs to give listeners a taste of upcoming music and her roadshow experience.
She begins The Authorized Bootleg Volume 4 with “Cry Me A River,” a new power folk song involving her whole touring band. Guitarist Johnny D has accompanied Michelle since the 80’s and they play together so tightly at times it’s impossible to tell who is playing which riff. Rhythmic expertise is provided by Atlanta veteran Linda Bolley’s creative force on drums and Michelle’s latest catch, powerhouse bassist Lee Kennedy.
The album includes three new Southern rock songs, a couple of old relics, crowd pleasers from her last album and one self-indulgent cover. Dolly Parton’s “Nine to Five” shows off Bolley’s talent on vocals as she and Michelle trade verses. The crowd really does go wild, and that’s the beauty of a live recording. Nothing validates the quality of a performance like a deafening audience response.
Teen Lament is a party as usual. Michelle swings the crowd into an uproar with her rock-and-roll evangelism then hands off to the jazz-inspired bass player Matt Mangano who finishes the job with an incredible solo.
Michelle is painfully blunt on stage and the audience loves it. Her performances are spiked with commentary, as evidenced by the track dedicated to an impromptu tutorial on how to lose brain cells.
She is also a shrewd business woman. She began her record label, Strange Bird Records, in 1992 and most of her music has been self-produced. She embraces the Internet, keeping an active Web site, catering to her message board crowd, and selling promo material on E-bay. Look for a new studio album mid-2003 and plenty of touring before and after. For more information please see www.michellemalone.com
Posted in Album Reviews Tagged with: Michelle Malone, Strange Bird Volume 4 The Authorized Bootleg
Lynn Patrick- When She Dreams (2002 Lynn Patrick)
Well known for her acoustic guitar wizardry and show-quality melodies, Lynn Patrick has released her best album yet, When She Dreams. She says about the content, “My inspiration comes mostly from the natural world.” Titles such as “Snow Angels” and “The Orange Grove” make that obvious.
The listener does not need long to conclude that Lynn is well written in a number of styles. The album starts with up-beat Saturday-Morning-Special music “Ten Dolphins Dancing,” slows a bit to jazz inspired “Little Karoo,” then gives way to introspective country/folk “Treasure Box.”
“A Flurry of Sparrows” tells a story as an instrumental just as well as if there were words. The guitar sings the melody and the piano picks up the chorus. “Namaste” is almost classical music, wandering on a journey from the guitar to the piano through the cello and back. Title track “When She Dreams” has an uncanny likeness in tempo and mysticism to David Crosby’s “Guinnevere.”
She ends with a bit of “Cotton Eyed Joe” style original pickin’ with “Can’t Stop.” Lynn interlaces folk with country twang, classical elegance and spirited jazz, creating the perfect soundtrack for life’s social events or quiet afternoons. Please see www.lynnpatrick.com for more information.
Posted in Album Reviews Tagged with: Lynn Patrick, When She Dreams
Lynette Vantreese – Lynette Vantreese (2002 ACT Records LLC)
By Elizabeth Nitz
Guitarist and singer/songwriter Lynette Vantreese has Dar Williams’ gift to turn a story about nothing into a wonderful, catchy song. Lynette’s debut album showcases her natural, sweet voice and complex, sometimes dark melodies. Producer, co-pilot and husband Brett plays a mean set of acoustic and electric guitars. Drums, keyboard, bass and cello are sprinkled tastefully throughout. There is a bit of pop in her folk/rock and a strong depth of character and musicianship.
With more than a hint of Suzanne Vega and Shawn Colvin in her songwriting style, Lynette rocks out expertly in “The Emerald Girl” and “One More Chance.” The Dar-esque acoustic epic “Peterborough Street” details an apartment she occupied at age 19.
She paints a vivid portrait. She sings, “The sky is the color of New England chowder, the rain beats down like bullets from a gun,” in sad, biting “He’s Leaving,” giving the listener a chill from both her music and lyrics.
Lynette leaves us with passionate tale “The Lost Daughter of the Land.” Training in classical and opera music obviously gave her the talent she needed to create this professional-sounding, interesting collection. Look her up as she plays around Nashville and the Southeast. For more information please see www.LynetteVantreese.com.
Posted in Album Reviews Tagged with: Lynette Vantreese
Kellee Bradley – I Talk to the Stars (2002 In A Big Way Records)
By Elizabeth Nitz
Seattle-based Kellee Bradley combines rock, pop, and “Dixie Chicks” country with intimate lyrics to tell her life’s story in songs that are sometimes sad, sometimes angry, and usually winsomely sarcastic.
Her stage performance is legendary and she’s opened for Huey Lewis, John Mellencamp, Crosby Stills and Nash, and Christopher Cross. Her latest album, I Talk to the Stars, has a number of highlights including “The Ocean” which has gotten radio play all over Washington and “I’m Gonna Make You Love Me,” a honky-tonk bar-room jam.
“Goodnight Moon” is a haried tale of motherhood. Kellee slows it down with “Another Night Alone,” a smokey jazz anthem of lonliness. (Is this still the same album?)
The last track, “Steady Course,” is a somewhat tongue in cheek reel comparing relationships to ocean-going ships with a very Celtic flute, fiddle and accordian accompaniment.
Kellee’s powerful voice and surprising diversity will continue to make waves in Seattle and nationally. For more information please go to www.kelleebradley.com
Posted in Album Reviews Tagged with: I Talk to the Stars, Kellee Bradley
Elea Plotkin – little rockets (2001 FMG productions)
By Elizabeth Nitz
Classically trained pianist Elea Plotkin began down the singer/songwriter path after a devastating accident injured her hands. Unable to keep the music inside, she turned to writing as therapy and, twelve years and two albums later, continues to be a powerful musician. She writes in a number of styles from rock and blues to reggae and quiet folk.
Elea begins her 2001 release little rockets with contemporary rock number “Inside Out.” Bob Marley-inspired “Everything’s Goin’ My Way” is Elea’s personal reggae anthem. “Just a Girl” shows off husband Andy’s power on the electric guitar. Her full voice climbs up and down the scales to match.
She’s not afraid to air her personal faults. “Contrite” is a masterful appology for being too righteous, written in Bonnie Raitt-style blues.
Elea turns the tables with heartbreaker “Silently Crying.” She sings as if having a personal conversation with the listener: “Maybe there’s a good reason we hide the things we do. Still I’m left wondering what I meant to you.” She ends the album with a lullaby to her son, “In My Prayer.”
With a full performance schedule and an active role in the music community in Colorado, she is an inspiration to her fellow musicians and fans alike. For more information please see www.EleaPlotkin.com.
Posted in Album Reviews
Leslie Berry – No Cinderella (Cynet Audio/Visual (BMI) 2002)
By Elizabeth Nitz
Leslie’s sweet voice and warm piano deliver fun pop/folk with more than a hint of classical music on her second album, No Cinderella.
In the first track, “Cinderella,” a muted trumpet accompanies rich vocal harmonies. Her classical roots show in “Harrison’s Clock” which would make a nice instrumental given her wizard piano skills and the soft strings and horns backing her up.
One of the highlights of the album is “Make Believe” which has a modern pop sound with just enough experimentation to keep a raw edge at the corners of her elegant delivery. “Trying To Hold My Ground” is a bouncy pop tune that could be a radio single.
The real showing off comes towards the end in “Willpower.” This high-powered jam gives each musician a turn, featuring first Leslie on the piano, Dave Berry on electric and acoustic guitars, and finally Jenni Thompson on drums.
She ends the album with “Touch The Devine,” a soft prayer made ethereal by a cello. Tribal drumming echoes in the background, adding a touch of something ancient and powerful. The entire collection portrays a seasoned writer with a wide array of songwriting styles. For more information please seewww.leslieberry.com
Posted in Album Reviews Tagged with: Leslie Berry, No Cinderella
Jill Stevenson – Underway (Little Leo Productions, 2002)
By Elizabeth Nitz
Denver native Jill Stevenson has released her first CD, Underway. Jill and her band (Tex on bass and Matt on drums) are infiltrating popular local venues and have been invited to festivals and charitable events around Colorado due to their energetic stage performance. Her songwriting and road show translate well to the studio. She lets her clear voice take on an edge and portray the passion with which she writes.
The album begins with “Too Confusing,” introducing the world to Jill’s commercial-sounding vocals and surprising range. In addition to guest performances on electric guitar and saxophone, a mandolin can be heard throughout.
Mellow keyboard ballad “Carry Me” has none of the flourish of instrument in the rest of the songs but shows off Jill’s skill on the Wurlitzer. Contrastingly, in “Cat,” she purrs, growls and rocks out on the guitar.
Ani Difranco-style “Sticking” is a popular live piece. She refuses to rush the song, letting its power come from the spaces between punched chords and percussion. Jill has the professionalism and variety of skills to be a major force in the grass-roots rock scene. Watch this one.
For more information, please visit www.jillstevenson.com
Posted in Album Reviews Tagged with: Jill Stevenson, Underway
Sam Shaber – Eighty Numbered Streets (2002 SMG Records/Brown Chair Records)
By Alex Teitz
Sam Shaber is an emotive, descriptive and creative songwriter whose material continues to evolve. Eighty Numbered Streets marks a new angle to Shaber’s work as it is produced by Shawn Mullins, who also plays keyboards and guitars throughout the CD. Mullins’ production adds a cleaner, sharper production versus some of Shaber’s previous works. Luckily Shaber’s vision is unaltered. Mike Steele on bass, David Patterson on electric guitar, and Gerry Hansen on drums and tambo fill out the band. One should also listen for guest musicians from Kristen Hall, Teddy Goldstein, Trina Hamlin and a large assortment of others.
Eighty Numbered Streets is a complete work. It paints a complete picture and fills all the corners. There are songs about New York City including the up-tempo “All of This” to the reflexive “Solitaire.” “When The Roses Run Dry” is a gorgeous testament to love done in a rockabilly groove. “Rain and Sunshine” is a story of Shaber’s friend Miribel that uses a well placed string arrangement. Shaber’s sincere vocals stand out in the album. Her singing style draws the listener in like an old friend.
Eighty Numbered Streets brings Shaber to a new level and it only takes a listen to realize that Shaber is destined for larger things. Shaber’s material is a photo album of life as told by the photographer. Any film and television producer should consider it for any project as it is already filling fans’ collections nationwide. For more information visit www.samshaber.com and www.smgrecords.com
Posted in Album Reviews Tagged with: Eighty Numbered Streets, Sam Shaber
Linda Thompson – Fashionably Late – (2002 Topic Records (UK), Rounder Records (US))
By Ellen Rawson
*Fashionably Late* is an appropriate title for Linda Thompson’s first recording in approximately 17 years. After a bitter divorce from husband and singing partner Richard, she suffered for years from hysterical dysphonia. Basically, had she had been an actress, her condition would have been called extreme stage fright. She simply couldn’t sing. However, years later, she has recovered in more ways than one. Her voice is back, and past feuds with Richard Thompson seem to have been settled. While both Thompsons are now married to other partners, Fashionably Late features both her ex-husband and their children, Teddy and Kamila.
Known as an up-and-coming singer/songwriter in his own name, Teddy Thompson has become his mother’s musical partner on this album, sharing co-writing credits with his mum on six of ten tracks. (Other tracks include songs written entirely by Linda Thompson, a beautiful ’40s-style number Thompson co-wrote with Rufus Wainwright, and a cover of Lal Waterson’s “Evona Darling.” On that latter number, however, Linda and Teddy sing together; their voices blending as easily as their writing.) The generations speak well together with songs that reflect Linda Thompson’s legendary handling of folk songs; it’s the vocal power that gets the point of the song across. The material is not upbeat and bouncy; it can be mournful and reflective, accusatory and somber.
“Dear Mary,” the opening track, has a slight hint of Appalachia to it, blending Thompson’s British roots with Americana. There are five Thompsons on this track: Linda (lead vocals), Richard guitar, backing vocals), Teddy (guitar, backing vocals), and Kamila (backing vocals), along with Danny Thompson (no relation) on bass. These Thompsons are not the only guests on the album, however. Kate Rusby sings backing vocals on the sad tale of “Miss Murray,” and also provides vocals and guitar on “No Telling.” An original Thompson song, its slow pace and ballad-like storytelling, as with many of her compositions, make it sound as if it could be a traditional song. Rusby’s buoyant voice contrasts nicely with Thompson’s earthier tones. “Weary Life” is a lighter tune, a dark comedy on which Eliza Carthy offers fiddle and backing vocals. Kathryn Tickell contributes Northumbrian small pipes on “The Banks of the Clyde,” a lament from a broken woman’s wish for home, a song Thompson wrote for her brother.
Don’t expect light, fun, upbeat music. Don’t look for rock rhythms and long electric guitar solos. However, this comeback album of sorts is a welcome presence; Thompson’s brand of English folk music is a necessary remedy for today’s hectic lifestyle. For more information visit www.rounder.com
Posted in Album Reviews Tagged with: Fashionably Late, Linda Thompson
Thea Gilmore – Rules for Jokers (2001 Flying Sparks Records -UK- 2002 Compass Records -US)
By Ellen Rawson
Comparisons to early Bob Dylan are fitting for Thea Gilmore’s work. It’s not that her voice is anything like his raspy bottom-of-the-throat intonations; it’s not. Her voice, while matter-of-fact and persuasive, is tender and compassionate. It’s her densely packed lyrics concerning everything from love to politics to life on the streets that trigger the Dylan comparison. She’s also moving quickly in the British singer-songwriter world. By the rather young age of
21, she managed to release three full-length CDs and one EP. Rules for Jokers, her most recent full-length album, shows off a growing maturity in terms of songwriting skills.
Although her voice may lack a strong range, what she has is compellingly powerful. As an observer of life, she sees and communicates reality. Working with only acoustic guitar on the opening track, “Apparition No. 12,” she’s a folkie who explains how “I’ve seen the cover up of cold hard facts/Burning acid holes in the magazine racks.” She surpasses the run-of-the-mill singer/songwriter drill in that she truly has something to say. Later in “Apparition No. 12” she
admits, “And I held the future up to a looking glass/It bears a striking resemblance/to the embers of the past.” “Holding Your Hand,” the second song, is a haunting trip into the dark side. With acoustic guitar, piano, and cello in the background, she promises, “I’m gonna haunt you/On every knife edge/Every trip/And on every needle tip/I’ll be holding your hand.”
However, Gilmore’s musical accompaniment isn’t just limited to acoustic instruments; she’s willing to experiment to achieve the sound she needs. There’s still a cello on “Benzedrine,” but the steady drumbeat gives it a post-punk rock feel. She’s not afraid to add an accordion to a rock beat, as on “Saviours and All,” while electric guitar leads the way on “This Girl Is Taking Bets.” All three aforementioned compositions have a strong rhythm that could get the twenty-somethings dancing in a rock club. What makes them remarkable, however, is that the lyrics go well
beyond typical rock fare. There’s ready wit in lines such as “you and me and that old glass ceiling” (“Saviours and All”) and “she’s the stains on the pages of a top shelf magazine” (“This Girl is Taking Bets”). On “The Things We Never Said,” Gilmore says the things most people only think during a bad break-up. When she looks at the reality of love and “not-so-happy-endings” on “Movie Kisses,” she proclaims that “all those movie kisses just last too long.”
In a day and age when certain other young twenty-something musical performers seem content to sing meaningless lyrics and dance their way to the top, it’s refreshing to find someone such as Thea Gilmore who is brave enough to say what she means and sing what she says. If she were to be the spokesperson for her generation, they would be a group of people who truly could go places. For more information visit www.theagilmore.com
Posted in Album Reviews Tagged with: Rules for Jokers, Thea Gilmore
Wings Over Water – Get Used To It (Kids of the Future Music, BMI 2001)
By Elizabeth Nitz
This album starts out by grabbing the listener’s attention with the infectiously funny funk number, “Get Used To It.” Kathy Moser, Wings’ singer/songwriter, battles criticism with clever tact as she sings, “I can tell you the next time you open your mouth to criticize me you’re going to be talking to yourself.”
Latin flavored “If I Could Love” features a clarinet and more serious lyrics about surviving an abusive father. Switching gears a bit, “Waiting for the Light” feels like country. Kathy’s voice effortlessly fills each role, making it hard to figure out which genre she prefers.
“Compelled to the Edge” returns to playful funk with the Hammond organ. Slowing it down, she sings, “now the storm is rising, it’s baptizing, the world I knew is capsizing,” in the sad, slow “Raining Inside.”
Diversity of songwriting is met with diversity of instruments. They incorporate horns, strings and creative percussion to give each song a full but different sound. They have generated a fun, professional album. For more information, see www.WingsOverWater.net
Posted in Album Reviews Tagged with: Get Used To It, Wings Over Water