The Squares review…September 2, 2016…

THE SQUARES

SECOND ACT

HORNEPAYNE RECORDS

SPEED OF THE SOUND OF LONELINESS–BABY BLUES–SHE LOVES YOU–LAST HARD MAN–COUNTRY SONG–CRYSTAL WATERS–STAY WITH ME–DRIVER–MY SOUL IN YOUR HANDS–BLUE STAR–FAITHLESS LOVE–RUNNING OUT OF LINE (LIVE)

The Squares are based in Cape May, a resort town on the southern tip of New Jersey.  They are Debra Donahue on vocals and nose flute, M. Q. Murphy on vocals and lead electric guitar, and J. M. Kearns on vocals and acoustic guitar.  They have a sound built around strong harmonies and equally-strong lyrics in their original songs.  Their debut  CD for Hornepayne Records is called “Second Act,” and features seven originals  and five classic covers.

They do things the way they were meant to be done, using their voices to convey the songs and the stories within, along the lines of groups such as The Weavers and Peter, Paul, and Mary, and have a classic blues, country, and folk sound.

The set starts with Debra on lead vocal on John Prine’s tale of a woebegone lover, her man “out there runnin’ just to be on the run,” breaking the “Speed Of The Sound Of Loneliness.”  She also turns in a fine performance of Davis Raines’ ode to “ole Jawbone,” A black-and-tan who’s relentless in tracking down outlaws on the run, entitled “The Last Hard Man in Elmore County.”  J. M. Kearns tells the story of a man who never thought he’d “find summer again,” but finds love late in life, “My Soul In Your Hands.”  He also turns the Lennon-McCartney chestnut, “She Loves You” into a downright tender acoustic ballad.

We had two favorites, too.  Using virtually every hard-core country cliche’ ever written, M. Q. Murphy finds it difficult to write a good “Country Song,” since, among many other things, he’s never “shot a man in Reno, just to watch him die!”  And, J. M. closes the set with help from everyone, telling a bittersweetly-humorous  story of getting older, as “the fishin’s no fun when you’re Running Out Of Line.”  This one features Debra on that nose flute, and a really fine acoustic country blues, performed in a live setting.

The Squares predominantly play in a resort town, so they have a luxury of sorts of playing to a new audience fairly often.  We feel that “Second Act” represents what you’d likely hear if you saw one of their shows–beautiful harmonies and excellent musicianship, all mixed with a touch of humor and a whole lot of looking at Everyman’s daily life struggles thru their music.  Until next time…Sheryl and Don Crow, The Nashville Blues Society.

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