Archive for January, 2018

Mark Daniel EP review…January 30, 2018…..

MARK DANIEL

NEW TRUTH

ADVANCED ARTIST PROMOTIONS

SLOW SETTING SUN–HEART STOPS BEATING–WALK THROUGH FIRE–COMING DOWN–GOT IT BAD

Connecticut native Mark Daniel is a rare four-star threat—composer, singer, guitarist and producer–who spent twelve years touring and recording with artists as varied as Everclear, Marshall Tucker, Steve Vai, and many others.  On a break to wind down for a bit, he and drummer Mickey Curry began to collaborate on the five tunes that comprise Mark’s latest EP, “New Truth.”  Mark is on vocals and guitars, and Marc Hickox on bass rounds out the power trio.

Listening to these originals, it’s easy to see why he’s so in-demand, and adaptable to other projects and genres’.  Finding “redemption in a song” is the theme of the bluesrockin’ leadoff cut, “Slow Setting Sun.”  His vocals take on a good ol’ Ritchie Blackmore groove with, “you think you fell in love, then your Heart Stops Beating” when it’s over.  “Coming Down” has an Allman-esque, jazzy vibe, and Mark closes with our favorite.  “Got It Bad” begins on an acoustic note, before climaxing with an ethereal flurry of tripped-out guitar lines.

This one could’ve been a bit longer perhaps, but the five cuts of “New Truth” gives fans something to look forward to further on up the road from blues-rocker Mark Daniel!  Until next time…Sheryl and Don Crow, The Nashville Blues Society.

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Ned Hill review…January 28, 2018….

NED HILL

SIX FEET ABOVE GROUND

HALF ALIVE–WHERE YA GONE VIRGINIA?–DETROIT CITY (YOU’RE ONE TOUGH TOWN)–THAT’S MY STORY–WHEN YOU’RE GONE–YOU GOT IT–KICK THE STARS–REVIVAL–STREETS OF MY HOMETOWN–MARRY A WAITRESS–THINKIN’ ABOUT YOU

Singer-songwriter Ned Hill has had a storied career as the driving force behind bands such as Ned Van Go, The Cowards, and The Blue Cha Chas to showcase his poignant material.  Always the troubadour, he brings us songs of life and love, winning and losing, laughing and crying, and hopeful ultimate redemption.  “Six Feet Above Ground,” due on March 9, 2018, marks his first solo release.  It also marks a change from the days of his raucous, Strat-bashing, this set taking a more acoustic turn.  The set was produced by Dave Coleman, who handles all the electric and slide guitar work, to give Ned more room to get listeners in touch with the songs.

Ned uses metaphors and symbolism throughout these songs to convey his message.  Up first is a decidedly-bluesy cut, “Half Alive,” where, when he speaks of a lover, realizes that “I know her world won’t change for anyone else.”  The addition of a string section herein gives the otherwise-sparse arrangement a bit more of an edgy vibe.  Ned uses “Detroit City (You’re One Tough Town)” as a metaphor for a lover who’s long-gone, but Ned assures us that both he and that town will “rise from the burned-out ashes.”  The dying small towns of America literally doomed on the day “Sam Walton banged his drum,” is the theme of “The Streets Of My Hometown,” while the unbearable pain of loneliness and “who will be there to find me” is the somber tone of “When You’re Gone.”

We had two favorites, too.  “That’s My Story” is Ned’s autobiography of growing up in Horse Cave, KY, where “the segregation line was the railroad track,” yet they all found a way to get along.  And, Biblical references galore mark the upbeat and uplifting story of old-time traveling tent preachings, “Revival.”

With “Six Feet Above Ground,” Ned Hill fights the good fight for all of us struggling day by day, hoping one day to come out as winners.  Sho’ nuff not bad for “an old folksinging troubadour!”  Until next time…Sheryl and Don Crow, The Nashville Blues Society.

Michelle Malone review…January 27, 2018….

MICHELLE MALONE

SLINGS AND ARROWS

SBS RECORDS 20016

JUST GETTING STARTED–LOVE YOURSELF–SUGAR ON MY TONGUE–BEAST’S BOOGIE–I’VE BEEN LOVING YOU TOO LONG (WITH SHAWN MULLINS)–FOX AND THE HOUND–CIVIL WAR–MATADOR–THE FLAME–BOXING GLOVES

Atlanta native Michelle Malone is no stranger to success in the Americana genre,’ with fifteen albums and several TV and movie soundtracks to her credit.  For her latest, “Slings And Arrows,” on her own SBS Records,  she wanted it known that this is a “definite Georgia record,” as all the musicians, studios, and others associated with the project are all Georgians.  The songs all have that good ‘ol Southern-rock vibe, full of blues, fire, and passion.

There were many highlights for us.  The set starts and ends with a couple of solid anthems of empowerment.  First up, Michelle uses Moses and MLK as symbols for us all to know that, whatever your cause, “We’re Just Getting Started.”  It’s punctuated by her piercing slide and Hellhound vocals.  She closes with the similarly-themed cut of standing one’s ground, where, “I took off my Boxing Gloves, and I found that I was stronger.”

“Love Yourself” preaches “doing unto others, even tho we don’t see eye to eye,”  and you can’t resist the quirky percussion and Little Feat-ish groove .  “Beast’s Boogie” has a droning, Mississippi Hill Country beat and Michelle on harp in the stompin’ tale of her mother’s lover, indeed the “Sonny to her Cher.”

We had two favorites, too.  Michelle and duet partner Shawn Mullins make the Otis Redding/Jerry Butler classic, “I’ve Been Loving You Too Long,” a smoldering, sexy, tour-de-force.  And, domestic abusers are called to task in the powerful and poignant “Civil War,” where “the bullet’s in the barrel–don’t make me bring the hammer down.”

Michelle Malone knows that it’s always all about the songs.  The material in “Slings And Arrows” strikes a personal chord with her, looking at life’s hardships and triumphs, and conveying them with fire and conviction.  Until next time…Sheryl and Don Crow,  The Nashville Blues Society.

Big Shoes review…January 26, 2018….

BIG SHOES

STEP ON IT!

BIGLITTLE RECORDS   BLR–17002

DUPLEX BLUES–THERE YOU GO–THE LAST ONE TO LEAVE–DON’T YOU DO ME THAT WAY–TOO EARLY FOR THE BLUES–BAD FOR YOU–DIXIE MELODY–WALKED OUT THE FRONT DOOR–AIN’T NOBODY LOVES YOU LIKE ME–GIVE IT TO ME NOW–HONEY PIE

The seven guys who comprise the band Big Shoes have impressive credentials that spread from Nashville down to Muscle Shoals, and you could stock a radio station with just the stuff they’ve played on for other folks.  They combine their immense talents on their latest release, “Step On It!,” for Biglittle Records  Rick Huckaby is on lead vocals and guitars, Kenne Cramer and Will McFarlane are also on guitars, with Andy Peake on drums, Bryan Brock on percussion, Tom Szell on bass, and Bonnie Raitt and Van Morrison alum Mark T. Jordan on keys.

This set is full of good ‘ol Southern-rock-infused blues sprinkled with just a touch of soul, with a Delbert and Little Feat influence.  (The band name is a play on Little Feat’s “Sailin’ Shoes” album.)  Dig the minor-key, B. B.-influenced story of a dude who stays down on his luck, where it’s always “Too Early For The Blues.”  Mark gets into a spirited groove on his instrumental, “Dixie Melody,” which segues’ into another of his originals, the tale of a love torn apart the instant “you Walked Out The Front Door.”  And, the next time you go to Memphis, stop by the Commodore Hotel and order up a big slice of “Honey Pie!”

We had two favorites, too.  “There You Go” teaches us a lotta life’s lessons, such as “keep on smilin,’ and “call your mama every chance you can.”  It’s set over a swingin’ midtempo groove.  And, you can’t resist that highly-danceable beat that drives the leadoff cut, as our hero bemoans a life confined to a “10 X 12 world with no escape in sight,” those “Duplex Blues.”

The guys of Big Shoes have so much talent it is insane, and their credentials are, as the Wolf used to say,  “long as my right arm.”  They sound great on their own, tho, and cordially invite you to “Step On It!,” for a guaranteed good time!  Until next time…Sheryl and Don Crow, The Nashville Blues Society.

Jennifer Lyn And The Groove Revival review…..January 25, 2018….

JENNIFER LYN AND THE GROOVE REVIVAL

BADLANDS

BURNED IT DOWN–BADLANDS–LET GO THIS TIME–GIVE IN TO YOU–MUDDY WATER–ANYTHING BUT ME–I’M RUNNING TO YOU–GONNA LET YOU GO–WEST TO BISMARCK–GOODNIGHT SWEET DARLING

Born in Minnesota, current North Dakota resident Jennifer Lyn grew up amidst the sounds of folk, traditional country, and gospel playing on the family turntable.  As she got older, she lived in various areas of the country, always soaking up the sounds prevalent in those regions.  As a result, her sophomore release, “Badlands,” is ten cuts of blues-rock that touch on her many musical influences.  Most are uptempo, with but a few exceptions.  Along with Jennifer, who’s on guitar and vocals, the power trio is rounded out by Kevin Holm on drums, and Darren King on bass.  Jennifer wields her Strat like a well-sharpened axe, cutting a wide swath thru this diverse material.

The set begins on an ominous note, with our heroine catching her lover entwined with another.  Her jealous rage takes the worst possible turn, as “I Burned It Down.”  The seemingly never-ending array of daily violence in the news is the biting theme of the title cut,  while the Sixties-styled love ballad, “Give In To You,” showcases her testifyin’, gospel side.  “Gonna Let You Go” gives a no-good lover the heave-ho, set over a funky, danceable groove, while that good-time vibe takes us “West To Bismarck, baby, to make sweet love to you!”

There were two unique cuts that served as our favorites.  “Muddy Water” has a lively, country-by-way-of-Southern-rock vibe, and the set-closer, “Goodnight Sweet Darling,” is further proof that she’ll always have that folk Muse in her soul.  The slide guitar on this one was courtesy of Eric Kubischta.

Jennifer Lyn is bent on carrying the flame for the music she grew up listening to.  She’s a vital part of the new generation of players that strive to create new, magical musical experiences, of which “Badlands” is a stunning example!  Until next time…Sheryl and Don Crow, The Nashville Blues Society.

 

Althea Grace EP review…January 24, 2018…..

ALTHEA GRACE

DREAMERS

BLOW THEM ALL AWAY–DREAMERS–HOLD ME–TRAPPED

Chicago-based singer/songwriter Althea Grace released her latest set, a four-song EP, “Dreamers,” on December 1, 2017.  She collaborated on the four originals contained herein with the iconic Doyle Bramhall II, who produced the set, which was laid down here in Music City at the Cartoon Moon Studio.  Joining Althea on vocals and Doyle on guitars and vocals, we have Ted Pecchio on bass, Ken Coomer on drums, and piano and keys from Andrew Tufano and Robbie Crowell.

This young lady has some serious vocal chops, deservedly earning the title of “one of Chicago’s rising gems” from “Jambase.”  She leads off with the story of a blossoming love affair, that, if “you take me for the woman that I am, you and I could Blow Them All Away.”  The title cut has a sweetly-soulful Sixties feel, and is for all the “Dreamers, believers, givers, and shapers” doin’ the best they can to spread love and hope.  Althea strikes a Stevie Nicks-ish vibe in the wistful, “I breathe when you breathe,” and “I want you to Hold Me.”  Excellent keys from Andrew coupled with Doyle’s guitar add a fine embellishment for the powerful set-closer, “Trapped,” where “I can’t stand the thought of us being two.”

With “Dreamers,” Althea Grace offers us an intimate glimpse into what we hope will soon evolve into a full-length project.  She and Doyle Bramhall II have definitely hit upon a winning combination!  Until next time…Sheryl and Don Crow, The Nashville Blues Society.

The Maggie Valley Band review…January 23, 2018……

THE MAGGIE VALLEY BAND

THE HARDEST THING

COLD WATER–HARDEST THING–BRING US BACK–LEAVE ME ALONE BABE–RAILROAD–MEANT TO BE LONESOME–RAMBLING JOE–HEY GIRL–SWEET KNOWS (WITH DAVID MAYFIELD)–ANGEL BAND

Sibling  harmony is hard to beat when creating a memorable sound,  and sisters Carol and Whitney Miller blend their stunning voices on the latest offering from The Maggie Valley Band, “The Hardest Thing.”  Joining these young ladies, who add multiple instrumentation as well as vocals, are Al Moss on pedal steel, John Duncan on fiddle and banjo, Colby Guyer on drums, and producer David Mayfield on Melatron.

This material encompasses many facets of love, loss, and redemption with those ebullient harmonies front and center.  “Cold Water” leads off, with a lover coming to grips with the fact that “I really should care more.”  The title cut teaches dealing with adversity, where, sometimes, “The Hardest Thing” to do on the surface may lead to redemption and spiritual growth over a period of time.  Al’s pedal steel adds a pensive touch to this heartfelt ballad.  Trying to rekindle an old romance is the theme of “Bring Us Back,” and is punctuated by John Duncan’s banjo.

Nowhere, tho, is that exquisite harmony on better display than on our favorite cut, which closes the set.   It is a beautiful rendition  of the traditional gospel of “O Come, Angel Band,” and the vocals and instrumentation are what makes these young women so special.

Years of practice have paid off for Carol and Whitney Miller, and they’ve certainly come a long way from their days of busking in the streets of Asheville.  “The Hardest Thing” is a magical collection, and a must-hear!  Until next time…Sheryl and Don Crow, The Nashville Blues Society.