Archive for April, 2019

Luca Kiella review…April 6, 2019…..

LUCA KIELLA

FIGURE IT OUT

TEN O’CLOCK BLUES–UNNECESSARILY MERCENARY–FIGURE IT OUT–I CAN’T STOP LOVING YOU–SO MANY QUESTIONS

Luca Kiella was the long-time keyboard whiz for Chicago’s bus-drivin’ blues man, Toronzo Cannon.  He now proudly steps out on his own with his latest project, the five-song EP entitled “Figure It Out,” which shows off not only his keys and vocal chops, but his writing skills as well, penning three of the five cuts.  Joining him on this excellent foray into the blues, we have Dave Forte on bass, Aaron Weistrop on guitar, and Rick King on drums.  His strong family ties to his Italian heritage permeate this set, as he is constantly evolving as an artist, and looking for ways to “Figure It Out,” both musically and as a person.

Luca has a unique vocal style that fits in well within his love for blues, the modern sounds of country and western music, and New Orleans funk.  Leading off is a humdinger of an instrumental that would be at home in any West or South Side club, the “Ten O’Clock Blues.”  The funk hits the fan over Luca’s keys work on Jon Cleary’s “Unnecessarily Mercenary,” and then he turns the Ray Charles-by-way-of-Don-Gibson classic, “I Can’t Stop Loving You,” positively upside-down, making it a jazzy, jumpin,’ fun-filled romp!  The title cut is a fine, soulful, gospel-ish tribute to his deceased mother, whose advice he always sought to help him “Figure It Out” when times got tough.  The set’s finale follows a similar theme, this time with only Luca’s voice and piano, as “So Many Questions” are yet to be answered along his musical journey.

It takes a strong, confident artist to step out on his own to follow his musical dreams.  Luca Kiella (Chellini) is off to a great start with “Figure It Out,” and we look forward to a full-length set from him soon!  Until next time…Sheryl and Don Crow.

Kelly Augustine review….April 5, 2019….

KELLY AUGUSTINE

LIGHT IN THE LOWLANDS

DEBBIE–SECOND CHANCES–HURT TOO BIG–LOVE LETTER–CAN’T GET ENOUGH–THUNDER ON THE MOUNTAIN–YOU DON’T KNOW HOW TO LOVE ME–KINDRED HEART–SEEDS OF HOPE–LEAVING YOU

The  first thing one notices when they listen to Kelly Augustine’s latest album, “Light In The Lowlands,” is that brilliant, crystal-clear vocal with just the slightest hint of Everyman’s pain in it.  Then you’ll be taken in by her spot-on guitar work, both acoustic and electric, and then by the stories she weaves dealing with life’s challenges, wins and losses, and struggles for redemption.   The ten cuts were tracked at Wes Sharon’s 115 Recording Studio in Norman, OK, and Kelly breathes life into all the characters herein, gleaned from her upbringing in a home that listened to Vietnam-era Sixties folk.  In these songs there was always an element of struggle and hopeful redemption.

One of these “character songs” leads off, the sad tale of “Debbie,” the girl-next-door who “cares for meth more than she cares for anything,” which ultimately leads to her tragic demise.  “Second Chances” looks at the cycle of addiction, recovery, and redemption, while one of our favorites was the vintage bluegrass vibe of “Thunder On The Mountain,” chronicling the rapid-fire boom/bust of Appalachia coal country, now described as nothing but “black dust (that) settles on our towns.”

Kelly’s seen her share of hard times thru loneliness, too.  A somber piano arrangement details a woman at the end of her emotional rope, as, “the years have broken us down,” and “You Don’t Know How To Love Me.”  She closes the set in a similar vein, as, since “we haven’t found a way to work it out, tonight I’m Leaving You.”   Our other favorite was, for us, the album’s best cut.  A story of a soldier who was taught “who and how to kill,” even tho “against his will,” leads to the all-to-tragic climax of too many “fatherless sons,” and  a “Hurt Too Big for a heart so small.”

Kelly Augustine’s aim with “Light In The Lowlands” intended to show the human condition, even with all its flaws, still has eternal hope for redemption.   Thru her lilting voice, dazzling instrumentation, and material herein, she has certainly achieved this goal, and this set is an Americana delight!   Until next time…Sheryl and Don Crow, The Nashville Blues And Roots Alliance.

Arlen Roth review….April 4, 2019….

ARLEN ROTH

TELE MASTERS

AQUINNAH RECORDS  AQ0414

REMINGTON RIDE–KEY TO THE HIGHWAY–WHITE LIGHTNING–BUNKY–RUMBLE–MRS. ROBINSON–SATISFIED MIND–ROADWORTHY–I CAN FIX IT–TENNESSEE WALTZ (FEAT. LEXIE ROTH ON VOC)–JOE’S BLUES–FUNKY MAMA–GHOST RIDERS IN THE SKY–TUFF TELE–PROMISED LAND–A MINOR THING

Arlen Roth is one of the most influential guitar players on the planet, and has been for nigh on to 50 years, playing alongside or recording with an immortal list of legends, including Dylan, Ry Cooder, John Prine, and countless others.  Albert Collins notwithstanding, Arlen is one of the great “Tele Masters,” which also happens to be the title of his latest album for Aquinnah Records.  It serves as a beautiful tribute to all the “masters of the Telecaster” guitar.  To commemorate, a slew of top-notch Tele legends in their own right jumped at the chance to help on this set.

There are about a million highlights, the first being Arlen and Steve Wariner, with Cindy Cashdollar on lap steel, on the rousing instrumental, “Remington Ride.”  Brad Paisley joins the party for the raucous twang of “Bunky,” while Will Ray joins Arlen on one of our favorites, a reverb-drenched “Rumble.”  Arlen and Red Volkaert close the proceedings on a sweet minor-key Arlen original, “A Minor Thing.”  Producer Tom Hambridge is on drums, as he is throughout this mind-bending set.

Brilliant vocals are interspersed amongst the instrumentals.  Another favorite featured Jack Pearson on vocals for a killer “Key To The Highway,” while Steve Cropper adds  vocals to an ode to good ol’ Tennessee ‘shine that’s “worth the run for White Lightning!”  Our final favorite was, for us, the centerpiece of the collection.  Longtime Albert Collins fans will love Joe Bonamassa and Jack Pearson swapping licks on a searing tribute to The Iceman, “Joe’s Blues.”

Arlen Roth assembled an unbelievable line-up to honor the Telecaster and its greatest players, of which Arlen certainly is one.  Yep, they are all “Tele Masters!”  Until next time…Sheryl and Don Crow, The Nashville Blues And Roots Alliance.

AG Weinberger review….April 3, 2019….

AG WEINBERGER

REBORN

BIGFOOT RECORDS

WANG DANG DOODLE–SWEET LITTLE NUMBER–ON THE WRONG SIDE–THE FOOL’S LUCKY DAY–IT WOULDN’T BE ENOUGH–SLIPPERY SLOPE–JUST ONE MINUTE–CADILLAC BLUES–SHOOT–CAROLINE–REBORN-I AM THE WATER

Transylvanian guitar man AG Weinberger is one of our favorite bluesmen.  He indeed is based in his homeland of Romania, and, specifically, Transylvania.  He has just released his latest album, “Reborn,” which mixes his trademark traditional blues with some uniquely-interesting forays into psychedelia, bebop jazz, and even roots-oriented country.  These twelve tunes were all laid down at Origo Studio in Budapest, Hungary, and they all delve deeply into the human psyche’, all the while keeping the good times intact.

Speaking of good times, the set begins with a fresh coat of paint on a perennial favorite.  Yup–AG puts that deep brogue on full display to tell all those denizens “down to the Union Hall” that “we;re gonna pitch a Wang Dang Doodle all night long,” set over a jazz-and-blues-combined arrangement with definite bebop flair.  “Sweet Little Number,” in this version, woulda been right at home on Fat Tuesday, with that second-line groove that runs thru it, while AG is all over the lapsteel as he tells a petulant lover that,no matter how much he’s got, “It Wouldn’t Be Enough For You!”  AG gets into a pensive, misty mode on the country-tinged tale of what might have been, “Just One Time.”

We had three favorites, too.  The title cut takes the listener into that psychedelic space, as our hero proclaims, over a trippy arrangement, that his soul is “always on the go.”  A rocked-up, piano-pushed read of Johnnie Bassett’s “Cadillac Blues” follows a man who’s “still got the blues,” but at least he’s in that Fleetwood Cadillac!!  Finally, AG’s original, “The Fool’s Lucky Day,” features our long-time friend Bob Margolin adding his trademark Hell-hound barkin’ slide throughout!

It is doubtful that you would reach AG Weinberger by calling Transylvania Six-Five Thousand, but you can sho’ nuff dial up some jazzed-up, sweet blues on “Reborn!”   Until next time…Sheryl and Don Crow, The Nashville Blues And Roots Alliance.

Susan Santos review…April 1, 2019…..

SUSAN SANTOS

NO U TURN

BLIND WOMAN–HEAVEN OR HELL–FREEDOM–SHAKIN ALL OVER–DRY RIVER–FEELING GOOD–GREEN–IN TROUBLE–FOOL ME–SLOW DOWN

Susan Santos is a dazzling left-handed guitarist who basically taught herself to play and sing.  A resident of Madrid, Spain, she has just released her fifth overall album, “No U Turn.”  It was recorded in her hometown and mixed in Los Angeles, and finds her definitely in a relaxed mode that allows the fire and passion in her playing and singing to freely flow within these grooves.  Her vocal delivery style fits well within the blues-related cuts, and shows a softer side on the more roots-or pop-oriented offerings.

Check out her breezy anthem of empowerment, as our girl “spreads my arms” in a declaration of “Freedom.”  A Crossroads-ish, rapid-fire groove sets the tone for the ultimate choice, “Heaven Or Hell,  with a Hell-hound harp in the mix, as Susan “feels the shadows callin’ me!”  She gets her guitar in a modified rhumba groove in the story of youthful lust and that lover who has her “Shakin All Over,” featuring a sweet slide solo at the break. The ultimate road trip has Susan asking “just hand me a road map, no matter where it’s going,” the good-time blues of “Feelin Good!”   The slide guitar intro to “Green” opens the way to one of Susan’s softer songs, another tale of young love and a “rebel heart.”  Pounding percussion and a Delta blues groove is the backdrop for “In Trouble,” where “I need a place to call home.”

Our favorite was an easy choice.   A darkly-forbidden guitar pattern rides over our heroine’s sad involvement with an uncaring lover who “lives in your own little world,” leaving her feeling much like a “Blind Woman.”

Susan Santos continues to make a name for herself in the world-wide arena of contemporary blues.  “No U Turn” puts her squarely in her comfort zone, and gives a glimpse into the bright future she has ahead!  Until next time…Sheryl and Don Crow, The Nashville Blues And Roots Alliance.