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Nancy Beaudette, South Branch Road

10 Apr, 2015 Matthew Forss

 

CD400_outRaised near Cornwall, Ontario, Nancy Beaudette is an impressive singer and songwriter with a repertoire of folk, roots, and pop-centered songs on her newest release, South Branch Road.  The storytelling songs combine edgy lyrics, comical events, and introspective happenings that are good topics for musical compositions.  There are twelve tracks in all.

“Starlight” begins with a rollicking, B3 organ, up-tempo drums and guitars, and great vocals in a roots and folk vein throughout.  The uppity tune is quite catchy with vocals akin to a more mature, yet tamer version of Texas singer-songwriter, Trish Murphy.  The song is more aligned with pop and roots sensibilities than country or alternative.  However, there is a slight country presence, mainly in the arrangements.  Nothing is amiss here.

“Build It Up” opens with a gritty guitar intro of acoustic and electric brilliance.  The twangy strings and folksy arrangements are slightly Southern in tone, but the vocals are still very bright and catchy throughout.  The different string tones add depth and textures to the chords throughout.  The drone of a few of the strings adds another level of complexity, but the music is never contrived or overdone.

“Ride On” begins with a scintillating acoustic guitar medley with light percussion in the background and Nancy’s youthful, yet seasoned, vocals.  There are a few distant string drones for emotive effects.  The entire song is rather laidback with crystalline guitar picking and cymbal percussion.  There are back-up vocals in parts that seem to make the song stand out in true harmonic form.

“Shoot To Score (The Hockey Song)” opens with a rollicking acoustic guitar medley, swishy percussion, and tambourine percussion.  Nancy’s folksy vocals are catchy and the lyrics are thought-provoking, comedic, and very playful.  The narrative is very clever and definitely an homage to hockey’s greats.  The vocals are rather triumphant near the end of the song, as the guitar and percussion reach a climax.

“You Got It Goin’ On” begins with a folksy violin or fiddle intro without any accompaniment, until Nancy’s sassy vocals chime in.  There is a Vaudeville-esque ambiance to the song, as well as a twinge of bluegrass and country, which is a slight departure from the rest of the album.  Still, the song utilizes an assortment of click, tap, and rasp percussion for a playful and happy result. The tune is only two minutes long.  However, there is a lot ‘goin’ on’ with this tune and all of it is good.

Nancy Beaudette’s new release, South Branch Road, is folksy romp through North American roots and pop styles wrapped around strong songwriting and catchy choruses.  All of the songs represent folk and roots, while others hint at bluegrass, blues, and rock.  Overall, the music is rather inventive, memorable, and utilizes an array of instrumentation and melodies for a truly great result.  Nancy’s vocals resemble the edgy fortitude of Trish Murphy with the sweetness of Annie Humphrey and Anne Weiss.  The songwriting and vocals mirrors the creativeness of Shawn Colvin.  At any rate, Nancy Beaudette is an independent musician and performer with a knack for creating intelligent stories, catchy choruses, and highly-textured instrumentation.  South Branch Road is an album that traverses the heart-strings of love, life, and hope across related folk, roots, and pop genres.  The entire album is littered with delicious chords, sounds, and rhythms that are very enjoyable.  No improvements are needed here. In fact, this is one of the best folk recordings released in awhile. For Nancy, South Branch Road is paved with ingenuity—not potholes.
Review by Matthew Forss
Rating:  5 stars (out of 5)

 

Ynana Rose, Ynana Rose

06 Feb, 2015 Matthew Forss

ynanarose

Based in California, Ynana Rose is a singer/songwriter with an affinity for introspective folk music that is heartfelt and inspiring.  The music on her debut self-titled release traverses eleven songs with contemplative folk melodies, folksy instrumentation, organic strings, soothing and meaningful vocals, along with blues, western, bluegrass, country, and jazz-tinged melodies.  In short, the album is an eclectic mix of influences with an Americana vein.

“Bettin’ On Love Again” opens with a jangly banjo and guitar, along with a lap-steel sound, and quivering strings wrapped around a folksy and rootsy melody littered with Americana sensibilities.  Ynana’s vocals are sweet, heartfelt, and the lyrics are equally-enchanting.  The folksy fiddle performance and upbeat song structures are very enthralling and catchy.  This is a very enjoyable tune with bluegrass and folk elements leading the charge.

“Everywhere” begins with a slightly solemn intro with a steady guitar melody and somber fiddle. The music is classic folk with Ynana’s evocative vocalizations in an old-time folk or country setting.  The jangly instruments are rather down-tempo and not upbeat like previous songs. Nevertheless, the music is very moving and classy with equal amounts of folk, bluegrass, roots, and even pop.

“Golden” opens with a contemplative guitar intro and Ynana’s vocals.  The music takes on a classic pop vein, but with a mature, folk or roots foundation.  The instrumentation is a winner throughout, as the steel sounds, picking noises, and natural sounds of the fiddle shine through unadulterated.  The song is very moving and majestic in a quaint way.  All of the instruments come together in just the right proportions to make it an interesting and addictive listen.

“The Love You Sow” is an upbeat old-time folk song with bluesy influences and a classic melody.  The fiddle jumps around with such dynamic fluidity and edgy grit that it seduces all who listen to it.  The plucked instrumentation is pervasive and inventive, while Ynana’s stylish vocalizations lead the song into a new dimension.  There appears to be a bit of a flamenco or Mexican influence at times, but the song is more aligned with Americana folk.

“Do You Dream Of Me” opens with a vibrant banjo tune and Ynana’s uppity vocals.  The jangly string instruments dance around Ynana’s lively vocals with such effortlessness it is like the instruments are literally connected to Ynana’s voice.  The bluegrass-tinged song is ripe with plucked melodies, sounds, and earthy rhythms that instill a nostalgic presence throughout.  The nice little ditty is quaint and addictive.

Ynana Rose has an inherent ability to create sweet, introspective stories as songs that are primarily based in the folk, roots, country, bluegrass, and old-time musical constructions. Ynana’s creative lyrics penned on nine of the eleven songs showcases her ability to create meaningful songs with adventurous sounds.  The good: Each song is unique, catchy, and dynamic.  Moreover, Ynana draws upon several musical genres and mixes them into one cohesive musical unit that should satisfy fans of folk music.  The songs are not too short and there are a good number of songs for a full-length album.  The bad: Nothing.  Absolutely nothing.  Fans of music rooted in Americana, folk, roots, bluegrass, old-time, country, and even pop music will find happiness in the tunes of Ynana Rose.  However, if you are seeking an urban, dance, electronic, or overall modern recording, then this is not for you.  The music is very earthy, but the recording quality is very clear and professional.  At any rate, Ynana should be a welcome addition to any musical library.

 

Review by Matthew Forss
Rating: 5 Stars (out of 5)

 

Noah James Hittner, “Elissa Said”

02 Jan, 2015 Matthew Forss

elissasaidNoah James Hittner’s latest single, “Elissa Said,” was inspired by three different phone conversations with his girlfriend over a year.  The Fountain City, Wisconsin-based singer/songwriter creates a lyrical foundation that revolves around human emotions and behaviors of keeping calm and staying positive when your world seems like it is falling apart or turning upside down.  Folk music is the foundation, but it incorporates some rock, alternative, and electronic properties that are imaginative and innovative.

“Elissa Said” opens with a few acoustic guitar chords with swishy percussion and Noah’s folksy vocals.  The chorus contains some bass, drums, guitars, and Noah’s vocals in a catchy combination of musical elements for an ear-candy experience.  The resonating guitar notes after the first two choruses add a blend of psych pop.  Mid-song, a piano melody adds to the mix in a folksy and bluesy manner with Noah’s vocals and some back-up vocals, too.  Post-chorus, a gritty and gurgling electric guitar sound precedes an electro-acoustic dance-like sound with laser-like qualities and handclap percussion.  At first, the sounds seem divergent, but they tend to blend together very well.  A few electronic beats at the end of the song signals a dance element that is unexpected, but very satisfying.  The vocals stay relatively the same and the music is not too loud or showy.

Noah’s new single inspired by text messages is surprisingly spirited, catchy, and cathartic.  The glittering guitar sounds, light dance music at the end of the song, and great vocals throughout, attest to great songwriting and performance credits.  Though, some may detest the folk music intro that bleeds into a sort of dance music medley.  Nevertheless, Noah knows how to bring all the musical elements together with creating tension or divergent musical styles in the same song. Fans of folk, electro-acoustic, pop, and alternative genres will love it.

Review by Matthew Forss
Rating:  5 stars (out of 5)

 

Wabi Sabi, Alive And Orjazmic Up In The Tin Roof

21 Aug, 2014 Matthew Forss

wabisabi

 

The Georgia-based band, Wabi Sabi, is an action-hero medley of members that play funky and fun music with jam session-type qualities and jazzy ambiances.  The group consists of Damian Cartier on vocals and keyboards, Andy Birdsall on vocals and guitar, Kris Dale on vocals and bass, Jason LaMarca on drums, Wes Funderburk on trombone, Lester Walker on trumpet, and Vinnie D’Agostino on sax.  The double-disc release contains fifteen live songs in all, which run the gamut from jazz-focused to funk-laden with a touch of reggae, fusion, alt-pop, swing, Latin, and rock.

“Beliefs” opens with a showy, jazz-pop tune that comes alive with an active piano, bass, drums, and horn section.  The vocals begin with a jazzy presence that is slightly funky and nostalgic. The vocal delivery is punchy, heartfelt, and energetic.  About two-minutes into the song, a swaying 1960’s pop melody slows everything down for half a minute, until a jazzy sax kicks in and changes the tune into a rollicking, jazz medley that is more lively than the first few stanzas of the song.  The pulsating piano, loud horns, and lack of vocals for the extended jam session does not fall victim to any pitfalls.  A few vocal lines are added, but end before an extended piano, jazz-infused, funky-beat takes over with some light wordplay at the end of the song to remind us of a live recording.

“Lady Lush” opens with a reggae-like melody with funkadelic appeal and throbbing keys.  The bass, drums, and vocals are energetic.  There are poignant choral solos that are quite lush with sound.  A punchy beat and scintillating keys make the blurting trumpet come alive with reserved vocals that are more akin to wordplay about the music and band members.  The bass and light percussion section begins after four minutes in a jam session/solo performance that sets the mood for lounging and relaxing.  There are more instrumental elements of this song than vocal parts during the latter half of the song.  There is a strong live feel of the music, which encapsulates the primary meaning of the album.

“Fuzzy Plastic Peach” begins with a jazzy, big-band, funk, and rock-inspired tune with punchy horns, fluid bass, and bluesy vocals with intelligent lyrics and memorable chords.  The vocals contain some back-up help in parts, but the solo vocals still stand out.  The keyboard accompaniment, bass, guitars, horns, and drums creates a vibrant, party-infused track with great vocals that conjure up a classier time of American rock and funk from an earlier era.  At any rate, the track is still modern and inventive with fluid, cool jazz keyboard accompaniment during the latter half of the song.

“Spida” opens with a spoken wordplay during the first half-minute.  After the spoken wordplay, a throbbing bass, electric guitar wahs, jazzy percussion, and instrumental brilliance ensue for almost a minute.  The vocals commence and bring a funk and punk element to the mix without straying too far away from the blues and jazz ambiance inherent throughout the album.  There is a flurry of horn-driven and percussion-filled outro elements, which makes the tune creative, memorable, and worthy of repeated listens.

“The Skar” begins with an energetic, horn-driven and jazz-infused cascade of sounds that are fast and vocals that can keep up with the sounds.  The various instrumental sounds are similar to a Balkan or Klezmer band.  This is speed music at its finest with very little room for errors, as the song is tightly constructed around a fast, up-tempo beat that is slightly divergent from other tracks on the album.

Wabi Sabi’s latest release is a double-disc set with double the fun and music wrapped around a jazz, funk, reggae, and roots medley of sound.  The music is nostalgic and draws upon sounds from the music of the 1960’s and 70’s.  At any rate, the vocals are diverse and strong throughout. The live feel of the recording is largely undisturbed by erroneous sounds, clapping, and other distractions.  Fans of blues, rock, jazz, reggae, roots, Americana, Latin, and related sounds will love the final result.  Think of Every Damn Day meets Dengue Fever at a bar in Kingston…yeah, it’s that diverse.

Review by Matthew Forss
Rating:  5 stars (out of 5)

 

Rory McMillan, Sutherland Ave. Hymns

05 Aug, 2014 Matthew Forss

rorymcmillan

 

 

 

Rory McMillan is a songwriter and musician on the digital piano, microKORG synth, acoustic guitar, ukulele, electric bass guitar, and a specialist in electronic drum sequencing.  A Knoxville, Tennessee-native, Rory creates an album that originates from a place that is accessible to all who listen to it. Sutherland Ave. Hymns is not an album of vocal hymns or praise music.  Instead, the album is an instrumental delight that focuses on progressive rhythms, moods, and melodies that are contemporary and innovative.

“The Existing State Of Affairs” begins with a few cascading swooshes and a horn-like accompaniment that is solemn, reflective, and meditative, due to its slow tempo.  The melody is relatively consistent throughout half of the song, while some additional electronic accompaniment enters the mix, along with a little percussive swishing.  There are no drums used in the track.  Overall, the track is a delicate mix of pleasant melodies and sounds that do nothing to instill dance steps, which is perfectly fine.

“Ghost-Riding The Whip” begins with some acoustic guitar work that is joined by electronic drips and pings that are quite buoyant.  The quirky electronic sounds are not followed by any drums.  The song is less than two-and-a-half minutes in length, which does not allow for much musical development, but luckily, the song is great the way it is.  The electronic whines, swishes, and blips are edgy and contemporary, but not overly-flashy or predictable.

“Spinning Blue Marble” opens with a piano type sound with majestic electronic washes and a few bell-like clangs and wooden mallet-type sounds on a xylophone or vibraphone.  The ambulating sounds are light, airy and modern.  A muffled flute sound adds an element of new age to the song.  The spacey elements, new age-isms, and contemporary instrumental arrangements set the stage for a relatively exciting result.

“The Last Burning Embers” opens with a muted ukulele sound that is punctuated with atmospheric washes and spacey pings and watery electronics.  The electronic blips reflect a modern edge to the gurgling ukulele sounds and swishy background noises.  The song is only two minutes long, so it is more of an interlude compared to other songs on the album.

“Mexican Soda” is another short track, but the music is more upbeat and laser-like with electronics, hand-claps, and squeaky pings that are lush and contemporary.  There are elements of Tangerine Dream here.  The swishy sounds and upbeat melody is a great showcase of Rory’s musical talent.

Rory McMillan’s new release, Sutherland Ave. Hymns, is a rollicking new age and electronic project with heavenly melodies, reflective moments, and upbeat tunes.  The lack of vocals does not affect the album in a negative way.  There are ten tracks on the album which range from a minute to over four minutes long.  The rather lackadaisical result combines elements and emotions inherent in instrumental, new age, electronic, and progressive music.  The best part about the album is found in the melody nuances and ear-friendly tones.  Never trying to be too showy, Rory simply plays music with feeling and emotion that is unforgettable and worthy of repeated listens.  The only drawback may be found in the length of some of the tracks, which are only a minute or two long.  However, these tracks can be viewed as separate morsels of fun and they do not detract in any way from the rest of the album’s content.  Fans of electronic, instrumental and new age music will love it.  Moreover, anyone familiar with Tangerine Dream and Enya will definitely be pleased here.

Visit http://www.thesweetsoundsofrory.com/ for more information.

 

Review by Matthew Forss
Rating:  5 stars (out of 5)