Friday
Oct082010

Becky Schlegel 'Dandelion' Lilly Ray

This album covers a number of different bases from stripped down piano-based songs like They Way You Are to the touches of bluegrass of Don't Leave It Up Top Me to country music of I Never Loved You Cowboy. But what is most prominent is Schlegel's voice, an instrument with hints of Alison Krauss and, on occasion Dolly Parton. Schlegal plays a key role in this album from co-production, with Brian Fesler. to writing all the songs on the album. playing rhythm guitar and adding her on-the-money vocals. She can be rightly proud of the work she's put in. The album has a lot of strong points but a couple of songs like When It Rains have an instant attraction not least for it's fine resonator guitar solo. With the right exposure Schlegel could reach the a wider audience but as she is currently on an small independent label she will need a lot of luck to connect with that audience. But in the meantime anyone who encounters this album will doubtless find themselves captivated.

Friday
Oct082010

Kim Richey 'Wreck Your Wheels' Lojinx

I really liked Kim Richey first couple of albums when she was considered to be a part of a more expansive set of Nashville writers. However commercial success didn't follow and she moved on recording music that was well outside the umbrella of country music. On this new album there is something of a slight return in that pedal steel is used within the mix on four tracks but you are not going to mistake this album for a Music Row production. Rather that is handled here by multi-instrumentalist Neilson Hubbard who gives the songs some multi-layerd settings that uses a variety of keyboards, brass and strings to elaborate the songs. If you like your music with hints of a whole range of music and some complex arrangements then this album will be for you. Richey has powerful upfront voice and used it well. There are a number of guests who add to the vocal choruses and one who add additional instruments. Players like Will Kimbrough join here for a couple of songs all of which were co-written by Richey and other established writers like the aforementioned Kimbrough, as well as Boo Hewerdine and Marl Olson. Those who have followed Richey through here various stages will find much to admire here. And with songs like In The Years To Come and the banjo-tinged Once In Your Life you can see why.

Friday
Oct082010

Dave Gunning 'We're All Leaving' Wee House

An accomplished craftsman, Canadian Dave Gunning is a storytelling singer/songwriter who latest album is a rootsy, rocking album with a full band adding weight to the songs. Communities are a focal point of this album with songs about abandoned hopes as in Ashen Town, songs about moving on with the title track. Songs about arriving,Sorry For The City and songs for those who stayed, As Far As This Town Goes. Gunning looks at and observes the coming and goings of the ordinary men and women who seek solace in small towns or in big cities. Gunning sings with the conviction of someone who understands the rivers and tributaries of humanity. Producer and sometime co-writer Justin Robinson gives the album a warm B3 filled sound that has rhythmic undertow and sense of melody. Dave Gunning is a part of the Canadian songwriter community and a proud one. He has released a number of albums and all are worth hearing and getting to know. Gunning sense of affinity with lives that may seem on the surface unexceptional but are as profound in their own way are reflected in his music which is not breaking any new ground but stands (or falls) on his ability to tell the story he intends to. Here he does a fine job. www.davegunning.com

Friday
Oct082010

The John Henrys 'White Linen' 9LB

The latest album from this accomplished Canadian five piece band is a mix of rock, roots and country influences that is a times a little Tom Petty and at others takes a harder edge that approximates to the rockin' sound of the 70's. The band include some pedal steel, mandolin and banjo to flavour the robust roots rock. The songs are written by the band, in the main, by Rey Sabatin Jr. The also can do slower atmospheric songs like Cold Chill, which takes a different perspective on the traditional ballad The Banks Of The Ohio. The title songs os a little more Band like with upfront organ and it shows off the harmonies well. Stars Align is a vibrant guitar riffed song that picks up the positive mood. While a solid ballad like Good Man is blessed by a strong vocal that tells the story of a break-up with empathy. The song Dawson City, another complentative ballad, is a new version of the song which appeared on their first album and shows how much they have come together as band. The final songs Patriot Song is based around a factual event and has a folkish theme with some military percussion and it closes what is a strong, varied album that highlights the strengths that this self-produced band have.

Friday
Oct082010

Eddie Clendenning 'Is Knocking At Your Heart' Ventrella

This is an album that is rooted in 50s rock 'n' roll both in sound and vision. The mini-gatefold sleeve is a well crafted homage to the design of that era. As is the music, which is given a fresh take on that time frame too. Clendenning has played Elvis in the Million Dollar Quartet musical which will give you a big clue as to where he's coming from, but it's the lesser know names like Hayden Thompson and Billy Lee Riley who are his primary influences, alongside the playing of key guitarists like James Burton and Scotty Moore. His backing guitar, drums, bass trio - The Modern Sounds are tight and accomplished and to mush to make this album what it is . The songs range from ballads to rockabilly styled uptempo numbers with one excursion to the country music sounds, with pedal steel guitar, of Six Feet Under which shows that Clendenning could easily follow that path if he choose to. He can take on many vocal nuances with ease and is totally into music made in the 50s to which he brings his knowledge, enthusiasm and skill to. All of which gives fans of this genre something to check out, as well as the music released by the Ventrella label. As Eddie himself says in his sleeve note "If you don't dig it - well, you only have yourself to blame".