Friday
Oct082010

Telegraph 'Self-titled' Self-released

Essentially Telegraph is the work of Kevin Doherty (of Four Men And A Dog) and a strong supporting cast. Doherty has written the songs, delivers the lead vocals and has produced the album, so maybe it should be a Kevin Doherty solo album called Telegraph. That one of the songs is titled Country Music may give some a clue as to the overall mood of the album, though in truth that's not really just that. These are relaxed, laid back, roots-filled songs that pitch their tent in different locations from Camden Street to East Virginia. There are hints of a lot of things here, a touch of Tindersticks, a pinch of Mr. Cohen and a spoonful of old-time music, informed by Atha Cliath as much as Appalachia, all mixed in among the ingredients that make up this music. There is understanding and tenderness within these songs for those in exile and those who left for a great calling. There's love for people and for places and there's the journey of a pilgrim, looking for life and love along the way. The music is acoustic, gentle, understated and at all times adds atmosphere and texture to Doherty's likable, lambent voice. Telegraph hasn't sent us words of wonder, of new territory or new boundaries rather the simple message here is of looking again at the familiar, the friendly and the ways in which we falter. www.telegraph.ie

Friday
Oct082010

Easton Corbin 'Self-titled' Humphead

The second track here may sum up the album's overall direction, A Little More Country Than That, that likely being his pop and rock sounding contemporaries who currently trade as country artists. Much of this is, doubtless, due to the production values of producer and former Keith Whitley sideman Carson Chamberlin. The steel is mostly exuberent and well to the fore, the guitars are twangy rather than in overdrive. That said it is still an album that promises more than it actually delivers. Rather it represents a good start to the career of an artist with a solid dependable voice that overall, and this is also true of the album, sounds like a close relation to the body of work of George Strait. And Strait's one work has it's high and low points. There are several lyrical themes that are full of cliches of what country music is today. These include A Little More Country Than That and That'll Make You Want To Drink both fun songs but somewhat generic. But that may sound a little overly critical of what is an solid and definably country album that when the songs are bolstered by a catchy riff are memorable. Songs like The Way Love Looks On You, Don't Ask Me About A Woman and A Lot To Learn About Livin'. The latter is one of those Buffett-esque songs that are in favour these days in country circles. Easton Corbin is off to a good enough start but let's hope that some of the songs can get a little more depth and grit the next time out.

Friday
Oct082010

John Lilly 'Live On The Red Barn Radio' Self-Release

A live recording from Lexington, Kentucky on May 6th 2009. John Lilly is a traditional singer/songwriter who here delivers a set of his own songs from the Red Barn Radio show in the elemental form of voice, guitar and mandolin. He gives Jimmie Rodgers' No Hard Times an appropriate reading with a strong yodel inflected vocal. He returns to that form with A Little Yodel Goes A Long Way, something that many may agree with but Lilly makes it enjoyable. His mandolin playing is evident on (the excerpt from) Johnny Don't Get Drunk. He touches on gospel with Spirit (Bend Close To Me) and delivers an empowered vocal that emphasizes his prowess in deliver the soul of a song. His version of Rod Stewart and Ronnie Wood's Gasoline Alley makes it sound as if it was written a hundred or more years ago. He changes pace and style with his own, more personal, song Blue Boy. As this is a recording of the aforementioned Radio show the closing song Last Chance To Dance, the title track of a previous album,has a closing voice over that disrupts the song. None-the-less this is an enjoyable album for those who will like his take on old time music. www.johnlillymusic.com

Friday
Oct082010

Barney Bentall 'The Inside Passage' True North

This Canadian singer/songwriter, formally a member of the band The Legendary Hearts, has carved out a solo career with his roots, full band rock and country. He now owns a horse ranch in the Cariboo and divides his time between running that and continuing his recording career. He is also behind the Grand Cariboo Opry which gathers together a host of fellow musicians to play original and classic country songs. Here the sound is broader to reflect a wide emotional landscape. Sending Out A Message To You is the kind of song about being apart that Springsteen might do. By way of contrast On This Beautiful Night is bolstered by brass, with a soulful twist it talks of travel and of finding people and places. The title track has a feel of a classic Jackson Browne song and is again about of reflection and beauty. Elsewhere fiddle and steel play a prominent place in the production, by John Ellis, as on the uptempo Catch That Train or the tender, self-explanatory I Never Meant To Make You Cry. Papa Henry's Boy is a "Seeger Sessions" style sing along with banjo well to the fore. She Ran Away is a fine stripped back song with guitar and some atmospheric dobro and a stand-out here for that reason, and reminds of some classic John Hiatt. This is the sort of album that, with exposure, could easily find favour with a European audience. www.barneybentall.com

Friday
Oct082010

Gary Allen 'Get Off On The Pain' Humphead

Quite where Gary Allen is going with this album I'm not sure. It sounds big and bold and continues the direction of his last album that had a strong mainstream rock emphasis. There are still some country elements at play here, both in the lyrical themes and in the sound on some of the tracks. Steel guitar is included but it is largely subsumed into the guitar, bass and drum sound. It is good to see the name of Jamie O'Hara among the writer credits and his co-writes are some of the best things here. We Fly By Night has a strong melody and Allen, who wrote it with Odie Blackmon and the aforementioned O'Hara, delivers a strong believable performance. Blackmon and Allen also co-wrote several other songs but it is the closing track which Allen co-wrote with Jeff Hanna and Jon Randall that packs the most emotive performance on the album. No Regrets is about deep,dividing loss and will resonate with many who have experienced that lasting pain. There seems to be less bombast here and that this is a direction that really works for him. That he has moved from the more traditional elements of his earlier albums is also evident in the styling, gone are the cowboy hat and western-styled outfits to be replaced by a look that might sit better with what Music Row perceives as a big crossover audience. But then Allen is a co-producer here so maybe he's happy with the direction his music is going. This edition is the deluxe version with 4 additional tracks, 3 of which are live but don't really add a lot to the album other than to show that live he gets a lot of screams and the songs have become singalongs.  A Gary Allen album is always worth listening to and there are some very good songs here but, for this listener, the sound has moved to a place that is a cause for some concern in the long term, but as the current single, Today, is hitting the top twenty maybe not for others.