Friday
Oct082010

Lee Harvey Osmond 'A Quiet Evil' Latent

Something of a side project for Cowboy Junkies members Margo and Michael Timmins though it's a more rounded project that that might suggest with some 17 musicians involved with this multi-facated roots orientated music which runs from the country styled duet between Margo Timmins and (I assume) singer Andy Maize on I'm Going To Stay That Way through the brushed drums and clarinet, smoke-filled laid back musings of Lucifer's Blues through to the rough shod VU motivated cover of Lou Reed's I Can't Stand It. Production is helmed by Michael Timmins, Josh Finlayson and Tom Wilson ( who also is a member of Blackie and The Rodeo Kings). There is a dark hearted ambience at work here that mingles a darkness at the edge of town with strange journeys. For an idea of how non-mainstream this is have a look at the video for I'm Going To Stay That Way on their website as I doubt you'll see it anywhere else. Tom Wilson is the main songwriter here, in tandem with other members and outsiders. So it is largely his shared vision that is at work here. In fact Wilson leads the five piece version of the band who are currently playing live gigs. But the recorded version of Lee Harvey Osmond has much to recommend it to those who like their music edgy, varied and subtly intense with some fine playing making it an album to experience in totality to appreciate what Lee Harvey Osmond has to offer the uninitiated. www.leeharveyosmond.com

Friday
Oct082010

Otis Gibbs 'Joe Hill's Ashes' Wanamaker

The latest album from Gibbs continues to consider the plight of the forgotten, often marginalized people who exist on the fringes. The song Where Only The Graves Are Real sums up much of his feelings about the nature of true friendship. This album co-produced by Gibbs and guitarist Thomm Jutz is a progression from his previous album in terms of sound, because of a tight band that consists of Jutz, Gibbs and Deanie Richardson on fiddle, Mark Fain on upright bass and Nanci Griffith's drummer Pat McInerney on drums. Gibbs' girlfriend Amy Lashley provides some additional vocals all of which makes this a cohesive blend of voice, music and song. The folk-styled songs leave you in no doubt as to where Gibbs loyalties lie and that's no bad thing in these days of artists watching their words in case they might offend someone who has some control of their career. Gibbs sings honest and true and his vision of the world around him is one that will be shared by many. His voice is full of empathy and grit that is both world weary and wide awake to life's ups and downs. Otis Gibbs has made a strong album that continues the troubadour tradition, the art of the protest songs and manages to infuse a real sense of optimism when observing the oppression that a corporate culture manages to consume us with. This is punk-folk that will find favour with roots fans as much as with those attuned to Billy Bragg's equally observed take on life, love and loss. www.otisgibbs.com

Friday
Oct082010

Marty Raybon 'At His Best' Grand Vista  

The former singer from Shenandoah continues with his new solo album, his first for the Grand Vista label. It's straight country, mainly of the old-school mainstream variety. It's not a best of as the title might suggest but rather a statement of intent. The production is by Raybon and Paul Carrol Binkley and is supportive of Raybon's strong and soulful voice which is always front and centre and ably supported by the players who include such notable players as guitarist Jeff King, Eddie Bayers on drums, Larry Franklin on fiddle and Adam Steffey on mandolin, the latter brings a touch of bluegrass to the overall mix. Raybon is a bluegrass lover as much as he is of the more full bodied country that predominates here. The songs have been well chosen and include several that Raybon had a hand in writing himself. The sense of being alone is highlight in the passionate A World Without You, a stand-out song here. That theme is also explored on I Don't Want To Loose You Anna while Still My Little Man (Matty's Song) is about a loved one on a overseas battle field. I Am Coming Home is again written on that topic but from a slightly different perspective. There are very middle American themes but ones that don't breach rather they emphasize with the ordinary man. This is solid, dependable and will find much favour with his fans and those who love country as it was delivered in the early 90's. www,martyrabon.com

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.