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". 

Friday
Oct082010

Sally Spring 'Made Of Stars' Sniffinpup

A strong songwriter and singer this is Spring's follow up to 2006's Mockingbird release and it is a good one. Produced by Ted Lyons, who also plays drums and guitars has palced Spring at the centre of the music allowing both her voice and her songs the focus that they require. This is also highlighted by the albums cover choices which include a striking, slow paced version of Johnny Cash's much covered I Still Miss Someone which is one of the best given the way it gets the deep loss of the song across in a powerful way. Short Side of Nothing is a Los Lobs songs and there is a live version of Willie Dixon's It Don't Make Sense. But it says a lot for Spring's own songs that they stand up next such an cherished song. Her song Mercy is something that is on a par with Mary Gauthier as indeed are many of her other songs which make it a rounded and reflective album. Her voice reminds a little of Natalie Merchant but is distinctive in itself and delivers there often mournful but uplifting songs with confidence and heart. The band also includes James Masteo of the Bongos and ex-Joe Jackson bassist Graham Maby. Those adding the harmonies include Caitlin Cary, Gurf Molix, Susan Cowsill and producer Lyons. The musical textures include strings, keyboards and accordion over a core of guitar, bass and drum as appropriate. All of which makes this an album that is made by stars and one that shines bright

Friday
Oct082010

No Comebacks 'Back In The Saddle Again' Ocean

With Special guest P.J. Proby - now there's a blast from the past. As indeed is much of the music here. The album opens with Proby introducing the album before launching into Corrine Corrina one of 8 tracks that Proby adds his still strong vocals to. But after a while the programmed synthesized sound grates. The drum machine particularly is at odds with the feel of the music. The end result doesn't swing it judders sounding like a country karaoke night at your local disco. Something that's fun at the time but not something that you may want to repeat in the cold light of day. Even the presence of real pedal steel hasn't managed to redeem the overall sound. The closing song, always one of my favourites Ghost Riders In The Sky is just about saved by the icon guitar riff and Proby's over the top vocal. No comebacks primary members Mark Dean Ellen and Johhny Podd doubtless enjoy country music and have made an album on a tight budget but the end result described as "quirky" will not be to everyone's taste but maybe the line dancers will enjoy it.