Wednesday
Sep082010

Leo Rondeau 'Down At The End Of The Bar' Self-Released

This Austin based singer-songwriter has released a second album of original songs that are equal parts filled with humour, history and observation that make them a good listen. Musically Rondeau rings the changes and adds instrumental textures throughout. Rapture features banjo and brass to help set the mood of the songs quizzical nature, a reflection on the mysterious ways. That contrasts with the album closer Better Place For You which features a bare bones backing of banjo and fiddle. Between those points there is enough pedal steel and dobro to firmly stamp the words "country music" across the songs, but coming from Austin don't expect that Music Row sheen and pop-polish. While Rondeau doesn't have the most distinctive voice you may come across it is one that does what it needs to do to get these songs across, and one that will get better with age and timbre. The players include the renowned Cindy Cashdollar on dobro and steel along with some fine Austin players who give the perfect backing to this set of serviceable songs. Rondeau's Civil War era outlaw song Had I Know, with its atmospheric trumpet, is one of the strongest songs here and an album highlight. Leo Rondeau is definitely one to watch and Down At The End Of The Bar suggest a bigger talent in the making. www.leorondeau.net

Wednesday
Sep082010

The Pines 'Tremolo' Red House

The duo's second album has it's roots planted in the past but it's shoots are reaching out towards a full moon. Produced by the duo and Bo Ramsey the album is centered around the soft spoken singing voices of the duo, Benson Ramsey and David Huckfelt who deliver their original songs over a restrained but effective backing of bass, drums and keyboards. The electric guitar contributions give the songs their tension and spark. The delivery is in tune with some of their contemporaries whilst also suggest a link to that softer late 60's and 70's folk mixed with country sound. The two voices are similar and blend with ease to give the overall a casual warmth that is easy to assimilate. The two cover they have chosen fit well within their canon Skipper And His Wife is again graced by some fine guitar picking that moves the song along while Mississippi John Hurt's Spike Driver Blues floats on slide and electric guitar that adds to the urgency of the songs message of return and ruin. The shortest song here Avenue Of The Saints, the only one clocking in at under 3 minuets is an echoey instrumental that has an instant attraction in it's own right. The longest song is the closer Shiny Shoes but it never seems to outstay its welcome. Something that can be said of the whole album - an understated collection of songs that captivated with their sense of drawing a listener into its heart of semi moonlight darkness. www.thepinesmusic.com

Wednesday
Sep082010

Forest Sun 'Harlequin Goodnight' Special Rider

A talented San Francisco artist with several albums to his credit delivers this confident and clever album. Co-produced by Forest Sun and Michael Winger with a core trio of Sun, bassist Steve Adams and drummer Michael Messer. Add to that backing vocalists, cello, dobro, keyboards and accordion and the songs are full of contrasting instrumentation that covers quite a few musical stepping stones. All of which makes this an album offers much to the listener with an open mind. It has no foot in any particular genre other than good music but overall the feel is of a rootsy base that should appeal across the board and is an example of the fact that there is a lot of music out there fling under the radar that is unlikely to get the attention it deserves in a situation where specialist music programmes are being squandered rather than encouraged by a system that prefers everything to be the same rather than encouraging individualism. Forest Sun makes music that may not appeal to all but their is not doubting the craft on display here. His voice is strong and confident throughout and the focal point of the album. Gurus and Rockstars, which features Larkin Gayl on equally strong duet vocals is a song in search of a movie or some mainstream placement. The one cover Dylan's She Belongs To Me is giving a treatment that makes it fits with the overall context of the album but also shows Sun reverential to the original but giving the song his own touch. Harlequin Goodnight will tuck you in after entertaining you. www.forestsun.com

Wednesday
Sep082010

Eric Brace & Last Train Home 'Six Songs' Red Beet

A six track ep from this accomplished band that mixes a couple of covers along with material from various band members. Soul Parking is a robust guitar led uptempo song with strong vocals. By way of contrast the three covers My Baby Just Cares For Me has an altogether cosmopolitan feel with hints of jazz in the mix. What Now My Love, sung in French and English again takes on a different mood that sees the band having fun with the different touch stones being displayed. Autumn Leaves is given a semi-Cash/surf treatment until the vocals, again sung in French come in and the song eases off the pedal. Big Fish is fun and taken at a rate of notes and is the most obviously countryfied song here. The opening Always Raining On My Street again emphasizes the band's skill and versatility and shows that next time out they could further explore any of these avenues or a different one entirely but either way Six Songs is what it is and is a fun excursion. www.redbeatrecords.com

Wednesday
Sep082010

Kim Beggs Blue Bones Black Hen

A Canadian singer-songwriter who plays folk-Americana and who has a couple of albums under her belt before this current release. Beggs has a distinctive edge to her voice that wouldn't be unfamiliar to Iris DeMent fans. Utilizing a full band including fellow singer-songwriter Steve Dawson, who also produced the album, it has a full clear sound that never overwhelms the song or singer. Beggs own songs are about the travails of love while others like Can't Drive Slow Yodel is just what it says a song that states that Beggs has to travel at speed even though she's not going to the rodeo or about to give birth and the chorus is a full on yodel. It is a diverting and humorous moment. KIm also covers some classic songs from writers such as Bob Dylan, Jack Clement and Patty Griffin. The former's I'll Be Your Baby Tonight is given an appropriate pedal steel softly sung delivery while Clement's Just Someone I Used To Know is a well rounded duet with Gurf Morlix. The traditional I'm Thinking Tonight Of My Blue Eyes is equally given a countrified reading. Griffin's Trapeze highlights Beggs vocal skills on a restrained take on the song. Her own songs are usually more upbeat though Summertime Lonesome Blues is a recognition of time spent apart. The Longest Dream is a lovely duet between Beggs and Natalie Edelson where the voices blend over a pedal steel led backing that emphasizes the dreamlike quality of the song. Blue Bones is an album to get to know and enjoy for a lot of different reasons. www.kimbegs.com