Entries in Luke LeBlanc (1)

Saturday
Jun092018

Reviews by Paul McGee

Luke LeBlanc Time On My Hands Self Release

These 5 songs are thoughtfully delivered with understated playing and a production that proves the adage that ‘less is more’. On the opening, Beautiful, the studio musicians interplay across an arresting acoustic rhythm as the longing of the lyric spins the driver home along dark Wisconsin roads. Time On My Hands sparks with an up-tempo arrangement and a focus on living for the moment. Winter Rising slows things down with an easy strum and superb violin from Laurie Melting Stagner, both restrained and reflective in delivery. 

The 12-bar blues of Please Stay, with dual harmonica from Stacy Bowen and Luke LeBlanc, is nicely paced and quietly laid-back while the final song, Highway’s Gone, ends up on the road again as a metaphor for a failing relationship; “drivin’ on empty and runnin’ out of room”- a bittersweet melody to take everyone home. 

Luke LeBlanc sings with a warm tone and his voice has a fine quality and resonance across these acoustic tracks. Well worth investigation and another steady step taken in a career that is gaining momentum.

Michael Veitch Wake Up Call Burt Street

This talented and well-respected singer-songwriter has released a 5-track EP that is aimed at the moral conscience of everyone who is witness to the inequality of this World and the crazy extremes of current politics and conglomerate growth.

Veitch plays beautifully on acoustic and electric guitar and his fluid style adds great colour to these songs. He is joined by Lou Pappas (upright bass), Dan Whitley (resonator guitar), Fooch Fischetti (dobro & fiddle), Brian Mellick (percussion) and Andrew Borkowski (cello). Back up vocals are ably provided by Julie Last, Aima Honal and lead vocals from Veitch highlight a gentle and sweet delivery. 

Veteran’s Day, Happy 4th of July, Pledging Allegiance are all wearisome objections to War at any price or cost. Voices Of The Old Days points to a past that has not been heeded or learnt from and White Rose is a song that reflects upon a call to arms. A timely reminder for our troubled times and the lack of empathy that perverts our attempts to recover some humanity.

Amy Henderson May Self Release

Folk meets Indie attitude on this 8-track release. The East Coast of America is familiar stomping ground for this song-writer who handles all vocals and plays acoustic & electric guitar, plus harmonica on her fourth album. There is some nice lead guitar and dobro from Radcliffe Burt and John Priestly plays both fretless & upright bass and mandolin, while Rene Carillo adds cajon and percussion. 

All three add their vocal talents to these well-arranged songs that are both bright and melodic. The drumming of Chris Schup and percussion of John Morland swell the sound and tracks like It’s My Year is a radio hit if ever there was one. Hemingway continues the feel-good factor and the vocal delivery reminds me of Amy Ray of the Indigo Girls, not a bad marker. Everything About You and Rockabye Me end proceedings in fine style; the first a soulful rhythm groove and the latter a reflective slow acoustic blues.

Annie Keating Ghost Of The Untravelled Road Self Release

A 5-track release that adds another fine touchstone in the career of this very talented artist. Keating has delivered seven superb albums stretching back to 2004 and her insightful writing is a real joy to experience. The title track speaks of the road not taken in a relationship and is a wistful reflection. Forever Loved is a heart-felt message to a child who must learn to walk their own path but will always be held close in the heart. 

Kindness of Strangers is a journey song for the weary and those in need of respite along the way. Sting Of Hindsight sings of regret and the need to go forward with faith. The closing Forget My Name is paean to love and the urge to move on while being dragged back to the comfort of the past. Throughout there are the wonderful talents of Chris Tarrow (guitars and pedal steel), Alex Hargreaves (fiddle), Steve Mayone (mandolin, nylon guitar and harmony vocals), Jason Mercer (upright bass) and Kate Steinberg (harmony vocals). Beautifully played and delivered in real style.

Yvette Landry & the Dukes  Louisiana Lovin’  Soko

Steeped in the Cajun culture of her Louisiana upbringing, Landry is a musician/singer/songwriter who tours worldwide as a multi-instrumentalist in several bands. Over four previous releases she has sought to bring cultures and traditions together and no more so than on this latest release. It is a look back to the days of Juke Joints and dance halls where Louisiana came alive after the working day. The eleven songs are originals from some of the greats like Bobby Charles, Warren Storm, G.G. Shinn and others. The one departure is a great version of the Sara Evans song, Three Chords & The Truth, taken from her debut record in 1997.

The band are quite superb and even more impressive is the fact that there were no rehearsals, with the live environment at Dockside Studios sparking the musicians to record everything with the first take! So, take a bow, Roddie Romero (vocals, acoustic and electric guitars), Eric Adcock (pianos, farfisa, wurlitzer), Josef Butts (upright bass), Derek Huston (tenor and baritone sax) and Jermaine Prejean (drums and percussion). This ensemble adds greatly to the authentic feel of every track here and the fine vocals and acoustic guitar of Yvette Landry complete the perfect circle. It’s rare that a project hits with such immediacy but this is certainly a real keeper.

Guest musicians Beau Thomas (fiddles) and Richard Comeaux (pedal steel guitar) add great colour to a number of songs, including Three Chords & the Truth and the co-vocals of Landry and Romero are a real joy, especially on Homesick Blues, Yea Baby, Kiss Tomorrow Goodbye and the standout Take It Easy Greasy. Hopefully this is not a once-off project as this band is way too good not to repeat the magic again.

Annika Fehling Trio In the Universe Rootsy

What a very pleasant surprise! This project is the work of a trio named AFT, led by Annika Fehling, who lives on Gotland, an island off the Swedish mainland. She plays acoustic guitar with real style and is joined by Robert Wahlstrom (piano, Moog and percussion) and Christer Jonasson (guitars, acoustic, electric and lap steel). Production at Spacefield Studios on Gotland is beautifully crisp and clear and delivered by Robert Wahlstrom in impressive style. 

The nine tracks are sung with both passion and a gentle tone by Fehling and the expansive feel reminds me of early John Martyn/Nic Jones when they were exploring the line where folk interpretations stopped and jazz leanings took sway. The room to play and stretch out the arrangements is embraced by all three musicians as they deliver a very resonant and vibrant performance across their range of instruments.

Dark City Alone and Stars arrive with strong rhythms and superb interplay as the song structures build. Spirits Awake and Seamless are more restrained and reflective in delivery. Fehling has an impressive body of work to her name and a back catalogue that is deserving of close scrutiny if this particular project is anything to go by.