CD review – Blues Arcadia – Feb 2017

Blues Arcadia
Artist: 
  
Blues Arcadia
Title:
     Blues Arcadia EP
Label:     Independent
Year:       2016

Tracks:   7
Web: 
      www.bluesarcadia.com Location:  Brisbane, Qld. Australia

Review
Don’t mistake this album for a sleeper because with successive listens, each track tends to deposit itself into your brain-bank of hum-able songs.  Alan’s voice is not sweet or demure, it has a raw frankness and passion that adds a nostalgic footprint to each track as he portrays his poignant stories of heartbreak and happiness.
With an old-fashioned yet contemporary blues-rock approach, this Brisbane band has simultaneously captured influences from yesteryear and present-day in these genuinely creative compositions.  Well worth a listen!

Track 1 – Corner Girls   Currently making lots of noise on the Blues Music Awards, including a nomination for Song of the Year, Alan’s raw vocals contrast subtly with sweet guitar and stride piano breaks.

Track 2 – Take The Money   Husky vocals blend well on this bluesy shuffle sporting catchy hooks, powerful lyrics and unrelenting drums that keeps everything cooking while building to a very satisfying conclusion.

Track 3 – Miss Lonely   This up tempo ‘boy wants girl’ groove gets your foot tapping and head nodding.  Although employing standard blues chords, there’s nothing standard about this groover.  Includes obligatory guitar solo, played with great gusto.

Track 4 – Here Comes The Rain   Plaintive blues ballad that begins with a humble cry, then proceeds to build until the track breaks into a tasty guitar solo.  The intensity is maintained throughout, concluding with an unexpected contrast.

Track 5 – Operator Please   This standard 4 x 4 blues refrain has arresting lyrics, great use of  ‘space’ alongside guitar stabs and progressions that keep things interesting.

Track 6 – Time and Again   Not quite a ballad, the song begins with sweet acoustic piano accompanying Alan’s distinctive vocals pouring out his desolate feelings.  Great use of light and shade throughout – another well-crafted song.

Track 7 – Rockin’ Chair   Up tempo blues belter with a foot stomping melody and teeth sharpening lyrics, urges us not to take things lying down.  Along with the effective inclusion of horns, the blistering piano/guitar call and response keeps the whole thing rocking along!

Blues ArcadiaWell done, Blues Arcadia… you have my vote!
bluesarcadia-alanboyle
Album Personnel 
Alan Boyle
– vocals
Chris Harvey  – guitar
Jeremy Klysz – bass
Parmis Rose – keys
Steve Robin – drums
Shaun Ballagh – tenor saxophone
Brad Esbensen – trumpet
Joseph Roberts – baritone saxophone

Horn arrangements
Shaun Ballagh, Chris Harvey, Parmis Rose

Recorded live to tape at The Barn Studios, Plainlands, Queensland, Australia
July 2016.   Release date  14 November 2016.
Engineered, mixed and mastered by Mike “Beachy” Wild, assisted by Joe See.

 

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CD review – Kate Lush – Feb 2016

Kate-Lush-Blues-EP

Artist:    Kate Lush
Title:
     Kate Lush
Label:     Independent
Year:       2015

Tracks:   8

Web:       http://www.katelush.com

Location:  Sydney, Australia

Review
It doesn’t hurt that Groove Me  the first track on this robust EP is one of my favourites.  Kate delivers the King Floyd classic with groovy gusto, showcasing a swingin’ sax solo by Jason Bruer.
Next up Tired of My Tears, first released in the 60’s by Ray Charles, keeps faithful to the original feel by capturing that old-gold soul sound.

KateLush-5Written by Kate, the standout on the EP  Do You Know What Love Is creates a moody bluesy feel with plaintive, pleading vocals appealing for an answer to the impossible question.

Originally recorded by American blues artist Robert Johnson in 1936, this cover of Dust My Broom lifts your spirits with its 12-bar blues boogie rhythm which is more akin to the later Elmore James version;
then continuing the livelier tempo Loving You is Sweeter Than Ever, written by Stevie Wonder and released by the Four Tops, steers the album in a soulful direction with this unique arrangement.

Another favourite is the Kate penned True Fire which has an odd beginning that doesn’t quite make sense until you watch the video (TrueFire) – but get past that bit and the song morphs into a soul-drenched, organ-infused burner that engraves itself on your brain.

The uptempo When You Pray gets the foot tapping and head nodding in the same way gospel music demands attention.  At the back end of the EP, Set Me Free launches into a spirited blues belter with Kate letting loose on this fabulous finalé to her first-class release.

Already achieving local awards and gaining high marks on Australian blues charts, there’s no doubt this album, because of its varied content, excellent production, musicianship and undeniable talents of Ms Lush herself, will continue to entertain soul and blues fans well into the future.

Album Personnel

KateLush-2

Kate Lush

Kate Lush – vocals
Matt Roberts – guitar, vocals
Chris Wright – guitar
Tim Wilson – bass, vocals
Lachy Doley
– organ, keys
Damon McMahon
– keys
Wes Harder
– keys
Sam Boyd
– keys
Jason Bruer – sax
Stewart Kirwan – trumpet
Paul Derricott – drums
Tony Boyd – drums
Jo Fabro – BV’s
Robert Susz – harmonica

Production:  Michael Carpenter
Mastered by: Rick O’Neil @ Turtle Rock

CD Review – GroovExpress – Jan 2016

GroovExpress-CDcover2014
Artist:   
GroovExpress
Title:
     Ukrainian Doll
Label:     Independent
Year:       2014

Tracks:   10

Web:   http://www.groovexpress.me

Location:  New Zealand


Review

Individually the members of New Zealand’s GroovExpress have a trainload of history.   Collectively the band has been together since 2010 when composer, arranger and producer Mykeljon formed the group.

We were fortunate to discover the band via our Northside Radio colleague, Paul Mac  (Phase Radio Monday’s 4-7pm) and since obtaining this CD, it has remained one of our playlist favourites .

Ukrainian Doll delivers something new with every listen.
Jazz grooves laced with organic soul and fueled with raw funk, the album offers artful hooks that get caught in your memory grooves.

Organ, sax, harmonica, keys, bass and guitar blend with groove-laden drums and percussion providing pleasurable moments and evoking general bonhomie.

First up the title track Ukranian Doll sports a delightful dual tracking of harmonica & sax along with well-placed organ, guitar and sax solos;   Mi Bella Paola lays down everything necessary for a good groove;   I Say Praise eases into the smooth jazz arena claiming attention with wistful harmonica, then a quirky piece No Way Home  is followed by my favourite Foxy Brown which lifts the pace with its bright & breezy melody;  Tell Me Why eases back the tempo, while High Heels strolls the mellow vibe.  Pretty Little Thing has a distinctly blues bent, yet E Type Blues has a decidedly funky feel.   The final and only vocal track, You Are My Fantasy builds from an acoustic guitar solo with Latin inspired percussion into a syncopated groove that would make anyone’s hips move.

Your invitation awaits to take a trip on the GroovExpress!

GroovEspress

Album Personnel (recording)
Mykeljon
– guitar, vocals, composer, arranger and producer
‘Haggis’ Maguiness – diatonic and chromatic harmonicas
Ernest Semu – organ, keys & synths
Isaac Sanchez – drums/percussion
Robert Kyle – tenor sax
Bruce Kerr – bass

GroovExpress-logo copy

 

CD Review – Alex Hahn – Jan 2016

!AlexHahn-CDcover
Title:      The Wallflower –
……….A Tribute to Etta James
Label:     Independent
Year:      2013
Tracks:  12
Website:  http://alexhhahn.net
Location:  Sydney, Australia

Although this CD was issued in 2013 I only got my hands on a copy in 2015.
At the time of release Alex had only a short interval to promote the album before heading overseas.  The CD received some good reviews but the marketing momentum was lost when she left Australia to tour the album across Europe and America.
Hence my decision to review this excellent CD now, so music-lovers don’t overlook this gem.
Review:
Covering a well-known artist is not for the faint-hearted, yet Alex has achieved a splendid result with these exceptional interpretations.

!AlexHahn-MicAlthough she doesn’t sound like Etta per se, Alex delivers spunky sassiness, gutsy raunchiness, and perceptive sensitivity on the more emotive melodies, all the while allowing her innate musicality to shine through.
Of the 12 quality interpretations, standout tracks for me are No.3  I’d Rather Go Blind, No.7  A Sunday Kind Of Love, and No.12  At Last – the latter being a wonderful version.

Alex Hahn is the quintessential blues, jazz, gospel and soul singer all rolled into one, and on The Wallflower – A Tribute to Etta James she possesses the enviable ability to translate classic Etta James into contemporary portrayals without losing the gritty, earthy lineage of the originals.

AlexHahnCover-header

Oh, and for the truly nerdy listeners… keep your CD playing a the end of the last track for a tasty little surprise which occurs at 0.52 (counting down)!

EVENT Review – Sam McNally Group featuring Lana Rita Sayah Thurs 14 Jan 2016 @ Venue505

 

EVENT:  Sam McNally Group  Support – The Tommy Novak Band
DATE:    Thursday 14 January, 2016
VENUE:  Venue 505, 280 Cleveland St. Surry Hills  NSW
PERFORMERS:   Sam McNally (MD & keys), Phil Scorgie (bass), Dave Plenty (drums),   special guests:  Jason Bruer (sax), Lana Rita Sayah (vox),  Tommy Novak and Elishia Semaan (bv’s)

REVIEW:   Although we only caught the tail end of Tommy Novak’s support set, by all accounts he gave a great performance and the snippets of video I’ve seen attest to those comments.

Sam McNally took to the stage with his usual air of casual flair, opening with Agent of Change which segued skillfully into the Miles Davis penned All Blues.

PhilScorgie-SteveWong

Phil Scorgie

Word was that bassist Phil Scorgie had only just made it to the gig by the skin of his teeth, notwithstanding the Justifiably Erratic Transport of celestial proportions having been the cause of his tardiness, yet the audience remained oblivious to his angst as he delivered a blisteringly skillfull bass solo during All Blues.

DavePlenty-SteveWong

Dave Plenty

Jason Bruer joined Sam, Phil & Dave on stage for Consequences – one of the writer’s favourite pieces – which featured the deft drumming of Dave Plenty who captured the mood completely, followed by Sam’s arrangement of the Bacharach/David song Do You Know The Way to San Hose supplemented with sweet sax solos by Mr Bruer.

JasonBruer-SteveWong

Jason Bruer

 

Sam’s special guest vocalist Lana Rita Sayah put her own languid slant on the John Legend tune Ordinary People, followed by a truly sensational reworking of the seminal Stylus track Colours of Your Love – written by Sam McNally.  Returning for the final song of the set, Jason Bruer was joined by vocalists Elishia Semaan and Tommy Novak completing a very musically satisfying set.

Sam&LanaRitaSayah-SteveWongpic

The second set began with another favourite Serendipity Samba, followed by Melrose & Vermont interspersed with Sam’s interesting and informative comments.  All vocalists returned to the stage for I Get Up and the set was concluded with a slowed-down version of  M Jackson’s The Way You Make Me Feel.  If the lazy tempo had slowed any further they may have ended up in reverse, but it was certainly an interesting and unexpected version!

The frequent interaction of synergy and smiles between the collective musicians kept the audience engaged as they created an evening of thoroughly rewarding entertainment.  Thanks everyone!

_B8A0184

Phil, Tommy, Sam, Elishia, Lana, Dave, Jason

Photographs:  Stephen Wong – www.stephenwong.com.au

 

EVENT Review – The Rockabilly Women Show – Friday 6 March 2015 featuring Narelle Evans

The Rockabilly Women ShowEVENT:
The Rockabilly Women
DATE:  Friday 6 March 2015
VENUE:  Django Bar, Cnr Railway Pde
and Marrickville Rd. Marrickville
PERFORMERS:   NARELLE EVANS & The Jetbacks (feat. Jack Evans guitar, Antero Cheschin drums and Chris Perry bass)
REVIEW:   I’ve always had a soft spot for 50’s Rock’n’Roll… Little Richard, Elvis, Chuck Berry, etc. but until I saw Emelda May perform I’d never really listened to Rockabilly music.

The Rockabilly Women show not only brings to life the music and stories of four women who pioneered the genre, it makes you want to jump up and dance in celebration.
During the show Narelle Evans relayed stories from the lives of these four gutsy gals while showcasing a variety of rockabilly styles supported admirably by the Jetbacks.
Entertainment of this calibre isn’t easy to find, and with her vocal talent and ability to portray the very essence of the women she’s presenting, Narelle has tapped into and captured the heart and soul of Rockabilly.

IMG_0611With bass player Chris Perry taking
the lead on some of the songs, Jack Evans performing searing solo’s and Antero laying down the groove, the show’s momentum didn’t skip a beat when Narelle momentarily disappeared for costume changes, reappearing wearing yet another fabulous frock and bringing authenticity and creativity to the show.

The enthusiastic capacity crowd lapped up every moment, demanding an encore which was thoroughly appreciated.  I wouldn’t hesitate to go and see this show again, and next time I’ll take a proper camera so I can get some decent shots!

IMG_0608IMG_0575
The Django Bar was the perfect venue for this entertaining show!

 

 

  • Narelle in one of her fabulous outfits…

CD Review – Dee Dee Lavell – November 2014

Dee Dee Lavell - Sounds Of LoveTitle:       Sounds Of Love
Label:     Gam Girl Records
Year:       2014

Tracks:   11

Web:   http://www.deedeelavell.com
Location: 
Los Angeles USA

Australian born singer, DeeDee Lavell is currently based in Long Beach California.  Following  her 2012 blues infused album Mama Told Me, this new release has taken a whole new direction.

The opening ballad You’re Everywhere written by Australian Liza Ohlback, includes sweet harmonies and gorgeous piano-work by Adam Faulk.

Sounds Of Love features a number of jazz and pop standards plus four self-penned songs. On the track-list are songs by notable artist’s Billie Holiday, Stevie Wonder, Joni Mitchell, Antonio Carlos Jobim (affectionately known as Tom) and a very cool cover of Prince’s Diamonds & Pearls.

In the company of those stellar songwriters, Lavell holds her own with her mostly Latin flavoured compositions Celebrate, Supernatural (Song for Maliq), Sounds Of Love and Why We Are Here.

Of her self-penned songs, Supernatural (inspired by her son Maliq), is my personal favourite, and of the standards… Stevie Wonder’s Bird of Beauty, showcasing DeeDee’s beautiful contralto vocals to full effect, is the most outstanding.

On first listen I found this album a bit disconcerting as I loved her earlier Mama Told Me CD and felt Lavell had found her niche in the blues, but having re-listened to Sounds Of Love a number of times, it became apparent that this album has all the required elements to stand on its own merit.

The ‘sleeper’ of the album – Why We Are Here – with its syncopated African-influenced rhythms and featuring beautiful instrumentation and vocals, creeps up on you when you least expect it.

All songs were expertly produced by Leonard ‘Doc’ Gibbs and recorded/mixed by Craig White in Philadelphia.

Singer/songwriter DeeDee Lavell can be proud of this “collective of love” which deftly demonstrates her passion, dedication and versatility.

Dee Dee LavellAlbum Personnell:
Piano
Adam Faulk, Aaron Graves
Bass – Nimrod Speaks, Lee Smith
Guitar – Wendell Pops Sewell,
Miguelli (co-writer on Celebrate, Supernatural, Sounds of Love)
Drums – Anwar Marshall, Rocky Bryant
Percussion – Doc Gibbs (co-writer on Why We Are Here),  Trombone – Steve Tirpak
Cello – Ginger Murphy, Violin – Julie Wong, String Bass – Antoine Lopez
BVs & arrangements – DeeDee Lavell, Liza Ohlback, Helen Bruner, Terry Jones

Produced byLeonard “Doc” Gibbs
Recorded & Mixed by:  Craig White – The Lab Philadelphia PA.