March 16, 2017
Number 1: The woman can sing. She is one of those vocalists who can squeeze every once of pathos, meaning, and emotion from a song.
Lex Grey and the Urban Pioneers have just issued their sixth album titled Heal My Soul. They are known as an energetic and explosive live band who have toured relentlessly honing their craft. Grey’s tough-woman appeal help them present music that fuses rock and roll and the blues into an interesting mix.
She is backed by guitarist Vic Mix, violinist Kaia Updike, drummer John Holland, bassist Adam Price, and multi-instrumentalist Brian DeWan, who have developed into a tight and formidable band. They are fueled by the instrumental leads of Mix and Updike. It is Updike’s violin that gives the music an unusual sound at times as her ability to use it in a blues format is different and at times stunning.
Lex Grey and the Urban Pioneers are still very much a Brooklyn bar band. They are perfect for a smoky club late at night. In some ways they may be a little to authentic for huge mainstream success but Heal My Soul is a disc that needs to be played loud as it contains the essence of American rock and roll at its most basic and best.
February 28, 2017
There is a sticker on the front of the CD jacket that says “File Under Texas Music,” and to that I say AMEN.
Glenna Bell is a singer/songwriter who uses the blues as a foundation as she moves effortless to fuse rock, pop, and country into her sound.
She has a knack of choosing cover songs that can be transferred to her Texas orientation. Don Henley’s “Heart Of The Matter” re-emerges with a steel guitar and understated vocals.
At the heart of her music are personal songs about her life and Texas. “Poor Girl (In Blue)” and “Shiner Bock & ZZ Top” carry on her tradition of story-songs. “Tonight’s The Night” is a wonderful reflection of life’s transitions that works better with the video.
Perhaps the best song is “Christmas Is Coming,” which is a nostalgic and wistful approach to the season and received several hundred-thousand plays online las year.
Glenna Bell’s music always has a personal approach and her latest release is no exception. Music for the heart and mind-Texas style.
February 22, 2017
If you are ever driving down the highway and pass a 1961 Bambi Airstream being towed by a Ford van that looks like it has traveled a half-million miles, you have probably seen the home of Hymn For Her.
Lucy Tight and Wayne Waxing (and their daughter) have been traveling the highways and by-ways of America producing and playing their music, while living their life on the road. They are a self-contained band who have released their latest album titled Drive Til U Die.
Musicians Lucy and Wayne play what can best be labeled as hillbilly rock. There are some up-tempo songs such as the album opening rocker “Devil’s Train,” the twang of “Hi Ho Silver,” and the honky tonk vibe of “The Road Song.” The best track, however, may be the gentle “Seas Of Croatia,” which places the emphasis on Lucy’s voice.
They produce music at its basic best. There is some shouting, hollering, and picking, which fits in with a bygone era. They are in touch with a modern sound as the production is rustic but impeccable and the lyrics convey their stories.
Ultimately Hymn For Her produces music about their lives on the road. Their thoughts and dreams merge with the realism of their life choices, which makes their sound have a unique quality.
Drive Til You Die is an album worth exploring whether you are just relaxing or more appropriately driving down the highway.
February 22, 2017
Paul Reddick has a way with words and the ability to incorporate them into his music. The songwriter/singer/harmonica player has now returned with his first album for Stony Plain Records titled Ride The One.
He has always traveled a unique path in creating his brand of blues. The lyrics are many times poetic and thoughtful but the music harps back to a traditional blues format.
Songs such as “Shadows” is a gritty ride featuring his harp virtuosity. “Morning Dove” and “”Gotta Find A…” are more laidback in approach. The best track may be the most simple. He uses a band for the first 10 tracks but “Moon And Star” is just him, his voice, and harmonica in a stark performance.
Paul Riddick has created another excellent blues album that will not only provide a good listening experience but will also make you think and appreciate.
February 14, 2017
Isaiah B Brunt may not be a household name but he is an Australian artist who plays American blues. He further Americanizes his new album, Moments In Time, by adding a brass section to the mix, which gives his music a distinct New Orleans flavor.
Brunt has always been a master storyteller who is able to set his thoughts and feelings to music. His voice is an excellent instrument for the blues. Songs such as “Lost Jacket Blues,” “Singing The Blues,” “That Place On The Road,” and “Party Late At Night” are blasts of thoughtful and energetic blues.
Moment In Time is a well-produced album of blues and Isaiah B Brunt is an artist worth giving a listen or two.
February 14, 2017
Blues artists Colin James may not be a household name in the United States but in his native Canada, he is a Hall Of Fame guitarist who has won six Juno Awards and 17 Maple Blues Awards. He has now issued his 18th album titled Blue Highways.
His new release was recorded in less than a week, which is not necessarily a bad thing for a blues album as it gives the music an organic feel.
It is an album of blues covers, which are taken from several different eras. Peter Green’s “Watch Out,” “Going Down” by Don Nix, Robert Johnson’s “Last Fair Deal,” Blind Willie McTell’s “Ain’t Long For Day,” and the Howlin’ Wolf/Jimmy Reed Medley of “Racing In The Moonlight/Mr. Luck” are an interesting and precise ride though blues history.
Through it all vocalist/guitarist James leads his band of drummer Geoff Hicks, bassist Steve Pelletier, keyboardist Jesse O’Brien, and rhythm guitarist Craig Northey with passion, energy, and technical expertise.
Blue Highways is a prime example of why Colin James is so respected in his native country. It will hopefully gain him some new adherants in the United States. It is music worth exploring.
February 14, 2017
There are a lot of good blues bands on the road and in the studio. The Bob Lanza Blues Band falls into that category. They hail from the heart of New Jersey and will release their fourth album, Time To Let Go at the end of the month.
They are a veteran, hard working band who have honed their style through endless gigs and hours in the studio. Their latest album is a mix of well-produced originals and a number of classic covers. The sound is fuller than in the past as Lanza adds The Cranberry Lake Horns and harmonica player Steve Krause to the mix.
“When The Sun Comes Up,” “”Rushin’ The Blues,” and the title track are solid, high-fueled blues. Hank Williams “Mind Your Own Business” is given a modern day blues treatment, while Willie Dixon’s “Go No Further” is a tribute to the past.
Lanza’s guitar and gritty vocals front this solid blues outing. A good addition to any blues collection.