Zalo’s Blues By Gonzalo Bergara

May 8, 2017

Gypsy guitarists are usually not household names. Gonzalo Bergara is one of the most accomplished gypsy guitarists practicing today. Now he has travelled in a different direction with his newest release Zalo’s Blues.

His new album is his first foray into not only an electric sound but an exploration of the blues. Backed by bassist Mariano D’Andre and drummer Maximilliano Bergara; he explores a number of blues forms including swing, shuffles, and rock/blues fusion. Through it all Bergara demonstrates why is one of the best guitarists you may not have heard.

Zalo’s Blues is an interesting album by an artist exploring a different art form. If you’re interested in something a little different, then this may be an album for you.

Live At Royal Albert Hall By Heart

May 8, 2017

Heart is a Rock And Roll Hall Of Fame Band and Ann Wilson has one of the best voices in rock and roll. As the old saying goes; “she could sing the phone book and make it listenable.” Any Heart release, and especially a live album, that features her voice has a lot going for it.

Heart’s decision to perform at the legendary Royal Albert Hall with the Royal Philharmonic orchestra was a sound one. It was a new way to present their music, which for a band four decades into their career is interesting. I wish the orchestra could have been a little more involved in the overall creation of the sound, but all in all they do add so extra layers and textures to the material.

They mostly take the safe route in the selection of material, combining many of their well-known classics with some newer material.

Songs such as “What About Love,” “These Dreams,” and “Alone” fit the approach of The Royal Philharmonic well. The all have an atmospheric quality to them and Wilson’s voice soars above the music.

The hard rock tracks such as “Magic Man,” “Barracuda,” “Crazy On You,” “Dreamboat Annie,” and “Kick It Out” are more challenging for combining the rock group sound with the orchestra. They may not be as consistently excellent but they are interesting as they present they songs in an unique way,

I have read that the sound of the Blu-ray release is not up to modern standards but to my ear the CD sound is excellent.

Rather than release another straight forward concert album, Heart decided to travel in a different direction. Live At The Royal Albert Hall should be a treat for their fans,

Mockingbird Soul By Brigitte DeMeyer And Will Kimbriugh

May 8, 2017

Brigitte DeMeyer and Will Kimbrough have toured together, written songs together, and sang together. That musical relationship has resulted in their first album as a duo, Mockingbird Soul.

They have released an unpretentious, laid back album that travels in a number of directions, including blues, gospel, pop, and even some jazz. The vocal harmonies are spontaneous and meld together as if they had grown up singing together. The writing is cerebral in places but all in all it is a gentle and reflective album that fits sitting on the back porch late at night somewhere in the south.

“The Juke” features Demeyer’s sultry voice backed by the in and out of Kimbrough’s harmonica. “Little Easy” is a wonderful ode to Mobile with only some simple guitar lines to guide the sound. Oliver Wood, of the Wood Brothers, adds his voice to the wistful “Carpet Bagger’s Lullaby.” There is also an intimate cover of the Incredible String Band’s “October Song” that benefits from their vocals.

Sometimes the mood is light-hearted as with the bluesy “Honey Bee” and sometimes nostalgic as with “I Can hear Your Voice, which is about the presence of a lost parent.

This is a release where the production adds to the overall enjoyment of the sound. The voices and guitars are distinct. While their are other instruments at times, they do not intrude on each other or the harmonies.

Brigitte DeMeyer and Will Kimbrough have released an album of material that appeals to them. It may not change the course of popular music, but it is highly appealing and very listenable.

Good Lovin’ By The Young Rascals

May 2, 2017

Joey Dee and The Starliters had a huge hit with “Peppermint Twist. Joey’s backing band became the breeding ground for a Rock And Roll Hall Of Fame band as Felix Cavaliere, Eddie Brigati, and Gene Cornish would recruit drummer Dino Danelli and form the Young Rascals and help invent the term blue-eyed soul.

Their second single, “Good Lovin'” proved to be one of the signature singles of the 1960’s. The song had originally been released by the Olympics but the Rascals moved it over to an energetic rock and roll classic.

“Good Lovin'” entered the top 100 on March 12, 1966. Seven weeks later, on April 30, it reached number one.

By the time they had their second number one hit, mercifully the uniforms were gone.

A Fistful Of Gumption By Randy McAllister

April 12, 2017

I don’t know how many drummer/harmonica players there are out there, but if there is a list Randy McAllister has to rank near the top.

McAllister is a blues/roots musician with some country influences thrown in for good measure. His sound may not be the smoothest you have ever heard but he more than makes up for it with energy, his superb harp playing, and three decades of honing his craft.

“My Stride,” “Leave A Few Wrong Notes,” and “East Texas Scrapper” all feature his harmonica virtuosity and leave one wishing many of the other songs would feature it more.

He has always been a competent song-writer, who is able to tell stories through his music. “Band With The Beautiful Buss,” “The Oppressor,” and “C’mon Brothers And Sisters” take the listener for a ride through the mind and soul of a Texas musician. “Ride To Get Right” is his ode to Otis Redding and Earl King.

McAllister’s 14th album covers a lot of ground but with energy and passion. Fistful Of Gumption is music for the mind and soul.

A Force Of Nature By Sari Schorr

April 12, 2017

Every once in a while an album sneaks up on you. A Force Of Nature is the debut release by Sari Schorr and why she waited so long is a mystery.

Schorr is a recent inductee into the New York Blues Hall Of Fame has opened for the likes of Joe Louis Walker and Poppa Chubby. She possesses an excellent song-writing ability but it is the power of his voice that puts he above and beyond the norm.

On her own compositions, “Ain’t Got No Money,” “Ordinary Life,” “Cat And Mouse,” and “Demolition Man,” her voice booms, purrs, and commands attention. Her cover of Huddie Ledbetter’s “Black Betty” transfers it to a modern day masterpiece. She even brings new energy to the old Motown classic “Stop In The Name Of Love.”

Sari Schorr has been around for a while. Hopefully A Force of nature will bring her some overdue attention and commercial success.

Peace Trail By Neil Young

April 12, 2017

I don’t think Neil Young has ever issued a bad album in his half-century or so in the recording studio. His latest release, Peace Trail, may not rank among his best work but it is certainly above average.

The music is primarily acoustic and sparse as he only uses drummer Jim Keltner and bassist Paul Bushnell.

The album clocks in at 38 minutes divided between 10 tracks. The heart of the release is his socio/political material which has become more common as he has aged. More interesting are the times and songs when he looks inward and takes a more philosophical approach to his writing. There is an emotional connection to this type of material that seem genuine as he and much of his long-time fan base are facing their own mortality.

Peace Trail may not be his most memorable release but it does have a power to it. It will make you think and reflect and that is enough this time around.