Archive for the 'Country' Category

Album – Burnt Toast and Offerings – Gretchen Peters

Posted by admin on 17th November 2007

  • Band / Artist : Gretchen PetersmySpace
  • Genre : Acoustic / Folk / Country
  • Sample Track Download : N/A
  • Buy CD : CD Baby
  • Buy Digital Download : iTunes
  • Rating : 9.5 out of 10

I love finding new artists and bands. What is especially neat, is when I find them kind of by accident, as was the case with Gretchen Peters. I recently heard a track by Eva Cassidy, another amazing discovery, on the Coverville podcast and for some reason ended up at CD Baby. While not surprisingly, a search on Eva didn’t return any results, I did get a list of other artists I might like. I don’t know why, but Gretchen’s name stood out and I investigated a little further. I listened to a few of her tracks and while none of them jumped out at me, there was something about Gretchen’s voice that urged me to get a copy of the album in for review. Let me just say, I’m not a great fan of listening to music via web pages, as the quality often does not do justice and there is something very impersonal about the listening experience, but it usually gives me a good indication of whether I am going to like something. The tracks I listened to though, did not quite prepare me for the absolutely amazing experience the album turned out to be.

The album opens with “Ghost” a track that feels like a some kind of out of body experience, witnessing a life that once was. It has a wonderful atmospheric and melancholic feel to it, which really appeals to my tastes. For me though “Sunday Morning” stands out as just an amazing track. Starting with a very simple guitar melody, the vocals come in, and build up to some wonderful harmonies. This song reeled me in, hook line and sinker. I’d never really considered the genre of this album, until I heard this song. While it’s undeniable Gretchen’s voice has a lot of country influences, the album itself feels a lot more folky and relaxed. I actually listened to the CD for the first time in the car. My wife had gone into Timmy’s to pick me up a coffee, and I managed to listen to the first two tracks while she was away. I don’t know why, but when I saw her again, I missed her in a way I can’t explain. I know that probably sounds silly, since she’d only been gone 10 minutes, but those two tracks had really tapped into my emotional psyche.

“Jezebel” is an interesting song, that really showcases Gretchen’s vocals and reminds me a bit of Stevie Nicks. Unlike Nicks however, the harshness and is replaced by beauty and a softness that is at times almost heartbreaking. “Thirsty” really took a while to grow on me. While it’s still not my favorite track, it’s very much a rose, surrounded by roses of a slightly different colour. “England Blues” while very much a bluesy style song, has a very country flavour and is one that I gave more of a chance to, due to it’s subject matter, telling the tale of leaving Nashville for London, and not just for sightseeing. It’s a very simplistic, but enjoyable romp of a song.

While not wanting this review to spiral out of control, it’s ever apparent that this is one phenomenal album. It’s good to see that out of something heartbreaking, can materialize something amazing and beautiful. While I don’t wish Gretchen any more heartbreak, I’m hoping that she can at least draw a whole lot more out of her experiences, if this is a testament to what can be achieved.

Conclusion : A stunning album, that feels very personal and intimate. A tinge of sadness, melancholy and eternal hope for the future. Awesome.

Posted in Acoustic, Country, Folk | No Comments »

Album – No More Beautiful World – Roger Clyne and the Peacemakers

Posted by admin on 11th October 2007

Comparing a band to Neil Diamond, can either be taken as a huge compliment, or a slap in the face, depending on your perspective. Here it’s meant very much as the former. It’s almost like Neil Diamond for the 21st century, with Neil Diamond’s very melodic vocals, backed by a terrific band and some killer songs. OK, so comparisons to an aging, 60s and 70s superstar are not something every band will appreciate, but the end result here is something quite special.

The album opens with “Hello New Day” and you can’t help but be swept up with the positive vibe of the album. This really is one of those albums, you need when you’re a grumpy git in need of some spirit elevation. In fact I had it on my portable player, while waiting for the bus, as my wife told me she wouldn’t be able to pick me up from work. I don’t take the dreaded bus often, so my mood was decidedly jaded.

When I hit play button, after selecting this album, it was almost like one of those moments, when you are standing in a torrential downpour and then the rain stop and the sun fights it’s way through. That’s exactly how I felt when “Hello New Day” started. This was the first time I’d actually really listened to this album, and thinking that this was one trick pony, “Bottom of the Bay” came on and I was immediately blown away, by the apparent consistency of this album. There’s 14 tracks on this album and I have to say I’m very hard pressed to pick a single song that failed to live up to the expectations that had been heightened by the first two tracks. I know this is going to be a difficult album indeed to select a single song for the podcast, so I just may have to do a “Good Luck Joe” and feature two… that is if Roger lets me.

Something I always find strange, is this album is classified as Americana, which is a classification that has always baffled me. To me this is classic pop/rock and fantastic pop/rock at that.

Conclusion : A terrific album, that has been on constant rotation in my CD player for a good few weeks, and will no doubt be played for a long while to come.

Posted in Americana, Country, Rock | No Comments »

Album – Walk On – Kellie Coffey

Posted by admin on 18th September 2007

Country is not a genre of music, I usually have a lot of time for. However on the odd occasion, an artist appears that manages to strike the right chord. I was approached by the marketing company representing Kellie and given her MySpace details. The first song I heard was “I Would Die for That” and I can honestly say I was genuinely moved, not just by the subject matter, a woman coping with infertility, but also by Kellie’s wonderful and emotive voice. I knew that this was going to be an artist I had to review. After listening to the album just once, I was blown away and it continues to capture a bigger space in my music heart.

Kellie is one of those artists that has travelled the major label route, and now finds herself an independent artist. Major lable’s loss, is indie’s gain.

The album begins with “Walk On”, which certainly has hints of dare I say it, Shania Twain. Certainly when you get to the chorus, you feel like that hint of familiarity, which is not always a bad thing. While this track is definitely more pop than country, the roles are reversed with the next track “When Pigs Fly”, with it’s banjo and fiddle accompaniment. “Everything She Never Wanted” also has that very country feel, but it’s not all out, full on country and it’s not really pop, but falls just in that middle catchment area, which is probably why it appeals to me so much. “Strong Enough to Cry” is a nice platform for Kellie’s great voice and it’s probably here that I really began to notice the great production on this track and indeed the rest of the album.

As I mentioned before “I Would Die for That” is an absolutely killer track, that is sure to melt all but the coldest hearts. There’s also a video for this track, which you can find pretty easily on YouTube. “I Thought I Knew You Well” has a tune that reminds me of a track from another band, more specifically the guitar accompaniment, but it is a great melodic, laid back track, with a wonderful hook for a chorus.

OK, so everything has been going swimmingly, well that was until I got to “Bandwagon”. This track for me, while being fun and light hearted, is just a bit too square dance for me and always has me reaching for the [Next] button, when close to hand. The final 5 tracks are totally in keeping with the rest of the album, rounding off with “There You Go Again”, which while fairly downbeat, provides a fitting end, to a wonderful journey.

Conclusion : Aside from a single track that is maybe a little too, jingle, jangle country for me, this is an incredible album, that’s really made me sit up and listen to country, so no mean feat in itself. I can’t wait to see what comes over the horizon from Kellie and can thoroughly recommend this album, if you like good music, lyrics and a voice that is both sensual and full of raw emotion. Truly wondrous.

Posted in Country, Pop, Rock | No Comments »