Artist: Dave Kline Band - Shifting Borders Label: VedaMusic
Born in Europe, traveled the globe, and influenced by a wide variety of world music cultures, violinist Dave Kline moved to the US and immediately began making a name for himself in DC area jazz clubs. His third release, "Shifting Borders" is a collection of the various sounds he's heard throughout his travels, all based on a violin lead. While technically jazz, the nine tracks might be more appropriately described as world music - albeit with somewhat of a high-octane twist. Kline was raised in London and studied classical violin but he gravitated towards a more centric collection of blues, rock, folk and jazz. Kline wrote, composed, engineered and produced all nine tracks of what I found to be admittedly, something somehow unique, somehow baroque, and highly listenable.
Sonics: 8 Overall: 8
Artist: Gabe Evans Trio - The Wrong Waltz Label: Self-Released
Gabe Evans, who is the Assistant Professor of Jazz Composition and Arranging at the University of Louisville, has traveled the world playing in jazz combos and philharmonic orchestras alike. In his latest self released work titled "The Wrong Waltz," Evans, along with Grammy Award winning bassist Lynn Seaton, and Percussive Arts Society Hall of Fame drummer Ed Soph, offer up ten tracks of pure traditional, pure emotional, adrenalin priming jazz. Flavors of bebop, fusion jazz, and pure jazz in the fine tradition of three man combos are evident in each track. While an energy driven presentation is mostly evident, there also exists several soulful, more melodic tracks as well. Evans is a stellar pianist, and Soph and Seaton follow along on drums, and bass, respectively, to highly successful results. Those who like traditional jazz with a little bit of a kick will certainly enjoy "The Wrong Waltz." I sure did.
Sonics: 8 Overall: 8.5
Artist: Sarah Lou Richards - Someone Who Gets Me Label: Self-Produced
Nashville, TN based Sarah Lou Richards might be legitimately labeled a Country & Western songstress in the fine traditions of Miranda Lambert and Bonnie Raitt. And to be honest, those comparisons would be quite accurate. Richards is a wonderful storyteller and her music, while country based, is also driven by textures of folk, rock and blues. "Someone Who Gets Me" is Richards' third full length studio release and this one, like the two before, harken a collection of narrative tales all told in a manner that makes the listener pay attention. Manifestly, this a modern day country work, but more so than just a C&W work, this is a collection of stories. While told in a more pop, country, folk perspective, the thirteen tracks deliver a collection of songs that make the listener think. Musically, like much of what today is considered country music, it is more of cross between country and rock / pop. I really enjoyed this work not only for the music but also for the stories told. Highly recommended.
Sonics: 8 Overall: 8.5
Artist: Amanda Anne Platt & The Honeycutters - Self-Titled Label: Organic Records
In an examination of the roots of country music, a common thread is that very often the songs are infused with pedal steel guitars. Based and recorded in the Asheville, NC region, Amanda Anne Platt is very skilled in the art of telling a story. While technically country in genre, the fourth release by the artist and her band, The Honeycutters, doesn't especially feel country. Well, part of the time anyway. I found an amalgamation of a variety of genres, including predominately country, but also rock, pop and folk music. Platt is also a skilled raconteur and delivers thirteen lyrically driven tracks in an old school country format. Like many country songs, Platt's subjects include songs about love, relationships and money but also death and corruption. There was once a time in my life I would have hated this release due primarily to its country-flavored leanings. My musical tastes, however, have changed and I found this work to be immensely enjoyable.
Sonics: 8 Overall: 8.5
Artist: Bob Bradshaw - American Echoes Label: Self Released
Irish born Bob Bradshaw cut his musical teeth in Europe, relocated to the US and eventually settled in Boston, MA, a town rich in an Irish heritage. Despite his Irish background, however, Bradshaw found early influences in the Country & Western genre. While living in the Boston area, he enrolled, in his 40's no less, in the prestigious Berklee College of Music. It was there, while working on and receiving his degree in Professional Music, Bradshaw was introduced to a diverse range of musical styles. While many would categorize "American Echoes" as country, it could be also argued that it is equally influenced by folk and rock, delivered in a complex and layered style much like I would imagine he learned while at Berklee. One might hear songs with a Bob Dylan or even a Paul Simon influence and always telling an interesting story about subjects like dreamers, poets, and sinners. Highly enjoyable.
Sonics: 8.5 Overall: 8
Artist: Katherine Rondeau - New Hope Chateau Label: Self-Released
She has been called "mesmerizing." Her voice has been called "warm toned" and "powerful." She has been performing live for two years at the Philadelphia Folk Festival and in other live venues to enthused audiences. And with "New Hope Chateau," her first release, Katherine Rondeau has produced a triumph of a collection of mainly folk themed songs. Stylistically, her compositions might be likened to Lucinda Williams and perhaps Odetta Holmes. The twelve included tracks are what Rondeau describes as a "musical dissertation." I found them to be lyrically driven, stylistically complex in a simple way, and perhaps best of all, her voice is magnificent. The listener will find not only folk based music, but also bluegrass, and well, maybe even a tinge of blues every so often. I had never heard of Katherine Rondeau prior to reviewing this release and I now consider myself fortunate. I was enthralled by this work and despite the overall genre not being my predominate favorite, I found myself listening to it beyond the task of writing a review. If you love a stellar performer with a remarkable voice in the folk / country genre, "New Hope Chateau" will fit the bill very nicely.
Sonics: 8 Overall: 9.5