It’s that time of year!
Label: Self Released
Nashville based, east Tennessee son of a preacher raised Lynn Taylor has released Staggered, his third work of all original music. Stylistically, this work is more of a rock / folk based work and several tracks, such as track one, “Rock, Paper, Scissors” and track two, “Magnolia Bloom” have this haunting Beatles sound, or at least some of their earlier works. Manifestly, “Staggered” is an ode to Taylor’s late wife whom he lost to cancer. Many of the songs are about perseverance and learning how to cope with pervasive loss. From an arrangement standpoint, most tracks are not at all complex despite showcasing multiple guitars as well as violins, drums, bass and even a Dobro. I found the entire work lyrically interesting and while listening I was paying attention to the words in an effort to learn what they meant. All in all, an enjoyable work.
New Orleans has had its share of musical masters. Antoine “Fats” Domino, Jelly Roll Morton, and Stride piano greats James Booker and Dr. John are but a few of immortal New Orleans performers. Matt Lemmler may not have the notoriety of some the aforementioned artists but it does not mean he is any less skilled. Lemmler was educated at Loyola University and the Manhattan School Of Music ultimately earning a Master’s degree in music. He toured for several years with Andrew Lloyd Webber’s “Phantom Of The Opera” before striking out on his own. Mostly unlike a lot of high octane, up tempo New Orleans jazz, “Love,” as the title suggests, is a more somber work, more reflective, more introspective and the predominance of the tracks are soft and melodic. As a youth, he looked up to Billy Joel, both from a singing standpoint as well as his piano playing style. I suppose it is a little too hard to take the “Quarter” of the kid as I got a real “Vieux Carre’” feel to this work. My review sample also contained a bonus disc titled “Southern Songs and Sonatas” for a total of twenty-five tracks. Call it a cross between Dr. John and Billy Joel. Call it New Orleans Jazz. Any would fit. I simply call it excellent.
Label: Whitney J. Miller / TMVB Entertainment
If you have ever been to the Maggie Valley section of North Carolina, you will know it is quite mountainous and has a rich bluegrass / folk musical heritage. On “The Hardest Thing,” sisters Caroline and Whitney Miller, aka The Maggie Valley Band, deliver a work of traditional folk music complete with bluegrass overtones. With simple arrangements and traditional folk instruments such as banjo, violin, and pedal steel guitar, the ten tracks of all original music are about endurance and coping. Stylistically, if you like the Drive By Truckers, Miller and Miller will certainly be an enjoyable addition to your music collection. Track three, Bring Us Back, was my favorite with excellent imaging and a slightly more up-tempo pace than most of the other tracks. If you are a folk / bluegrass fan, this is an excellent choice.
Label: Flying Horse Records
I have to admit, I stood with this CD in my hand wondering why I ever received it for review. I have reviewed one otherwork by the Flying Horse Band, however, and despite the CD jacket with its obvious ode to the show Batman, I decided what the heck, let’s give it a spin. Julie Newmar would be impressed. As would Nelson Riddle. While I don’t own a “Bat Suit,” if I did I would have run down the hall and put it on. This CD is comprised of thirteen tracks of music from the original Batman show. Of course, five of these tracks are what the Flying Horse Band calls the “Bat-Spin.” If you remember the original show, it is that “dedla-dedla-dedla-dedla” sound when the scene changes. Musically, the eight remaining tracks are reminiscent of the big band era and even though the tracks are covers of music written for a 1970’s TV show, from a musical standpoint they could be right at home alongside Glenn Miller or Tommy Dorsey. Bat Suit notwithstanding, I enjoyed the heck out of this work by the Flying Horse Band. What’s next guys, “Mission Impossible?”
Label: Borealis Records
After listening to the first five tracks of the new release from the Fugitives I had yet to really decide what genre of music was the best fit. It could have been some sort of folk / rock hybrid, or maybe strictly one or the other. Either way, leave it so say that there are hints of folk, bluegrass and rock musical anthems interposed throughout all eleven tracks. Canadian duo Brendan McLeod and Adrian Glynn are the principal players in The Fugitives with accompaniment from other session musicians. I always like songs that build in strength and complexity as things progress and “Promise” does that on more than one track. As you listen along, things pick up speed, then sometimes regress a bit, then ramp back up for a colossal ending. All of these tracks tells a story of some sort – like a mass shooting as described on Track eight “Orlando,” to the memory of one of Glynn’s Ukrainian Mother’s lullaby’s on track six, “My Mother Sang.” I found a whole lot to like, great stories, great music, and absolutely a great CD.
Troubadour. That pretty much sums up Ned Hill’s thirty-year career traveling about playing music. He seldom gives even a pause to driving 500 miles to do a show. And in those thirty years he has amassed a lot of stories. Hill’s new release, “Six Feet Above Ground,” is a collection of stories about life, love, blue-collar values and hardworking folk delivered stylistically in a country / rock type of presentation. This is music to not only be heard for some perception of artistic quality, but also for the stories the singer is telling. Two of the ten tracks are quite soft and melodic and they showcase Hill’s more gentle side. Those tracks are of course contrasted by the up tempo country displays such as on “That’s My Story.” I found myself really engrossed into the meaning behind each song and the time I spent reviewing the entire work took longer than normal. This is because I spent most of the time listening and tapping my foot because I really enjoyed Ned Hill’s new release. And “That’s MY Story”.