Eddie Heinzelman - "Wherever You Go" One Louder Records
Session guitarist Eddie Heinzelman has made somewhat of a name for himself in the Nashville country music scene. "Wherever You Go," his second solo release which premiered October 26, is full of his skills as a guitarist and a reasonable explanation why he has been in such session demand. Heinzelman admitted that in the past, his creativity had been somewhat restricted and this album was intended to set that right. He wanted to explore his own version of what country meant to him. "Go" consists of eleven original tracks, ten of which Heinzelman exclusively composed and a collaboration with Radney Foster on the title track. Manifestly this work is emblematic of modern country in that it has both a country and rock flavored sound. With impressive writing both musically and lyrically, "Wherever You Go" is an excellent second work finely honed in country traditions.
Overall: 8; Sonics: 8
Edward David Anderson - "Chasing Butterflies" Black Dirt Records
By his own admission, Anderson admits that twenty-five years ago he could not have written the songs on his latest release, "Chasing Butterflies." Anderson is a skilled songwriter both musically and lyrically. Hailing from the musically iconic greater Muscle Shoals, AL region, Anderson sings about the South. His songs, while a cross between country, folk, bluegrass and bit of rock thrown in for good measure, are about the Southern condition, oh, and also tattoos. Maybe twenty-five years ago these songs may not have manifested themselves. Perhaps Anderson's life and journey since his youth have imbued him with wisdom only age can provide. Maybe so. What I do know is that if you like a skilled singer, songwriter with something to actually say, this is a thoroughly enjoyable work.
Overall: 8, Sonics: 8
Stringshot - Blues & Latin Chops Not Chaps Records
Rock, jazz, world music and Latin - the new release by the trio Stringshot has all of these flavors and more. Composed of American blues slide guitarist Roy Rogers, Brazilian guitarist Badi Assad, and South American harpist and violinist Carlos Reyes, Stringshot has a smattering of multiple flavors of what is likely best described as jazz. Despite being somewhat genre centric, each member of the trio stepped outside of familiar territory to produce a work that functions simply as progressive jazz. Melodically, the ten original tracks range from very simple to highly complex. Perhaps most impressive is how they manage to blend almost mutually exclusive styles and genres into something new and original. Classifying this work as one thing somehow doesn't seem accurate so maybe this works better: Latin, American, Folk, Rock, African, Jazz, Rock, Vocal, Instrumental, and finally, really good.
Overall: 8, Sonics: 8
Dean Owens - "Southern Wind" At The Helm Records
Whereupon reading the press release for "Summer Wind" I found it a bit hard to believe how a Scottish singer / songwriter could know much of anything about the American South. Despite this, and containing a song titled "Elvis Was My Brother," Owens manages to deliver a stellar new work. Even more impressive is how Owens inexplicably manages to capture elements of rock, country, and even Celtic based sounds and styles in one work. I also found it interesting that I did not detect even a slight hint of a Scottish accent in his vocal tracks, not that it mattered much - he has a very distinctive voice and one that can easily become mesmerizing. He writes about such American themes as riding on boxcars, loosing his father, plains drifters and of course, Elvis Pressley. After listening to this work all the way through, I realized how wrong my early assessment was. In fact, I would speculate that Owens could write and sing about most anything and do so believably. I was very captivated by this work and highly recommend it to anyone who likes a remarkably talented troubadour.
Overall: 8.5, Sonics: 8
Artist: Tom Guerra - "American Garden" Casa Del Sol Productions Worldwide
Sometimes the world just needs a helping dose of good old guitar based rock and roll. Tom Guerra, formerly of the Mambo Sons, and in his third release, delivers just the required dose of rock and roll in "American Garden." Guerra is joined by Kenny Aaronson who is the former bassist for the Yardbirds. Together, Guerra and Aaronson have constructed a work that in some ways resembles a music style popularized by the Yardbirds - that being traditional rock and roll, a touch of blues complete with harmonica, and quite a few well-crafted and strong hooks. Musically, Guerra sings about the Vietnam War, loosing friends, and the lost of one of his idols, Tom Petty. I found this a very refreshing work that has a lot of attributes that makes a great collection of songs. It has driving guitars, great drums, and socially conscious lyrics. It was also a great change of pace from the jazz that so populates my listening habits and a work that I will certainly listen to again very soon.
Overall: 9, Sonics: 8
Taylor Martin - Song Dogs Little King Records
According to the Asheville Citizen Times, "Taylor Martin is a singer - songwriter who will remind you of everything good from Tom Waits to the Everly Brothers or the Avett Brothers with some surf rock thrown in." Indeed, Martin, an Asheville, NC resident, delivers a stunning work of eight original and three covers all done in a sometimes rock, sometimes blues, sometime ballad and sometimes folk style. His cover of Neil Young's "Music Arcade" is definitely a Cajun themed sound. Martin's voice is rather gravely sounding and is surprisingly easy to listen to for an entire CD. His covers include music from Neil Young, Merle Haggard, and Bob Dylan, which should give some idea of the style of music on this release. He sings of love and love lost, being on the highway, and the overuse of cell phones. All in all, "Song Dogs" is an excellent release of music to which almost any listener can relate. Lets face it, maybe some of us can't relate to love lost or being on the highway. But seriously, who among us can't claim overuse of a cell phone, at least at some point in time. This is just great music. Highly recommended.
Overall: 9.5, Sonics: 8