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Music Review - `Goin’ Down To Meet The Devil ` by Barnyard Stompers (lz)

Barnyard Stompers -- Goin’ Down To Meet The Devil    (click on image to watch video)

 8 June 2019

 

BlackSuffice it to say, it would be difficult, if not impossible, to find a band that better lives up to its name that the Barnyard Stompers. What’s especially remarkable is that this band is not an entire ensemble, but rather a dynamic duo, one consisting of husband and wife Casey Miller and Megan Wise. With Miller responsible for vocals, guitar and harmonica, and Wise holding down the rhythm on drums, they manage to make a ferocious noise, one that combines gritty rock, stoic country and solid blues, all immersed in an unapologetic and insurgent attitude. And though the album is only nine songs long, the music it includes is amplified well beyond any thrifty set-up.

Likewise, just as there are no other musicians involved other than the two mainstays, Miller and Wise effectively make up for any shortfalls through their instrumental arrangements. Miller parlays a mighty vocal throughout, from the rowdy rave-up of “Road Dog” and “Hog Slop Holler,” to the edgy stomp of “Same Old Song & Dance” and the ruggedly assertive, bluesy and blustery ”On My Way To Meet The Devil.” For extra measure, the latter is conveyed with full fury before being reprised in a decidedly stripped-down setting.

Nevertheless, for all its intensity, there are occasional moments of respite. The first is found in the jaunty road song “500 Miles From Home,” and later, in the darkly defiant and decidedly downcast “Demons I Carry.” It’s also clear that this Texas twosome boasts a reverence for their roots. The album’s sole ballad, “My Woman’s Man” reflects that devotion and determination bound up in a sturdy stance that aptly reflects the Barnyard Stompers’ embrace of a sound that’s as sprawling as the state from which it’s spawned. Likewise, their ability to incorporate a diverse array of influences -- one that manages to give Waylon Jennings and Johnny Cash equal footing alongside ZZ Top, Soundgarden, and the White Stripes -- is admirable in itself. These spouses don’t necessarily parlay a sound synonymous with domestic bliss, but they pull together as partners and do it remarkably well.

 

 Lee Zimmerman

 

Lee Zimmerman

To Read All of Lee's Reviews, Click Here

 

 

 


 

 

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Music Review - `Burnt The Sawmill Down` by Caleb Daugherty Band (lz)

Caleb Daugherty Band -- Burnt The Sawmill Down    (click on image to watch video)

14 May 2019

 

Black

For a young man who’s still a couple of years away from turning 30, Caleb Daugherty can claim some might auspicious accomplishments. Having first picked up the guitar at the age of seven, he found success early on when he was tapped by bluegrass legend Rhonda Vincent to join her and her band on the stage of the Grand Ole Opry. More recently, he was chosen to participate in a salute to the late Keith Whitley along with Lorrie Morgan, Darryl Worley and several other artists of similar stature.

 

Those are impressive accomplishments, but the real evidence of his talents comes in the form of his new album, Burnt The Sawmill Down, a collection of songs that demonstrate Daugherty’s astute abilities and absolute dedication to creating a truly credible country sound. Each of its ten songs creates a durable impression, a no-nonsense approach that proves both resolute and resilient.

 

Daugherty and company clearly take their efforts seriously, courtesy of an unassuming sound replete with banjos, mandolins and a carefree caress that remains consistent from track to track. Songs such as “Big Wheels Rollin’,” “She’s the Ramblin’ Kind,” and “Riding My Thumb to Mexico” are replete with restlessness and wanderlust, each an ode to the open road. The band eschews unnecessary embellishment in favor of heartfelt sentiment and sincerity. Even at his tender years, Daugherty’s voice reflects that of a seasoned, slightly hardbitten troubadour who views life through a maze of chance encounters that leave lasting impressions on both his music and his mindset. “Going Through the Motions,” a pointed duet with the aforementioned Ms. Vincent, expresses that sentiment best, a narrative about the endless series of gigs and one night stands that typify every troubadour’s eternal existence. Likewise, when Daugherty describes his eventual escape from cares and concern on “Long, Long Journey,” it’s clear he’s convinced he’ll find his eventual reward.

Naturally, Daugherty has a way to go before that. If this satisfying set of songs is any indication, he’ll achieve plenty of promise in the meantime. It’s simply that good.

 

 

 

 Lee Zimmerman

 

Lee Zimmerman

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Music Review - `Maze` by Ariana Gillis (lz)

Ariana Gillis -- Maze    (click on image to watch video)

 5 May 2019

 

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With her waif-like vocals and softly assured melodies, Ariana Gillis possesses all the qualities needed to garner instant appeal. Already hailed at home in her native Canada, Gillis has acquired a number of prestigious awards thus far, among them, kudos as Songwriter of the Year at the 2009 Niagara Music Awards, wins for both vocalist and album of the year from that same highly accredited organization. and, a year later, recognition with a 2009 Canadian Folk Music Award as Young Performer of the Year. Those are heady accomplishments for one with only two albums to her name up until now, but likewise, it’s the praises she’s culled from some notable names -- Elton John lyricist Bernie Taupin and Americana notable Buddy Miller in particular -- that suggests that credence was quick in coming.

With her third effort, The Maze, Gillis again proves that all the good reviews she’s accrued were well deserved.  A superior songwriter as well as a superb singer, she provides a series of strong narratives that veer from whispered refrains to a relentless rumble. While the predominance of mellow musings suggest that Gillis is prone towards introspection and vulnerability (“We are delicate and bendable, no armor on/And that maze inside will pull you in and terrify,” she purrs on the sublime title track), there’s a decided uptick in energy on such songs as “White Blush” and “Slo Motion Killer” later in the set. And while certain song titles -- “The Feeling of Empty,” “Lost With You, “Dream Street” et. al. -- offer the impression that Gillis can be a solitary shoegazer, she dispels that notion early on with the turgid trappings underscoring the emphatic opener “Dirt Gets Dirty.”

So too, credit co-producers Buddy Miller and David Gillis for keeping the proceedings on track, and allowing The Maze to manifest as a conclusive narrative. As for Gillis herself, the fact that it’s been eight years since her last release might suggest she’s taken plenty of time to contemplate her next move. If that’s the case, we can only hope that whatever maze she’s circulated in allows an easy exit for a quicker follow up the next time. 

 

 Lee Zimmerman

 

Lee Zimmerman

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Music Review - `Tennessee Alabama Fireworks` by Boo Ray (lz)

Boo Ray -- Tennessee Alabama Fireworks    (click on image to watch video)

 21 February 2019

 

Black

It’s always been obvious that Boo Ray takes his job seriously. His music reflects a certain grit and gravitas that begs to be taken seriously. His latest effort, Tennessee Alabama Fireworks, is no exception. Relayed from a distinctly blue-collar perspective, it was inspired by an iconic sign that beckons travellers to sample its wares, and has, over the years, became a beacon for those making their way up Tennessee’s Cumberland Pass, people described in his liner notes as “truckers, troubadours, Bonarroo folks, drug company sales reps, cavers and spelunkers, long distance lovers, people hell bent on Nashville Hot Chicken, Predators and Titans fans, Vandy peeps, and the bands touring in and out of Nashville.”

That’s a varied bunch to be sure, but the thing they all seem to hold in common is a wanderlust and willingness to commit themselves to that road. Consequently, it’s little wonder that Boo Ray draws on that drive and determination in each of these hard-edged narratives. Songs such as “Don’t Look Back,” “Honky Tonk Dream” and “A Tune You Can Whistle” are all steady and assured, tales sung from the perspective of those who rarely give a glimpse into the rearview mirror. The remorseful rocker “20 Questions” and the rugged resolve of “Gone Back Down To Georgia” purvey a no-nonsense perspective that’s never diminished or denied.

In many ways, Boo Ray maintains a stoic Southern tradition, one infused by the likes of Waylon and Willie, Merle Haggard, Kris Kristofferson and other epic outlaws that took a long, hard view of life and never ever faltered in their footsteps. The ethereal sweep of “She Wrote the Song” aside, he persists and perseveres, singing his songs for the masses and never sugarcoating their stories. Yet at the same time, his humanity is never in doubt, and he rarely feigns from sharing his own arched view of life... of its tragedies, of triumphs and travails. It’s the thing that makes Boo Ray so essential in these troubled times, an artist who opts to tell it like it really is, the consequences of that honesty be damned. Like the sign that inspires the album title, it can create a combustible combination, but one that continues to entice as a result.

 

 Lee Zimmerman

 

Lee Zimmerman

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Music Review - `That Kinda Guy` by Mike Dekle (lz)

Mike Dekle -- That Kinda Guy    (click on image to watch video)

 13 April February 2019

 

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Mike Dekle sings about subjects that often appear at odds. On the one hand, he tends to dwell on those magic moments when either a girl or a guy loses their virginity. Why not?  Regardless of how they’re shared in song, romantic interludes typically lead to the consummation of some sort, sometimes for the very first time. In that regard, Dekle is simply tapping into a tradition.

 

At the same time, Dekle also appears to be a man of deep devotion, and a firm believer in God. So while That Kinda Guy can’t be considered a gospel album per se -- after all, it does describe several secular encounters -- he isn’t shy about sharing his faith and offering his thanks for the Almighty’s oversight. The song titles are almost uniformly optimistic; “We’re Gonna Ride Again,” “Alive and Well,” High Achiever,” and “Make Your Life Go Right” exude an upbeat attitude inspired by a certain passion and perseverance. Dekle delivers a message based on reassurance and resolve, elements sorely needed in today’s troubling world.

 

Dekle ties these disparate subjects together through a quiet, unassuming approach that maintains a distinctly mellow tone throughout. His down-home delivery is indicative of his rural environs and despite its sometimes sugary sentiment, Dekle’s sincerity is never in doubt. He’s fortunate to have a seasoned producer at the helm in the person of John Keane, an artist in his own right who’s best known for his work with R.E.M., the Indigo Girls and Widespread Panic among the many. Dekle touts Keene’s credits in the liner notes with no small measure of pride, but even so, it’s not entirely clear what Keane’s influence might have been. It’s likely it wasn’t overly exacting, given that this is a decidedly unassuming effort. Then again, as the title suggests, Dekle himself is “that kinda guy,” and he successfully channels a very personal kinda charm throughout.

 

 

 

 Lee Zimmerman

 

Lee Zimmerman

To Read All of Lee's Reviews, Click Here

 

 

 


 

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