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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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Music Review - `The Dance at Dawn` by Nick Justice (lz)

Nick Justice -- The Dance at Dawn   (click on image to watch video)

11 April 2019

 

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When an artist like Nick Justice comes along, one has to wonder why he’s never gotten notice before. Indeed, Justice seems to have tapped into a vintage form of expression -- one that blends the essential elements of archival country, folk and blues while avoiding the confines of any one of those genres in particular. It’s a combination that’s reverent and reliable in its delivery, without feeling the need to fit any contemporary context.

Indeed, Justice seems content to pattern himself simply as a journeyman musician, one whose acoustic trappings are tailored towards simplicity as opposed to any frivolous embellishment. There’s an absolute sincerity imbued in his sentiment, and on songs such as “It Takes Two,” “Wicked Lies” and “Fight My Way Back Home,” he allows those ernest intents to set both the tone and the timbre. The sparse arrangements often create a sobering sound -- one that resonates most decidedly on entries like “Remember Me” and “Sometimes It Falls On Me,” each offering an approach that’s so convincing, no elaboration is even needed. Likewise, the bluesy “Dancin’ Shoes” delves even deeper, again allowing the feelings to come clearly to the fore.

That’s not to say Justice lacks levity. Far from it, in fact. The easy amble that accompanies the title track and the obvious affection invested in “She’s My Lover” demonstrate a decided charm and engagement. Yet Justice clearly isn’t interested in putting on airs, and given his unfettered approach, it would be fairly fruitless for him even to try. It’s evident at the outset that he and producer/engineer Richard Bredice much prefer to rely on their traditional trappings, ensuring that honesty and integrity resonate throughout. Suffice it to say, whatever attention Justice receives is decidedly deserved. 

 

 Lee Zimmerman

 

Lee Zimmerman

To Read All of Lee's Reviews, Click Here

 

 

 


 

 

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Music Review - `Garden of Edendale` by David Haerle (lz)

David Haerle - Garden of Edendale   (click on image to watch video)

10 March 2019

 

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Sometimes dreams have to be forestalled, delayed well beyond initial expectations. That was true in the case of David Haerle, a California based singer/songwriter whose first album, Garden of Edendale finds him embarking on his career late in life and after several delays, finally fulfilling his dream to create and compose. Seven years in the making, it was clearly worth waiting for. An ode to his native Los Angeles -- check out his exuberant love letter aptly titled “Crush” -- the album spins through a cascade of tones and textures in its exploration of various tales and topics. Haerle’s melodious vocals make an immediate impression, and though he sometimes cedes the spotlight to lean on the occasional instrumental (“The Tone That  Got Away,” “Everything I Ever Wanted”), that signature surge remains intact throughout.

 

To his credit then, Haerle maintains an individual identity that helps affirm his signature sound. With an astute backing band in tow, he veers from the fluid acoustic guitar that colors the lovelorn opener “Finding Natalie” and the sweetly smitten “Always” to the topical talk of a potential woman’s anthem, titled, naturally enough, “Women make the World Go ‘Round,” and the playful “Play It Like the Record,” a decided dig at audiences that insist artists replay their records note for note. There’s a hint of Prince on “Shining Star,” a touch of Crosby Stills Nash in that opening strum of the aforementioned “Finding Natalie,” some similarity to the dour, deep-voiced sound of Lou Reed on the winsome “Tell Your Story,” but clearly it’s clearly Haerle’s harmonious delivery that dominates and creates its own indelible imprint.

 

Ultimately, Haerle deserves kudos, not only for bringing his quest to fruition but for also realizing such admirable results. “Let’s tell our story, it will help us through,” he suggests on the track titled “Tell Your Story.” By his own example, that’s a lesson well learned. It may be a belated entry, but regardless, Garden of Edendale reflects a career now in full bloom.

 

 

 

  Lee Zimmerman

 

Lee Zimmerman

 

 

 


 

 

 

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Music Review - `The Long Road Home` by Kevin Deal (lz)

Kevin Deal -- The Long Road Home    (click on image to watch video)

11 April 2019

 

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Kevin Deal is what most people would describe as a multi-tasker. Over the course of a 25 year career, he’s managed to integrate his musical pursuits -- as represented by the nine albums he’s recorded thus far -- with any number of other obligations, including his ongoing efforts as a family man, stoneworker and member of the Weston. Texas Volunteer fire department and city council. That’s admirable of course, but it may be one reason why Deal’s musical offerings have remained well below the radar, even though he has nine exceptional albums to his credit.

 

Still, there’s always reason to hope that Deal’s efforts will finally reap him the attention he so decidedly deserves. Indeed, with a venerable producer like Lloyd Maines at the helm, that lack of recognition is all but inexplicable. Hopefully, though, Deal’s wonderful new record, The Long Road Home, will finally offer him the recognition he’s long deserved. Those seeking reliable comparisons would best be advised to reference Steve Earle, Guy Clark or Townes Van Zandt, and indeed, on songs such as “Reckoning,” “The Long Road Home” and “My Heart,” he shares a tattered perspective that comes across as rugged, determined and soaked in sentiment all at the same time. Both tender and tenacious, Deal’s a superb songwriter, but even when he covers such standards as “Knockin’ On Heaven’s Door” and “”Ring of Fire,” he exudes resilience and conviction that easily equal the originals.

Graced by an A list support crew -- one that includes not only Maines on guitars and pedal steel but also Richard Bowden on fiddle and Terri Hendrix on harmony vocals -- The Long Road Home finds Deal demonstrating the fact that he’s a top tier Americana artist who needs not take secondary standing to anyone. Indeed, this particular journey is one well worth following. 

 

 Lee Zimmerman

 

Lee Zimmerman

 

 

 


 

 

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Music Review - `Til the Wheels Fall Off` by Bruce Smith (lz)

Bruce Smith - ‘Til the Wheels Fall Off    (click on image to watch video)

03 March 2019

 

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From the first notes of his especially exceptional album, Til the Wheels Fall Off -- his third full- length outing to date -- Bruce Smith proves his credence as a journeyman rocker with the level of conviction needed to garner a growing grassroots following. A solid singer/songwriter boasting a rootsy regimen, he reflects the same sort of blue-collar roots shared by other

Everyman heroes when it comes to effectively form an immediate connection. Indeed, he makes a convincing case that like others of his ilk -- Springsteen and Mellencamp in particular --he’s a triumphant troubadour capable of translating his down-home demeanor into a solid, stoic, anthemic sound, flush with both passion and purpose. To Smith’s credit, that quality is as evident in a heartfelt narrative like “‘59 Stratocaster” as it is in the relentless Jerry Lee Lewis-style rocker “Longbranch Inn,” the doggedly determined “Terry the Texas Tornado” and the down-home delivery of “Cowboy Up.” It’s instantly apparent that Smith remains fully capable of rocking relentlessly, even while evoking imagery ideally suited to heartland happenstance. The solid surge of the title track reflects a certain drive and defiance but also make it apparent that he has no need for posturing or pretense, His dry, Dylanesque delivery on the heart worn ballad “Elizabeth & Spring” testifies to that notion, and when here reflects the unrepentant attitude and urgency that echoes through opening track “30 Days,” it’s clear he’s found some solid standing.

Suffice it to say that regardless of tone or tempo, Smith possesses a clear conviction that furnishes each of these ten tracks with an immediate embrace. It’s a riveting, relentless sound that comes across in every one of these resilient refrains and compelling choruses. It’s also a measure of Smith’s assurance and authority that the album carries the emphatic impact that’s so prevalent throughout. Hopefully, his wheels will continue to spin for some time to come.

 

 Lee Zimmerman

 

Lee Zimmerman

 

 

 


 

 

 

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