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Music Review - `True is Beautiful` by Raveis Kole (lz)

Raveis Kole-- True is Beautiful   (click on image to watch )

 25 July 2021



Laurie Raveis and Dennis Kole, better known as Raveis Kole, share a sound that reflects a variety of styles, all sumptuous, seductive and flush with immense appeal. An Americana ambiance meshes with Middle Eastern mystery to create a gypsy like sway, gently enhanced by the duo’s seamless harmonies, percussive guitar rhythms, and imaginative tunings. Mostly though, it’s the couple’s gently engaging melodic approach that draws the listener in, offering a soothing respite in a troubled and turbulent time when solace is needed most. 

The duo’s new single, “True Is Beautiful,” offers a testament to the fact that the ultimate good can be found simply by appreciating the beauty found in the natural world while also understanding that nature can provide answers if one simply takes the time to listen. The narrative begins with a snake escaping from a garden it calls home. The arrangements reflect a decided uncertainty as the snake makes its way towards new environs, before the music shifts to an easy, assured rhythm and a decidedly calming caress. Raveis’ soaring vocal takes the song to new heights, embedding the title “True Is Beautiful” as a kind of mantra that translates to a greater reality, a mantra that suggests individuality and the need to simply be ourselves is far more important than simply going along with what society feeds us.  Ultimately, there’s no need to conform if we stay faithful to our instincts and expertise. 

Indeed, it’s Raveis Kole’s tangled tapestries and instrumental allure that makes the song’s appeal so apparent, offering a bold way forward even when the scenario suggests otherwise. The cadence overcomes the caution to reach a triumphant conclusion. 

Or, as the lyric suggests, “… caged bird cries …” and how susceptible we all are to the “… tasty live bait, eat this stuff, more is not enough…”

As enlightening as it is inviting, “True Is Beautiful” ought to further expand the pair’s fan following, many of whom have witnessed them in live performances throughout the U.S., Canada and the U.K. Add to that their top chart placement, critical kudos, ongoing international airplay and a triple nomination for Hollywood Music in Media Award, and it’s easy to understand how Raveis Kole’s natural inclination is to inspire with desire. 



 Lee Zimmerman


Lee Zimmerman

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Music Review - `Overdue` by Severin Browne (lz)

Severin Browne -- Overdue  (click on image to watch )

 19 May 2021



For starters, it’s best to clear the elephant out of the room. Yes, it’s no coincidence that Severin Browne shares the same last name as one Jackson Browne. The two are, in fact, brothers, with Jackson being the older of the two. Yet, there’s little commonality that connects the two, at least as far as their music is concerned.  Wisely, Severin has chosen to follow his own muse without leaning on his brother’s fame or notoriety. It’s a a credit to his credence that he’s pursued his own sound throughout a career that now spans the better part of five decades. 

His pursuits began with a stint as a songwriter and subsequently a recording artist for Motown Records when he was 21, and they continued over the course of several albums, the most recent of which, Lucky Man — A Songwriter’s Notebook — was released in 2012.

After nine years, his new album, the aptly-titled Overdue, clearly lives up to its name. 

Those who expect some sort of reflection of his older brother’s sobering sentiments will likely be surprised by the upbeat accessibility that characterizes each of these entries, from the vibrant tone of “Young and Free” and the steady stride of “Fukushima Sunset “ to the tender trappings of the title track and the heartfelt narrative shared with “Miguel and Maria,” a tale of two immigrants desperate to find refuge in what was once deemed America’s promised land. 

Browne himself was responsible for writing all the songs, and given the arrangements provided by a skilled cast of supporting musicians, each is clearly radio-ready for any programmer that might care to take note. This is music that adheres to a finely tuned template, one that combines affability and intellect in equal proportion.

That said, some might find it surprising that Browne has yet to reap the recognition that seems to have evaded him up until now. After all, while it might not seem appropriate comparing him to his big brother, it’s certainly safe to say that he’s a solid talent entirely on his own. If skill and substance are the standard for success, then indeed Browne’s time is indeed long overdue.


 Lee Zimmerman


Lee Zimmerman

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Music Review - `Rope the Wind` by Nick Justice (lz)

Nick Justice -- Rope the Wind   (click on image to watch )

 14 April 2021



If Nick Justice’s career has found him lurking below the radar, it’s only because he’s the one that initially put the brakes on. Weaned on the Southern California sound — as represented by the Eagles, Crosby, Stills and Nash and Jackson Browne — he was lured to the Golden State in the late ‘80s and became a journeyman of sorts — busking, paying his dues  in various itinerate ensembles and playing for whoever would listen. Eventually he worked his way up to the status  of an opening act, serving a support role to number of important outfits — X, the Blasters, the Radiators, the Del Fuegos and other ‘80s and ‘90s scene-setters

Nevertheless, Justice eventually came to the conclusion that the music biz wasn’t exactly his cup of tea, and in 1996 he took a hiatus to get married and tend to his family. Nearly 20 years later he reemerged, became reacquainted with his muse, gathered an all-star list of support musicians —  multi-instrumentalist Greg Leisz, guitarist Bobby Cochran, former Jools Holland guitarist Richard Bredice, keyboard player Dave Witham, and former Funky Kings drummer Frank Cotinola, among them — and released his first album, aptly titled The Cry of the Street Prophet. That was followed two years later by his sophomore set Between a Laugh and a Tear, which found him recruiting the same personnel that shared studio time on his debut. 

He’s released two more albums since then — Get the Dance At Dawn and The Road Not Taken — but his current offering, Rope the Wind, may offer his best chance yet to get the belated attention he so decidedly deserves. A collection of low-key cowboy ballads and forlorn laments, it’s a decidedly unassuming effort, marked by simple, straight-forward arrangements courtesy of Justice and a pair of accomplished collaborators — Richard Bredice reprising his role on guitars, banjo, backing vocals and keyboards, and Richard Stekol doubling down on guitars, bass, drums, mandolin and harmonies. The supple sound suits the songs well, whether it’s the mournful strains of “After We Say Goodbye, the folk-like flourish of “Run Away,” the uptempo flourish that adds impetus to “Rhymes and Reasons,” the rugged wild west narrative that touts the story of  “Billy the Kid,” or the solid and sturdy title track. 

Credit Justice with a knack for sharing a kind of breezy balladry — note the resemblance to Johnny Cash on opening track “Traveling Man” —  and while his is a generally unassuming sound, the music is still seeped in sentiment and an easy, affable embrace. So while Rope the Wind doesn’t necessarily muster anything akin to a gale force frenzy, it’s a brisk and breezy encounter regardless. 



 Lee Zimmerman


Lee Zimmerman

To Read All of Lee's Reviews, Click Here



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Music Review - `Ain’t Your Momma` by Rhonda Funk (lz)

Rhonda Funk -- Ain't Your Momma   (click on image to watch )

 11 May 2021



One thing’s certain. Rhonda Funk isn’t shy about her assertive  perspective. With her descriptively titled EP, Ain’t Your Momma, she revels in both attitude and aptitude, expressing emotions that take her songs from comfort to confrontation, delving into defiance with grit and gravitas. Aided by an exceptional cast of session players, she emotes with a veracity and determination capable of soundly shutting down anyone who would question her tone and tenacity. 

Indeed, her pointed perspective is evident at the outset through the petulant put-down she shares with what seems to be a lazy lover. That blustery title track sets a tone that’s sustained through the effort overall, even though the discourse can change in mood and melody. The sole cover, a rugged take on Jon Bon Jovi’s “Whole Lot of Leavin’,” is shared as a bittersweet break-up ballad, one that expresses the regrets and remorse that come with the prospect of permanently parting ways. So too, “Liar Liar” calls out a deceitful partner whose cheating is easy to detect courtesy of credit card charges and secret texts that take place late at night. It’s evident indeed that the object of her scorn did a poor job of covering his tracks.

On the other hand, the track that precedes it, “I Could Get Used to This,” is equally emphatic, a rowdy and rollicking tune that revels in a relationship where things are obviously going according to plan. 

Other songs delve into deeper emotions by sharing some tender trappings. “More Than A Table”  offers an ode to someone whose life was clearly more than the sum of his efforts, while “Cumberland Falls” pays homage to a place that made an emphatic impression early in her life and continues to capture her affection.

Taken in tandem, this Funk’s fourth outing ably reflects the fact that she’s receiving recognition she so clearly deserves. It’s the rare artist who finds a common connection with her listeners, but given her emotive embrace, it’s fair to say that Funk succeeds.



 Lee Zimmerman


Lee Zimmerman

To Read All of Lee's Reviews, Click Here



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Music Review - `Oh America` by Nellie Clay (lz)

Nellie Clay -- Oh America   (click on image to watch video)

 8 March 2021



Nellie Clay comes about her musical roots quite naturally. A native of Western Oklahoma — birthplace of  America’s most essential folk troubadour, Woody Guthrie — she ploughs a rootsy  terrain that’s well in keeping an honest heartland persona. After a pair of albums (Born Too Late and Never Did What I Shoulda Done) and two EPs (We Got Songs To Sing and Long Sunsets), her new six song set, decidedly titled Oh America, maintains a freewheeling finesse that consisting allows for what appears to be a seemingly effortless embrace. 

That’s evident immediately at the outset with opening track “Small Town Queen,” the tale of an everyday girl who harbors greater ambitions that her rural environs can ever provide That same spirit of downcast determination is evident in the song that follows, “If I Could Paint You a Picture,” a lilting lament that finds Clay sharing both heart and happenstance with equal determination.

“Good Women” boasts a decidedly darker demeanor, and while she offers encouragement to others who have undergone harrowing circumstance, she seems to be sharing her own scenarios as well. “I know in my heart I have something to say,” she sings prior to insisting, “I’m gonna get down and turn this around.” “Kind Love,” on the other hand takes more of a ramshackle approach, courtesy of the steady pluck of acoustic guitars, banjo and its ragged rhythms.

Nevertheless, it’s the title track that finds the emotional core of the album. Beginning with the hushed, hallowed sound of “Taps,” the traditional requiem to the fallen, it’s both a tribute to those who have helped further this nation’s nobler purpose and also a reflection on the work that’ yet to be done. That then leads into the EP’s closing coda, the fittingly-titled “Long Sunset,” a most intimate ode that sums up the distance and divide that’s riddled our lives lately. Sounding like a forgotten gem by Hank Williams (think his classic “Lost Highway”), it defines what it means to seek limitless opportunity unfettered by confines or concerns. 

Like the country celebrated by its title, Oh America is a precious piece of work, an example of pure emotion, insight and sensitivity. These are indeed sentiments worth savoring.


 Lee Zimmerman


Lee Zimmerman

To Read All of Lee's Reviews, Click Here


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