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Music Review - `Deluge of Hurt` by Tornado Sky (lz)

Tornado Sky — Deluge of Hurt   (click on image to watch )

 10 October 2022



Jerry Careaga and Stephanie Gladhart can each claim to possess plenty of experience and expertise as far as their songwriting is concerned. They’ve been collaborating for the past twenty years, each having developed a proficiency for performing original material at a remarkably early age.

Nevertheless, while Careaga has had a successful career as a recording artist and award-winning songwriter, Deluge of Hurt represents Gladhart’s first attempt at asserting herself as a writer and recording artist. Consequently, the pair’s debut disc, Deluge of Hurt, represents a dynamic new beginning, affirming the fact that this effort was ultimately long overdue. It’s a surprisingly strong set of songs for an introductory offering, one which reflects a keen combination of insight and emotion. The songs resonate from a personal perspective, and it’s that intellect and awareness that instill these offerings with an impactful presence throughout. Aided by an expert backing band, Careaga and Gladhart successfully establish themselves as a formidable duo, one capable of creating nuanced narratives from striking scenarios that are as affecting as they are expressive. 

Examples of those qualities can be found throughout, beginning with the earnest and engaging title track.  There are numerous other examples as well — the tender and touching “Red Cloud Road,” the sentiment and sincerity given in “Go,” the decidedly down-home demeanor underscoring “Am I Mighty,” the quiet croon wafting through “Blow Me Away,” and, ultimately, the wistful and reflective narrative “Maybe It’ll All Come Back To Me.” Through it all, Careaga and Gladhart literally inhabit these songs. The resilient refrain that echoed in “Somebody’s Looking Out For Me” offers a measure of both reassurance and resignation that affected each after a series of troubles and travails.

It’s certainly unusual to find such an astute offering in a first-time outing, but in this particular case, Tornado Sky has exceeded expectations. Deluge of Hurt is an auspicious introduction, and one that bodes well for all that may be yet to come.


 Lee Zimmerman


Lee Zimmerman

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Music Review - `Gratitude` by Dan Imhoff (lz)

Dan Imhoff-- Gratitude   (click on image to watch )

 25 September 2022



If the title of Dan Imhoff’s new LP seems to hint at some sense of reflection and fulfillment, it’s obviously no accident. Imhoff’s upbeat attitude is evident at the outset, courtesy of the title tune, which proceeds to shine a light on a generally sunny set of circumstance. Imhoff, is certainly adept at being expressive; in addition to making music, he’s an author, activist and podcaster with a decided world view.

Gratitude, Imhoff’s fifth solo album, was recorded in Valencia and Gerona, Spain late last year utilizing the help of some local musicians. Although the songs were written during lockdown, they reflect a personal perspective that shares both optimism and endurance in equal measure. The seductive sway that underscores “Gratitude” (“I want to move to the great state of gratitude?) and the earnest approach of “When A Great Tree Falls” (“Will we be strong enough to fight for what we believe?”) and the somewhat subdued “There There” (“Gotta find a way to keep believing”) demonstrate Imhoff’s effusive intent and a decided optimism that still prevails in the face of difficulties and despair.

So too, with “Coming Into View” Imhoff puts it all into perspective. “Love is the only game,” he insists.

The jaunty “So Good To Be a Dog” expresses the pleasure of shedding one’s cares and simply finding a fit through innocence, loyalty and the acceptance of whatever gifts life has to offer. We should all be so carefree, the song suggests. The casual caress of “Why I Drink the Wine” echoes the same sentiments.

Nevertheless, that unerring insistence is upended at times. “Dark Side,” as its title implies, deals with more somber circumstance, given a feeling of pervasive pessimism. “I still try to convince myself I get what I need,” the singer moans, expressing the hopelessness that keeps him confined to his bed while finding cause to carry on. It’s a feeling of futility common to many these days, and Imhoff expresses it with a similar sense of sadness and frustration. “Crazy Town” has him falling prey to the same sort of anguish and anxiety

Happily, the mood is quickly lifted. “Lie Down With the Wild Things” suggests that it’s time to get back to nature and

 celebrate those things that make life worth living. “Accidentally Valencia” celebrates the peaceful environs he calls home, while the easy, breezy “Factory of Tangled Dreams” is all about sedate contemplation. Happily too, with its concluding track, “Angel Touching Down,” his hope finds fruition in the realization that patience and perseverance do have their rewards.

Ultimately then, Gratitude offers an antidote for these troubled times and reason to believe that better days lie beyond the horizon, if only we’re willing to make the mental effort to get there. And in that sense, Imhoff prompts a full measure of gratitude indeed.


 Lee Zimmerman


Lee Zimmerman

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Music Review - `By the Risin’ of the Sea` by James Kahn (lz)

James Kahn -- By the Risin’ of the Sea   (click on image to watch )

 25 May 2022



James Kahn has been called a renaissance man, and for good reason. A writer and producer for a number of high profile television series —“Melrose Place” and “Star Trek: Voyager” chief among them — as well as the author of such popular novels as “Return of the Jedi” and “The Goonies,” he’s adept at sharing spellbinding stories that manage to both entertain and enthrall. And while lately he’s put his focus on making music, he remains focused on offerings that are both creative and compelling in equal measure.


Kahn’s latest undertaking of a musical nature goes by a telling title. By the Risin’ of the Sea: Shanties for Our Time taps into a centuries’ old tradition, one shared by seafaring souls ever since mankind began crossing the oceans, facing nature’s fury and contending with the elements in the process. Mostly, it was a way of passing the time while recounting their exploits and creating a communal bond.

That’s the spirit shared here, but these tales that are told are flush with gravitas and alarm. Mostly conveyed through a-cappella reads and scant traditional instrumentation as accompaniment, the songs — “The Risin’ of the Sea,” “In the Covid Times,” “2020:Ship of Fools” and “No More A’Whalin’” in particular — sound the alarm on an array of modern perils, including threats to the environment, the Covid crisis and the populist’s general resistance to the plight of refugees. Kahn takes the lead vocals, while a chorus of tenor, baritone and bass voices sing of that happenstance in harmony. It’s a meaningful and moving mix of sound and suggestion, imbued with emotion but inspired by the need to take immediate action in order to protect the planet.

Craft and creativity have long been part of Kahn’s grab bag of resources, and By the Risin’ of the Sea offers yet another example of the way he’s able to utilize those resources for the sake of a forthright mission. One can only hope that the lessons shared here are eventually learned.



 Lee Zimmerman


Lee Zimmerman

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Music Review - `The SideMen` by Nick Justice & Fetter Martin Homer(lz)

Nick Justice-& Fetter Martin Homer- The SideMen   (click on image to watch)

 31 May 2022



The SideMen, the initial offering from a new partnership that teams veteran singer/songwriters Nick Justice and Peter Martin Homer, clearly has a high bar to meet, given the accomplishments of its two primary principals. Homer has achieved exceptional marks as much-in demand a blues guitarist, while Justice made his name in a number of bands, while also sharing stages with several notables — INXS, Eric Johnson, The Radiators, The Blasters, X, the Bodeans, and The Del Fuegos, among them. Given the fact that both men share an affinity for the blues and call Southern California home, their union could have been considered inevitable.

Of course, mutual admiration for a particular genre and common environs are no guarantee of musical compatibility, no matter how promising the prospects may appear early on. Consequently, it’s all the more fortuitous to hear these two musicians sharing their songs in sync. That mutual penchant for blues is supplemented for the most part by a laid back folk finesse that finds the opening offerings “Come Dance With Me” and “This Storm Shall Pass Away” as easy and assuring an introduction as one might ever wish to hear. The gentle pluck and ramble of “Meet the Train,” the unassuming insistence of  “Light As An Angel” and the sweet sway of “Lady of the Roses” maintain that affable approach, conveying a sense of instant engagement. 

Between the two of them, the pair play the vast majority of the instruments, with only occasional assistance from outside contributors — Gabe Witcher on fiddle, Alan Deremo playing upright bass and producer Richard Bredice making a cameo appearance on organ. As a result, the duo’s close-knit harmonies and shared sensitivity provide the impetus for that engaging embrace and a tender touch that never once falters throughout. One might easily imagine these sweet serenades played around an open fire or in a back porch environment that offers no separation between artist and audience. “Let’s Get Out of Here” conveys that close connection to maximum effect, providing the erstwhile invitation its title implies, one that’s all but impossible to resist. Even the mournful ache of “Virginia” manages to convey a similar spell

So goes this excellent album overall, indication that Justice and Homer are not only well in sync, but inevitably committed to making music that binds heart and happenstance. One can only hope that another joint effort follows soon. 


 Lee Zimmerman


Lee Zimmerman

To Read All of Lee's Reviews, Click Here




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Music Review - `Flight Risk` by Shoebox Letters (lz)

Shoebox Letters -- Flight Risk   (click on image to watch )

 29 April 2022



It’s worth noting that Shoebox Letters may be one of the most under-rated outfits in the entire Americana universe. Granted, their name offers no indication of what they have to offer, but given the opportunity to delve in deeper, it becomes clear that their melodic charms more than make up for whatever false impression they may offer at the outset.

For starters, the man at the helm — vocalist, guitarist and keyboardist Dennis Winslow — is a decidedly astute songwriter. A listen to their latest effort, a six song EP titled Flight Risk, makes that fact absolutely apparent. For starters, his songs offer instant attraction, as if they’ve been floating in the ether forever. So too, they capture certain sentiments common to all, whether dealing with the challenges of sustaining romance or simply maintaining one’s own bearings in a topsy-turvy world. 

None of that would matter if the melodies weren’t effortlessly accessible, and indeed, they’re seemingly timeless in both tone and treatment. They’re so ably executed in fact, one could assume they’re not only radio-ready, but already part of a playlist somewhere on a far horizon. 

Ultimately then, one can only conclude that it’s long past time Shoebox Letters gained the greater awareness they so assuredly deserve. The latest in a steady succession of excellent outings, it’s apparent that with a little luck, Flight Risk could be cleared for takeoff.


 Lee Zimmerman


Lee Zimmerman

To Read All of Lee's Reviews, Click Here



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