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Music Review - `Kieran Ridge and the Moonrakers` by Kieran Ridge (lz)

Keiran Ridge-- Kieran Ridge and the Moonrakers   (click on image to watch )

 11 Oct 2021

 

Black

Kieran Ridge & The Moonrakers offer a generally unpretentious, down-home sound that appears equally suited to a communal back porch gathering or the populist appeal found in a festival-style setting. Although they’re relative newcomers in terms of the broader Americana scene — Ridge’s last album, Nothing Left To Lose was released in 2005 — the band’s new self-titled offering indicates they’ve caught up quickly.

The band — Ridge himself on guitar and vocals, Liam Dailey on mandolin, banjo and vocals, Hannah Rose Baker on fiddle and vocals, drummer Patrick Hanafin and bassist Michael Harmon — are an agreeable bunch, a group adept at purveying homespun melodies with an easy, unobtrusive flair. “Killing Time,” “Wasted” and “Blind in Time” all provide ideal examples, all perfectly pleasant narratives about doing nothing more than simply taking things in stride, free of dictates or distraction. Likewise, “Somewhere on the Edge of Town” maintains a quiet drift that further reflects an unhurried happenstance. “Straight to the Heart of Love” comes across with a casual caress as well, doing so in a way that allows for reflection and respite in stress-free environs. Here again, it’s a sound that’s carefree and comforting in equal measure, fully indicative of the band’s rural and wistful approach.

Not that Ridge wholly abandons more serious circumspect. The slow and steady “To Get Back Home” maintains a more deliberate drive, while the steady thump of “The Last One to Know” suggests a general need for further awareness of one’s general circumstance. On the other hand, “Three Sheets to the Wind, Five Miles from Home” puts things in clear perspective, sharing a message that when life takes us where it will, the best we can do is simply go along for the ride. “No one said it was easy,” Ridge insists. The final track, “Close Your Eyes,” follows suit, suggesting that at times, it’s best to let things lay.

Ridge’s dryly stirred vocals reflect his carefree attitude, adding an approachable element to the effort overall. It proves especially effective on the otherwise emotional entreaties shared in songs such as “Fear of Flying” and “Your Drifting Heart” in which the object of his affection seem somewhat elusive and out of reach. Nevertheless, there’s no urgency or immediacy dictating Ridge’s response, simply a matter-of-fact attitude that’s as engaging as it is enticing.

Ultimately then, that’s the pure pleasure that comes through overall. In this troublesome and tumultuous world, we all could use more music of this soothing sort.

 

 Lee Zimmerman

 

Lee Zimmerman

To Read All of Lee's Reviews, Click Here

 

 

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Music Review - `Then and One More Day` by Wesley Dennis (lz)

Wesley Dennis -- Then and One More Day   (click on image to watch )

 1 Sept 2021

 

Black

Country music comes in many varieties these days. There’s the alt-country variety that falls within the realms of Americana, the commercial country sound dominated by those preoccupied with glitz and glamor, and finally, and least obviously, the music that takes the traditional tack pioneered by its revered forebears like Hank Williams, George Jones, Kitty Wells and all  the others who drew their sounds from blue collar values of the American heartland.

 

Wesley Dennis falls into the latter category. Born and raised in Alabama, he started off the standard way, performing on the barroom circuit prior to landing his first recording contract. He found success early on with his first few singles, but it’s the titles of his subsequent LPs — Country to the Core and Country Enough — that affirm his musical mantra. 

 

While the name given his latest effort, Then and One More Day, isn’t quite as revealing as those earlier offerings, it still holds to the same down-home template. While the uptempo “Hey Pretty Baby” makes the most apparent attempt to lure the radio programmers, the majority of the songs take a humbler approach that minimizes any overt attempt to put himself at center stage. “(I’m So) Afraid of Losing You,” “Who’s Gonna Take You When You Go,” “If I  Had Any Pride Left At all,” and “Little Things” are honest, heartfelt laments centered on love and longing, embossed with the subtle sheen of steel guitars, understated arrangements and Dennis’ emotionally infused singing and sentiment. Clearly, he’s the real deal, an artist whose love and respect for core country values shine through with every note and nuance.


That said, he also honors the Everyman. The most affecting offering of all comes in the form of “This Song’s For You,” a touching tribute to those who sacrifice everything for the betterment of others — whether it’s the single mom working multiple job to support her family or the service men and women who wear the nation’s uniform and put their lives on the line protecting our freedoms. Dennis makes it clear that they should never be forgotten, even if today’s tumultuous times when it might be all too easy to do so.

Those are the designs that Wesley Dennis abides by — honesty, integrity, devotion, and pure passion — as well as the attributes that inform every note and nuance of this admirable effort. Suffice it to say, Then and One More Day makes for time that’s well spent.

 

 Lee Zimmerman

 

Lee Zimmerman

To Read All of Lee's Reviews, Click Here

 

 

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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

 

Black

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

To Read All of Lee's Reviews, Click Here

 

 

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Music Review - Joy Ride` by Marina Rocks (lz)

Marina Rocks -- Joy Ride   (click on image to watch )

 28 Aug 2021

 

Black

Texas native, singer, songwriter and guitar Marina Rocks comes by her name seriously. She does rock…or at least roll with some seriously affecting songs. Winner of several major songwriting awards, a finalist at the prestigious Kerrville New Folk Festival competition and a seasoned stage performer who’s opened for the likes of Joe Ely, Hayes Carll, Boston, Deep Purple and Shake Russell, she’s garnered continued kudos from her peers and a growing legion of fans and followers in the process. With three albums to her credit thus far, her reputation continues to grow exponentially, creating added momentum and anticipation all along the way.

 

Rocks’ new single “Joy Ride” is all its title implies, an upbeat ode to optimism caressed by a sunny melody, joyful guitar licks, expressive harmonies, and an every so slight hint of a reggae rhythm. The lyric expresses a cool confidence interspersed with a subtle rap refrain. The effusive energy occasionally brings to mind the sunny sounds of Paul Simon’s “Graceland” with hints of Taj Mahal and Keb Mo tossed in for good measure, yet at the same time, there’s no mistaking the confidence and clarity that resonates with every measure. 

 

Granted, many people will consider this pure pop and perhaps may be prone to dismiss it as only a momentary pleasure, but there’s an obvious intent here that’s underscored by a pervasive upbeat appeal that’s well worth relishing. If radio was still the bastion of giddy good-time music that it once was, “Joy Ride” would soar to the top of the charts. As it is, it’s nothing less than an expressive, engaging and feel-good song for summer — a decidedly exuberant excursion indeed.

 

 Lee Zimmerman

 

Lee Zimmerman

To Read All of Lee's Reviews, Click Here

 

 

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

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

 19 May 2021

 

Black

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

To Read All of Lee's Reviews, Click Here

 

 

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