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Music Review - `Blood Red Moon ` by Barbara Bergin (jm)

Barbara Bergin- Blood Red Moon (click on image to watch video)

 13 March 2020

 

Black

Blood Red Moon is not exactly the album you’d expect from a Bronx-born, orthopedic surgeon. With its softly strummed acoustic folk lull and songs about farm life and country living, the album – despite what preconceived notions tell you – is still a sweet, satisfying slice of an unrushed existence.

For the most part, the record sticks to traditional folk arrangements anchored by Bergin’s strong confident voice and guitars and mandolin that tend not to overwhelm; The formula mostly works well here. She does deviate a bit, like on the waltz “She Danced With the Young Prince of Wales,” but the song sounds a bit like a novelty in comparison to the rest of the record. 

On tracks like “Daughter’s Lament” and “Three Eggs in My Apron,” Bergin draws a pretty vivid picture with her lyrics, but occasionally, the “country-life” narrative seems a little forced (specifically on songs like “My Life’s Good (Cuz I Don’t Live in the City)” and “Possum’s in the Corn”). A resident of Austin now, Bergin’s songwriting has started to draw attention from across the state, justifiably so, having notched up wins at several singing/songwriting showcases. 

At a dozen tracks, not all the songs that makeup Blood Red Moon are memorably, but there are enough satisfying moments here to keep this album spinning.    

 

Music Reviewer - John Moore  

John B. Moore has been covering the seemingly disparate, but surprisingly complimentary genres of Americana and punk rock for the past 20 years.

Blurt/New Noise Magazine/InSite Atlanta/NeuFutur Magazine

twitter @jbmoore00

To Read All of John's Reviews, Click Here

 

 


 

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Music Review - `Western` by James Hyland (jm)

James Hyland- Western (click on image to watch video)

 12 March 2020

 

Black

At 19 tracks and close to an hour-and-a-half of music, James Hyland’s latest, Western, is a pretty big commitment for the casual listener. The concept album about the transcontinental railroad is an admittedly intimidating listen at first, but for the most part, it pays off.

What makes Western so appealing, besides Hyland’s fun laid back twangy delivery and knack for writing great character-driven songs, is that rather than stick to one timeline (the early 1900s when the highway system was first being built… ZZZZZZZZZ) he spans generations, using the geography as his consistent. 

The album starts off a little slow, with his focus on a Texas Ranger, the Comanches, and early railroad tycoons, but about halfway through the record, as Hyland starts making his way to more modern times, like struggles of Nashville musicians (“Nashville Song,”) and the slyly hilarious portrait of the Mullet family (“The Ballad of Eddie Mullet”), his knack for songwriting really starts to take the focus. The latter was originally an early 2000 song by Hyland’s old group the South Austin Jug Band. Though still a solid song despite who’s performing it, this newer version is a little more stripped down and immediate, giving it an even harder punch. Elsewhere, on “Swing it Your Way,” Hyland blends flawless Texas swing with a story about Mormon women being among the first of their gender to get the right to vote.  

Far from being a pretentious exercise as, let’s face it, many concept albums end up being, Western is a compelling look at a wide swath of the American West. It manages to be both musically diverse and, at times, wildly entertaining. There are a few tracks here that probably could have been left behind for a more consistent feel, but for the most part, Western is a brilliant showcase of Hyland’s talent as both a songwriter and musician. 

 

 

Music Reviewer - John Moore  

John B. Moore has been covering the seemingly disparate, but surprisingly complimentary genres of Americana and punk rock for the past 20 years.

Blurt/New Noise Magazine/InSite Atlanta/NeuFutur Magazine

twitter @jbmoore00

To Read All of John's Reviews, Click Here

 

 


 

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Music Review - `American Dirt` by Jon Fox (jm)

Jon Fox- American Dirt (click on image to watch video)

 21 February 2020

 

Black

It would be easy to simply classify Jon Fox’s music as Americana, alongside a slew of other newer musicians coming out of the Southeast, but you’d be missing the nuisances. Yes, there is definitely a strong country core to most of the songs off his latest record, American Dirt, but there is also a rock vibe - not unlike the music of Steve Earle or John Hiatt - that is hard to ignore here; Fox is just as likely to plug in a Strat as he is to pick up an acoustic guitar, while the New Orleans piano rolls on “Baby Don’t You Leave Me” brings to mind, Delbert McClinton. 

It’s the varied influences that provide most of the charm on American Dirt, but it’s the slick over-production that really takes some of that appeal away. Part of the draw of country and Americana is the authenticity that comes from the organic sound, rough edges and all. Most of that is lost, however, due to the bright sheen that coats this record. Even a song like “It Ain’t Rain,” a farmer’s lament about struggle and worry, which could have had a strong impact, is lost thanks to the sterility of production. It’s the difference between a clean-shaven Willie Nelson working the Nashville system with a full, sappy string section and the King of Outlaw Country with authenticity to his sound (and a bag of weed in his back pocket).  

There are the makings of a solid record here, unfortunately, it gets lost under too much polish.                    

 

Music Reviewer - John Moore  

John B. Moore has been covering the seemingly disparate, but surprisingly complimentary genres of Americana and punk rock for the past 20 years.

Blurt/New Noise Magazine/InSite Atlanta/NeuFutur Magazine

twitter @jbmoore00

To Read All of John's Reviews, Click Here

 

 


 

 

 

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Music Review - `Someday Soon Somehow` by Scott Fab (jm)

Scott Fab- Someday Soon Somehow  (click on image to watch video)

 24 February 2020

 

Black

With his sophomore effort, Someday Soon Somehow, Detroit native Scott Fab has managed to fulfill the promise of his highly-talked about 2017 debut LP.

From the opening track, “How Is Your Heart,” Fab has stripped down the music to little more than a powerfully emotive voice and acoustic guitar, accentuating the beauty in his lyrics. His brand of minimal, no-frills modern folk fits in nicely beside fellow folkies like Ellis Paul and Patty Griffin. Impressively the songs on this album were recorded over several days, with each track recorded in a single take, a feat even seasoned musicians aren’t brave enough to undertake nowadays.

Though melancholy envelopes most of the songs off Someday Soon Somehow, with a general vibe of love, longing, and heartache, there are also hints of optimism found throughout. Likely the saddest track is the closing number, “Oh Night,” which also happens to be the most powerful song of this impressive batch. It’s a hauntingly beautiful song of loss; an imploration for a night to take away memories. Not surprisingly, the record pairs nicely with a glass of bourbon in the dark.

Coming in at nine tracks, there is not a single song here that has not earned the right to be on the record; it is trimmed of all superfluous music for a consistently solid record from start to finish. I can’t wait to see what comes next. 

 

Music Reviewer - John Moore  

John B. Moore has been covering the seemingly disparate, but surprisingly complimentary genres of Americana and punk rock for the past 20 years.

Blurt/New Noise Magazine/InSite Atlanta/NeuFutur Magazine

twitter @jbmoore00

To Read All of John's Reviews, Click Here

 

 


 

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Music Review - `Matamoros` by James Kahn (jm)

James Kahn- Matamoros (click on image to watch video)

 6 February 2020

 

Black

James Kahn has lived a hell of a creative life. Though his training was in medicine, he’s best known for his work in the world of fiction, starting with the novelization of Return Of The Jedi – not an easy feat. He did the same for Poltergeist, Goonies and an Indian Jones movie before transitioning to writing for TV shows like Star Trek: The Next Generation, Xena: Warrior Princess and curiously Melrose Place (quite possibly the polar opposite of writing for Star Trek and Xena).  

Moving into the more personal fare, he also wrote a handful of original novels, his most recent, a story set during the Civil War titled Matamoros. With two albums already under his name, the idea to write a third album, a concept record based on his new novel, didn’t seem too odd. The result is a pretty solid effort drawing on classic folk and Americana. 

The story of the novel and album focuses on Matamoros, Mexico, during the Civil War, an area where the Confederacy was able to smuggle in supplies from the south to get past the Union blockade of ports. Admittedly, the album takes a listen or two before it really starts to click, but with a little patience, the record’s charm becomes clear. 

From the Irish folk songs (aptly enough in a song about an Irish immigrant) and waltzes to a sea shanty (“Solomon’s Shanty”), the album’s eclectic musical collection is part of the appeal. Kahn’s vocals are steady and the instrumentation simply superb. The character stories that are covered here are as equally disparate as the musical influences.             

 

Music Reviewer - John Moore  

John B. Moore has been covering the seemingly disparate, but surprisingly complimentary genres of Americana and punk rock for the past 20 years.

Blurt/New Noise Magazine/InSite Atlanta/NeuFutur Magazine

twitter @jbmoore00

To Read All of John's Reviews, Click Here

 

 


 

 

 

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