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Music Review - `Deluge Of Hurt` by Tornado Sky (ea)

Tornado Sky - Deluge Of Hurt (click on image to watch video)

 18 October 2022

 

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“If it were possible for Bob Seger and Stevie Nicks to have a musical love child, it might sound a bit like Tornado Sky.  The L.A. two-piece features renowned songwriter Jerry Careaga and his wife, Stephanie Gladhart’ whose background has primarily been in the creative writing field.  Although they have been collaborating informally for more than 20 years, “Deluge Of Hurt” is their first official album together.

            The title track kicks the album into gear. Bluesy bottleneck guitar, wily bass.  supple electric piano and a kinetic backbeat anchor this mid-tempo groover. Stephanie and Jerry’s vocals wraparound like honey and woodsmoke as they attempt to pick up the pieces of a failed romance; “How can I think of starting over when my heart’s still reeling from a deluge of hurt?”

            Stephanie takes the lead on three tracks. Despite the breezy arrangement, the song is a bittersweet encomium to lost loved ones, as she wryly notes; “One window opens, one window closes, born to this life of tears and roses.” Meanwhile, “Am I Mighty” is a restless,  twangy two-step that limns the dissatisfaction that bubbles over from  an orderly and predictable life. Pondering the road not taken, she wonders “Am I the sapling, or a mighty tree?” Finally, the  “Two Beat Up Hearts” traces a chance encounter  at a bar between a pair of  romance-weary strangers just looking for some emotional rescue.

            Most of the songs here wrap indelible melodies around rich narratives that navigate the rocky shoals between love and loss. “The Well,” which is powered by panoramic pedal steel and fleet acoustic fretwork is just seeking comfort in a turbulent world. The Blues-inflected “Red Cloud Road” finds a  former couple tentatively reconnecting, hoping for some  common  ground. “Somebody’s Looking Out For Me,” chronicles a bit of divine intervention. The album closes with the tender benediction of “Blow Me Away.”

           

 

 


Music Reviewer - Eleni P. AustinEleni P. Austin - I was born into a large, loud Greek family and spent my formative years in the Los Angeles enclaves of Laurel Canyon and Los Feliz. My mother moved us to the Palm Springs area just in time for puberty and Disco.  I have spent over 40 years working in record stores, starting back in High School.

I wrote music reviews for the Desert Sun from 1983 to 1988. I began doing the same for the Coachella Valley Weekly in 2012.

I live in Palm Springs with my wife and our amazing dog, Denver. 

To Read All of Eleni P.'s Reviews, Click Here

 

 

 


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

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

 24 June 2022

 

Black

“She looks good on paper, she dots all the I’s, you can’t decipher the truth from a lie/She makes an impression, she’s hard to forget, she has all the answers, she’s always correct, don’t fool yourself, she’s a flight risk.” That’s the Shoebox Letters sounding the alarm about a too-good-to-be-true temptress on the title track that opens their latest EP, Flight Risk.

Hailing from the Pacific Northwest, this four-piece includes Dennis Winslow (acoustic/electric guitars, keys and vocals) Dave Strickler (bass), Stephanie Cox (vocals) and Greg Paul (backing vocals, steel guitar and bass). The aforementioned opener cuts a wide swath, the melody and arrangement echo ‘70s Power Pop antecedents like The Raspberries and Badfinger, while a wash of steel guitar adds a bit of high lonesome ache. The six-song set is uniformly excellent, front to back, but stand-outs include the raucous “I Drink To Much” which is powered by angular guitars, wily bass lines and a hi-hat kick. Introspective lyrics reference Phil and Don Everly and kinda contemplate sobriety.

Then there’s the low-key charm of “Bed Of Roses.” “Red Handed In Love” Slashing power chords strafe across a rock steady rhythm. The lyrics offer up a tender encomium to a long-term romance. The record closes with “A World Out There.” Something of a restless farewell, it features sparkly guitars and burnished keys. It’s a moodily elegant finish to the EP.

On Flight Risk, Shoebox Letters serve up a deft combo-platter of infectious Power Pop and good ol’ Country Comfort.

 

Music Reviewer - Eleni P. AustinEleni P. Austin - I was born into a large, loud Greek family and spent my formative years in the Los Angeles enclaves of Laurel Canyon and Los Feliz. My mother moved us to the Palm Springs area just in time for puberty and Disco.  I have spent over 40 years working in record stores, starting back in High School.

I wrote music reviews for the Desert Sun from 1983 to 1988. I began doing the same for the Coachella Valley Weekly in 2012.

I live in Palm Springs with my wife and our amazing dog, Denver. 

To Read All of Eleni P.'s Reviews, Click Here

 

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Music Review - `Threadbare` by Honey Don't (ea)

Honey Don't - Threadbare  (click on image to watch video)

 20  April 2022

 

Black

Honey Don’t’s music tends blur the lines and that’s a good thing. The hardly, strictly Bluegrass band adds hints  of Country, Folk, Blues, Gospel, Jazz  and Rockabilly into their songs, which seems highly apropos since they take their name from a classic Carl Perkins song.

The brainchild of Bill Powers and wife Shelley Gray (the pair made their bones as half of the venerable Bluegrass four-piece, Sweet Sunny South),  Honey Don’t beganin the Western Colorado town of Paonia, but really took flight in Bend, Oregon.  Threadbare is their third long-player.

The album is dotted with a couple of covers, the record kicks into gear with a fresh take on Kieran Kane’s “Eight More Miles.” Toward the end of the record they acquit themselves nicely on Willy Tea Taylor’s “The Wong Way To Run.”

Several songs have been in the band’s live sets for a few years now, a couple were inspired by the Centennial State.  “Denver Ramble” blends prickly guitars, walking bass, rippling mandolin and a do-si-do rhythm.  Lyrics pay tribute to a thriving club scene that features “Hot Rod cars, Honky-Tonk bars, hardwood floors and steel guitars.” Meanwhile, “Big Water Ahead” is a propulsiveshuffle powered by cascading mandolin, roiling dobro riffs, flinty basslines and in-the-pocket harmonies.

The record’s highlights include the rollicking Texas Two-Step  of “Five Foot Four From Fort Worth,” the chugging title track, the raucous fun of “High Country News Girl” and the dipsomaniacal delight of “Win, Whiskey, Beer Or Gin.” 

Jazzy elements coalesce around “Anything For You,” a finger-poppin’ encomium to Bill and Shell’s two sons. Although “For The Roses” takes it’s title from a vintage Joni Mitchell song, this percolating, Honey Don’t original pays homage to the late labor-activist, Hobo Folksinger, Storyteller/Poet, U. Utah Phillips.

Other interesting cuts include the keening, Gospel-inflected shiver of “Red Mountain Pass” and  “Ain’t No Dam Up  On The Yampa,” which shares some musical DNA with the Allman  Brothers’ “Ramblin’ Man” and philosophical leanings with Edward  Abbey’s “Monkeywrench Gang.” The record closes with the sweeping instrumental, “Daybreak On The Muddy.” 

Along with Bill Powers on vocals, guitar and mandolin and Shelley Gray on vocals and bass, Honey Don’t includes Benji Nagel on vocals and dobro, CJ Neary on fiddle and Don Hawkins on snare. “Threadbare” is a wild ride from start to finish.


Music Reviewer - Eleni P. AustinEleni P. Austin - I was born into a large, loud Greek family and spent my formative years in the Los Angeles enclaves of Laurel Canyon and Los Feliz. My mother moved us to the Palm Springs area just in time for puberty and Disco.  I have spent over 40 years working in record stores, starting back in High School.

I wrote music reviews for the Desert Sun from 1983 to 1988. I began doing the same for the Coachella Valley Weekly in 2012.

I live in Palm Springs with my wife and our amazing dog, Denver. 

To Read All of Eleni P.'s Reviews, Click Here

 

 

 


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Music Review - `By The Risin’ Of The Sea` by James Kahn (ea)

James Kahn - By The Risin’ Of The Sea  (click on image to watch video)

 20 April 2022

 

Black

James Kahn is a musician who keeps an eye on the big picture. Something of a polymath, he seems compelled to push the envelope, taking his music to the nth degree. His last album, “Matamoros” served as a musical companion to his novel of the same name. His new long-player is 12 song-set devoted to addressing climate change, Covid, and assorted maladies that threaten the human race.

On paper, this seems like it would be a saturnine song-cycle. But in reality, he’s created a dozen rollicking revelations that he’s dubbed “Shanties For Our Time.” The record opens with the boisterous title track, which wraps Celtic instrumentation and freebootin’ vocals around a delicate diatribe that name-checks acid rain, global warming and “bear cubs driftin’ on the floes” and closes with the lachrymose lament of “Sundown.”

In between, songs like “In The Covid Times” and “2020: Ship Of Fools” tackle polarizing pandemic days with wit, grit, gravitas, insistent rhythms and acapella grace. Other highlights include the poignant “O The Ocean Rolls,” which is powered by courtly requinto and honeyed harmonies. 

Then there’s the ramshackle stomp of “On The Other Side.” Strummy acoustic notes and flinty vocals envelope a sad-sack aga of economic downturn, unrequited love and the pitfalls of being tardy. Finally, on “Cast On The Water,” lyrics limn the pleasures and perils of the seafaring life. Meanwhile, the instrumentation is an irresistible blend of acoustic guitar, string bass and hammered dulcimer that bookends brawny and briny vocalese.

“By The Risin’ Of The Sea” effortlessly fuses the personal, political and the planetary and wraps it up in a rich musical tapestry.

Music Reviewer - Eleni P. AustinEleni P. Austin - I was born into a large, loud Greek family and spent my formative years in the Los Angeles enclaves of Laurel Canyon and Los Feliz. My mother moved us to the Palm Springs area just in time for puberty and Disco.  I have spent over 40 years working in record stores, starting back in High School.

I wrote music reviews for the Desert Sun from 1983 to 1988. I began doing the same for the Coachella Valley Weekly in 2012.

I live in Palm Springs with my wife and our amazing dog, Denver. 

To Read All of Eleni P.'s Reviews, Click Here

 

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Music Review - `Midnight Rain & Roses` by Luanne Hunt (ea)

Luanne Hunt - Midnight Rain & Roses (click on image to watch video)

 5 April 2022

 

Black

The first single off Luanne Hunt’s 21st album, “Portraits In Song,” is “Midnight Rain & Roses.” The critically-acclaimed singer-songwriter delivers a track that is equal parts poignant and resilient. Powered by gritty guitars, a wash of keys and an insistent back-beat.

Luanne’s supple contralto lands somewhere between late Country legend Lynn Anderson and a young Stevie Nicks. Lyrics limn the heartbreak of a sudden loss. Triggered by flowers that arrive right after the sender haspassed, she’s left to contemplate their rollercoaster romance; “In spite of his many sins, she loved him nonetheless, she was the last thing on his mind, before he took his last breath.”

Taking in the bitter and the sweet, she ponders the ephemeral nature of life; “When one door closes, are you free, or still in chains?”

 


Music Reviewer - Eleni P. AustinEleni P. Austin - I was born into a large, loud Greek family and spent my formative years in the Los Angeles enclaves of Laurel Canyon and Los Feliz. My mother moved us to the Palm Springs area just in time for puberty and Disco.  I have spent over 40 years working in record stores, starting back in High School.

I wrote music reviews for the Desert Sun from 1983 to 1988. I began doing the same for the Coachella Valley Weekly in 2012.

I live in Palm Springs with my wife and our amazing dog, Denver. 

To Read All of Eleni P.'s Reviews, Click Here

 

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