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Music Review - `A Shiver In The Sky` by John Byrne Band (ea)

John Byrne Band - A Shiver in the Sky  (click on image to watch video)

 24 October 2019

 

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The John Byrne Band has been part of the thriving Philadelphia music scene for more than a decade. The Irish émigré has recorded three critically acclaimed albums, “After The Wake” in 2011, “Celtic Folk” in 2013 and “The Immigrant And The Orphan” in 2015. The band received rave reviews as a supporting act for artists as disparate as Hothouse Flowers, Deep Purple’s Ian Gillian and  Patti Smith. Their fourth long-player, “A Shiver In The Sky,” has just been released.

The album gets off to a rollicking start  with “Special Place In Hell.”Soaring guitars, plaintive pedal steel, buoyant banjo, and swooping fiddle are tethered to a galloping gait. John’s warm tenor wraps around lyrics that chart the course from friendship to romance.

From the back-porch ramble of “All In All,” the defiant “Hold That Against Me” and the album’s magnum opus, “Easy To Get Stuck Here,” the band tackles hot-button issues like the current politic climate, LGBTQ rights and the debate on immigration.  The catchy Country two-step of “Hard Living Lovers,” puts the spotlight on addiction and depression.

           Of course, there are also some nuanced relationship  songs, like the propulsive “Ghost Of A Chance” and the and the high lonesome salute of “Your Love Is All There Is.” The best tracks, “Just Like You” and “Time Ain’t Changed A Thing In This Town” display a piquant, Big Easy Flavor.”

              John Byrne’s blend of Celtic and Folk makes you remember Emerald Isle antecedents like Van Morrison, Thin Lizzy, and Luka Bloom, and almost allows you to forget Enya’s soothing “Calgon-Take-Me-Away” music as well as the P.T.S.D. that resulted from the frenetic flailing feet of “Riverdance” and “Lord Of The Dance.” 

 


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 - `Get Together` by Henrietta Swan (ea)

Henrietta Swan - Get Together (click on image to watch video)

 07 October 2019

 

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Henrietta Swan, named for the American Astronomer born in the 19th century, is an Americana band based in Nashville. They have just released “Get Together,” a four-song EP.  The band features lead vocalist Lauren Shera Levine, guitarists Marc Davison and Gary Gladson and bassist John L. Heithaus.

The EP is front-loaded with a couple of covers. First up is “Road To Hell,” originally a hit 30 years ago for British Rocker Chris Rea. Ominous chords collide with squealy synths and chunky keys as the song springs into action. Barbed lyrics foreshadow the climactic climate changes the world is currently experiencing, and the arrangement is wildly apocalyptic. But that makes it difficult to see the forest for the trees. They fare much better on the Youngbloods’ classic “Get Together.” Even though the song is almost ready for social security, the message of tolerance still resonates. The two original tracks prove to be a better showcase for the band.

If Fleetwood Mac and Cowboy Junkies ever collaborated on a song it might sound like  “Odessa.”  Acoustic guitars lattice over sinewy electric riffs, a wash of keys and a tick-tock beat. The vibe is lush and expansive, but the vocals, ethereal and earthy, command center stage. 

“Unfold” shares some chord changes with Patti Smith’s iconic “Dancing Barefoot” song. Slightly more stripped-down than the rest of the EP, it features sparkly piano, shimmering acoustic arpeggios, stinging electric guitar and see-saw violin. Lauren’s vocals remain warm and inviting. The covers might hook the listener, but it’s the original songs that will keep them coming back for more.

 

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 - `Weathervane` by Rob Splatt Appelblatt (ea)

Rob Splatt Appelblatt - Weathervane  (click on image to watch video)

 09 September 2019

 

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“Seize your day, don’t delay..” That’s Rob “Splatt” Appelblatt offering some hard-won wisdom on “And Release,” the opening track from his full-length debut, “Weathervane”.

The Long Island singer-songwriter, nicknamed “Splatt,” has taken a circuitous path toward a music career. He began playing guitar after college and has spent several years working in film and television production. But it was a week at Steve Earle’s Camp Copperhead songwriting retreat ignited his musical ambitions.

There’s a world-weary ache to “And Release,” which is accented by brawny electric guitars, smoky harmonica, and a slipstitch beat.  Vocally, his wood smoke rasp recalls the endearing charms of Sam LLanas of the BoDeans. But the song represents just one color in Splatt’s sonic paint box.

“Caroline” careens out of the speakers like a freight train, the lyrics chronicle a romantic impasse, but the arrangement and instrumentation are full-speed ahead, featuring a click-clack rhythm, woozy organ, razor-sharp guitar riffs, carnival keys, and whistle-y harmonica. 

Things get surprisingly soulful on “Plain Old Fool,” which also shares some musical DNA with the Beatles’ “Don’t Let Me Down.” Meanwhile, “Movin’ On” seems to channel “Sticky Fingers” era ‘Stones, even as the lyrics flip the script on  Glimmer Twins’ casual misogyny. 

The album’s centerpiece is “Thunder Mountain,” a blast of bottleneck Country Rock that charts the course of Frank, a corvette-driving badass who enlists and returns from war a different man.  Other interesting songs include the Talking-Blues of the title track and the anthemic “Homeward Bound.” This debut manages to feel lean and expansive at the same time.

 

 

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 - `Heart on Fire` by Abby Brown (ea)

Abby Brown - Heart on Fire  (click on image to watch video)

 07 October 2019

 

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Abby Brown has been pursuing a career in music since she was a kid. First with her siblings as The Brown Sisters (they morphed into Flatiron Junction) and more recently on her own. Her debut EP, “Gypsy Soul” arrived in 2018, now she’s returned with a second EP.

The opener, “Everyday Of My Life” is sleek and propulsive, blending braided acoustic riffs and rippling mandolin over a finger-snapping’ beat. Abby’s voice has an appealing rasp that almost makes up for the paint-by-numbers melody. This song could play perfectly over a love montage in a Nicholas Sparks movie. 

“Heart On Fire” is a bit of a barn-burner.  Haunted electric riffs are  supplanted by finger-picked acoustic runs tethered to a galloping gait.  As she ponders the power of physical attraction; “It’s undeniable the chemistry we share, so where the hell do we go from here?” The melody and arrangement rev on the chorus locking into a bit of a handclap hoedown.  She also offers a tart cover of Marren Morris’ “Sugar,” which is slightly more stripped-down than the original. 

There are two versions of the title track. The first one blends plaintive acoustic note with stately piano, melancholy fiddle runs, and a kick-drum beat. Abby’s elastic vocals split the difference between Torch and Twang. The latter benefits from its bare-bones arrangement. Accompanied only by acoustic guitar allows the listener to fully concentrate on her remarkable vocals without distraction. In Abby Brown’s case, less is more.

 

 

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 - `American Sin` by Luba Dvorak (ea)

Luba Dvorak - American Sin  (click on image to watch video)

 04 September 2019

 

Black

Back in the mid-eighties, Steve Earle was hailed by critics as a Country-Flavored Bruce Springsteen. These days, Luba Dvorak’s music continues to carry that torch, blending Blue-Collar narratives and Honky-Tonk hooks.

Luba was born in Czechoslovakia, his family emigrated to Vancouver Canada when he was a kid. Music was an early touchstone, by his teens he began playing in bands, that led to international tours and myriad music industry gigs. In 2005 he put down roots in New York City and began his solo career. He recently relocated to Texas, and the move influenced his fifth album, “American Sin.”

The opening four tracks act as something of an aural travelogue. “Single Scoop” cloaks big city temptation in barrelhouse piano, willowy pedal steel and walking bass lines. With its boom-chicka-boom beat and keening pedal steel, “Brake Lights” take’s aim at the decadent allure of L.A. Luba notes “Cocaine and porn stars ain’t as fun  as they sound.” He kicks ass and takes names on “Brooklyn Twang,” name-checking heroes like Johhny, Willie, Waylon,  and Hank, Sr. Meanwhile, “Leaving Arizona” is an expansive ramble from the Grand Canyon state to Vegas to Napa.

Other interesting songs include the restless Mea culpa of “Irene,” the wistful recollection of “If I Go Down In Flames” and  the Stonesy swagger of “Queen Of The Rodeo.” The title track is a South Of The Border charmer offering an empathetic look at the immigration crisis.

The album closes with a faithful take on Tom Petty’s “Walls.”  Luba Dvorak is the real deal.

 


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

 

 

 


 

Hits: 268

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