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

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

 31 October 2022

 

Black

 

Disaster, as a metaphor, plays a big part in this act’s overall presentation. Its group name, for instance, describes a sky view just before a tornado. Next, the album’s title track references hurricanes, as the word ‘deluge’ refers to an overflowing of the land by water, a drenching rain or an overwhelming amount or number. In other words, it’s an event that is just too much for an overcome human to handle. We all hurt, but we all – eventually – heal. However, it’s difficult to know what to do whenever the pain bowls us over and doesn’t seem to give us any way out. This, one surmises, is what Tornado Sky is singing about with this particular title track.

The album’s standout inclusion is one called “Two Beat Up Hearts,” which Gladhart sings lead on. It finds its narrator sitting at a bar, drinking her way through brokenhearted-ness. This hurt one, however, luckily found an empathetic soul on the barstool next to her at this watering hole. Both are applying alcohol therapy to their wounds. The recording includes plenty of Rusty Danmyer’s steel guitar, which gives it the lonesome, lowdown sound of a country weeper.

A couple of the other songs where Gladhart sings lead, are also quite personal. Opener, “Am I Mighty,” finds Gladhart struggling to find her identity. Over a gentle, quiet arrangement, Gladhart describes a little of her life history, wondering what it will all add up to in the end. It incorporates some especially lovely backing vocals. “Walking Next To Me” is a really sad one. “I lost my brother out of the blue,” she begins, “Cancer can do that to you.” She wastes no time in setting the scene, that’s for sure. She goes on to explain how she feels like he’s still with her, somehow. The realm of the afterlife is filled with mystery, even for those that have strong religious beliefs. Losing a sibling is one of the toughest experiences for all family members left behind.

Songs where Careaga sings lead, tend to be the most folk-ish. One called “Go,” for instance, finds Careaga trying desperately to understand the right direction to travel using the map of a relationship. What may seem like a ‘go,’ may actually be a ‘stop,’ and sometimes we don’t know the right answer until long after we’ve passed that fork in the road.

 

For an act with such an ominous approach, Tornado Sky sure makes impending doom sound sonically lovely. Maybe that’s the best way to face one’s fears – by creating something beautiful through music. Storms will come and go, and there’s no getting away from that or around it. Someone once said that life will always be hard. The key to growth is learning to do hard things better. Music may not heal our wounds, but it is certainly a comforting distraction, if nothing else. Tornado Sky counters the deluge of hurt with an equally powerful deluge of beautiful sounds. 

 

 

Music Reviewer - Dan MacIntosh

 

Dan MacIntosh - Dan MacIntosh has been a professional music journalist for 30 years and his work has regularly appeared in many local and national publications, including Inland Empire Weekly, CCM, CMJ, Paste, Mean Street, Chord, HM, Christian Retailing, Amplifier, Inspirational Giftware, Stereo Subversion, Indie-Music, Soul–Audio, Roughstock.com, Country Standard Time and Spin.com. 

To Read All of Dan's Reviews, Click Here

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Music Review -1000 Horses ` by Bruce Smith (dmac)

Bruce Smith- 1000 Horses  (click on image to watch video)

05 October 2022

 

Black

Bruce Smith’s 1000 Horses album opens with “Campbellton,” which rocks and rolls to a rockabilly rhythm. What follows, though, is not some sort of Stray Cats offshoot, however, but a collection of mainly country-leaning roots rock.

For example, the memory-jarring “Take a Picture” combines a chunky electric guitar groove along with empathetic fiddle. The album’s title track, “1000 Horses,” has a folk-ish tint to it, as it begins with mournful harmonica. Smith sings its words with a desperately sad vocal tone. It’s a twangy number that merges folk sounds with more distinctly country ones.

One titled “Venus Fell,” however, is the album’s most intriguing inclusion. It sounds, both vocally and melodically, like that old Frankie Avalon 1959 hit, “Venus.” It’s driven by gypsy fiddling and a lightly loping groove. Unlike Avalon’s plea to the Greek goddess of love to help him with his romantic troubles, however, Smith’s song is more about the mythological character’s personal issues.

Smith returns to the upbeat sounds initially explored with “Campbellton” for “See You in the Movies,” about a girl with big screen dreams. Smith sings it over an instrumental bed that includes both piano and organ, as well as an electric guitar solo. Although Smith rocks a bit on the song, he nevertheless rocks rather gently. His vocals have a bit of a working-class character weaved into his performance, which may remind you of early Bruce Springsteen. Its retro approach, however, comes off more like an old school description of an acting jones. It doesn’t really address the more cutthroat nature of the contemporary film world.

The project’s best shot at a hit single is “Everything I Need.” On it, Smith comes off wide open and optimistic. It’s infused with the joys of love and romance. The guitar fills mirror his happy vocals. It sounds a little like some of those great old soul songs from the ‘60s and ‘70s. The future just seemed wide open whenever these songs came over the radio. One suspects the same good vibes would be produced by this song being played on radio today. And in a perfect world, it would be all over the radio, all over the world. Speaking of happy songs, “Don’t Forget to Look Up” is a little like a positive thinking pamphlet put to music. Just as hopeful people encourage the stopping and smelling of roses, Smith doesn’t let the listener forget about the need to look up and away from sad sights. These words of encouragement are accompanied by an upbeat groove similar to a church gospel song – only a white country church, rather than an African American one. Smith closes the album with “Late Night DJ,” which is about hoping the DJ will play the right song to lift his spirits. By the language he uses, these are oldies he’s hearing that are making him feel “not so all alone.” There are times when that radio DJ can feel like your only friend. Of course, this was back when

DJs had more recognizable personalities and radio stations had more playlist flexibility. Bruce Smith sometimes sounds like he’s stuck in a time warp, back when we all lived in more innocent times. If this music is a journey back in time, though, it’s sure one pleasurable blast from the past.

 

Music Reviewer - Dan MacIntosh

 

Dan MacIntosh - Dan MacIntosh has been a professional music journalist for 30 years and his work has regularly appeared in many local and national publications, including Inland Empire Weekly, CCM, CMJ, Paste, Mean Street, Chord, HM, Christian Retailing, Amplifier, Inspirational Giftware, Stereo Subversion, Indie-Music, Soul–Audio, Roughstock.com, Country Standard Time and Spin.com. 

To Read All of Dan's Reviews, Click Here

 


 

 

 

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

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

 5 March 2022

 

Black

Luanne Hunt’s single, “Midnight Rain & Roses,” is a story song. A sad story song, though, as it’s a tale all about love and loss. The roses in the song’s title, represent – as they usually do to – love and romance. The lyrical suggestion is that one man’s last gesture to his lover was to send her a bouquet of roses. His hope was to be with there when these love symbols arrived in order to celebrate their partnership. However, he doesn’t live long enough to see how she responds to this gift, and in the tragic love song tradition, he dies and doesn’t ever return. 

This tragic subject matter is drawn from Hunt’s 21st studio album, Portraits in Song. Her career has already spanned 27 years, and her style falls within the country/Americana realm. Stylistically, this keyboard-backed track may remind you of Seventies rock icons, such as Fleetwood Mac. 

Hunt sings these words like an outside narrator. She’s watching from afar, as this romance takes its tragic turn. Although this track is not especially country – instrumentally – Hunt’s voice sounds a little bit like that of Skeeter Davis, who had a similarly sad love song hit titled “The End Of The World.” Hunt sings it relatively dispassionately. She doesn’t perform it with a cry in her voice, for instance, but just tells the story straightforwardly. Perhaps ironically, this track’s arrangement is relatively bright – considering its dark subject matter. 

These roses are transformed from something that reminds this woman of love, to symbols of her loss. Flowers intended to be objects of joy become reminders of a hurtful loss. Although the word ‘rain’ only appears in the song’s chorus, this watery act of nature has always represented tears in most songs. It’s significant that this rain is falling at night too because it suggests the widow in the song is up in the middle of the night crying and unable to sleep. 

The track has a gentle, thumping groove, which especially brings Fleetwood Mac’s heyday to mind. While keyboards lead the instrumentation, the recording also includes some tasty electric guitar licks interspersed within. At one point, Hunt sings, “Love can be the sweetest thing/Or it can be a bitter pill.” This widow has experienced some of love’s sweetness in the past but is now seemingly destined to a long period of tasting its bitter pill. 

 

Few genres address tragedy better than country music. Luanne Hunt knows this and draws upon the genre’s longstanding tradition of putting pain and loss into music. The death of a relationship is bad enough. Some have said that losing a lover feels worse than death itself. However, when you combine physical death with the demise of a relationship (due to death), well, it can hardly get much worse than that. This is a song that may make you think differently about roses. We send roses to show we love someone, but we also lay them at the graves of loved ones that have passed on. And in the case of “Midnight Rain & Roses,” these blooms serve both purposes, simultaneously.

 

Music Reviewer - Dan MacIntosh

 

Dan MacIntosh - Dan MacIntosh has been a professional music journalist for 30 years and his work has regularly appeared in many local and national publications, including Inland Empire Weekly, CCM, CMJ, Paste, Mean Street, Chord, HM, Christian Retailing, Amplifier, Inspirational Giftware, Stereo Subversion, Indie-Music, Soul–Audio, Roughstock.com, Country Standard Time and Spin.com. 

To Read All of Dan's Reviews, Click Here

 

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Music Review - `By the Risin' of the Sea` by James Kahn (dmac)

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

 11 April 2022

 

Black

James Kahn’s By The Risin’ Of The Sea is a delightfully unusual album. If you listen to this release with unengaged ears, perhaps while completing another busy work task at the same time, you may completely miss out on this music’s intentional uniqueness. Sometimes, Kahn sings these songs like an old pirate who is telling tales. Ah, but while these recordings may sound like a collection of old sea shanties, they’re actually contemporary subjects – only put to old, traditional musical styles. 

Kahn might be known better to some as an Emmy-nominated TV writer-producer, as well as author. Kahn’s restless spirit is also expressed with music, though, and the new album comes with an succinct explanation of its contents and intents. “Traditionally sailors sing shanties about their struggles with the elements, their hardships and toil. These contemporary shanties address our modern crisis – climate change, covid-19, oil slicks, species dieoffs, and existential angst – with probably, black humor, and yes, even hope.” And that’s an accurate assessment! 

 

The album’s title track both sounds and reads like a sailor’s lament. However, it kicks off the project with lyrical commentary on climate change. It’s been said that sea level rise is happening because of added water from melting ice sheets and glaciers and the expansion of seawater as it warms. Kahn also addresses Covid-19 directly with the unsubtle “In the Covid Times.” It’s sung like a merchant marine choir, acapella, with handclaps applied for percussion. It’s also sung like a guy looking back on events that happened many years ago, when in truth, this one’s actually about much more recent times. 

It's sometimes difficult to determine Kahn’s motives for this music. Is he singing to inform non-believers about the Earth’s impending environmental disaster, or is he preaching to the choir? Or is he just expressing his deep misgivings about modern human behavior? No matter what may compel Kahn, he performs these songs with a near-religious fervor. In fact, you could replace some of its references to the Earth with the word ‘god,’ and it might well sound like a buccaneer’s gospel album, instead. 

Although Kahn applies an acapella approach more than once, however, when he accompanies himself instrumentally, it’s with traditional folk instrumentation. For instance, one titled “No More A’whalin’,” is driven by mournful banjo. Throughout the album, one hears fiddle and other acoustic instrumentation, as we;;. 

James Kahn is a little like a contemporary John the Baptist, behaving like a voice crying in the wilderness. Or some Old Testament prophet or other. Those that agree with Kahn’s clear political agenda will be heartened by these songs. He takes on some of the biggest environmental issues and puts his thoughts into enjoyably old-time music. Even if you’re not especially political, though, these sounds are built upon a solid folk music framework. 

Kahn deserves kudos for taking a creative approach to getting his message out. Granted, it contains a lot of information and some of the artist’s “angst” can be a little overwhelming at times, nevertheless, he carries it all off with plenty of passion and enthusiasm. This is serious business, and by no means any kind of Pirates of the Caribbean ride. Instead, it’s a dark and informative journey.

 

 

Music Reviewer - Dan MacIntosh

 

Dan MacIntosh - Dan MacIntosh has been a professional music journalist for 30 years and his work has regularly appeared in many local and national publications, including Inland Empire Weekly, CCM, CMJ, Paste, Mean Street, Chord, HM, Christian Retailing, Amplifier, Inspirational Giftware, Stereo Subversion, Indie-Music, Soul–Audio, Roughstock.com, Country Standard Time and Spin.com. 

To Read All of Dan's Reviews, Click Here

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

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

 15 February 2022

 

Black

Honey Don’t most likely take their name from the Carl Perkins’ song, “Honey Don’t.” That song dates back to 1956, and it was actually the B-side to “Blue Suede Shoes.” Both are considered two of the greatest ever rockabilly songs. However, the act’s third album, Threadbare, is not rockabilly at all. Comprised of the married couple Bill Powers and Shelley Gray, this duo has filled its most recent album with wonderful roots music, which touches upon bluegrass, country, and various Americana elements throughout. 

Powers is the pair’s primary songwriter, while Gray also sings while playing bass. The album’s best country-ist song is “High Country News Girl.” It’s upbeat, with plenty of fiddle and dobro fills. It also features some mighty fine singing. (It’ll get you up on your feet dancing, if you’re not careful). One of the record’s prettiest cuts is “Daybreak on the Muddy.” Closing out the album, this instrumental recording showcases plenty of skilled playing. Sonically, it’s a bit of a gentle bluegrass tune. Powers’ vocal is particularly memorable on “Denver Ramble,” which is a bit of a talking blues – only it is bluegrass-spiked talking blues. Gray harmonizes nicely with Powers in some places on this track, too. 

Bill Powers wrote (or cowrote) most of these songs, yet some of them sound so old timey, you might be surprised when you see his writing credit attached to them. For instance, “Big Water Ahead” is an upbeat cowboy song about the Colorado River (which is big water, indeed). It feels like something cowboys have been singing while riding along the trail for years and years. It feels passed down from generation to generation. However, Powers has put himself into history’s cowboy boots in order to sing this authentic song of warning. 

The album’s title track is an honest assessment of one man’s financial dire straits, on one level. He’s not wearing a crisp new tuxedo, so to speak. However, when he sings about being threadbare, he also notes how his love for a girl shows right through. It’s also, on a more positive note, a song about how he simply can’t hide his deep affection for his woman. The song has an upbeat, bluegrass rhythm, and finds both Powers and Gray harmonizing together again beautifully. Furthermore, it’s sweet to contemplate how these two lovebirds are singing these words to each other. 

In the longstanding country music tradition of performing drinking songs, “Wine, Whiskey, Beer or Gin” is a love song of a completely different variety. It’s a lyric of endearment directed at popular varieties of alcoholic beverages. It’s not a song that considers the consequences of drinking, mind you. Instead, it praises the many different ways these adult beverages may be consumed for pleasure. 

Threadbare may be the term for clothes that might be destined for the wash rag bin, which is nearly at the point of being unwanted. The same can’t be said of Honey Don’t, though. The musical threads they present are strong and lovely. Their songs don’t sound anything like what’s on the radio – not even what’s found coming out of country radio. Instead, Threadbare is equivalent to a classy, vintage wardrobe. It’s a sound akin to a classic look. Filled with strong singing, playing and songwriting, this music is not something you can ever wear out – even if you tried.

 

Music Reviewer - Dan MacIntosh

 

Dan MacIntosh - Dan MacIntosh has been a professional music journalist for 30 years and his work has regularly appeared in many local and national publications, including Inland Empire Weekly, CCM, CMJ, Paste, Mean Street, Chord, HM, Christian Retailing, Amplifier, Inspirational Giftware, Stereo Subversion, Indie-Music, Soul–Audio, Roughstock.com, Country Standard Time and Spin.com. 

To Read All of Dan's Reviews, Click Here

 

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