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Music Review - `Then and One More Day ` by Westley Dennis (gb)

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

30 June 2021

 

 

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     In Wesley Dennis country, Alan Jackson looms large. The Alabama native's 1995 eponymous debut  on Mercury Nashville records got him a tour with Jackson, charting three singles from his first release.    

    But as many aspiring artists before him have  experienced, the  label dumped him after that first release, and a string of labels who offered support down the road also failed to deliver on their promises, causing Dennis to take a decade long hiatus from the business in '02, returning in 2012 when a Canadian label picked him up and a former record owner released a trove of 1999's Country to the Core CDs he had discovered while cleaning out his garage and gave to Dennis to sell. 

  Dennis released the critically acclaimed Country Enough on Dirt Road records in 2012, and has been back on the circuit since then, now out promoting his latest, Then and One More Day.  

   Dennis' sound owes a lot to Jackson. On “Hey Pretty Baby” Dennis scrapes the bottom end of the vocal spectrum in fine Alan Jackson-fashion.. Sweetened with buckets of weepy fiddle, Dennis channels Randy Travis on the title cut, with a George Jones end-of-time loving scenario similar to “He Stopped Loving Her Today.” 

 Although  Dennis penned most of the tunes on the release, he chose to lead off with a cover of Dallas Frazier/doodle Owens' "(I'm So) Afraid of Losing You Again," Charlie Pride's second number one hit in  1969. Dennis cover is more countrified than Pride's pop/country version, roughing up the ballad a bit with some weepy, honky-tonk pedal steel, borrowing  George Jones tonsils to  polish it off.    

    His original, “Halo and Horns,” is a mellow country rocker as comfortable as an old saddle, Dennis trotting along a  well worn track that still rocks the jukebox.  “Love The Tired Out of You” could be big deal for Dennis, the kind of sneak up on you  hit that wont get out of your head,  a song along anthem that should be a juke box staple for any cowboy looking to lasso his soon to be beloved or just his beloved for the evening.

     This is  big league material, proof that Dennis deserves another at-bat in the big show.  

     

 

Music Reviewer - Grant Britt
Grant Britt ( This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. ) has been writing about music since the earth cooled a while back. A staff writer for No Depression, his work also appears in BluesMusic Mag and the Greensboro News and Record

 

To Read All of Grant B's Reviews, Click Here

 

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Music Review - `Rope The Wind ` by Nick Justice (gb)

Nick Justice- Rope The Wind  (click on image to watch video)

7 April 2021

 

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Don't toss Nick Justice in the country bin. Although there's enough twang hanging around to qualify for a cowboy hat and some cattle, he prefers a troubadour handle, walking a blurry line between folk and Americana. Lured by the cowpunkery output of bands like the Blasters to San Diego in the '80s, the transplanted New Yorker sharpened his skills on the streets. But the business part of show bidness wore him down in the late '90s, and he took an18-year sabbatical, re-emerging in 2014 with Cry of the Street Prophet. But the country was still lurking in his music. On “Just A Kiss Away” he sounds like Steve Forbert backed by Buck Owens' band, folky/punk/country replete with twangy steel guitar backing.

2019's Between a Laugh and a Tear found him back straddling the folky/Americana line with the Dylan-esque cut “Moving Ahead Without You” assisted with bongos and an acoustic guitar.

His latest, Rope the Wind, mashes up a bunch of styles and genres on his all original offerings. Justice sounds like a mellow Merle Haggard on “Travelin' Man,” with a oohing and ahhing chorus that sounds like it could have been lifted from the 1961 Ricky Nelson hit, with guitarists Richard Bredice and Richard Stekol adding some nice guitar figures to the conversation.

“Billy the Kid” is a crusty bio of the famous young outlaw, Justice sounding heartbroken as he relates the tale of Billy's ambush by Pat Garrett accompanied by Bredice's mournful banjo plunking

“Love Is On the Run” has a Marty Robbins feel, Justice warbling country style soul backed by the loping twang of the Bredice/Stekol guitars.

“Cant You See” is not the '73 Marshall Tucker Band hit, but more like Neil Diamond trying on a country song.

Even though Justice plays down his country style, he can't escape it on this latest outing. Its not the pop rock that passes for country today, but an old school visitation that blurs boundaries for a leisurely, nostalgic ride through a vanishing musical landscape.

 

 

Music Reviewer - Grant Britt
Grant Britt ( This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. ) has been writing about music since the earth cooled a while back. A staff writer for No Depression, his work also appears in BluesMusic Mag and the Greensboro News and Record

 

To Read All of Grant B's Reviews, Click Here

 

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Music Review - Life, Liberty and the Pursuit of Hippyness` by Midwest Homegrown Band (gb)


Midwest Homegrown Band  - Life, Liberty and the Pursuit of Hippyness  (click on image to watch video)

15 July 2020

 

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   They just don't make hippies the way they usta. The Midwest Homegrown Band's freshman output claims to support the pursuit of hippyness, with images of lead singer Amy Valdez swaddled in a flag emblazoned with a peace sign. But the contents belie that image, coming across as a don't tread on me cawze I'm different and I'll kick yore ass if you don't like it attitude. “Don't Call Me Loser” unfurls a PG version of David Allan Coe, hung on a Commander Cody framework, the lyrics suggesting perhaps lead vocalist/composer Eric Einhorn  took one hit too many hits on his peace pipe. After declaring his intentions to adopt an why can't we all get along mantra, he blows it up with a threat to do bodily harm if looked at wrong: “But friend if you look down on me/cause you feel you're too damn good/well I can kick your ass all up and down this pleasant neighborhood.” Sounds like he needs a new campaign manager or a better blend of dope. 

   A little bit later on  his“Road Trip,” he's blasting down the highway at 85, beer in hand, to meet up with his self-described redneck friends, enjoining the po-lice not to pay him any mind cause he's not doing nothing wrong “as far as you know.” He declares his intentions of going on a three day creep where the ladies need to be  locked up because of his stamina.  Not exactly a peace and love vibe.

   His spoken word composition “God Bless Our Soldiers” presents a mixed message, praising  diplomats for their efforts, then a few lines later saying he'll never back down from confrontation. 

   “Unseen Truth” sounds like Neil Diamond on a spaghetti western soundtrack. “Hanging Out At Hookers Mill” clones Springsteen, transferring his wayback machine nostalgia to a rural setting.

   Hard to figure out what to call this stuff, or where it's going. Don't know whether you're gonna get  your ass whupped for flashing a  peace sign, get in a fist fight cause you don't wear wingtips like your neighbors, or just left alone to be a free spirit. 

   Peace out, bubba. 

 

 

Music Reviewer - Grant Britt
Grant Britt ( This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. ) has been writing about music since the earth cooled a while back. A staff writer for No Depression, his work also appears in BluesMusic Mag and the Greensboro News and Record

 

To Read All of Grant B's Reviews, Click Here

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Music Review - `Another Sky ` by Kelly's Lot (gb)

Kelly's Lot - Another Sky  (click on image to watch video)

17 February 2021

 

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Namesake Kelly Zirbes labels this latest output from her 26-year old outfit Kelly's Lot as folk music, but that's loosening the lasso pretty good to corral all the critters she and her cohorts are riding in this outing. This bunch keeps moving around so much it's hard to brand 'em with any one logo. You can pretty much find just about anything that walks, crawls, swims, or flies stirring around in the mix. You might as well call it world music with its blend of Latin, Irish,Tex-Mex, and whatever scraps of loosely-bound Americana they feel like adding at the moment, shaken and stirred in with gobbets of Southern rock and blues.

You expect Marty Robbins to come strollin' by on “Sleep On It,” sit underneath your balcony and serenade you on the country-style weeper with Doug Pettibone's steel sobbing alongside Rick Monroe sitting in for an impassioned Robbins impersonation on a duet with Kelly Zirbes that builds to a Meatloaf-worthy crescendo before he rolls up his bedroll and rides off into the sunset.

“Foolish Try” features some Flaco-inspired Tex-Mex with Zirbes tossing in a few stanzas in Spanish.

“Christmas is Calling” sounds like it was born by the fireside of an Irish pub. But if you want the authentic stuff, “The Irish Luck,” replete with a tin whistle solo from Aviva Maloney, will transport you to back to the auld sod.

Zirbes, guitarist/producer/songwriter Perry Robertson and multi-instrumentalist Doug Pettibone wrote all of the material, with a little help from Facebook fans. Fans tasked by Kelly help her write half of the album's 12 tracks provided her with one word for each of the six songs to start the creative process. She included herself in the contest as well by writing a song around one word of her choosing giving herself a two-hour deadline to complete the composition. But they don't let on which was which, and the material is as seamless as if it was dipped from one creative well.

“Lock Me Up” might have you wondering if the 'shrooms and Tequila you had for breakfast are kickin' in as Zirbes and company do a brain-scramblin' mash-up of snatches of the melody from '50s teen idol Ricky Nelson's “Travelin' Man” mixed in with some Los Straitjackets-style twang and surf support.

Nice mix of genres blended into a smooth cocktail that packs a punch but won't leave you hungover.

     

 

Music Reviewer - Grant Britt
Grant Britt ( This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. ) has been writing about music since the earth cooled a while back. A staff writer for No Depression, his work also appears in BluesMusic Mag and the Greensboro News and Record

 

To Read All of Grant B's Reviews, Click Here

 

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Music Review - `Under the Influence ` by Guy Schwartz (gb)


Guy Schwartz - Under the Influence  (click on image to watch video)

26 March 2020

 

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     Guy Schwartz bills his music as classic rock from Houston. But that's like saying the grand canyon is just a big ditch. It leaves a lot of room to maneuver around in, and Schwartz takes advantage of the space, big time. With his band the New Jack Hippies,the singer/guitarist goes on a musical ramble across his home state while picking up influences from every corner of the country.

  “Waltz  Across Texas” has nothing in common with Bob Willis, Schwartz delivering  a old fashioned   country  music style recitation in the tradition of Tex Ritter ( “The Deck Of Cards, “Hillbilly Heaven”) Porter Wagoner (“Skid Roe,) and  Joe Red Sovine (“Giddy  Up Go”.)  But aside from mentioning that he once saw Ernest Tubb in a sweat-stained powder blue Nudie suit, the cut has nothing to do with country music. His vocal has more in common with new wave/stoned avant-garde icon Jonathan Richman (“I'm Straight,” “Government Center”) than any classic country stalwart. The New Jack hippies prop up his spoken word account thundering along behind the guitarist's rocky power chords as he chronicles his musical education gliding across Texas, including an acid-enhanced introduction to Jimmy Page bowing his Fender Telecaster on “Whole Lotta Love,” discovering soul with Sam and Dave, and backstage encounters with Johnny Winter and Tony Joe White before developing his own bag of tricks. 

  Although “Bad Storm Coming” was written about flooding in Houston, where a couple of one hundred year floods have occurred in the last two years, the lyrics can just as easily apply to the current viral lockdown situation:“Better stock up on your supplies/don't let it take you by surprise,” Schwartz warns.“Better take cover/take care of each other.”  

   Schwartz's vocals and tone on “Gotta Keep the Music Alive” have a Van Morrison feel, backed by some chewy twangy Texas-style guitar.

    “Blues Rumble” is a shuffle about a cutting contest with killer guitarists fightin' it out for domination.

    Schwartz channels Mark Knopfler on “Out Of Control,” a Trumpian lament on the current state of affairs under the rule of the Orange one.

     “Two Sides of  A Mountain” is a southern rock anthem that sounds like a classic Marshal Tucker cut. 

   Although calling his original music classic rock may be a bit of a stretch, Schwartz's sound is certainly unique enough to stick in your head, nestled comfortably between your ears, handy to scratch when the itch acts up. 

     

 

Music Reviewer - Grant Britt
Grant Britt ( This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. ) has been writing about music since the earth cooled a while back. A staff writer for No Depression, his work also appears in BluesMusic Mag and the Greensboro News and Record

 

To Read All of Grant B's Reviews, Click Here

 

 

 


 

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