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Music Review - `Locked Down and Loaded"` by Dallas Moore (ca)

Dallas Moore - Locked Down & Loaded (click on image to watch video)

16 July 2020

 

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An acoustic guitar is all Dallas Moore needs to cast the perfect synopsis of the last four months. "Locked Down and Loaded," the new single from his upcoming EP—the aptly titled Quarantine Sessions—finds Moore singing truths that nearly every American can relate to in light of the country shutting down back in March. But for Moore, the truths that hit closest to home are what it means to be a touring musician during a global pandemic. Regardless of where you're at, though, "Locked Down and Loaded" is a universal chorus for all Americans. As he sings, "It's so plain to see that something ain't right, so I'm locked down and loaded tonight." Moore may not provide any answers, but he does point listeners toward hope through his honest reflection.
 
 
 
 

Music Reviewer - Chuck ArmstrongChuck Armstrong is a pastor and writer living in New York City. As a contributor to The Boot, No Depression, Consequence of Sound, Ultimate Classic Rock, and Loudwire, music has always been part of Chuck's life. Formerly a longtime radio pro, Chuck now resides in Hell's Kitchen with his family.

Read More: Chuck Armstrong - The Boot

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Music Review - `Hillbilly Love` by Scott Holstein (ca)

Scott Holstein - Hillbilly Love (click on image to watch video)

16 July 2020

 

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With a smooth baritone voice and symphonic Telecaster twang, Scott Holstein has crafted the perfect anthem for music fans to break out of their quarantine blues. Turning his focus to the simple yet faithful devotion of hillbilly love, Holstein invites listeners into his world, one full of humor, friendship, and positive vibes. "Hillbilly love, you can't always win," he sings in the chorus, "But you can always do better." Harkening memories of the great Merle Haggard or Waylon Jennings, Holstein gives fans a memorable track for the summer that will no doubt have them dancing around their living rooms as soon as the first strum hits their ears.
 

Music Reviewer - Chuck ArmstrongChuck Armstrong is a pastor and writer living in New York City. As a contributor to The Boot, No Depression, Consequence of Sound, Ultimate Classic Rock, and Loudwire, music has always been part of Chuck's life. Formerly a longtime radio pro, Chuck now resides in Hell's Kitchen with his family.

Read More: Chuck Armstrong - The Boot

To Read All of Chuck's Reviews, Click Here

 


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

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

30 April 2020

 

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On Guy Schwartz's new record, Under the Influence, listeners are taken on a trip before they even drop the needle. The cover art features a wandering Schwartz, soaking up some gorgeous sunshine while standing in the midst of giant flowers. Underneath the album title, the slogan, "New Original Classic Rock From Houston," prepares fans for a wild ride across 13 new tracks.

That wild ride is much more than a fresh spin on classic rock for 2020; Under the Influence is a journey into the psyche of Schwartz as the LP shares stories of his past and lifts up some of his influences over the years. If there is one singular theme across the record, it's found in closing track "Gotta Keep the Music Alive," a bluesy, jangly, perfect-in-its-roughness song that finds Schwartz belting out, "Well I remember and it wasn't long ago / There was magic in the music, a place to let it grow." That place, at least for now, seems to be under the management of Schwartz himself.

He lets the music grow throughout Under the Influence. On "Lost in Time," Schwartz builds an atmosphere that blends the sounds of Bob Dylan's "Cold Irons Bound" with Nick Cave and the Bad Seeds' "Red Right Hand," making for an unforgettable four minutes. "Out of Control" finds Schwartz commanding a similar charge, though this time his guitar skills are on full display, reminiscent of the timeless work of Charlie Sexton. The highlight of Under the Influence, though, comes with the beautiful, full-band extravaganza "Two Sides of a Mountain." The range on Under the Influence is mesmerizing, and this particular song finds Schwartz and company at their best as he sings about love and life over the backdrop of a majestic mountain, with a soundtrack that will no doubt stand the test of time for decades to come.

Thirteen tracks later, the notion of "New Original Classic Rock From Houston" becomes clearer. Schwartz is firmly rooted in the unshakeable foundation that is and always has been classic rock, but he's not merely paying homage to the past; he's crafting art for this very time and moment, all with the songwriting skills of what you'd expect from the musical legacy of Houston, Texas. If Under the Influence is any indication—and I'm guessing it is—Schwartz has a few more wild rides up his sleeves, and I can't wait to join him on those journeys.
 

Music Reviewer - Chuck ArmstrongChuck Armstrong is a pastor and writer living in New York City. As a contributor to The Boot, No Depression, Consequence of Sound, Ultimate Classic Rock, and Loudwire, music has always been part of Chuck's life. Formerly a longtime radio pro, Chuck now resides in Hell's Kitchen with his family.

Read More: Chuck Armstrong - The Boot

To Read All of Chuck's Reviews, Click Here

 


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Music Review - `Life, Liberty & the Pursuit of Hippyness` by The Midwest Home Grown Band (ca)

 The Midwest Home Grown Band - Life, Liberty & the Pursuit of Hippyness (click on image to watch video)

13 June 2020

 

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There’s a timeless quality to The Midwest Home Grown Band’s Life, Liberty & the Pursuit of Hippyness. With a jovial cover that harkens to a simpler time of peace and love, the music found in the grooves of the album lives up to the band’s noble pursuit. Throughout the record, life is uncovered and shared with listeners, and liberty is celebrated not as a political ideology but as a means to achieve, well, hippyness, what one can only assume is the happiest and kindest of emotions.
 
Tracks like “Tears” and “So Far” conjure memories of Jefferson Airplane and The Drovers, while “Road Trip” and “Just a Song” concoct a sound that is nearly distinct from anything else that’s being played today. And on “God Bless Our Soldiers,” the band shares its own protest in the form of a poem that calls attention to standing up for what’s right, and standing up for the troops. The poem leads into “Don’t Call Me a Loser,” with the prophetic lyrics, "Yeah, you know peace can be contagious, it just needs a place to start."
 
None of these songs exist in solitude, though, thus the result is an LP for the masses, with a little something for everyone. Made up of a handful of Michiganders—guitarist Eric Einhorn, harmonicist Maijel Chisholm, guitarist Bill Sisk, drummer Rob Brines, bassist Valentin Mirelez, and Jodie Coats on keys—The Midwest Home Grown Band simultaneously exist in the ‘60s while crafting music that speaks to today’s culture and society with profound truth and pristine rock and roll. Life, Liberty & the Pursuit of Hippyness captures this juxtaposition perfectly, and invites listeners to join the band on their lifelong journey to find true, unadulterated hippyness.
 
 
 

Music Reviewer - Chuck ArmstrongChuck Armstrong is a pastor and writer living in New York City. As a contributor to The Boot, No Depression, Consequence of Sound, Ultimate Classic Rock, and Loudwire, music has always been part of Chuck's life. Formerly a longtime radio pro, Chuck now resides in Hell's Kitchen with his family.

Read More: Chuck Armstrong - The Boot

To Read All of Chuck's Reviews, Click Here

 


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Music Review - `Still Life` by Dave Greaves (ca)

Dave Greaves - Still Life  (click on image to watch video)

1 May 2020

 

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On his massive double-album Still Life, Dave Greaves delivers a listening experience that balances delicate storytelling with a deep sense of rawness, all coming together for an unforgettably authentic journey. "Now I don't know much about the good and the bad," he sings on opening track "A Piece of This Life," the first of 22 songs, "but I know about now all that I had." It's from that place of vulnerable honesty that Greaves sets the stage for the rest of Still Life.

"These are real songs written from the heart and steeped in soul deep feelings and experiences of a life lived on the razor's edge that cut to the bone of the artist's hope to be heard," Greaves stated when the record was released. While self-professed descriptions of an artist's own album can either feel disconnected from the average listener's experience or too self-congratulatory, Greaves manages to capture the essence of Still Life in those few words, a feat that showcases his inimitable and profound gift for writing. With a voice that honors and blends the likes of Colin Hay, Tom Russell, and the late, great Greg Trooper, Greaves' writing is elevated to a near-heavenly state as it comes to life with his musical arrangements—all centered around his acoustic guitar. 

While there are a shocking number of standout songs on Still Life—something that is often unexpected for a double album—"Phantasy" tends to live up to the moniker of "masterpiece." The ideas for the song's lyrics were bouncing around for several years before Greaves put pen to paper to write "Phantasy." A tale of love—love that may be lost or maybe just be too far out of reach—the singer-songwriter paints a crushing picture with little more than six strings and his voice. 
 
"And I drive by the old chapel in the graveyard / Where I commune with the idea of 'you and me,'" he sings, inviting the listener into his world. "Among the tree roots that tangle 'round the edge of the stones / Into a John Keats 'phantasy.'" The song culminates with Greaves singing over and over, "To live in the moment completely / To be with you baby night and day." 

Whether Greaves finds the love he's searching for in the song, the reality is that he manages to speak to every listener, wherever they might be at in their own relationships and lives. Greaves seems to be living in his moment completely, and Still Life captures it on every turn. "As long as I got faith and a little fight," he beautifully confesses in that opening track, "I can put it all behind me, in a piece of this life." The hope is that listeners can live in Greaves' moment while finding their own place in his songs, finding their own piece of their lives.
 

Music Reviewer - Chuck ArmstrongChuck Armstrong is a pastor and writer living in New York City. As a contributor to The Boot, No Depression, Consequence of Sound, Ultimate Classic Rock, and Loudwire, music has always been part of Chuck's life. Formerly a longtime radio pro, Chuck now resides in Hell's Kitchen with his family.

Read More: Chuck Armstrong - The Boot

To Read All of Chuck's Reviews, Click Here

 


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