Blues (CD) By Willie Jackson

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Blues

Willie Jackson

Self-Release 2018

Review by David Bowling

 

It’s always good to have a plan B in life. When an accident ended Willie Jackson’s day job; music was his plan B.

There has always been a close relationship between gospel music and the blues. Willie Jackson began his career singing in church. As he became serious about a career in music, he progressed to the blues, while retaining some of the roots of his gospel past.

Jackson has just release a six-song EP titled Blues. Backed by bassist Jon Willis, guitarist Dillon Young, drummer Paxton Eugene, and harmonica player Ace Anderson; he has issued an album of personal, self-composed blues tracks.

This is the blues without a lot of frills.  He has a big voice but does not overwhelm his backing band. “Just An Old Dog,” “Big Boned Woman,” “Diggin’ My Shovel,” and “Sleepin’ On The Job,” are good examples of his personal style.

Blues contains music for late at night with the headphones on. Sometimes plan B works out just fine.

Rating: ***

 

 

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Blue Steel (CD) By Joe Goldmark

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Blue Steel

Joe Goldmark

Lo-Ball Records

Review by David Bowling

 

I have always had a soft spot for guitarists and especially steel guitarists, which brings us to Joe Goldmark. Now four decades into his career, he has emerged as one of the better steel guitarists working today. Wile his technical ability is first rate, it is the sound he can coax from his instrument that sets him apart.

His new album, Blue Steel, is a combination of original tunes and covers. He also uses guest vocalists Glenn Walters and Dallas Craft on a number of tracks but the instrumental tracks are the heart of the release.

The album opening “Night Flight” and a cover of Bob Marley’s “Natty Dread” feature his unique approach of having his steel guitar as the lead instrument. “I Want To Be With You Forever,” with guest guitarist Jim Campilongo, has nice interplay between the two and creates a wonderfully plaintive sound.

Blue Steel may not have mainstream appeal but within its niche, it shines.

 

Rating: ***

Carter Stanley’s Eyes (CD) By Peter Rowan

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Carter Stanley’s Eyes

Peter Rowan

Rebel Records 2018

Review by David Bowling

 

Peter Rowan was born in Massachusetts, which is not a state you usually associate with a bluegrass legend. At the age of 20, he auditioned and won the position of lead guitarist/vocalist in Bill Monroe’s Bluegrass Boys.

During the late 1960’s and early 1970’s he played rock and roll as a member of Earth Opera, The Rowan Brothers, Seatrain, and for a short spell with Jerry Garcia. His solo career has incorporated a number of styles but he remains a bluegrass artist in his soul.

His new album returns him to his roots. The Stanley Brothers, Carter and Ralph, were early influences and Carter Stanley’s Eyes is a heart felt tribute to them. While he records two of their tunes; Carter’s “A Vision Of Mother” and Ralph’s “Ridin’ On That Midnight Train,” he channels their style through the 14 tracks.

Rowan is now in his mid 70s and a number of songs deal with mortality. “Drumbeats On The Watchtower” is a song of aging and acceptance that only a person of his age could compose. The Carter “Will You Miss Me” is partly sung without instruments as he ruminates about the world without him in it.

There are a couple tunes where he fuses different styles to bluegrass. The gospel song, “The Crown He Wore,” connects the two closely associated disciplines. Ledbelly’s “Alabama Bound” has a nice blues feel within the parameters of bluegrass instrumentation.

The Carter Brothers helped Rowan to hone his bluegrass skills and in many ways the direction of his life. Carter Stanley’s Eyes is a payment for lessons well-learned.

Rating: ****

Clippety Clop (CD) By Holly Golightly And The Brokeoffs

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Clippety Clop

Holly Golightly and The Brokeoffs

Transdreamer 2018

Review by David Bowling

 

Holly Golightly and The Brokeoffs, (which is actually only her long time partner Lawyer Dave), have returned with a new album titled Clippety Clop. She has always taken the road less traveled as each album is different, bordering on the odd at times.

She basically has two careers. By day, she operates a horse rescue facility. By night, she is one of the more eclectic musicians working today. Her latest album manages to connect these two very different occupations.

The song titles connect their passion for horses and music. “Mule Skinner,” “Black Horse Blues,” “I Ride An Old Paint,” “Carpet Of Horses,” “Strawberry Roan,” and on it goes through the 12 tracks. The music ranges from country, to blues, to Americana, to rock and roll. There sound it fairly primitive as it is just the two of them but Lawyer Dave is adept on a number of instruments.

Holly Golightly and The Brokeoffs are about 12 years into their career. I’m not sure their approach is going to generate huge commercial appeal but their music is always interesting.

Each of their albums is a unique stop and Clippety Clop is no exception. A little different but a good listen for anyone who wants to push the envelope a little.

Rating: B

Latin Bugaloo: The Warner Bros. Singles (CD) By Malo

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Latin Bugaloo: The Warner Bros. Singles

Malo

Omnivore 2018

Review by David Bowling

 

Malo was and still is a west coast Latin rock band. Jorge Santana, the brother of Carlos, Rich Bean, and Arcelio Garcia Jr. founded the seven piece band during the very early seventies. They issued four albums for the Warner Brothers label, 1971-1974, before disbanding. They reformed in 1981 and continue to perform. They released seven singles during their prime and those 14 sides have been gathered together to form Latin Bugaloo: The Warner Bros. Singles.

Malo was a structured jam band. They would establish a vibe and allow the various band members to create within the structure. Their studio albums were tight affairs that stayed within their Latin rock vision. The brass section added an extra element and gave their sound a fuller feel.

Their single releases give a glimpse of the band. Most of their studio songs were extended affairs and not usable as single releases. Therefore, the chosen tracks were edited down to manageable lengths, fit for AM radio of the day. If you want to experience their original sound andintent, any of their early albums is the place to go.

“Suavecito” was their most successful single and is considered a Latin national anthem. Santana’s guitar on top of the rhythm section form the connector to their Latin roots. The brass help to make the sound unlike most of what was being released in the early 1970’s. The song is one of those releases that helped to establish the era by taking basic rock and roll and then moving it in a different direction.

Songs such as “Nena,” “Midnight Thoughts,” “Merengue.” and “Think About Love” span their four early albums and help chronicle their career, plus show their growth as a band.

The album also clears up the lost single Just Say Goodbye/Pana. Always listed as a single release by the label, no copies were known to exist. It seems the single was only issued in Turkey, so it is included here.

Latin Bugaloo: The Warner Bros. Singles is a re-visit to a band that approached 1970s rock from a unique perspective. If you want something a little different from this time period, then Malo may be a band for you.

Rating: ****

Hard To Love (CD) By Joyann Parker

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Hard To Love

Joyann Parker

BNC 2018

Review by David Bowling

 

Joyann Parker has the look of a blues singer who would thrive in a smoky lounge late at night. Looks can be deceiving as her voice has a soulful quality that fuses the two styles together. She brings that duality to her new album titled Hard To Love.

Parker keeps it fairly simple and her approach is more emotional than flashy. She is backed by a basic foursome of guitar, bass, keyboards, and drums with some horns on one of the tracks.

She has an advantage over many of her contemporaries in that she writes her own material with guitarist/producer Mark Lamoine. Songs such as “Bluer That You,” “Evil Hearted,” “What Happened To Me,” and “Take My Heart And Run” tell personal stories that resonate with the world around her.

 

Rating: ***

Love Songs & Love Lines (CD) By The Kris Lager Band

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Love Songs & Life Lines

Kris Lager Band

Fervent Ameba Records 2018

Review by David Bowling

 

Kris Lager is a journeyman musician, who has been on the road and in the studio for the last 15 years.

His new album, Love Songs & Life Lines is more structured than his previous releases. Tighter structures and melodies replace the jamming approach of his previous albums. The allows the lyrics to be front and center. The passing of his father has moved him to create lyrics that deal with life, hence the title of the album.

Lager is one of the best guitarists you may have never heard and he has a voice to match. His band includes drummer Scooby Sha Bo Bo, bassist Aaron Underwood, and sax player deluxe Lefever. They produce a high energy rock and blues fusion that not only entertains but makes you feel good.

The Kris Lager band is a group that deserves more commercial success. Love Songs & Life Lines is an excellent release by a hard working band practicing their craft. Highly recommended!

Rating: ****

 

 

 

Voices (CD) By Tom Rush

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Voices

Tom Rush

Appleseed Records

Review by David Bowling

 

Tom Rush is part of the quickly disappearing original connectors to the folk revival movement of the 1960’s.

Rush has spent nearly all of this 50 year career interpreting the songs of others. His early covers of James Taylor, Joni Mitchell, and Jackson Browne helped them gain needed exposure. He has only written 20 songs during the course of his career. That is what makes his new release, Voices, unique and interesting as it contains 10 original compositions plus his arrangements of two traditional tunes. 

Now in his late 70’s, he remains a folk singer. There may be a little bluegrass in some of the music and his arrangements of “Corina Corina” and Elder Green” have a light blues feel, but his lyrics and melodies remain at the center of American folk music.

His focus is always on the words, whether some else’s or in this case his own. Songs of life, sex, regret have been constant topics during his career and are presented is a straightforward manner.

He has always had a subtle and wry sense of humor, which is exhibited quirky “If I Never Get Back To Hackensack.”

The center of the album revolves around such songs as “Going Down To Nashville” and “Voices,” which deal with life from his 77 year old perspective.

Tom Rush is like an old friend who stops by every few years and then disappears for a while. Voices is his latest calling card and it is well-worth the visit.

Rating: ***1/2

Sleeping Dogs (CD) By Jeff Plankenhorn

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Sleeping Dogs

Jeff Plankenhorn

Spike Steel Records

Review by David Bowling

 

Jeff Plankenhorn is a multi-instrumentalist and master inventor of the “the Plank,” which is a combination steel guitar and dobro. His last album centered around the Plant. Now with the release of Sleeping Dogs,” moves is a number of different directions. While his home-made instrument makes a few appearances; he also plays a number of instruments while crafting a number of very listenable songs.

While Plankenhorn is grounded in the blues; albeit the greasy region of the south. “Tooth And Nail” is emblematic of this style. It features kindred spirit Ray Wylie Hubbard on guitar, vocals, and as co-writer.

“Holy Lightning” is more sedate, while “Further To Fall” and “Heaven On Earth” explore his connection and affinity to nature. Through it all he exhibits a fine expertise on the guitar.

Sleeping Dogs continues his recent journey from sideman to solo artist. Moving away from just focusing on one instrument provides him with the room to explore a number of styles. It is hoped that this is just the beginning of his adventure.

Rating: ***

Rhymes For Mellow Minds (CD) By Steven Troch Band

Rhymes For Mellow Minds

Steven Troch Band

Sing My Title 2018

Review by David Bowling

 

Music evokes a number of emotions. Steven Troch’s music makes you smile, while always being interesting. He has just released his latest album titled Rhymes For Simple Minds.

Troch is a harpist/vocalist from Belgium. His music meanders in a number of directions but is grounded in the blues (more or less).

He fronts a no-nonsense basic band of guitarist Steven Van Der Nat, bassist Liesbeth Sprangers, and drummer Eric Heirman. At times he adds keyboards and a full brass section, which amps up the voltage considerably.

The music is upbeat and the vocals smooth. Van Der Nat is an excellent guitarist and a good foil for Troch’s harmonica work. The lyrics create a cast of interesting characters who live and look at life from various and odd perspectives and are central to his approach.

The Steven Troch Band has created a pleasing album, especially for people with mellow minds.

Rating: ***