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CD Review: Marc Lee Shannon “Walk This Road”

Marc Lee Shannon has spent more than thirty years in the music industry. A large part of that time was spent outside of the Northern Ohio area as Shannon once lived out in Los Angeles having moved out there at the age of 19 to attend college.  And while out that way, Shannon began playing with some of the biggest names in the industry.

Time passed and Marc Lee Shannon has now been living back in the Northern Ohio area for years. And just like when he was out West, Shannon can be found performing with some of the biggest names in this area. You can find Shannon onstage helping to shape the music of artists such as The Midlife Chryslers, as well as being part of Michael Stanley & The Resonators, as well as many other artists from the region.

Marc Lee Shannon released his first release of Any Ordinary Man, back in 2006. That album was produced by Local Hero (as well as multi-talented musical artist) Michael Stanley and was released digitally on Line Level Music. And now, Shannon is back with his latest release. The 2018 album from Marc Lee Shannon is entitled Walk This Road. And much like with Shannon’s time as a musician, this album was created with the help of some of the biggest and most well-known names in the Northern Ohio region. Among those who helped bring the album to life is Ryan Humbert, a singer-songwriter in his own right. Along with adding guitars and vocals, Humbert helped to produce the album.

Walk This Road begins with the song “Carousel”. This track features a strong bassline and strong electric guitars that combine to create a track with a Classic Rock feel to the music, with a slight Native American vibe running through the music itself. The lyrics deal with living your life and dealing with the ups and downs of life as you go around the sun, which may very well explain the title of “Carousel”. The track starts slow and somewhat low-key, but soon picks up. The track continues with a strong Blues/Rock blend that is very energetic. This strong Blues-Rock track from Marc Lee Shannon and the rest of the musicians gives the listener something strong right from the start.

The Blues/Rock blend from “Carousel” is replaced with a straight-out Rock and Roll musical approach on the second track of the album. The title track of the release finds Marc Lee Shannon and band creating a track that would have been right at home on the radio during the late eighties/early nineties. The music of the song “Walk This Road” finds the band creating some of the best straight-out Rock and Roll that has been produced in a long time.  Fans of Rock and Roll from the late eighties/early nineties will enjoy this track.

Marc Lee Shannon’s Walk This Road continues with the song entitled “Back Door to My Heart”. The track features a slow pace to the music and influences like Jimi Hendrix-influenced guitars in the early moments of the track and Tom Petty-influenced music in the later moments. The two influences come in spurts as they alternate throughout the track. These influences help to create a track that feels somewhat timeless in its musical approach. And the lyrics of the track are given some extra body as Bri & Jon Bryant add background vocals to the song, giving a slight Gospel Choir influence to the lyrics.

As the first few track of Walk This Road come with guitar-based musical approaches that feeling changes with the track “Count Me In” as it is the piano from Russell Flanagan that help give the track a much different musical direction than the previous songs. As Russell Flanagan handles the piano, the track’s piano part will easily remind some of Billy Joel. And when the background vocals from Emily Bates and producer Ryan Humbert join in, the track ends up feeling like a 1980’s anthem in the style of “We Are The World”. The lyrics for “Count Me In” even give off positive vibes of being there for someone.

With the song “Since You Been Around,” Marc Lee Shannon and band create a track that once again changes the direction of the music. With this track, the musicians all join together to create a track that features music and vocals that bring to mind those of singer-songwriter Randy Newman. In fact, the way the band and Shannon combine their talents, what results is a track that feels rather reminiscent of “You’ve Got a Friend In Me” from Newman. The main reasons for this being the piano from Russell Flanagan and the rather smoky vocals from Shannon.

The sound of the electric guitar returns for the track “All I Want”. Along with the electric guitar, Marc Lee Shannon and the rest of the musicians bring back the feel of Eighties Rock and Roll.  The music of the track brings to mind the style of one Bryan Adams and other artists from that time. “All I Want” from Marc Lee Shannon is guitar-driven and will instantly remind the listener of music from Top 40 radio from the eighties. When the instruments on this track combine about halfway through the song, they create a sound that will remind some of the E. Street Band… minus the sax from Clarence Clemons.

For the last track of the release, Marc Lee Shannon draws upon several different artists to help flavor his music. It is the likes of Harry Nillson who influences the music of the track “So Long My Friend” while Shannon calls upon an artist who is rather close to his heart to help with the lyrics to this track. By the lyrics and the vocal delivery on this track all but scream Michael Stanley, a singer-songwriter who was best known for the songs “My Town,” “Lover” and “He Can’t Love You,” three tracks that made their way onto the music charts back in the eighties. In fact, you can almost hear this track appearing on one of Stanley’s twenty-plus studio albums.  

Having released his latest album of Walk This Road  back in 2108, Marc Lee Shannon has continued writing music. Currently, the singer-songwriter is celebrating the release of his most current single entitled “Friends Like You”. The track features a strong acoustic guitar and an equally strong organ setting the tone for the track. Once the rest of the instruments join in, the track takes on a Pop-Rock feel that would fit in alongside bands like Goo Goo Dolls and/or The Gin Blossoms while also containing a slight Bruce Springsteen influence to the music and especially in the vocals on the track. Like a lot of the music created by Marc Lee Shannon, “Friends Like You” contains a musical delivery that is rather timeless. While the track would feel right at home on the radio today, “Friends Like You” would have fit in on radio during the eighties and/or the nineties without any problems. 

Whether on his latest album of Walk This Road or his latest single of “Friends Like You,” Marc Lee Shannon shows off not only his ability as a singer-songwriter, but also his ability as a musician. And with the help of the various musicians who helped bring the album to life, Marc Lee Shannon has created a release that has a very timeless feel to it. For those longing for music that contains a strong timeless feel to it, Marc Lee Shannon’s Walk This Road is the album for you. 

To check out the music from Marc Lee Shannon, check out the latest single from the singer-songwriter, “Friends Like You”:

To hear the entire album of Walk This Road from Marc Lee Shannon, click on the album cover below: 

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CD Review: Greg Roensch “What’s in the Meaning of That Cloud in the Sky”

Greg Roensch is a multi-talented individual who splits his time between the written word, the spoken word and the recorded song. As a writer, you can find Greg Roensch’s written words in his 2017 collection called Breakfast with the Alien and Other Short, Short Stories. His words have also been used to write about subjects such as video games, consumer electronics, winemaking and others, as well as for non-profit organizations. As a singer-songwriter, Roensch has created what he called The Spiral Notebook Project, a project which included 10 songs created by Roensch and other talented individuals at Tiny Telephone Recording in San Francisco (including producer John Vanderslice who has been responsible for plenty of releases over the years from talented individuals). Years after the release of The Spiral Notebook Project, Greg Roensch returns with his latest album, a release once again created with the help of producer John Vanderslice. Greg Roensch’s latest musical release is called What’s in the Meaning of That Cloud in the Sky.  

To begin the What’s in the Meaning of That Cloud in the Sky album, Greg Roensch kicks off his release with the track “Come On Over”. This track brings forth the talents of keyboard player Robert Shelton as it is the organ that is the instrument that is focused on in this song. The organ and the rest of the instrumentation give the song a rather retro feel as the song sounds as if it would have come out of the seventies. Not only is there a seventies feel to the music, but the song itself brings to mind the musical stylings of Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers as the tune has a sound with an undeniable resemblance to Petty’s song “Stop Draggin’ My Heart Around”.

The new release from Greg Roensch continues with the track “One More Shot”. This track features a Funk/Lite Rock blend to the music. The resulting blend creates a song with a laidback approach while also creating a strong groove that comes courtesy of the aforementioned organs and the bass. The synthesizers on the track add a strong groove of their own while also adding a slightly psychedelic vibe to the music. While the music of the track is rather upbeat, the lyrics are hopeful than anything else. The lyrics describe trying to reignite a relationship that seems to have come to an abrupt end at one point with Roensch cautiously dealing with the situation so things don’t get worse.

If one is familiar with some of the music that came out of the era of the eighties, you should be at least familiar with the title to the song “If I Had a Rocket Launcher,” the very political track from Bruce Cockburn from back in 1984 about his visit to Guatemalan refugee camps in Mexico following the counterinsurgency campaign of dictator Efraín Ríos Montt. On his new album, Greg Roensch takes a little influence from Cockburn as he created a track with a title that is just as striking and memorable. “Don’t Forget Your Hand Grenades” is a track from Roensch that, like Cockburn’s earlier track, was influenced by reality: a sign hanging in an airport in Europe that simply said- “No Hand Grenades”. Forming the music around the lyrics, the song contains a jazzy/funky feel to the laidback music. And with the sing-song feel to Roensch’s vocals, the song comes across as a Spoken Word/Beat Poetry track. But with the lyrical content of the words, that works rather well for the song “Don’t Forget Your Hand Grenades”.

What’s in the Meaning of That Cloud in the Sky album from Greg Roensch continues with the song “Grasshopper”. With this track, Roensch and the rest of the band slow things down quite a bit to create the slow-paced track. Singer Carly Bond joins Roensch as the two create a duet of sorts. While most duets feature lyrics of a mainly romantic nature, Bond and Roensch sing about taking it slow and easy. The track features simplicity at its best as the lyrics deal with the simple act of sitting and watching a grasshopper hopping along while the music contains a slow, steady and laidback pace.

The track “Celluloid Dream” changes the direction of the music. With this track the main focus is on the acoustic guitar of Greg Roensch as he creates a track that feels much like something from singer-songwriters in the mid-to-late sixties or earlier seventies. The slow-paced song features a storyteller approach to the lyrics, in much the same manner that Jimmy Buffett wrote the song “They Don’t Dance Like Carmen No More,” Buffet’s tribute to the multi-talented actress and singer Carmen Miranda. In this instance, Roensch writes about any one of the numerous actresses that graced the silver screen during the early Black & White days of cinema. And while the track easily contains the influence of Jimmy Buffett in the lyrics, the musical part of the track will remind fans of The Princess Bride of that movie’s Main Theme Song, “Storybook Love” from Willie DeVille and Mark Knopfler. Part of the reason for that comes from the inclusion of the cello on the track that is courtesy of Crystal Pascucci, which adds a touch of orchestration to the song.  

Like with the earlier track of “Don’t Forget Your Hand Grenades,” Greg Roensch takes the listener back to the sixties with “Remember the War to End All Wars,” a track that brings to mind songs like “Find the Cost of Freedom” from Crosby, Stills and Nash, or “Stop Children What’s That Sound” from Buffalo Springfield. “Remember the War to End All Wars” contains the same type of lyrical mindset as the aforementioned songs. The track is formed around the cello from Crystal Pascucci who creates a beautiful and touching intro to the track before the song changes to something that could have come from Buffalo Springfield, as the song falls into a style of Folk-Rock reminiscent of that band’s music. “Remember the War to End All Wars” is a powerful reminder to never forget the conflicts that came before as they can still teach us things.

Greg Roensch continues his new release with another poignant track as he stays in the same frame of mind of the previous track. But this time, instead of Folk-Rock, Roensch changes directions and creates a song with a much different feel to the music. It is with the song “Trigger, Trigger (Get Your Gun Out of My Face)” that Roensch explores a much more experimental feel to his music. In fact, the musical direction chosen by the singer-songwriter on this track brings to mind the more experimental side of the band Pere Ubu. The music being what it is and the Spoken Word feel to the words on the track create one of the most different tracks of the entire album.

Singer Carly Band returns as she and Greg Roensch once again join together on the “title track” of the release “Tell It Like It Is”. Just like the first time that Band made an appearance on this release, the song “Tell It Like It Is” contains a duet between Band and Roensch. And like the first track that featured both artists, this song is slow-paced and laidback as the song contains a light touch to the music which goes along with the lyrics about how things are going in the relationship that the song revolves around.  

As the listener goes through the thirteen tracks that make up the What’s in the Meaning of That Cloud in the Sky album from Greg Roensch, you get many different styles and flavors of music. Folk-Rock, Art Punk, Psychedelic Rock and much more make up the various tracks on the album. Strong writing, strong musicianship and nicely varied music combine to create a release that offers something for everyone.   

For more information, check out Greg Roensch’s PR firm of Whiplash PR & Management by clicking on the logo for the company.

 

 

 

 

For a taste of the music from Greg Roensch, check out the song “Come on Over”. 

To hear the entire What’s in the Meaning of That Cloud in the Sky album from Greg Roensch, click on the album cover below: 

 

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CD Review: Jeff McMullen “Pain Management”

Having performed in several bands over the years, Texas-based singer-songwriter Jeff McMullen is now writing his own music. In fact, a new EP has just been completed by the singer-songwriter that makes use of all of Jeff McMullen’s various influences. The release also finds him switching from his two main instruments- the keyboards and the guitar. The new EP from Jeff McMullen is entitled Pain Management.

Jeff McMullen begins his Pain Management EP with the track “Shyne On”. The first few seconds of the track feature harmonic a’cappella vocals created by McMullen. Those vocals feature a feel that reminds the listener of R&B music. And while those initial vocals have a strong R&B vibe to them, that’s somewhat of a fooler as what follows is nothing like what one would expect. The R&B flavored vocals segue into guitar-driven Hard Rock. That approach comes with Hip-Hop influenced drumbeats as well as some Funk flavor. The entire combination creates a beginning to the track that encapsulates the entire music industry at one time, and all within forty seconds or so.  As the track finally starts, what goes forward is a track that includes a strong reference to Michael Jackson as you can almost definitely hear elements of “Thriller” in the music of “Shyne On”. Combined together, all of the various elements create a song that would have fit solidly in radio formats back in the eighties.

Pain Management continues with “The Unmailed Letter”. Where “Shyne On” was guitar-driven, this track features McMullen on the keyboards. Those keyboards create a soft, gentle feel to the music. Add some strings to those keys and the track contains an emotional feel even before McMullen starts to sing.  As McMullen’s vocals join the keyboards, there is a slight indication of Bruce Springsteen in his voice. The lyrics of the song find McMullen singing a ballad about a relationship that came to an end a long time ago. The song’s lyrics also hint at the regrets that have been left behind as he questions what could have been. As McMullen sings, it becomes clear this letter will never be sent as he knows not where to even start looking in order to reach his love interest from so long ago. The simple piano and occasional strings mixed with the lyrics of lost love create a track with a strong emotional pull to it.

The track “Evidence” continues the Pain Management EP from Jeff McMullen. Once again, McMullen calls upon the guitar to help create the music for the song. This time, however, it is the acoustic guitar that is the focus. With the acoustic guitar, Jeff McMullen creates a Folk-Rock track that combines elements of Soft Rock, Folk and some Jazz flavor together. This musical mix and McMullen’s vocals create a track that fits somewhere within the mid-to-late eighties and the early nineties. Altogether, the track brings to mind the Pop-Rock stylings of someone like Bruce Hornsby & the Range and/or Steve Winwood. This comparison is evident because of the relaxed nature of the track. Like the previous songs, “Evidence” is a song that contains a very commercial feel to the music. This song could easily find its way onto Adult Contemporary radio formats because of its somewhat timeless musical approach.

The Pain Management EP continues with yet another piano-based track from Jeff McMullen. And like with the song that comes before it, this track called “Someday” has a laidback feel to the music. This time, McMullen seems to be calling upon the influence from the one and only Phil Collins as the piano-based track of “Someday” contains another Pop-Rock/Lite Rock approach to the music. In fact, you can hear the same type of musical approach in McMullen’s track as you can hear in, say, “Take a Look at Me Now” from Collins. Much like the track of “The Unmailed Letter” which came earlier in the EP, McMullen writes a song about a chance to find love once again. With only the sound of the piano, it makes the track seem a little sparse. But that simplistic feel gives the listener a chance to experience McMullen up close.

Jeff McMullen brings his Pain Management EP to a close with the track “It’s Only Rain”. After the couple of songs that feature very minimalistic musical approaches, McMullen finishes off the release with a song with a full musical feel to the music. Along with his vocals, the track features a full band with guitar, drums, bass and keys. The result is a song with Lite Rock qualities to it. And like songs that came before it, influences from artists like Bruce Hornsby, Steve Winwood or others from the eighties and/or nineties come through in the music. Like with most of the other tracks, this song has a strong commercial feel to it and would fit rather well on Adult Contemporary radio formats. After the previous songs “Evidence” and “Someday,” the stronger, fuller “It’s Only Rain” feels almost perfect as the final track of the release.

The short Pain Management EP from Jeff McMullen finds the singer-songwriter creating music that falls squarely in the era of the seventies and eighties. With the numerous influences that appear on the release, this EP transitions between Soft Rock, Adult Contemporary and Pop-Rock. The music that the listener experiences comes with a strong timeless feel to it. While it doesn’t really push the boundaries of music, this release is solid.    

For more information, check out Jeff McMullen’s PR firm of Whiplash PR & Management by clicking on the logo for the company.

 

 

 

 

For a taste of the Pain Management EP from Jeff McMullen, check out the song “Shyne On”.

To check out the entire Pain Management EP from Jeff McMullen, click on the album cover below: 

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CD Review: Diana Chittester “Paradox”

Diana Chittester is a singer-songwriter that makes her home in Northeastern Ohio. It is in this location that she is free to be herself and express herself the way she wants. You can hear some of her struggles in the lyrics that are found in the music that she creates.  And while her personal struggles find a place in her music, it is the music itself that is created by Diana Chittester that sets her apart from the crowd.

One thing that is rather obvious about the singer-songwriter Diana Chittester is just how strong she is as a musician. To help flavor her playing, Chittester calls upon influences from artists such as Ani DeFranco, Joni Mitchell, Lindsay Buckingham, Jewel and plenty of others including Ann Wilson of the band Heart, whose playing on tracks like “Crazy On You” truly helped flavor Chittester’s own style of playing.

That being said, just listening to the music from Diana Chittester doesn’t really do her justice. You must see the musician in concert to truly appreciate just how talented she truly is. Very few musicians can fill up a room with just their voice and one guitar but Chittester is one musician who is able to do just that. The multi-layering effect that happens when she is in concert is a wonder to behold. And it’s done without the use of a looper, which just adds to the amazing playing ability of the singer-songwriter.  

The multi-layering from Diana Chittester can be found on the various releases that have been produced by the artist over the years, with the most obvious of that layering appearing on her previous album of Find My Way Home which features only the artist with her guitar. The sparse feel of the music on that album truly helps the layering effect to shine through.

Diana Chittester’s playing and the multi-layering feel to her music led to her being included in the Top 10 list of the publication Guitar Gods Magazine. Her video for the track “Paradox” was even included in the 43rd Cleveland International Film Festival to be included in an entire program of music videos. And just recently, Chittester was featured in the RiffJournal.com’s list of 50 Gifted Singer-Songwriters

As far as her music is concerned, Diana Chittester released a new six-song EP entitled Paradox not that long ago. Where the album Find My Way Home contained a sparse feel to the music on that release, Paradox comes complete with a much fuller feel to the music. The music contained within this EP is much different compared to the artist’s previous album because of that stronger production value. This six-song release shows off just what Chittester’s music can sound like when it comes with a completely full production value to it.

Paradox from Diana Chittester begins with the track “Freedom”. The track begins with the sound of the ukulele that she uses in much of her music. That ukulele is soon joined by the drums, guitar, bass and organ to create a Rock and Roll track with the ukulele in the forefront of the track. The track about needing to make one’s own choices in life feels both unusual because of the choice of the ukulele as the centerpiece of the track and familiar as the music contains a full amount of pop-rock flavor to it. You can even imagine yourself starting to sing along with the lyrics making the track a perfect anthem for those looking for inspiration.

Diana Chittester’s newest release continues with the track “In the Middle”. Where the track of “Freedom” ha a slightly unique flavor to it, “In the Middle” is much more mainstream in comparison. With the electric guitar and the rest of the instrumentation, the track of “In the Middle” brings to mind a style of Rock and Roll that was present in the mid-nineties. More specifically, the song contains a musical quality that brings to mind the song “All I Wanna Do” from Sheryl Crow. The Rock and Roll contained within the track creates one of the strongest moments on the release.

On the title track of the EP, Diana Chittester brings back a good deal of the simplicity that had been found on the artist’s album of Find My Way Home as the track begins with only the sound of the ukulele her vocals. The song of “Paradox” finds Chittester reflecting on years gone by as a relationship comes to an end. The singer-songwriter questions what happened and why it happened. She even wonders if it was all just a bad dream. As she follows her own thoughts, the music of the track gains momentum and becomes a lot fuller. To help fill out the music of the track, strings are added to the music. The strings add beauty as well as sadness to reinforce the meaning of the lyrics on the track. What results is a track where the lyrics are full of emotion and the music adds to that sorrow. The track of “Paradox” is easily the most personal song of the six tracks included on the EP.

The Paradox release from Diana Chittester continues with the track “On My Own”. With the lyrics of the track being what they are as they spell out a woman pushing herself to keep going after something bad has happened, the track feels much like a continuation of the EP’s title track. This is mostly likely just coincidence as the two tracks of “Paradox” and “On My Own” are right next to each other.  However, the two tracks with their similar lyrical approaches create a passage on the EP that is easily the most emotional.

Diana Chittester finishes off her release of Paradox with the song “Cry”. Like “Paradox” and “On My Own” earlier in the EP, “Cry” explores personal parts of Chittester’s life as she explains how her own path in life led her to lose friends and family for simply being who she is. The soft quality of the music and the strings that are contained within it combine to create a track that will definite tug at your heart as you experience just a taste of the pain that Chittester has experienced throughout her life. Musically speaking, the quiet delivery of the music on the track makes “Cry” the perfect track to help bring Chittester’s Paradox to a close.  

Paradox from Diana Chittester is quite different from the singer-songwriter’s previous release of Find My Way Home. This album contains a stronger production value. It contains a much fuller feel to the music. And most importantly, it comes across as much more personal. In many ways, this release shows the listener just how much Diana Chittester has matured as far as her music is concerned from one release to the next. One can only imagine where she will take us with the next release.

 

To discover for yourself the music of Diana Chittester, check out “Paradox,” the very video that was included in this year’s Cleveland International Film Festival. 

To hear the entire Paradox release from Diana Chittester on spotify, click on the  album cover below: