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Reviews and Suggestions

CD Review: Erica Blinn “Better Than Gold”

Currently calling the city of Nashville, Tennessee home, Erica Blinn is a singer-songwriter from Columbus, Ohio. Performing for the musician started rather young as she was only a teenager when she started playing the harmonica which would lead to her exploration of other instruments which includes the guitar, the instrument that she plays on stage when in concert. As a songwriter, Erica Blinn has released three albums: 2011’s self-titled EP, 2014’s Lovers in the Dust, and her most current album, 2018’s Better than Gold. It is that last album on which Blinn is currently touring.

The album of Better than Gold from Erica Blinn begins with the current single off the album called “Softer Side”. Right from the beginning Erica Blinn seems to be inviting the listener in with the song. The track has a very Pop-like approach to the Rock and Roll on the track. There is a rather strong presence from the keyboards on the track that help to add a bit of funkiness to the music. Together, the Funk influence and the Pop-Rock approach to the music combine to create a rather listener (as well as radio) friendly feel to the track.

Blinn continues her newest album with the track “Dance with the One (Who Brought You Here)”. While “Softer Side” contained a bit of funkiness to the music, this track finds Blinn drawing inspiration from the Blues. The track features a strong Blues/Rock blend that is helped along by the harmonica playing of Blinn. The harmonica adds the Bluesy feel to the music while the track already has a strong, driving pace. What results is a track that picks you up and seems to carry you along throughout the length of the track. With the Blues/Rock blend on the track as well as the harmonica that gives the track that bluesy feel, the track brings to mind a different Ohio native, Stacie Collins who creates music in much the same vein.

With the track “Dreamer’s Heart,” Erica Blinn writes a song that has a clear message to follow your passion, do what you like and don’t worry so much about what others think. The upbeat message is timeless in nature as it works no matter what year it is. The music to the track seems to be based in the Classic Rock genre and draws inspiration from the likes of Creedence Clearwater Revival and other bands from the late seventies/early eighties. And much like the message in the track, the music has a very uplifting quality to it, as well.

Many different musical influences are drawn from when Erica Blinn writing her songs. For the track “A Little Rain,” you easily hear some Country influence in the music as well as a bit of a drawl in Blinn’s vocal delivery. The Country twang even shows up in the music of the track. Together, the musical blend of Rock and Roll and some twang to the music creates a track that would be right at home on any Contemporary Country radio format. Especially since the lyrical content about taking the bad with the good would definitely be right at home on those formats.

Things slow down quite a bit on the track “Suitcases and Truck Stops”. On this track, Erica Blinn brings back a little of the sentiment that appeared in the song “Dreamer’s Heart” a little earlier in the release. On this track, Blinn sings about getting out there and experiencing the world. Sure, it comes after the breakup of a relationship, but sometimes that’s the best way to get over the heartache. The track features a strong guitar-based feel to the music. The slow-paced track allows for the electric guitar to create a definite groove in the music and allow for the listening to simply fall into the music as the song moves slowly along. It also allows for Blinn to stretch her vocal cords as she delivers some of the strongest notes on the Better than Gold album.

On the title track of the release, Erica Blinn creates a track that feels like it came directly off of the radio back in the eighties. The straight-out Rock and Roll delivery of the music on the track “Better than Gold” feels like something that could have been produced by the likes of either Susanna Hoffs and/or the band she was famous for creating with sisters Vicki Peterson and Debbi Peterson which would go on to be rather famous- The Bangles. “Better than Gold” is guitar-driven Rock and Roll that would fit right at home on today’s Rock and Roll formats just as much as it would have felt at home back in the eighties. In fact, you could image this track being the next single off of the release.

Speaking of singles off of the release, along with the aforementioned track “Softer Side,” another track off of the Better than Gold album that has been made into a video is the track “When I’m With Suzie (I Do What I Want)”. The track features lyrics about two women who are best friends going out on the town and, basically, raising a little hell. This track once again brings a lot of Rock and Roll feel to the music. And with the subject matter being what it is, you could easily see this song having been influenced by the likes of Shania Twain, shades of “I Feel like a Woman”. In fact, you could imagine Twain making this song her own. For those ladies who have a very independent spirit, this could be the Rock anthem you’ve been looking for.

With a title such as “Loving You,” one might imagine a track with a soft, gentle musical delivery with a romantic side to the lyrics. And while the final track of the Better than Gold album from Erica Blinn does contain that romantic feel in the lyrics, the music is anything but soft and gentle. The strong guitars, heavy bass and pounding drums on the track create a straight-out Rock and Roll song that happens to have romantic lyrics. With this song, Blinn seems to have decided not to be subtle with her feelings as she comes right out and says how she’s feeling. “Loving You” brings the album to a close on an upbeat and strong note.

The Better than Gold album Erica Blinn finds her creating songs that contain many different styles of music. From straight-out Rock and Roll to Pop-Rock with some funkiness to it, the various tracks on the album help give the album depth. And with those various musical elements, Erica Blinn’s abilities as a singer-songwriter comes through rather well. The album ends up being strong from beginning to end.

For a taste of the music from Erica Blinn, check out the song “Softer Side”.

 

To check out the entire Better than Gold album from Erica Blinn, click on the album cover below:

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Reviews and Suggestions

Matheson Kamin’s “Best Of” List for 2011

As amazing as it seems, we have reached the end of 2011. Now is the time to make our lists for the best releases from the last year. For me, this year’s list will be a little different than the previous years that I have created a list. This year’s list will have three parts:
Part One: Each year, there are those releases that catch your ear while taking hold and never letting go. The first 5 selections of this year’s list will make up the best 2011 albums that I wrote about throughout the year. These albums are the ones that found their way to my CD player and have yet to be put away because of how times I’ve gone back to listen to them.

Part Two: The second part of the list will include 5 additional releases. These particular selections will include explanations for their inclusion when they are mentioned.
Part Three: The third part of the list for this year will include the five best songs I have heard in 2011. These particular songs helped make 2011 what it was for me, musically.
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Reviews and Suggestions

CD Review: Stacie Collins “Sometimes Ya Gotta…”

Stacie Collins has been known as a “harmonica blowin’ hell-cat” for a reason: the musician puts on a hell of a show in concert. Stacie Collins writes music that combines rock ‘n’ roll with blues and even a little bit of country. And the music she writes is as hard-rockin’ as she is. Having already made a name for herself in the music industry, she is currently growing her fanbase with the help of her newest album of Sometimes Ya Gotta.

Sometimes Ya Gotta, the new CD from Stacie Collins, was produced by Dan Baird of Georgia Satellites fame. The new album contains 12 tracks, all of which were written by Stacie Collins and her husband Al. With the help of Baird playing guitar on the songs and also producing the album, Collins’ music has never sounded better. And with the addition of Eric “Ebo” Borash on guitar, Warner E. Hodges on guitar, Al Collins on bass, Michael Webb on keys and Jimmy Lester on drums, Stacie has the perfect group of musicians to help her produce an album that contains her special blend of music.

Sometimes Ya Gotta begins with the song “Hey Mister”. It features the band as they rock out and it also features Collins as she blows a mean harmonica. This song is one of the hardest rockin’ songs on the release. The song is the perfect way to introduce the uninitiated to the sound of Stacie Collins.

The second song on the album is “I Won’t Do You Like That”. The song has a classic rock feel that is in the vein of Bob Seger’s “Old Time Rock And Roll”.

Little Things” feels like it has a bit of a country twang to it, though there are no fiddles or slide guitars being played on the track. The main reasons for this feeling to the track are the slight twang in Stacie’s voice and the twang in Eric “Ebo” Borash’s guitar playing. Jonell Mosser’s backing harmonies also give it a certain country feel. This song could easily be pushed as a crossover hit on both Top 40 radio stations as well as country ones.

The Very Last Time” is a track that brings all of the musical feelings in Collins’ writing style into one song. At one point, the song has a country feeling, there’s a rock feeling, and the harmonica playing of Collins adds a little blues to the song.

Speaking of blues, Stacie and the rest of her band get down and dirty with the song “Give It Up”. The musicians all make the song feel as much like the blues as it does a rock song, the perfect combination to allow Stacie to shine on the harmonica.

The pace of the music changes drastically with the song “Carry Me Away”. The song features a rock backbone with a definite Zydeco feel, as Michael Webb joins in on the song with the accordion.

With the song “Cool,” the band once again plays the blues on the album. The slow pace, slide guitar and Collins’ harmonica really bring the blues alive on this track.

For the last song of Sometimes Ya Gotta, the band plays the song from which the title of the album was taken. It is on “Lend The Devil A Hand” that Stacie Collins and the rest of the band end the album on a strong note as they give it all they’ve got for one last song.

For her latest release of Sometimes Ya Gotta, Stacie Collins has produced an album worth checking out. If you have yet to discover her music, this would be the perfect time to do so.