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CD Review: Gretchen Pleuss “Daughter of the Broader Skies”

Gretchen Pleuss is an Ohio-bred singer-songwriter who makes her home in Akron and performs regularly around the Northeastern Ohio region. Not only does she perform her own music in venues around the area, she also hosts an Open-mic night at the Uncorked Wine Bar. As a singer-songwriter, Pleuss creates music that is strongly based in Folk-Rock. And it is that style of music that can be found on Pleuss’ albums Out of Dreams (2013) and From Birth, To Breath, To Bone (2016). Pleuss recently added to that discography with her latest album, 2019’s Daughter of the Broader Skies.

As a musician, Gretchen Pleuss is a guitarist that has developed a rather jazzy style to her playing. That jazzy playing style from Pleuss helps to shape the feel of her Folk-Rock music, which is very evident in her latest album of Daughter of the Broader Skies. And to bring that new 2019 release to life, Gretchen Pleuss is joined by her backing band, which consists of drummer Holbrook Riles III, bassist Matt DeRubertis and percussionist Anthony Taddeo. Pleuss and band is also joined by Ray Flanagan who adds his touches to the music of the album. The resulting release is helped along by the studio production of Jim Wirt.

Daughter of the Broader Skies from Gretchen Pleuss begins with the track “If You Saw Me Now”. The track that has become the second single off of the release features a Folk/Pop-Rock blend to the music, placing the song squarely in the Soft Rock/Adult Contemporary genre. The song features a light, rather bouncy feel to the track, thanks to the fingerpicking guitar style from Pleuss. And while there is that lightness in the music, the subject matter is anything but light. The track finds the subject of the song speaking to her deceased mother, looking for guidance. As Pleuss sings, she describes a relationship that is far from healthy; a relationship the subject can’t seem to get away from. Pleuss seems to be wondering what her mother would say about the matter if only she were here. With the subject matter being rather serious in nature, “If You Saw Me Now” is a track that will make you think. However, it’s still a track that draws the listener in with its commercial sound that is readymade for radio airplay.   

Gretchen Pleuss continues her new release with the song “Everybody’s Pretty,” the first single off of the release. The song follows a woman as she makes her way through Queens in New York. The singer describes the scene as she encounters many different people whom she interacts with. As she makes her way through the city, she notices the fake quality of those people who are all too pretty to be real. The track makes one wish for the realness of the everyday world that you won’t find in that city. Much like with the previous track, “Everybody’s Pretty” features Pleuss’ fingerpicking style of playing, which gives the music its jazzy musical approach. You could easily imagine this track being on Adult Contemporary radio formats.

Pleuss continues Daughter of the Broader Skies with the song “Sheepish”. While the previous track features a fingerpicking style of playing in the guitar, Gretchen Pleuss chooses a much simpler strumming style of playing on this track. That creates a more usual feel to the Folk-Rock music on the track. Much like with the previous track where Pleuss described her interaction with the people she encountered, “Sheepish” finds her describing another scene in much the same way. Except in this case, Pleuss sings of doing a little inner soul-searching as she looks for a higher power. With the choice of creating Folk-Rock, Pleuss draws inspiration from the likes of singer-songwriters of years gone by. With this track, you can almost hear Joni Mitchell and/or Carole King in this track.

Gretchen Pleuss’ fingerpicking style of playing returns on the title track of her latest release. The song “Daughter of the Broader Skies” begins with a laidback feel to the Folk-Rock music. That laidback feel is short-lived however as the addition of percussion and a stronger bass delivery to the track adds a bit of energy to the music. That energetic delivery adds a different feel to the album. As the track progresses, more instrumentation is added to the track. Instead of featuring a Folk-Rock sound, the song comes across as more of an Indie Rock track. “Daughter of the Broader Skies” is one of the strongest tracks on the release.

Many singer-songwriters writer songs about themes that they are passionate about. And in today’s political climate, many are taking a stand on the poor conditions the people being held near the border of the U.S/Mexico border. Gretchen Pleuss is no different as she has written the song “Borders” as her way of making a statement on the subject. The lyrics about how some people are being treated and the conditions they are existing under are matched up with music that features a gentle feel to the Folk/Rock blend that Pleuss has created to help stress the feel of the words. While the lyrics could be more extreme and poignant, the resulting track still helps to remind people of the situation taking place.

Daughter of the Broader Skies from Gretchen Pleuss continues with the track “Rainy Days”. With a track that features a Lite Rock approach to the music much like songs from Tori Amos and/or Sarah McLachlan. That Lite Rock approach comes with a generous Pop feel to it. And just like “If You Saw Me Now” from earlier in the release, “Rainy Days” features a slightly bouncy feel to the music. The track that finds Pleuss reflecting on a part relationship has very catchy and commercial quality to it. There is enough of a commercial appeal to the track that it could become the next single off of the album if Pleuss ever wanted to release it that way.

The newest release from Gretchen Pleuss comes to a close with the song “One for All”. Like the song “Borders,” this song finds Pleuss in a political mood standing up for what she believes. The song “One for All” features lyrics about the failure of the American Dream to live up to the promise that should come with it. Pleuss sings of the things that could be attained IF you are just the right person with just the right background…and the reality of what actually happens. The very poignant track brings the new release from the singer-songwriter to a close in a way that leaves you contemplating the words long after the last note of the track fades.

Gretchen Pleuss’ Daughter of the Broader Skies release contains many songs that have a light, bouncy feel to them. But the songs on the album that come with a message keep the release from getting too light and easy. The dozen tracks on the release show off the talent of Gretchen Pleuss as a singer-songwriter as well as musician.     

To discover the music of Gretchen Pleuss, check out the track of “If You Saw Me Now”. 

To hear the entire album of Daughter of the Broader Skies from Gretchen Pleuss, click on the album cover below: 

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CD Review: The Persian Leaps “Electrical Living”

Drew Forsberg is the driving force behind the St. Paul, Minnesota-based band called The Persian Leaps. Having been created by Forsberg back in the early days of this decade, the band was mainly a musical outlet for Forsberg who used the moniker of The Persian Leaps to release his solo music. Eventually, however, it became necessary to create a real band to perform the music. And through the lifetime of The Persian Leaps, the musical outfit has gone through several stages, from the solo project to a full band, changing sizes depending on how many people were in the band at the time.

Throughout the time that The Persian Leaps have existed, the musical outfit has released a generous amount of 5-song EPs. Then the band released its first full-length album, Pop That Goes Crunch, last year. And having already released one album of music, The Persian Leaps returns in 2019 with yet another one. This time, the new release from the band is entitled Electrical Living. The line-up that helped create the music on this album consists of Forsberg on guitar, keyboards and drum programming, with Jon Hunt on bass, background vocals and some piano.   

Electrical Living from The Persian Leaps begins with the track called “The Art Form”. Together, Drew Forsberg and Jon Hunt create a song with a strong Rock and Roll approach in the music. With the strong guitar presence in the track, the song feels as if it could have been created right around the time that the eighties were turning into the nineties, the type of Rock and Roll that was in existence before the advent of Alternative Rock radio formats. With the strength of the music in the track, the minute-long song of “The Art Form” kicks off the release with a lot of energy.

The new release from The Persian Leaps continues with the song “Catnip for Cupid”. With this song, Forsberg and Hunt create music with a Power Pop feel. The combination of the guitars and a rather bouncy feel to the music is what makes the track fall into the Power Pop genre. And much like the previous track, “Catnip for Cupid” comes with a rather short playtime. But at two minutes, it’s twice the length of the lead-off song of “The Art Form”.

Electrical Living continues with the song “Expert Witness”. Much like with “Catnip for Cupid,” the duo of Drew Forsberg and Jon Hunt put together another track with a bouncy feel to the music. This time, however, the bass in the song is a little more prominent than it had been with the earlier tracks. The song also contains a slightly stronger Alternative Rock feel to the music, which would place the song squarely in the mid-nineties. But with the bouncy feel to the music and the stronger bassline, you could easily imagine this track on either today’s Pop-Rock radio formats or Alternative Rock stations. And with the track being almost three minutes in length, it’s the perfect length for commercial airplay.

Drew Forsberg and Jon Hunt take their sound back into the nineties with the track “Sweet Nothings”. As a matter of fact, the duo seems to have drawn upon the sound of the band Weezer for the feel of this track. And for the first time, the duo adds the sound of Jon Hunt’s keyboards into the background of the track, giving the track a Pop-Rock/Alternative feel. With that combination, the track would fall within the music of bands from the nineties.

For the next track called “About Your Record,” Drew Forsberg and Jon Hunt create a song that features the influence of Brit-Pop music. In fact, the track brings to mind the little-known British band The Family Cat, as the track would have fit in rather nicely in that band’s final album entitled Magic Happens. The vocals from Drew Forsberg even recall The Family Cat frontman Paul Frederick while the Power Pop on this track recalls that band’s musical style, placing the song from The Persian Leaps alongside tracks such as “Amazing Hangover”.

With the song “The Problem Is…,” The Persian Leaps take their music solidly into the direction of Pop-Rock. The track begins with the solo sound of the electric guitar of Drew Forsberg. The gentle feel of the guitar transitions into a full-band sound that takes the gentle feel of that guitar and creates a Pop-Rock track with an easy pace. On this track, the duo draws inspiration from the British band The Smiths. Containing the same musical feel as music from The Smiths, “The Problem Is…,” from The Persian Leaps would fit right in with any of the tracks from The Smiths’ discography.

The Persian Leaps bring their musical style back to the Rock and Roll sound of the late eighties/early nineties on the song “Take Me to The Mountain”. On this track, Drew Forsberg sings about the need to get away from it all. With this track, Forsberg, together with Jon Hunt, creates a track that brings to mind the Scottish band Teenage Fanclub and the band’s songs like “Star Sign” from their album Bandwagonesque from 1991. The track has a strong commercial feel that would be right at home among Alternative Rock songs from the nineties.  

“Chalk Line Behemoth,” the next track on Electrical Living, keeps the sound of The Persian Leaps’ music within the feel of the late nineties/early 2000s. This track brings to mind some of the sound of the band Smash Mouth. “Chalk Line Behemoth” recalls Smash Mouth’s Reggae-influenced track of “Road Man;” especially since the two songs share a few bars of music as well as overall feel of the music, even if Smash Mouth’s song is Reggae-influenced while “Chalk Line Behemoth” from The Persian Leaps contains a straight-out Rock and Roll feel to the music.  

The Persian Leaps bring their latest release to a close with the song called “Dominoes”. The song contains a strong Alternative Rock feel to the music, recalling bands like Weezer or Better than Ezra. In fact, “Dominoes” from The Persian Leaps even feels similar to Better Than Ezra’s 1993 song entitled “Good” from that band’s 1993 release entitled Deluxe.

Throughout the release entitled Electrical Living, The Persian Leaps create an album that alternates between Power Pop and Alternative Rock. When combined together, the eleven songs on the release create one solid album that features many radio-friendly tracks for those who like the music of the late eighties/early nineties. And while this particular album is a break from the norm for The Persian Leaps founder Drew Forsberg, the choice to go in a different direction resulted in a strong release that is absolutely worth checking out.

 

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

 

 

 

 

For a taste of the music from The Persian Leaps, check out their song “Catnip for Cupid”.

To check out the release entitled Electrical Living from The Persian Leaps, click on the album cover below: 

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CD Review: David Gelman “Last Surviving Son”

David Gelman is a New York City-based singer-songwriter who has spent much of his life playing with the same group of people. And as a matter-of-fact, that group of people, known collectively as White Collar Crime, will shortly be celebrating their 30th anniversary as a band. During that time, the band has created several albums of original material, with the band’s latest release of Floor Aisle Room having been released back in 2016.

While being part of White Collar Crime, David Gelman has also spent time creating his own music. To date, David Gelman has created three albums of music. The latest album from Gelman is called Last Surviving Son.

To bring the music on Last Surviving Son to life, David Gelman is joined by a rather talented group of musicians which included: electric guitarist, slide guitarist and banjo player Ann Klein, drummer/percussionist Jerry Marotta, violinist Lorenza Ponce and bassist Sara Lee. Each of the musicians on this album have spent time playing with people like Ani DiFranco, Peter Gabriel, Hall & Oates and many others. Those various musical influences help to give plenty of depth and variety to the music of David Gelman.

Last Surviving Son from David Gelman begins with the track “Far Away”. The track features a Folk base to the music as the violin and banjo help set the track in motion. As the track continues, some Rock and Roll influence joins in. The resulting Folk-Rock blend to the music comes with a strong driving pace. Banjo player Ann Klein and violinist Lorenza Ponce are as much a part of the track as Gelman’s voice and together, they and the rest of the band create a song with a beautiful musical approach while the lyrics about getting tired of lifetime on the run makes the listener stop and think. “Far Away” is the perfect modern-day Folk tune with a powerful meaning to the lyrics. 

The album continues with the track “Set It Free”. Much like the previous track, this song features a Folk/Rock blend. But while the song “Far Away” contains much more of a Folk base to the song, it is the Rock side of the music that comes through here. In fact, the track has a musical style that feels as if it would fit perfectly well right next to music from either The Byrds or The Lovin’ Spoonful. The song features a slow, gentle feel to the music. And much like the aforementioned bands of The Byrds and The Lovin’ Spoonful, “Set it Free” feels like it would have been right at home in the sixties.

While the first two tracks of Last Surviving Son from David Gelman feature some Folk inspiration, Gelman and the rest of the musicians on the release take the music of the album in a much stronger Country-flavored direction with the next track. The song “Feel Alright” contains a strong Country influence to the music while Gelman’s vocals now come with a strong twang to them. The addition to the twang in Gelman’s voice is accompanied by a stronger Country vibe to the music. The track features a straight-out Country vibe to it and that vibe gives the song a rather timeless feel. You can imagine this song alongside some of today’s best Country artists as much as Country artists of the past like Charlie Pride, George Jones, Willie Nelson and others. If you are a fan of Country music, “Feel Alright” is a track that will fit well in your music collection.

Things on the new release from David Gelman slow down with the title track. The track of “Last Surviving Son” begins with a march-style drumbeat that soon becomes a track with a rather somber message of living with the guilt of outliving the rest of your siblings. The easiness of the Folk-flavored music creates a sad feel to the track. That sadness is courtesy of the violin from Lorenza Ponce. The track comes across as rather relatable as many people know this kind of feeling. “Last Surviving Son” ends up creating one of the quieter moments of the release.

The feeling of the music regains some energy with the next track. The song “Lonely Tonight” is a song that blends together Folk, Country, Blues and a little Rock and Roll influence. The Blues flavor comes in the form of the slide guitar on the track. What ends up being created is the perfect Americana track as the song has so much going on musically all at the same time. “Lonely Tonight” is one of the strongest tracks on the Last Surviving Son release.

With the next track, the music once again slows down. “The Roads We Didn’t Take” contains lyrics with a rather strong poetic feel to them as if they were written by poet Robert Frost. The reason for this is that Gelman is found thinking about choices in life and what could happen, in much the same way Frost’s narrator in the poem “The Road Less Traveled” had.  The Lite Rock music on the track from David Gelman takes the listener back to the days of the seventies when music began going in a much softer direction. That Lite Rock approach seems very appropriate for the lyrics of the track. 

The pace of the music stays in a slow groove with the next track called “Let It All Go”. The light touch of the acoustic guitar on the track creates a style that will transport the listener back in time to the days of AM radio in the seventies. In fact, the track feels as if it could have been created by someone like Mac Davis, the American songwriter who was popular back at that time. You could imagine “Let It All Go” from David Gelman playing alongside “I Believe in Music” from Mac Davis. 

David Gelman stays in a retro mood on the track “Soft Surrender”. The track contains the same seventies-inspired Rock and Roll as the previous track. And much like with “Let It All Go,” “Because You Love Me” would have felt right at home on AM radio formats back at that time. The track contains a gentle pace to the music and feels almost Folk-like in its sound. With the inclusion of the strings in the background of the track, the track adds a bit of beauty to the Last Surviving Son release.

With the final track of the album, David Gelman changes the feel of the music. The rest of the album that came before featured a guitar-driven approach. But with “The Presence of the Lord,” the guitar is replaced with the sound of the piano. With the piano (and organ) on the track, “The Presence of the Lord” feels like as if it had been inspired by the likes of Billy Joel. With the title of the track being what it is, one might assume that the track is rather religious in nature. And while there is some of that, it’s more spiritual than anything as Gelman sings of looking inward for answers. Like much of the album, “Presence of the Lord” contains a laid-back feel to the music, which goes along with the lyrical content of the track. As the song is much different from the other songs on the release because of the lyrical direction, it makes sense that the song would bring the Last Surviving Son release to a close.    

Last Surviving Son from David Gelman finds the singer-songwriter staying within a certain time-frame on his latest release. Whether using Folk, County or Lite Rock influences, each song on the album seems to stay contained within a seventies mindset. What results is a solid album with a laid-back feel to it. If you are a fan of lighter musical fare, this album is just what you’re looking for.  

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

 

 

 

 

For a taste of the music Last Surviving Son release, check out the video to the title track of the album. 

To check out the entire Last Surviving Son release from David Gelman, click on the album cover below: 

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CD Review: The Motels “The Last Few Beautiful Days”

The band known as The Motels has been creating music for almost fifty years. While the band has had a few hit singles over the years (which included “Only The Lonely,” “Suddenly Last Summer” and a few others), the band has been rather low-key. Between 1971 and today, the band has gone through several different versions, used several different names and has even gone through periods where there wasn’t a version of the band at all when lead singer Martha Davis was recording and touring under her own music.

After an extended period where The Motels were not a thing, Martha Davis and others formed a version of the band. This band created the album Clean Modern and Reasonable in September 2007, the first album from The Motels in 22 years. The current version of The Motels consists of: Martha Davis, Clint Walsh Guitar, Nic Johns Bass, Marty Jourard Keyboards and Sax and Eric Gardner Drums. This version of The Motels have created the newest album under the moniker of The Motels, 2018’s The Last Few Beautiful Days.

The Last Few Beautiful Days from The Motels begins with the song “Punchline”. The band has chosen the song as the first single off of the release. Although the band has been around for nearly forty years, it seems that Martha Davis has kept the feel of the band relatively close to what it had been all those years ago when they began. The feel of the track “Punchline” is very reminiscent to music that was played back in the early eighties. The Pop/Rock feel of this track actually brings to mind someone other than The Motels. In fact. “Punchline’s” musical direction seems rather similar to songs recorded by the likes of The Eurythmics as the track feels like something that duo would have done.

As the song called “Lucky Stars” begins, the listener is almost instantaneously transported back in time. Imagine going back to 1983 and putting on the radio. It was then that The Motels had their hit single “Suddenly Last Summer,” a track that peaked at #9 on the Hot 100. With the track of “Lucky Stars,” The Motels seem to have recaptured that very same magic that was present in that #9 single. While the two tracks don’t sound exactly the same (and they shouldn’t), they do feature much of the same magic in the music as if the two tracks were recorded during the same recording session and not thirty-six years apart. Needless-to-say, “Lucky Stars” could have been a smash hit back in ’83 and could be a smash today.

With the track “Look at Me,” the band changes the feel of the music. Where the previous songs contained a strong Pop/Rock feel to the music, “Look at Me” finds the band exploring a much stronger “Pop” feel as it is the keyboards that provide the music for the track. What ends up being created is a track with a soft, gentle delivery that blends some musical influence from the likes of English singer-songwriter and record producer Kate Bush. The lyrics to the track deal with going beyond the visual and seeing the real person inside. With the subject matter of the song being what it is, “Look at Me” feels very relevant in today’s turbulent times when people are trying to turn away from the concept of bullying.

Just as the song “Look at Me” with its message of “See me, I am an individual” comes to a close, The Motels follow that up with “Machine,” a track about the exact opposite. The lyrics of “Machine” deal with losing your identity as you blend in with everything and everyone around you until only One exists. The music of “Machine” contains strong keyboard sounds. It is the sound of the keyboards that mimic the feel of machinery. The track brings out the New Wave feel of The Motels’ music. As The Motels trace their roots back into the New Wave era, it is great to hear some of that New Wave feel in the band’s current sound.

Most of the songs on The Last Few Beautiful Days from The Motels feature an ensemble feel to the music, showing off the talents of each of the members of the band. However, with the track “Light Me Up,” the song is more like a solo track for Martha Davis. But as the track is one of four tracks on the release that was written solely by Davis, that’s not much of a surprise. The track features a slow pace and a light touch to the music, in a very Pop-like musical approach. The result is a track that feels and sounds like something that would either have come from a Broadway musical or from the soundtrack of a movie. Needless-to-say, this track has a very commercial feel to it.

Much like with the track “Lucky Stars” earlier in the album, the track “Tipping Point” takes the listener back in time to the days of New Wave. The keyboards on the track bring to mind a lot of the keyboard sound from that time period, giving the track a somewhat dated feel. You could imagine bands like OMD, Depeche Mode, Unltravox when listening to this track. In fact, the track feels most like something from OMD from around 1990. The track features original band member Marty Jourard as he adds some saxophone to the background of the track.

The Motels bring their latest album of The Last Few Beautiful Days to a close with the title track. Much like with the earlier track of “Light Me Up,” this song features a musical direction that puts Martha Davis front and center. And just like with “Light Me Up,” the reason is because “The Last Few Beautiful Days” is another of the songs written solely by Davis. Aside from the voice of Davis, the track also contains the piano, keyboards and strings to create one of the softer moments on the album. The lyrics about letting time slip away and the orchestral feel of the music combine to create a song that brings the release to a close on a rather emotional track.

For those who have enjoyed songs like “Suddenly Last Summer,” “Remember the Nights,” and “Only The Lonely” from The Motels over the last forty years, then the band’s newest release of The Last Few Beautiful Days should be an album you will enjoy. The reason for that is because the new release from The Motels feels like much of the band’s previous albums as the music of this album find Martha Davis and band drawing inspiration from the past.   

For a taste of the newest release of The Last Few Beautiful Days from The Motels, check out the band’s single called “Punchline”:

To check out The Motels’ latest album of The Last Few Beautiful Days, click on the album cover below: 

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Preview of Mark Huff’s New Album To Be Released Soon

Singer-songwriter Mark Huff began creating music back in 1989. And for the next 20 years, Huff has continuously added to his musical library. Huff would release his first studio album of music from his new home of Nashville in 2005. That album, entitled Gravity, helped push him in the right direction. And since the time of that release, Huff has put out an entire collection of albums, the latest of which was 2018’s Stars for Eyes.

Having just released the Stars for Eyes release about sixteen months ago, Mark Huff is busy currently working on the next album. The difference between this upcoming album and the last two releases that Huff put out is that Huff plans on staying more in the groove of an electrified sound as opposed to the ever-changing approach that came with those releases. And while that album is still in the middle of the creative process, Huff has released two tracks as a way of promoting that new release. Those two tracks are available on the “Made By Hand” single.

The first of the two newest tracks from Mark Huff is the single itself called “Made by Hand”. “Made by Hand” is a slow-paced track with a strong Rock and Roll vibe that features the electric guitar. For the music, the electric guitar is the prominent instrument on the track. However, the keyboard also adds a lot of texture to the track. The music of the track itself, as well as the playing of the guitar on the track, bring to mind the style of Tom Petty. In fact, when listening to the track, you can almost hear Huff channeling Petty in his vocals in the song.

The second track on the new single from Mark Huff is the track called “Break Through”. This track picks up the energy level of the music. This track features a much stronger guitar approach. What results is a song that will easily remind the listener of something from John Mellencamp. With that style, the track would fit onto any Classic Rock stations as “Break Through” feels like it would have belonged on radio back in the eighties. While the track features a large amount of influence from the likes of John Mellencamp, there are a few more influences in the music. The keyboards on the track feature a sound that would also have felt right at home having been part of the music of The Cars. The combination of the Mellencamp influence as well as the influence from The Cars puts the track squarely in the middle of the eighties.

With his last album entitled Stars for Eyes Mark Huff created tracks that took inspiration from many different musical influences. And while the new album from Mark Huff is not yet available, the two tracks used to help promote Huff’s upcoming release show a side of Huff that finds him drawing more from his Rock and Roll influences more than on his last release. The tracks of “Made by Hand” and “Break Through” from that upcoming release give the listener a good indication of what is in store for fans of the Nashville-based singer-songwriter.

To discover the new music from Mark Huff off of his soon-to-be-released album, check out the music below: