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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: Matt Zaddy “Be”

Singer-songwriter Matt Zaddy is a Canadian-born artist that comes from the town of Missisaugua, where he is part of the Missisaugua Art Council. Having spent time in the Canadian band called Starring Janet Leigh, Zaddy is now creating a much different sound with his own music that is created by blending together Blues, Soul, and some light Rock & Roll. Matt Zaddy also includes just a touch of Jazz in the music. With that musical blend, he also calls upon several of today’s hottest artists for inspiration. Artists like John Mayer, Neil Young, Jason Mraz, Passenger, Ed Sheeran, and plenty of others help shape the music of Zaddy. With these and other influences, Matt Zaddy’s music is just as fresh and inviting as anything currently found on the radio.

Within the last few years, Matt Zaddy has been focusing on refining his style and sound. But during that time, he has released a single here or there as well as the 2015 five-track EP called Perfect Moments. Since the time of that release, Zaddy has been writing new music and will shortly be releasing his first album.  And to bring the new album to life, Zaddy called upon a group of talented musicians to help flesh out his songs. Along with Matt Zaddy on vocals and guitar, the rest of the band consists of: Thomas Francis on keys; Heather Christine on backing vocals; Stacey Shopsowitz on bass; Adam Cannon on drums; as well as Joash Paul on drums; Ian MacKay on drums; Jeremy Tozero on backing vocals, bass; and Ross Citrullo who adds some slide guitar to the mix. 

Matt Zaddy’s first album entitled Be begins with the lead-off single of the album, “Busy”. On this track, the band takes Zaddy’s various musical influences, blends them together and creates a track that draws largely upon the Blues style of Johnny Lang while also adding some influence of someone like the afore-mentioned John Mayer. The single of “Busy” features a strong, powerful guitar base perfect for the Blues while also containing some light Rock and Roll flavor. It’s a perfect Mayer/Lang mashup. Zaddy’s guitar on the track is, of course, the focal point of the music. However, the keys from Thomas Francis add a definite Soul influence to the song and maybe a little Jazz feel, as well. Altogether, the Soul, Blues, Jazz and Rock and Roll influences combine to create a track that could be the ultimate crossover hit. The music for the single feels as if it could be included on any of several radio formats such as Smooth Jazz, Hot A/C and/or Top 40.

For the second track of the new release from Matt Zaddy, the music takes on a rather familiar feel to the music. It is on the song of “A Dear Friend” that the light feel to the Alt-Rock track brings to mind the musical stylings of the band Vertical Horizon. One of the main reasons for that musical reference is the light and easy blend of the music from the guitar from Zaddy and keyboards on the track from Thomas Francis. Together with the drums from Ian MacKay and bass from Stacey Shopsowitz, the song takes on a rather laidback, almost Smooth Jazz-like feel to the music. Because of that, the listener can almost imagine this song being included on the later albums from Vertical Horizon when Matt Scannell took complete control of the writing of the songs. “A Dear Friend” has a very commercial feel to it and would fit right in on any Adult Contemporary radio station.

The Be album continues with the track “The Truth”. On this song, Matt Zaddy creates a track that once again features an easy approach to the music. While containing a slight Jack Johnson vibe to the track, there is also a stronger influence in both music and lyrical content that brings to mind the music of Rob Thomas. In fact, the listener may be able to hear some reference to Thomas’ “Streetcorner Symphony” in the music of the track. The combination of those two contemporary influences in the music gives “The Truth” an unmistakably modern feel to the song that should guarantee that the song would feel right at home within any Adult Contemporary radio format.

Matt Zaddy’s new release of Be continues with the song “A Tiny Spark”. Much like the previous tracks, the song contains a light musical delivery right at the beginning. The lonesome sound of one guitar and vocals from Matt Zaddy create a quiet passage in the music before the track picks up the bass from Jeremy Tozer and drums from Joash Paul. Add in some organ from Thomas Francis in the background to complete the feel of the track. The light and easy feel of the music is mixed together with vocals from Zaddy that bring to mind the vocal delivery from Rob Hotchkiss. Together, the track features a sound and delivery very reminiscent of the band Train.

On the track “Brighter Days,” Matt Zaddy blends together some Rock and Roll influence with some Blues to create a track that keeps the release in a modern-day musical state of mind. In fact, the Rock/Blues blend with a light Latin musical delivery creates a track that feels like something that may have come off the 1999 Supernatural release from Santana. And with Zaddy having that slight Rob Thomas feel in his voice that returns for this song, the Santana reference is rather obvious on this track.

Matt Zaddy brings his new release called Be to a close with the final track called “Greater Things”. With this track, Zaddy creates a song with yet another Blues/Rock/Soul music blend. With the strong electric guitar on this track, the energy level is raised a little. The electric guitar and the organ from Thomas Francis on the track help to give the song one of the most energetic deliveries on the release. And with that energetic feeling, Matt Zaddy brings his new release to a close on a solid note.

The Soul, Blues, Jazz and Rock & Roll influences in Matt Zaddy’s music are well defined. And the various musicians he draws influence from are too. Together, those various influences help to give Zaddy’s music character and depth. While Be from Matt Zaddy is only seven tracks long, those tracks included in the mix combine to create a release with a very commercial feel to it that should appeal to a large audience. 


The newly-released album called Be from Matt Zaddy is currently being promoted with the single called “Busy”.

To check out Be from Matt Zaddy, you can find the release of spotify. Click on the album cover below to check it out.  

 

 

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CD Review: Dave Vargo “Spaces in Between”

New Jersey Singer-songwriter Dave Vargo began his career as a musician in the music industry after he graduated from Berklee College of Music. Since then he has shared the stage with notable artists such as Phoebe Snow, Vanda Sheppard and even the late Whitney Houston. As a singer-songwriter, Dave Vargo is creating a sound that feels rather timeless as it could fit any decade from the eighties forward and would fit right in on any Pop/Rock radio formats. With his own music, Vargo released one album of music called Burning Through back in 2016. Now, Vargo returns with an entirely new album. The 2019 release from Dave Vargo is entitled Spaces in Between

Spaces in Between from Dave Vargo begins with the track “This Moment On”. The track features a driving feel to the pace of the music and a strong drumbeat to add to that pace. On top of those drums, bass and acoustic guitar combine to create music that has an acoustic approach but also has a rather energetic delivery to it. Add in some electric guitar with a bit of a twang to it and you get a track that contains a Pop/Rock feel that would have been right at home on the radio in the eighties or could be right at home on modern-day Country music formats right now. “This Moment On” kicks off the Spaces in Between release with a very commercial to the music.

Dave Vargo continues his newest album with the track “Without a Fight”. Where the previous track featured the acoustic guitar, this track brings the electric guitar into the spotlight. The addition of that electric guitar gives the song a harder musical approach than the previous track, although it’s quite a bit slower. The song once again features a strong 80s vibe to the music. In fact, the guitars and Vargo’s vocal delivery bring to mind the musical stylings of Richard Marx from that time period. “Without a Fight” is perfect for those looking for strong Rock and Roll.

The acoustic feel of the music returns on the song “This Time Around”. In fact, there seems to be more than just a little familiarity to the music as that music sounds a lot like the first track of “This Moment On”. To be fair, the two tracks are not carbon copies of each other. However, the arrangements of the music mixed with the same basic instrument mixture makes the songs feel very similar. One thing that is different between the songs “This Moment On” and “This Time Around” is that “This Time Around” doesn’t come with the twang that is there in the earlier song. With similar styles, “This Time Around” and “This Moment On” help to solidify the Spaces in Between release to make it seem like one album.

As the new release from Dave Vargo continues, he returns to a stronger, harder feel to the music with the song entitled “Rewrites”. Right from the beginning of the track, the electric guitar creates a solo that sets the pace for the rest of the track. Just like with the earlier song of “Without a Fight,” Vargo adds some extra energy to the music. With this track, Vargo seems to be rather reflective as he sings about rewriting a few things. The lyrics seem to suggest trying to make things right by editing, much like in a story or a movie script.

After four songs that alternate between strong Rock and Roll with an eighties vibe and songs that contain a slightly easier feel to the music, Dave Vargo creates a track that features a much different sound. The track “Nowhere Else” contains a slower pace and an easier approach to the music. On this track, Vargo seems to be channeling Canadian songwriter Gordon Lightfoot as the song “Nowhere Else” blends together some Pop influence with a generous amount of Folk flavor. The inclusion of some female vocals helps give the song a little depth. All of the various elements, including a strong electric guitar solo in the middle, create a track that deserves to be included on any Pop/Rock, Lite Adult Contemporary radio format. This song is one of the shining moments on the album.

With the track “Someday,” Dave Vargo creates a moment of simplicity. While many of the songs on the Spaces in Between release come with complete arrangements and full instrumentation, “Someday” features mainly Vargo and his acoustic guitar. The track focuses on the singer-songwriter and his guitar, allowing the vocals from Vargo to shine. An electric guitar is added into the background as a way of adding depth to the song. The electric guitar is there for texture, not for power. Sometimes, it’s good to allow the singer-songwriter to shine on their own. “Someday” gives Vargo the chance to do just that.

Like with most of the Spaces in Between release, Dave Vargo returns to an eighties frame of mind on the “title track” of the album. “In Between” has a sound that is rather reminiscent of songs from the likes of Don Henley. In fact, you can hear a lot of Henley’s influence in the track. The track of “In Between” has a strong, driving pace to the music, much like the track of “This Moment On” at the very beginning of this album. “In Between” would have been right at home on the radio back in the eighties, but it still has a fresh approach to the music that would be welcome on any Hot Adult Contemporary station today.

Spaces in Between from Dave Vargo starts off strong and never lets up. Throughout the eleven tracks that make up the Spaces in Between album, Dave Vargo stays pretty much within a style that draws influence from music from the eighties. And while that does mean that the album is very retro in its sound, it’s also very timeless in its sound at the same time since music from the eighties always seems to be welcome.

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

 

 

 

To discover the music of Dave Vargo, check out his song “This Time Around”.

To check out the Spaces in Between release from Dave Vargo, 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: The Morning Bird “Lonesome Leaving Sound”

The Morning Bird is a band that is still rather new when compared to other bands in their situation. The reason I say that is because very few bands come together and create as much original material in such a short amount of time as this band seems to have.

Fronted by singer-songwriter Jeremy Taylor, The Morning Bird is a band that combines Rock and Roll, Country, Folk and other genres of music together to create a style of Americana that centers on the softer side of Rock and Roll. Because of that musical blend, the band could easily be grouped together with acts such as Mumford & Sons, Wilco, as well as Jason Isbell. You could even place them alongside Johnny Cash. Along with singer, songwriter and guitarist Jeremy Taylor, the rest of the band consists of: Daniel Rice, guitar and backing vocals; Mark Mazak, bass guitar and vocals; and David Shullenberger on drums.  

Jeremy Taylor and the rest of The Morning Bird have just created a five-song EP to give those who have yet to hear them a glimpse into their musical style. The band’s new EP is entitled Lonesome Leaving Sound.

Lonesome Leaving Sound from The Morning Bird begins with the track “Sober”. Right from the very first note, the Country/Rock blend of the band comes through with the twang from the lead guitar from Daniel Rice. The track features a slow, steady pace to the track and that seems to allow for Jeremy Taylor’s vocals to come through strong. The track features vocals about a person who’s trying to take control of their life…for the umpteenth time. The vocals feature a slightly sad, yet humorous approach as the story plays out. “Sober” ends up reaching over the five-minute mark, but that just comes from the fact that the album version of the track feels much like the track when played live in concert.

With the next track, the Country side to the band’s music that comes through is a little stronger than what was there on the previous track. The song entitled “Tomorrow” contains a musical mix that is still part Rock and Roll and part Country, but the Country influence wins out this time. What results is a slow, driving pace to the easy feeling of the music. The track’s lyrics are about heading out on one’s own in search of wide open spaces where you can stretch out and relax. The song takes the band’s music back in time to the seventies or thereabouts. “Tomorrow” from Morning Bird would have fit right in with Conway Twitty, Glenn Campbell, John Denver and would have been right at home among songs like “Falling In and Out of Love” from Pure Prairie League or “Take it Easy” from The Eagles.

The Morning Bird pick up the energy level on the next track called “Sweet Wine”. While the first two tracks on the EP feature a blend of music that contained a good deal of Country influence, the track of “Sweet Wine” finds Jeremy Taylor, Daniel Rice, Mark Mazak and David Shullenberger creating a track with a much stronger Rock and Roll influence. The Rock and Roll influence on the track is also accompanied by a good amount of Folk influence. The Folk influence on “Sweet Wine” keeps the feel of the song on the soft side. However, no matter how much Folk influence there is in the song, this track is easily the strongest song on the release and perhaps the most commercial as well. You could easily imagine this track on any Top 40 or Adult Contemporary radio format.

For the next track, The Morning Bird takes their music back in time yet again. But with this track, the music style goes back to the nineties. It is on the track “Underneath” that the band embraces the style of the music from that decade. The easy feel to the music, mixed with strong electric guitars, brings to mind the music of bands like The Counting Crows, Sister Hazel, and most specifically, Toad the Wet Sprocket. In fact, you can hear quite a bit of influence from Toad the Wet Sprocket on this track. “Underneath,” much like “Sweet Wine” before it, features a style that would be perfect for radio play; especially if the track was played among the previously-mentioned bands. And as the lyrics deal with seeing only what you want to see and not what needs to be seen, those lyrics create a track that feels very personal and relatable.

The final track to the Lonesome Leaving Sound EP is the song “Swinging”. Much like the track “Sober,” The Morning Bird creates a track with a definite Country twang to it. In fact, with the lyrics about being betrayed by a woman easily puts the song squarely into the Country genre, especially if you place the song among the hit singles of the late seventies, early eighties when much of the genre’s music dealt with pain and hardship. This track would have fit right in with music from that time.   

The adage of “Leave them wanting more” is true. And many people take those words to heart. The Morning Bird is one band that truly believes in that saying. The band has been known to be able to perform about ninety minutes of original music at one time without repeating themselves. So they could easily have created an entire album of music. Instead, they provide the listener with only a small segment of sounds they have created on their five-song release entitled Lonesome Leaving Sound. There is plenty more to come from The Morning Bird, as they have not included tracks like “Maryanne” and “Suitcase,” two of the band’s strongest songs, on this EP. However, the Lonesome Leaving Sound EP is definitely a good place to start if you have yet to be introduced to the band. 

 

Check out a live performance of “Sweet Wine” from The Morning Bird’s Jeremy Taylor and Daniel Rice live at The Brothers Lounge in Cleveland, Ohio.

 

To check out entire Lonesome Leaving Sound EP from The Morning Bird on spotify, click on the album cover below:

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CD Review: Benny Bassett “Words For Yesterday”

It was back in 2014 that the band Vintage Blue released their EP called No Going Back. That release would prove to be the band’s last release. Shortly afterward, lead singer Benny Bassett would take the next step and go on his own as a solo artist. And as such, Bassett has created releases that have stayed in a relatively close musical frame of mind as what had been created by his former band.

To date, Bassett has released one album and one EP of original music of his own since the members of the band went their separate ways. Having just recently put out the acoustic EP called Rosemont Sessions – Volume One which finds Bassett segueing from older material to the newer songs, he has just announced that his newest EP called Words for Yesterday will soon be available.

For the release, Benny Bassett has a little help. In addition to Bassett on vocals and guitars, the rest of the musicians on the release consist of: Chip Johnson on Guitars, bass, vocals; Kit Karlson on Keyboards, piano, synth; Travis McNabb on Drums (tracks 3 & 4); as well as Amanda Turpin and Jackie Buono on backing vocals. Together, this group of musicians brings Bassett’s music to life.

The EP of Words for Yesterday from Benny Bassett begins with the track “Window to Forever”.  The track begins with a gentle, steady beat as the music itself contains a slow, steady pace. As the music begins, the listener is exposed to a track that is a reminder of what Bassett’s old band of Vintage Blue used to sound like. The resulting Adult Contemporary music moves along at that slow, steady pace for about a minute before the pace picks up a little. “Window to Forever” blends together some influence from Vintage Blue and some influence from Adult Contemporary bands from the eighties.  With that blend, Bassett has created a track that should appeal to a wide array of listeners.

Bassett picks up the pace for the next track, but only by a little bit. The track “Live Where You Love the Sky” will immediately take the listener back to the eighties as the music on the track features the same type of vibe that you would have found on songs from that decade. But as the song also contains that Vintage Blue feel, the track feels both retro and modern at the same time. The track not only features Benny Bassett but also Amanda Turpin who not only adds vocals to the track, but also helped to write the song. While not truly a love song, the dual vocals on the track makes the song feel like a duet of sorts. “Live Where You Love the Sky” would feel right at home on any Adult Contemporary radio format.

The album of Words for Yesterday from Benny Bassett changes drastically on the next track. Where the first two tracks contain a light for to the music that is closer to pop music than anything else, the third track of the release called “Down Below” finds Bassett pushing the light feel of his music aside for something much heavier. “Down Below” takes on a heavier Rock and Roll approach to the music. Instead of acoustic guitars or a feel that could be described as Pop-Rock, the resulting track features much heavier guitars that truly “rock”.  And instead of being at home on an Adult Contemporary format, the track would need to be included with bands that would fit into the Modern Rock category. While miles apart from the first two tracks of the EP, “Down Below” will still satisfy any fan of Hard Rock or Modern Rock music.

Benny Bassett changes the direction once again on the very next song. The track “Find A Way” brings the energy level of the music back down but keeps more of an edge than the first two tracks of the release. The track features a blend of music that combines a good deal of Rock and Roll with some Soul influence. In fact, the track’s musical blend feels as if it would be right at home next to some of Bruno Mars’ more Soulful tracks. The track features a strong groove that comes from the addition of the Soul influence. Like the previous songs on the release, “Find A Way” has a strong commercial feel to the music and would fit right in on a Hot A/C format.

The next track finds Bassett creating a track that is easily the most commercial and Pop inspired of any of the songs on the release. The song “Building A Future” feels as if it was created at the right time, as if Bassett had written the song to fit right in with the momentum created by the song “Shallow” from the movie A Star Is Born. The light feel to the pop music of the track mixed with the duet between Jackie Buono and Bassett brings to mind the same kind of musical approach as “Shallow”. This track feels readymade for the radio airwaves.

Benny Bassett’s latest release comes to a close with the track “With You”. The feel of the music changes once again on this track. For this song, the music is created mainly by Kit Karlson who contributes the piano and keys to the track. Karlson and Bassett combine to create a track that contains a relaxed feel to the music and the various keyboard parts from Karlson combine to create a multi-layered feel to the music. The beauty of the lyrics from Bennett and the beauty of the music from Karlson create one of the strongest moments of the six-track EP.

Words for Yesterday from Benny Bassett finds the singer-songwriter in fine form. The new EP is perfect for any fan of Adult Contemporary music. The release gives the listener a good cross section of what Bassett can do. The EP comes with a lot of the same kind of Adult Contemporary flavor that was present in his music with his former band of Vintage Blue while it also shows off his ability to stretch as an artist.

The newest release from Benny Bassett is still a few weeks away from being released. The EP will be available for presale beginning on March 21, 2019. The release date for the EP is set for April 12th. Stay tuned to Bassett’s Music Profile on Facebook for more information. 

Currently, there is no single to promote as no music has been released. However, Benny Bassett did release a video to the acoustic version of “Window to Forever,” the song that kicks off the release. The official acoustic version of “Window to Forever” can be found on Bassett’s earlier release entitled Rosemont Sessions – Volume One, which can be found on Benny Bassett’s website along with earlier albums from the artist. 

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CD Review: Thinkbendy “Change”

For almost twenty years, musician Adam Bendy has been performing. During that time, the multi-talented musician has spent time onstage and in the studio with bands such U-Melt, a New York musical ensemble that creates jam band music. That particular group has produced several albums which includes the most recent release, 2010’s album entitled Perfect World

With U-Melt not having released a new album in over five years, it seemed like the perfect time for Adam Bendy to expand his place in the music industry and create his own music. That being said, a new album from has been created by the musician/singer-songwriter. And a new moniker has been born to go along with that new release. The new moniker being used by Adam Bendy for the sake of releasing his own brand of music is: Thinkbendy.  

To help bring the new music from his new moniker of Thinkbendy to life, Adam Bendy’s fellow band mates Robert Salzer on guitar and George Miller on drums join him on the new music. And with Bendy taking on a new name and identity, he also added a new instrument to his musical arsenal. With this album, Bendy sits behind the piano/keyboards for the first time.

All of this creates a new situation for Adam Bendy. That situation has helped to influence the music that can be found on Thinkbendy’s new release. The new release from Thinkbendy is called Change

Change from Thinkbendy begins with the track “Sunrise”. As this is the first time for Bendy to record using the piano, it comes as no surprise that the first track on the release comes complete with the piano as the instrument that the spotlight is firmly on. The track begins with the ensemble creating a short instrumental track that feels like a blend of Jazz and New Age music. The instrumental track acts much like an introductory track to the release.

As the first track of “Sunrise” comes to an end, Bendy, Robert Salzer and George Miller create a track that revolves around the keyboard this time. Taking the upbeat feel of the track, the song “Free” continues the introductory feel that had started with “Sunrise” before it as the lyrics to “Free” seem to welcome the listener in to all that is about to take place. The combination of the keyboards with the guitar, bass and drums creates a track that comes off as an Indie Rock track.

”Change,” the title track of the album has a rather easy feel to the music. It also contains a musical direction that seems to recall that of the Beatles. In fact, what the listener may find in the song is a style that recalls that of the song “Free As a Bird,” one of the very last songs to be singles for the British quartet after unfinished tracks by John Lennon were uncovered back in the nineties. And much like that Beatles song, “Change” from Thinkbendy would easily fit with other tracks on Adult Contemporary radio formats.

On the next track, Thinkbendy creates a track that takes the music back a few decades. The song “You Ain’t Seen Nothing Yet” (no, not the song from Bachman Turner Overdrive) contains several different influences to the track at the same time. Because of the piano being the main instrument of choice by Adam Bendy, the main influence to the music seems to feel like songs written by Todd Rundgren. When listening to the track, you will easily notice the jam-like quality to it. And because of that extended jam-like length to the song, the other most obvious influence on the track is Carlos Santana. Blended together, the two influences create a track that feels as if it should have been played on radio back in the seventies.

As much as the previous track of “You Ain’t Seen Nothing Yet” has a jam-like feel to it, the track “Proceed to Continue” has a style that also features a slight jam-like quality. But in this case, the feel to the music is rather reminiscent of Blood, Sweat & Tears except without the horns. And just like the previous track, this song feels as if it would have fit right in with any songs from AM radio in the seventies. And speaking of radio, the track almost hits the four and-a-half minute mark, which is rather long for radio play. However, the track ends at about the four-minute mark and then, it starts up again. That start and stop truly brings meaning to the track’s title of “Proceed to Continue”.

While most of the tracks found on the Change album from Thinkbendy feature the sound of the keyboards or piano from Adam Bendy, it is on the track “Easy” that the feel of the music changes. On that track, Bendy’s U-Melt bandmate Robert Salzer and his guitar that take center stage. Just like the track of “Proceed to Continue,” “Easy” contains a relaxed feel to the music. And like much of the album, the resulting feel to the track would put the song of “Easy” in the Adult Contemporary category.

After several tracks on the release that alternate between the keyboards or piano from Adam Bendy and the guitar of Robert Salzer, Thinkbendy brings the Change album to a close with the track “Move On”. This track brings the album to a close by recalling the style of the second track of the album, “Change”. This track brings the album full circle and closes the album out.

With the band U-Melt having created music that was heavily influenced by Progressive Rock, the music created by Thinkbendy takes the listener in a rather different direction. Sure, there is still some Prog-Rock influence in the music of Adam Bendy that helps to bring his song to life, but the songs created by Thinkbendy are now a lot more centered in a Pop-Rock and/or Adult Contemporary. For fans of Prog-Rock who also like some commercial feel to their music, the Change album from Thinkbendy may just be the thing your music collection is missing.

To hear the music of thinkbeny check out the song “Free” from Thinkbendy HERE.

For more information, check out Thinkbendy’s PR Firm, Whiplash PR. Click on the logo below to visit their site. 

 

 

 

 

 

The Change album from Thinkbendy is currently available on spotify. The vinyl version of the album will soon be available. Click on the album cover below for digital version:

 

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CD Review: Jackopierce “Feel This Good”

Jack O’Neill and Cary Pierce came together to form a musical ensemble back in 1988. Together, they formed a duo called Jackopierce. That concept gave the toe musicians a decade-long music career that featured the release of six albums before they celebrated a decade with the release of the album entitled Decade. After celebrating ten years together, the duo went their separate ways…supposedly over the need to play the song “Three of Us In a Boat,” the song that ended up being their musical signature. After an extended break, O’Neill and Pierce would reconvene the duo and would once again start recording, adding an additional five albums to the Jackopierce discography.

The last album of Everywhere I Go from Jackopierce was released back in 2012. But now the duo of Jack O’Neill and Cary Pierce has once again come back together. This time, they have a new album to promote. The latest album from the band is 2018’s Feel This Good.   

Feel This Good from Jackopierce begins with the album’s title track. “Feel This Good” begins with the sound of lightly clicking percussion that transitions into an easy going Acoustic Rock track. The song has a light, gentle feel as the music on the track contains a Pop-Rock feel. The addition of the banjo on the track adds texture to the music.  When the mandolin starts, the track is equal parts Pop-Rock and Folk.

When the second track of the album called “Without You” begins, the song instantly takes on the feel of the songs that were featured on the Everywhere I Go release. “Without You” contains so much of the same vibe as anything from that album that it’s as if O’Neill and Pierce had one more song left in them from the creation of the previous album and didn’t have any place to put it so they included it on Feel This Good.

The band changes its direction on the track “So Good”. The track has a slight Country feel to the music as it seems as if it would fit right in with any of the songs currently being played on any Country radio format. However, the song also contains a musical approach that also brings to mind the music of Tom Petty & The Heartbreakers. The main reason for the Petty influence comes from the guitar playing on the track that contains the same type of twang that was always present in Petty’s music. The musical blend invites two different types of music lover to enjoy this track.

Jackopierce slows things down with the next track that is ironically called “Speed”. Like the previous track of “So Good,” the music on this track contains an easy feel and an almost Folk-like approach. The track’s lyrics deal with a relationship that apparently may be coming to an end.  The easy feel to the music brings to mind the Soft Rock music of the late seventies/early eighties. In fact, you can hear a little bit of influence from the band America in both the music and the lyrical content in the track. While there is a definite flavor to the song that will remind listeners of something from the seventies, you can still imagine “Speed” being played on any of today’s Adult Contemporary radio formats.

For the first few bars of the track “Miracle,” you can imagine the band Jackopierce having the same type of musical approach as the band Vertical Horizon. In fact, as you listen to the guitar on the beginning of “Miracle,” the song’s first few bars brings to mind “I’m Still Here” From VH. After the first few seconds, however, the song takes on a much different feel as the song’s approach takes on more of a Christian Rock approach. That musical approach is helped along with the inclusion of strings that give the song added beauty. The Christian feel not only comes from the musical aspect of the track but also from the lyrical content. While not overly religious, the track of “Miracle” could easily find its way onto Top 40 radio as well as the most obvious of Christian Rock formats, The Fish. The Crossover effect on the song almost guarantees that the song could get plays on many radio stations if given the chance.

With the track “Still House Hollow,” the feel of the band changes drastically. The track contains a straight-out Rock and Roll feel that brings to mind something from the eighties or early nineties. This track stands out because it has a different feel than anything else that appears on the latest release from Jackopierce.  In fact, the closest thing that the track reminds me of is something from the Scottish band Big Country or maybe even the Irish band Energy Orchard. While the track feels slightly unusual when compared to the rest of the album, “Still House Hollow” still has enough commercial appeal that it would still feel right at home on Top 40 Radio.

The band Jackopierce had once been signed to major label A&M back in the nineties. But the band’s more recent material has plenty of modern appeal to it. Songs like “Miracle” and the title track of “Feel This Good” would fit right in with today’s Top 40 music. And while the band’s previous album of Everywhere I Go had been released over six years ago, the time between albums seems to have been well worth it as Feel This Good is a very good release that is just as solid as the band’s last album.

(For more information, click HERE to check out the review for the last album of Everywhere I Go from Jackopierce.) 

Click HERE to check out the Feel This Good album from Jackopierce on Spotify. 

To check out some of the music from Jackopierce, lick HERE for the title track of “Feel This Good”. 

 

To purchase a copy of Feel This Good album from Jackopierce, click on the album cover below:

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CD Review: Jann Klose “In Tandem”

Jann Klose is an internationally known singer-songwriter. The German-born artist discovered the world at a young age when he came to the United States as a young child as part of a foreign exchange program. It was in the city of Cleveland, Ohio that he discovered what another part of the world was like. And while in Cleveland, he also discovered and nurtured the musical side of his personality. But after a while, that musical side needed more than what Cleveland could offered and he made his way to New York City where he resides today.

During his time as a musician as well as singer-songwriter, Jann Klose has created and released several EPs and albums of music that feature his musical blend that incorporates jazz, pop, and other musical styles. That blended style creates a sound that has helped him gain an audience not only in Cleveland, New York and Germany as a whole, but also in other parts of the world. Because of that, his music is and has always been well-rounded as far as its sound and appeal. You can find that well-rounded sound on Jann Klose’s aforementioned releases, which includes his latest album. The newest album from Jann Klose is entitled In Tandem.

In Tandem from Jann Klose begins with the track “Love High”. Like a lot of Jann Klose’s earlier material, “Love High” is a track that feels readymade for radio airplay. With this song, Klose finds himself in a very strong “Pop” frame of mind as the track would fit right alongside other artists who fit in the Adult Contemporary radio format. The Pop influence sits nicely beside the Jazz influence that also inhibits Klose’s music. The pop-rock/jazz blend of the music guarantees that the track would fit on Adult Contemporary radio stations, but has enough Jazz feel that it would not feel out of place on Jazz formats that incorporate the lighter styles of Pop music into their playlists.

Jann Klose’s newest album continues with the track “Dear Mel”. With this track, Klose and the rest of the musicians that helped him create the In Tandem album take the sound of the music in a purely “Pop” direction. The easy feel of the track puts the song squarely in the Adult Contemporary genre. And one of the main features of the track that makes it Adult Contemporary is the strong hook contained within the refrain of the track. While the music has that commercial feel to it, the track’s lyrical content revolves around Klose reflecting on someone in his past that is thinking about. The emotional feel of the lyrics as well as the Pop-like feel of the music on “Dear Mel” makes for the perfect song for anyone who is a fan of Commercial Pop radio.

Bringing the feel of the music back to a jazzier feel, Jann Klose welcomes English singer Annie Haslam as she joins Klose in a duet. Together, Klose and Haslam bring the track “Don’t Give Up” to life. The laidback feel of the music and the light delivery from Haslam adds a certain amount of beauty to the track. Part of the emotional feel to the track comes from the lyrics that deal with the vocalists singing about holding on and pushing forward, reaching for the goal, no matter how far in front it is. The track of “Don’t Give Up” is a song that most of us should take to heart.

As Jann Klose himself is a person who originally came from somewhere outside of the United States (Germany, to be exact), it should not surprise anyone that the various vocalists that join him on this release are also all from different countries. Along with England’s Annie Haslam, Belgium’s Tamara Dey joins Jann Klose on the track “You and I (Cosmic Love)” while South Africa’s Karen Zoid joins Klose on “Pour the Champaign” and another South African, RJ Benjamin and his RJ Benjamin Voices, join Klose on the track “Win This Fight”. The truly international group of musicians that joins Klose helps to add a lot of dimension to the music on the In Tandem album.

To bring a little more of the international flavor to the release himself, Jann Klose creates one track on the album in German. The song “Hochzeitsleid” is a song whose title translates to “wedding song”. The track about walking down the aisle to get married is sung in German by Jann Klose and the music to the track has a Classical Music feel to it. So no one feels left out, an English version of the song called “Wedding Song” is also included in the album. The resulting track would be ideal for anyone’s wedding day, whether using the German version or the English version.

The feeling of the album changes with the newest single on the release entitled “Take Me To Forever”. This track changes the feel of the music as the track contains a good amount of Funk influence to the music. While much of the album contained a jazzy feel, the Funk influence feels very different. In addition, the beat of the drums and the guitar on the track add a nice groove that sets itself apart from the rest of the album. Like several of the tracks that came before it, “Take Me To Forever” has a strong commercial feel to it, making it perfect to be one of the tracks to promote the release.

The In Tandem album from Jann Klose is a strong release with many moments in its thirteen tracks that fans of pop-rock will find very enticing. If you are one who enjoys Rock and Roll with a strong Pop influence as well as and international flair to the songs, Jann Klose’s In Tandem is the album for you.

For a taste of the music from Jann Klose, Klose is currently promoting the song “Take Me to Forever”.

To check out the album in Tandem from Jann Klose, click on the album cover below:

 

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CD Review: Reina Mora “Bird’s Eye View”

Puerto Rico native Leeane Melendez (from this point on to be referred to by her stage name of Reina Mora) has spent time in the music industry as part of many bands. But after spending time in other people’s groups, the L.A.-based singer-songwriter has taken on a new role as a solo artist. Having written her own songs, Reina Mora is about to release her first solo album. While Mora is an artist that is proud of her Latin background, the singer-songwriter has just created a release that is largely influenced by the same type of music that she has been singing as part of other bands. That pop/rock-based album is entitled Bird’s Eye View, a title that plays on the singer’s stage name of Reina Mora since “Reina Mora” is actually the name of a bird in Puerto Rico.   

The new album from Reina Mora begins with the track “Up In Arms”. The first track of the album finds Reina Mora creating a track that contains a large amount of pop-rock that features a very strong eighties vibe to it. The main reason for that vibe comes from the keyboards that are rather prominent on the track. To go along with the retro feel of the keys, Mora’s vocal approach brings to mind singers from the eighties such as Tiffany (of “I Think We’re Alone Now” fame) who were rather big on commercial radio back then. While rather retro in its sound, “Up In Arms” is a very strong track. 

Bird’s Eye View continues with the track “Trouble,” the first single off of the album. The music of “Trouble” focuses on the electric guitar that help to create a very strong Rock and Roll feel to the track. The electric guitar provides a moderate pace to the music. Reina Mora’s vocals are strong and focused as she plays out the character she created for the song. To go along with the Rock and Roll music, the lyrics of the song find Reina Mora creating a scene based around an Adam and Eve-type setting where Mora is portraying an Eve-like character who knows the power she possesses over “Adam” and is taking advantage of him as she plays out the forbidden apple scene from the Bible. As the title of the track suggests, Reina Mora declares that she is nothing but bad news. But as it turns out, Adam is no fool and he has a few tricks of his own. The writing style contained within the track comes across as a vignette set to music.

Reina Mora’s new album continues with the track “Passenger”. Having already released the song a few years ago, the singer-songwriter ended up revisiting the track for this new album. The original version of the song came complete with a guitar-driven feel that would have been right at home on radio back in the nineties alongside artists like Alannis Morrisette. For this version of the song, Mora completely rewrote the track to give the song a much different feel.  Much like track “Up In Arms” before it, the pop-rock music of this newer version of the track brings to mind music from the era of the eighties. The track begins with a strong heartbeat-like drumbeat that continues throughout the track. That drumbeat is matched up early with an acoustic guitar and the two instruments combine to create a rather infectious feel to the music. Adding the lyrics and the result is a song with a pop-rock ballad that is ultimately a song about regret as Mora sings about the one who got away. Much like the earlier version of the track, the commercial feel of this newer version of “Passenger” from Reina Mora means that the track could easily find its way onto today’s Top 40 radio formats.

The feel of Reina Mora’s new album changes directions with the next track of “If I Am A Stranger”. The track takes on a folk-like quality as the music is created by a mandolin, a bowed double bass and some light percussion. The simple and light music of the track comes complete with a slower pace than the previous tracks on the release. The lighter approach on the music allows Mora’s vocals to come through a lot more than on the tracks that came before.  While a lot lighter than the earlier tracks, “If I Am a Stranger” still contains a sound that is rather infectious.

Bird’s Eye View from Reina Mora continues with the song “Brighter Sky”. The Latin flavor of the percussion at the beginning of the track and the rest of the instrumentation throughout the track help to create a track that brings to mind the music of Gloria Estefan & Miami Sound Machine. Part of the reason why the track brings to mind Estefan and her band is the eighties influence that once again gives the song a little bit of a throwback feel. The difference between Estefan and Mora’s song of “Brighter Sky” is that “Brighter Sky” has more of a Latin feel to it.

Throughout much of the Bird’s Eye View album from Reina Mora, the listener will find several tracks that feel readymade for radio airplay. No place is that more evident than with the track “Behind the Moon”. The commercial quality of the pop-rock music mixed with the strings that add an orchestral feel to the music combine to create a track that would feel right at home on Top 40 radio formats as well as Adult Contemporary formats and/or Hot A/C stations.

With the fact that Leeane Melendez (Reina Mora’s real name) is a native of Puerto Rico, it should come as no surprise that she would include some of her Hispanic background on the music of her album. With the track of “Cielo Azul,” she creates a track that fully allows her Hispanic side to come through. Of course, the listener will automatically recognize “Cielo Azul” as the track is the same song as the earlier track “Brighter Sky” except with lyrics in Spanish.

Bird’s Eye View, the new album from Reina Mora, finds the former frontwoman stepping out on her own to create a release that is solid from the very first track. Taking many of her musical influences that she picked up as a result of performing with the various musical acts she has been a part of, Mora has created an album that is very commercial and contains songs that would fit in on several different radio formats. If you are a fan of Adult Contemporary or Hot A/C radio, Bird’s Eye View from Reina Mora is an album that you need to check out.

 

I happened to get a copy of the Bird’s Eye View album from Reina Mora before it has been released. Because of that, I have no album cover to share for the release. Heck, as of this writing, the cover hasn’t even been shot yet! The Bird’s Eye View album is still in the process of being put together. Stay tuned to Reina’s website for complete release date details.   

However, there is a single available from the upcoming Bird’s Eye View album from Reina Mora. Click HERE to check out the track “Trouble”. 

For more information, check out Reina Mora’s PR firm, WHIPLASH PR