Reviews and Suggestions

CD Review: Emily Mure “Sad Songs & Waltzes” 

Having been classically-trained as an oboist, New York City’s singer-songwriter Emily Mure would later move to the guitar with which she would find her true calling as a Folk musician. Emily Mure has released three albums of original Contemporary Folk music. But now, the most current release from the singer-songwriter finds her exploring a much different idea. Mure’s newest release, entitled Sad Songs & Waltzes, is a short five-track release where Mure reinvents some of the songs that helped influence her, even if those songs don’t actually fall into the same musical category that she is classified under.  

Sad Songs & Waltzes from Emily Mure begins with the track “Gone for Good”. From the band The Shins, “Gone for Good” once appeared on that band’s Chutes Too Narrow album. With the version from The Shins, the band creates a track with a strong Alt-Country feel to the music. The track as recorded by the band comes complete with a strong twang to the song. When Mure created her version, the music comes with a softer feel as the Folk flavor of Mure’s style shines through. The electric guitar solo from Lyle Brewer helps add a lot of beauty to the lighter version of the track by Mure.

While the first track of Emily Mure’s Sad Songs & Waltzes was originally an Alt-Country song, the next track is a standard of sorts in the Country music genre. The album’s title track of “Sad Songs and Waltzes” is a song written by Willie Nelson from his Shotgun Willie album and covered by artists like Cake, Keith Whitley and Cowboy Junkies. As the original version from Nelson features a slow pace to the music, so too does the version from Emily Mure. With Mure’s version of the song, she strips the track down to a simple “guitar and vocals” arrangement. The simplicity of the track allows the sadness of the lyrics to come through.

When recorded by The Cranberries, the song “When You’re Gone” was an Alternative Rock track that had a generous amount of Doo Wop influence to it, especially in the beginning seconds of the track when it was simple the guitar and the vocals from Dolores O’Riordan. The beginning thirty seconds to the track on Emily Mure’s Sad Songs & Waltzes EP give the listener a hint at the original version by The Cranberries, but then the feeling of the track after that is much different. The track features the vocals from Emily Mure and her guitar for most of the track. Soon enough, the track also features the sound of a cello from Audrey Q. Snyder that helps to fill in a lot of the remaining sound. It’s when the upright bass from Brian Killeen appears that the track becomes complete. The Cranberries version of the song “When You’re Gone” was still a rather slow but had plenty of energy. The new version by Mure contains the same pace to the music while giving the track a much strong Folk feel.

“The Lonely 1” on the Sad Songs & Waltzes release from Emily Mure is one track where the singer-songwriter/musician gives a cover a stronger musical approach than the original version of a song. When the band Wilco recorded “The Lonely 1,” the band created a track that was a track perfect for slow dancing and the strings in the song added to that feeling. The version from Mure contains a simpler musical approach as the acoustic guitar is the focal point whereas the piano from Elizabeth Ziman is there mainly to be the replacement for the string arrangement from the Wilco version. Together, Emily Mure’s acoustic guitar and Elizabeth Ziman’s piano combine to create a musical direction that comes with a quicker pace to the music while still laid-back and low-key in its delivery. “The Lonely 1” ends up being one of the standout tracks on the Sad Songs & Waltzes release.

During the six tracks that make up the new EP from Emily Mure, the listener encounters songs that have been rearranged to fit the gentler feel of Folk music. With the song “No Surprises,” a song originally done by Radiohead, very little rearranging was done for Mure’s version. Aside from a stripped down feel, the track stays rather loyal to what had been created by the originators of the track. The song by Mure still contains a gentle, almost lullaby-like approach to the track, which goes along with the somber lyrics in the song. The difference is in the aforementioned stripped down approach. The track’s simpler feel truly brings out the sadness in the song.

Emily Mure brings her latest release to a close with the track “Yellow” which was a major hit for the British band Coldplay. Keeping with the feel of the original hit, Mure and her guitar set the track in motion with a nice stripped-down arrangement of the song. Having appeared earlier in the release, pianist Elizabeth Ziman and cellist Audrey Q. Snyder both return to help close out the Sad Songs & Waltzes release. Snyder’s cello adds a string arrangement that really brings back a lot of the spirit of Coldplay’s song. And Ziman’s piano adds depth to the track as the piano appears in the background of the song. Being a basically stripped-down version of what Coldplay had produced, Emily Mure produces a track that brings the release to a close on a soft note.

The Sad Songs & Waltzes release from Emily Mure is a well-named release as all of the tracks contain songs with rather sad lyrics to them. Together with the Folk-inspired arrangements, the six resulting cover tracks create a solid release that is familiar and intriguing at the same time. And although each track falls into the Folk category because of the arrangements of the songs, the release also belongs within the Rock and Roll music category because of the songs and the artists who created them originally being of the Rock and Roll style.

Here are links to the original songs included in the EP:
Gone for Good” from  The Shins
Sad Songs and Waltzes” from Willie Nelson
When You’re Gone” from The Cranberries
The Lonely 1” from Wilco
No Surprises,” from Radiohead
Yellow” from Coldplay

Check out Emily Mure’s PR firm, Michael J. Media by clicking on the picture below:




For a taste of the Sad Songs & Waltzes release from Emily Mure, check out her version of “Yellow” by Coldplay.

To check out the entire Sad Songs & Waltzes release from Emily Mure, click on the album cover below:





Reviews and Suggestions

CD Review: Mark Bryan “Songs of the Fortnight”

Singer-songwriter Mark Bryan may never be as famous on his own as he had been when he had been part of a band. You see, Bryan was a founding member of a small band called…Hootie and the Blowfish. He and Darius Rucker were the two musicians who started the musical outfit. Together, Hootie and the Blowfish ended up creating the album that earned the biggest amount of album sales in 1995 with the release Cracked Rear View.

When the band went its separate ways and Darius Rucker changed directions and goals to enter the world of Country music, Mark Bryan also went for a solo career. But he chose to stay within the Pop-Rock genre that earned his former band its following. Since the band separated Bryan has released three solo albums, having just released the third just recently. The new release from Mark Bryan is entitled Songs of the Fortnight.

Songs of the Fortnight from Mark Bryan begins with easily the hardest-rockin’ track of the album, “My Baby She’s Alright”. The track’s Rock and Roll sound could have been from either the late eighties or early nineties. There’s a reason for that: The track was originally recorded back in 1987 by the band Scruffy the Cat. The straight-out Rock and Roll featured on Bryan’s version of the track feels very timeless and very out of place when compared to anything that was found on the Cracked Rear View release from Hootie and the Blowfish. “My Baby She’s Alright” starts the newest release from Mark Bryan off with plenty of energy.

With the second track on his newest release, Mark Bryan takes his music in a direction that would be more in the realm of what his old band would have created. The song “If You Saw Her” is pure pop-rock that easily could be the best track on the release. “If You Saw Her” features a gentle, easy pace to the music and contains a strong message about spending time with a woman because of how special she is. The track features a sound that would easily fit into any Hot Adult Contemporary radio format. “If You Saw Her” is a track that will stay with you long after the album has come to an end.

Mark Bryan picks up the pace of the music, but just barely, on the next track entitled “Almost Loved Me”. Staying with a Hot Adult Contemporary sound, the song “Almost Loved Me” features a sound that would have fit right in alongside songs from other Hot A/C bands such as Gin Blossoms or Goo Goo Dolls. And like songs from those bands, “Almost Loved Me” would have been in heavy rotation on radio stations back in the nineties.

Another great track on the newest release from Mark Bryan is the song “The Great Beyond”. On this track, Bryan takes the music in a very different direction. This track finds Bryan creating a track that is part rock, part folk. The Folk-Rock combination on the track comes complete with the inclusion of a mandolin and fiddle that help to reinforce the Folk flavor that is so evident on the track. The lyrics about spending time just getting lost help to make the song strong. “The Great Beyond” is much different than the rest of the album, but it one of the standout tracks on the release.

After one track of Folk-Rock, Mark Bryan’s music returns to a stronger Rock and Roll approach. The track “Forgetting About Me” contains a straightforward Rock and Roll feel to the music that once again adds a lot of energy to the release. The track finds Mark Bryan using the musical influences that helped make the song “I Go Blind” such a strong track all those years ago. Just like “My Baby She’s Alright,” the first track of the release of the album, “Forgetting About Me” shows off the more rockin’ side of the songwriter in Bryan.

Songs of the Fortnight takes on a slight Alt-Country feel on the track “Sweet Love”. The track finds Bryan sharing the track with Kathy Dempf, creating a duet, of sorts. The two singers sing a tune about finding that special someone. With the slight twang to Dempf’s vocal, the song feels right for either Top 40 OR Country music radio formats, making the track a perfect crossover candidate.

After ten tracks of music that range from Folk-flavored to Top 40, Mark Bryan closes out his newest album with the track “Maybe Then”. The singer-songwriter takes a major step back and creates a track that features only his vocal and guitar. The track plays like a love letter to someone he may have loved in the past. The simplicity of the track allows for Bryan’s voice to shine through. The softer approach of “Maybe Then” helps to bring Mark Bryan’s newest album to a close on a soft note.

While it has been a while since Hootie and the Blowfish were an everyday part of the music scene, it’s great to know that lead singer Darius Rucker is not the only one from the band that has kept busy since that band ceased to be. The new release of Songs of the Fortnight from Rucker’s ex-bandmate Mark Bryan shows off the talent of the lead guitarist/singer-songwriter. And the various different directions that Mark Bryan takes the music on the release show off his versatility.

To check out the music of Mark Bryan, check out the video to his song “If You Saw Her“.

For more information, check out Mark Bryan’s PR firm, Fanatic Records.

To purchase a copy of Songs of the Fortnight from Mark Bryan, click on the album cover below:



Reviews and Suggestions

CD Review: Bucky Hayes and the Commonwealth “100 Miles to Macon”

Bucky Hayes is a Brooklyn-based singer-songwriter. However, Hayes was originally from Nashville and then spent time in both Georgia and Florida. Because of that upbringing, you can definitely notice the Southern quality to Hayes’ vocals. That southern childhood also influences the music that Hayes creates with his band called the Commonwealth. Along with Bucky Hayes on vocals and guitar, the rest of the band consists of bassist Bobby McCullough, drummer Sonny Ratcliff, keyboardist Bryan Trenis and guitarist Patrick Hay. Together, the band has recently created the album entitled 100 Miles to Macon.

The 100 Miles to Macon album from Bucky Hayes and the Commonwealth begins with the track “I’ll Leave the Light on”. This particular track sounds like something that would have been on radio in the 80s. In particular, the track reminds the listener of someone like Bruce Springsteen or John Mellencamp would have written. “I’ll Leave the Light On” contains the type of Rock and Roll from back in that period of music. While the band does approach the track with plenty of energy, the track features a straight-out Rock and Roll approach with a certain amount of gentleness to the music. It is the gentleness to the Rock and Roll that places the band into the Americana genre.

100 Miles to Macon continues with the song “Sweet June”. On this track, Bucky Hayes and the Commonwealth slow down the pace of the music. However, they also add a bit of the blues to the music to add some energy to the song. The slower pace helps to create a track that would remind some of songs from the likes of Tom Petty. The majority of the track contains a somewhat laidback quality. However, the electric guitar from Patrick Hay gives plenty to the music of energy near the end of the song.

Bucky Hayes and the Commonwealth continue with a slower pace to their music on the track “Go Brother Go”. The slower pace, the lighter feel of the music and the easy delivery to the lyrics gives the track a musical approach reminiscent of Jack Johnson. The acoustic feel to the music allows for the band to show off their skills as musicians without having to overpower the song itself. The track’s easier pace helps to separate it from many of the other songs on the release.

The track “Loretta Rae” finds the band picking up the energy of the music. The track features a strong guitar part from guitarist Patrick Hay as well as a strong keyboard presence from keyboardist Bryan Trenis. The track begins with a strong guitar solo from Hay. After that initial beginning, the entire band joins in to create a track with a quick pace to the music. The music and the vocals from Bucky Hayes bring to mind John Mellencamp. The track contains a solo break with both Trenis’ keyboards and Hay’s electric guitar creating a strong instrumental break. “Loretta Rae” ends up being one of the strongest tracks with a very catchy musical feel to it. The song ultimately sounds like it could be used as a single for the album.

100 Miles to Macon is not only the album title for Bucky Hayes and the Commonwealth’s new release, but it’s also a very strong track on its own. The track “100 Miles to Macon” begins with a quiet musical quality. That quiet beginning features only the keyboards from Bryan Trenis and a light beat from drummer Sonny Ratcliff. The track quickly evolves into a full-band track that feels like something from a band from the nineties. The track about a rather long road trip has a style that may remind some of something from Counting Crows, like “A Long December” with a bit of twang to both the music and the vocals from Bucky Hayes.

The pace of the music slows way down on the next track. “The Times You Chose to Be in My Arms” finds the band trading a modern-day approach to their music for something from back in the 1960s. With the track, Bucky Hayes and the Commonwealth took the song and also added a lot more Country twang to it. The track feels as if someone like Waylon Jennings would have performed the track. There seems to be a rather timeless quality to the track. That timeless feeling helps to add to the all-around Americana classification of the music from the band.

Bucky Hayes and the Commonwealth bring their new album of 100 Miles to Macon to an end with the track “We Gonna Get Stronger Somehow”. The track contains a strong Rock and Roll beat while containing a slight twang to the music. The Alt-Country track shows off the talents of each and every member of the band. The strength of the music and the upbeat nature of the lyrics contained within the song make the song a great choice to be used as the closing track for the album. And with the loose feel to the playing of the band throughout the track, it also contains a fun nature to it.

The 100 Miles to Macon album from Bucky Hayes and the Commonwealth begins strong and continues to be strong throughout the ten tracks that make up the release. While the band does incorporate some other influences to their music, the strong Rock and Roll sound of the band shines through from the beginning note until the last one. If you like a group that knows how to have fun, Bucky Hayes and the Commonwealth is someone you need to check out.

Bucky Hayes and the Commonwealth will be celebrating the release of 100 Miles to Macon on September 9, 2016. Until then, for music of Bucky Hayes and the Commonwealth, check out the video to “I’ll Leave the Light On“.

For more information, check out the band’s PR firm of RMG Artist Development.




Reviews and Suggestions

CD Review: Martin Van Ruin “Every Man a King”

martin van ruinMartin Van Ruin is a Chicago-based Rock band that came together from different bands from that area to create something new and different. Consisting of Pete Falknor: drums; Sarah Jane Goldstein: vocals, percussion, melodica; Derek Nelson: vocals, guitars; Brian Sharpe: lead guitars, piano; Cathy Starr: violin; Philip Vickers: lap steel, guitars, trumpet; Alex Winter: bass, the various members of the band add several different musical influences into the band’s sound. Within the band’s sound you’ll find Rock, Folk, Country and other sounds that all blends together to make a style that is as much about Rock and Roll as it is about Folk and Country music. That style can be found on Martin Van Ruin’s current release called Every Man a King.

Reviews and Suggestions

CD Review: Wells the Traveler “One for the Dreamers”

Multi-talented musician Danny McGaw came to the United States after being raised in Manchester, England. When he came to the United States, he brought with him a love for the Northern England form of Rock and Roll. It is that style of Rock and Roll that he combined with the American Folk music. With that musical combination, McGaw started creating music with the band Wells the Traveler. The rest of the band consists of guitarist/singer Chad Brothers, percussionist Jason Jones, bassist Dan Hines, and producer Mike West who helps complete the band’s sound. Together, the members of Wells the Traveler are currently promoting their new debut release entitled One for the Dreamers.

The new album from Wells the Traveler is a very strong Rock release. One thing that separates this album from many of the albums that are released each year is that Wells the Traveler created the album live in the studio. On this album, the band brings a bit of closeness to their music as the listener gets to experience what the band would most likely sound like live. It is that feel that makes the album that much more special.

Reviews and Suggestions

CD Review: Dan Hubbard and the Humadors “The Love Show”

Dan Hubbard spent time on his own as a singer-songwriter, during which he created several albums of music that combined rock with elements of blues, folk, blues and country. When he hooked up with three talented musicians to play concert dates, a strong musical unit was created, forming the group Dan Hubbard and the Humadors.

Recently, Dan Hubbard and the Humadors released their newest album. 2011’s The Love Show is a strong release that captures Hubbard’s blend of Americana music, and the band (consisting of Scott McRae on bass and electric guitar; Kyle Yap on vocals, acoustic and electric guitars, piano and ½ whistle; and Kevin Yarger on drums) really help bring Hubbard’s musical vision to life.

Reviews and Suggestions

CD Review: Stacie Collins “Sometimes Ya Gotta…”

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Reviews and Suggestions

CD Review: Shane Lamb – Disengage (Self-released)

shanelambThere was a time about a decade or so ago when radio (and the public) seemed ready to embrace the roots rock being performed by Whiskeytown, Old ’97’s, The Jayhawks and other bands of that ilk. Like all music that becomes accepted by the masses, only a watered-down version would have ever become really popular but even a dumbed down version of some great roots rock would have been preferable to a lot of the dance pop and kiddie-rock pabulum which became big instead. N’Stink anyone? So, as the sweet and tangy roots rock flavor began to permeate the music of the day, these more palatable, radio-friendly roots rock artists and bands started lining up: The Wallflowers, Freedy Johnston, and Counting Crows (among others). Though, as I said, a more listener-friendly version of roots rock, there were plenty of great songs to be had by these artists and an additional smattering of like-minded folks. Unfortunately, the rock movement never really took hold and as fast as the bands were signed, they were dropped just that quickly. Only the Counting Crows remain out of that group of artists, and they’ve morphed their sound to such a degree as to not really resemble what they used to be anyway.