Saturday
Mar212015

Reviews by Paul McGee

Saturday
Mar212015

Richie Lawrence 'Rue Sanxay' - Big Book 

An artist who has been composing and playing music since the 1980s, Richie Lawrence draws on his experiences from playing with bands such as the Loose Acoustic Trio, Horse Sense and the Ray Bonneville Blues Band. As a solo artist he released Melancholy Waltz in 2010 and followed with Water in 2012 with his band, The Yolos.

 Rue Sanxay takes a step into different musical genres with four instrumentals in cajun/zydeco, French waltz, jazz trio, and classic ragtime styles. His wife, Katie Thomas sings beautifully on three tracks; When I Find My Love Someday, Play On and Oxford Town.

Tribute Rag is a solo piano piece and the title track is a fine, restrained waltz though a vineyard at the height of summer. Fellow Yolos, Scott Prawalsky on upright bass and Bart van der Zeeuw on drums add their talents and with fiddle, pedal steel, mandolin and accordion spread across the ten tracks, we are treated to quite an eclectic mix of music. This is a very fine release.

Saturday
Mar212015

Martin Kaplan 'The Slow Down' - Self Release

Martin Kaplan is an American singer-songwriter based in San Diego, California. The Slow Down is his first solo release and features 12 tracks which channel an alt-country vibe. The opening track; I Wouldn’t Fight It, sets the tone with some excellent guitar playing in the arrangement and a fine melody. The musicians on The Slow Down include veterans of the Los Angeles Americana music scene including Todd Herfindal (The Meadows), Rich McCulley (Bob Woodruff, Will Kimbrough), Carl Byron (Anne McCue, Michelle Shocked), Greg Boaz (Dave Alvin) and Tommy Rickard (Linda Perry, Scott Weiland).

The production by Todd Herfindal is very bright and clean with chiming guitars prominent throughout. I’ll Forget You is a strong track and Other People’s Shoes reflects on the fear of living life and the habit of judging ourselves through the expectations of others. Mom and Dad deals with weight of expectation and mental illness; while the gentle strum of Basement is a gentle love song with a twist.

These are relationship songs of love and loss played with style and substance. The title track reflects on the need to take life at a different pace and the closing song When We’re Gone brings the set to an impressive conclusion with a slow groove and some fine tabla playing.

Saturday
Mar212015

John McDonough 'Dreams & Imagination' - McDonough Records

John McDonough is a singer/songwriter from Austin, Texas who has spent the last 20 years playing in and around Austin, while co-producing and self-releasing five CDs of original music. He plays acoustic guitar and piano as well as being executive producer on this new release.

His work falls into a modern folk/pop sound and his clear vocal delivery makes these eleven tracks a pleasant listen. Having retired from practicing psychotherapy to focus solely on his music, John has delivered two recent recordings, It’s All Been Said Before in 2012 and this one. Playing the local Austin circuit has honed his skills and the studio band on this release is understated in its playing and interpretation of the songs.

Ginger Leigh on backing vocals adds to the arrangements with her fine voice and the keyboards of Cole Gramung, together with bass and cello from Steve Bernal and drums and guitar from Kevin Butler complete the ensemble. Songs like It’s You and Me, Planes Fly Too Low, Lay Your Burden Down and You Don’t Know This are representative of the tight arrangements and easy melodies on offer here. 

Saturday
Mar212015

Fuzzbee 'Dreams & Other Living Things' - Self Release

Fuzzbee Morse is a composer for films, as well as a performer, singer/songwriter, multi-instrumentalist and music producer. He is known for his command of a variety of instruments, including guitar, keyboards, bass, flute, soprano saxophone, mandolin, alto flute amongst others.

As a player, primarily on guitar, Fuzzbee also performs with The Flying Fannoli Brothers, a death-defying improvisational comedy band who make up outrageous songs about any subject, in any style, at the audience's request. He is a very accomplished guitarist and is joined on this release by such notable musicians as Jerry Marotta on drums, Tony Levin on bass and David Sancious on keyboards.

The ten tracks are self - produced and jump out of the speakers with lots of quality and rich arrangements. This is one for the real connoisseurs and all songs are written by Fuzzbee with the exception of Voodoo Child (Slight Return) which only Fuzzbee could have the nerve to tackle and turn into his own impressive show stopper. Smooth and full of soul, serious chops and superb musicianship.