This self-titled third release from talented singer/songwriter Robby Hecht is an enjoyable listen and a very pleasant discovery. The twelve songs are recorded in a sweet, easy style with gentle playing and arrangements that suit the earnest feel of the vocals.
Rose Cousins sings on Soon I Was Sleeping and the duet is really excellent, with Hecht sounding like a modern day James Taylor or Marc Cohn. Will Kimbrough plays guitar on selected tracks and the production of Lex Price is beautifully balanced, in addition to his varied contributions to the songs on guitars and keyboards – impressive display all around.
The reflective nature of a number of the songs highlight the talent of this artist in fine style. The Light Is Gone portrays a heart-breaking picture of a dead relationship and the regret of mistakes made. The reflective Hard Times comes over with a melancholy born from life experience. This is restrained and literate song writing, accompanied by a coterie of fine musicians
This fine artist is new to these ears and comes as a very welcome discovery. Robert Sarazin Blake has been releasing music for many years and this represents the 11th recording of his career. The ten songs here are very impressive in their acoustic feel and vocal delivery. Sounding like Jim Croce on a number of the tracks, the storytelling style and reflective mood of the writing is perfectly complimented by the arrangements and production.
There are personal observations on a life lived, the road not taken, family business, bohemian lifestyles and nostalgic regret scattered throughout the tracks. Kicking off with a clever Irish melody woven into the song Dingle to Tralee, Robert Sarazin Blake is joined by Anais Mitchell on vocals for Our Winter in New York and really hits stride on the tracks Joy and New Life, both songs tinged with a mature and sympathetic view of the frailties that make up the people we meet and the relationships that just cannot endure.
However, it is on the closing song, Ghosts of Bedford Avenue that things really climax with a superb performance and delivery across thirteen minutes that reflects on a tired acceptance of change, the trap of memories and the view that you can’t go home again; only keep moving in a forward direction. This artist is highly recommended.
Birds of Chicago, is a collective based around JT Nero and Allison Russell. Whether touring as a duo or with a full band, Nero and Russell have emerged as two of the most compelling new voices in North American Roots music. This live recording is a debut offering by Birds of Chicago and has been getting rave reviews on both sides of the Atlantic.
The album is certainly impressive with the playing and singing of the highest quality. I have known of Allison Russell for her excellent track record as a member of Po Girl while the name of JT Nero is new to me. Their voices complement each other beautifully across the seventeen tracks here and it is a brave attempt to release a live recording as a debut. However, the risk is well worth taking and we are served up with a compelling and vibrant recording that leaves you feeling like you missed out on a special night.
There is a celebratory abandon to the performances and I am reminded of Maria McKee and Lone Justice as a reference point. With keyboard swells and piano progressions all wrapped up tight by some literate guitar explorations, the intense and passionate vocal delivery of songs like All the City Girls and I Have Heard Words really take proceedings to a higher level.
The sexy flirtation of the Latin groove, Sans Souci, is instantly appealing while the blues infused Nobody Wants to be Alone, Nobody Wants to Die steals the show here with a compelling performance from the two lead musicians Nero and Russell. Heady stuff and warmly delivered.
This second release from Irish singer/songwriter JP Ryan was recorded in Nashville with some very experienced and talented session musicians. The quality of the playing is evident and the ten songs here are filled with arresting arrangements, restrained playing and melody to tease the harshest critic.
Witness the interplay of keyboards and guitar on This heart of Mine and the subtle fills of fiddle and piano on The Rivers and the Rain. Singing in a style that brings draws on the best Irish singer/storytellers, JP Ryan shows a literate talent and a creativity that bodes well for the years to come.