Tuesday
Jun302015

Reviews by Paul McGee

 

Tuesday
Jun302015

Lee Palmer 'Like Elway' - On the Fly 

The blues get a fine workout on this nine track release from Toronto based musician Lee Palmer. His previous releases were One Take (2013) and 60 Clicks (2014), but with this effort he has moved into a different gear and really raised his performance.

Like Elway is co-produced with fellow band member Elmer Ferrer and the production is really bright and clean with the ensemble of musicians given plenty of freedom to express themselves. Fine guitar work from Ferrer throughout is complemented by the piano, organ and accordion of Lance Anderson, while Lee delivers some fine vocal performances to keep everything bubbling.

The title track features the fine vocals of Mary McKay to great effect, while the rhythm section of Al Cross on drums and David Woodhead (bass) lay down a compelling groove for the other players. Lonely at the Top features harmonica from Roly Platt and the slow tempo of Maybe that’s Why and Life’s a Mess contrast perfectly with the excellent up-tempo Rockin’ This Chair and Axe to Grind. This is an impressive release.

Tuesday
Jun302015

Peter Blachley 'Nevada Sky' - Self Release

This is a debut release from a New York based singer/songwriter who proves that age is no barrier to following your dreams. Peter Blachley is in his 50s and has led a colourful and varied life before entering the studio to record these ten songs. They are reflections of a life well lived and the lessons learned along the way, and they visit the enduring power of love, past relationships, old friends, mortality and redemption.

Produced by Felix McTeigue and featuring a group of experienced musicians, the overall feel is of gentle arrangements and understated playing. Salvation Songs remembers Blachley’s Vietnam experiences, but is equally relevant to any war. Love Is Eternal deals with bereavement and the way each of us processes the passing of a loved one. The title track closes proceedings in fine style with a big sky production in praise of the Great Plains and a vocal that brings the late John Stewart to mind. This is a fine effort overall.    

Tuesday
Jun302015

Mad Dog McCrea 'Almost Home' - God Dam

This is the third release from the Plymouth-based UK Folk outfit. Firmly rooted in the old traditions of high energy, dexterous playing and recounting stories of brigands, pirates and thieves, Mad Dog McCrea boasts six musicians that would give any band in this genre a run for its’ money. Mad Dog McCrea stokes up a terrific sound that is perfectly suited to live performance.

The production by Sean Lakeman is vibrant and immediate, blending bouzouki, banjo, fiddle, flute and whistles into a crescendo of celebratory sounds. The eleven tracks here run along at quite a pace, and it is impossible to sit still when Almost Home, You Can’t Find Me, Heart of Stone, Mad Dog Coll and Talking through the Walls are thumping out of the speakers.

They can also do reflective and sensitive as with The Sound and Whiskey Man, two tracks that show a gentler side of this ensemble, but are no less impressive.

Tuesday
Jun302015

Tod Hughes Project 'Changing Gears' - Self Release 

Hughes is a singer/songwriter from Calgary, Alberta and this EP of six songs is a debut release. Clocking in at just shy of 22 minutes it is pleasant listen with production from fellow musicians Spencer Cheyne & Craig Newnes. It comprises commercial radio tunes that are melodic and unobtrusive. The soul-based groove of The Quiet is driven by the Hammond B3 of Mike Little. The Only Person Who Won’t drink With Me is You has a nice county honky tonk swing, with Mitch Fay adding some nice guitar lines over tinkling piano. Changing Gears will serve as a taste of things to come.