Wednesday
Oct152014

Reviews by Paul McGee

Wednesday
Oct152014

Ben Rogers 'Lost Stories: Volume One' - Self-Release

These are story songs delivered with a lived-in voice by Canadian Ben Rogers. The Dealer tells of the bad breaks and hard life suffered by surviving on the wrong side of the law. The Cheatin’ Kind tells of a crime of passion and a jilted husband who takes his revenge. Cowboys and Indians is a tale of love across the ethnic divide that ends in pregnancy and death. 

There are other songs about jailbirds and bums on easy street, railroad workers and lonesome travellers. The arrangements are simple and dominated by acoustic guitar and harmonica, but Ben Rogers also chips in with mandolin, banjo, piano and organ at different stages across these ten songs. So, a solo effort and a self- realised project that entertains. A pleasant and relaxing listen. 

Wednesday
Oct152014

Kyle Carey 'North Star' - Americelta Records

This second release from Kyle Carey is a mixture of Scottish Gaelic and American folk influences. Carey has lived a colourful life as a citizen of the world and absorbed traditional influences from various sources;  living in an Eskimo village in the Alaskan Bush, studying language and music in Cape Breton Canada, the Isle of Skye and New York City. So we are given a truly transAtlantic artist who includes both American and Celtic styles into her songs. This set of twelve tracks was recorded in various locations; Scotland, Ireland, New England and Louisiana.

Produced by Seamus Egan and including two traditional songs, one in Scottish Gaelic, the self- penned music is rich and played with real heart. The arrangements possess great harmonies and the melodic feel of the many musicians used here translates into a very smooth listen. Kyle sings in a beautifully clear voice and the accompaniment of fiddle, banjo, mandolin, dulcimer, viola, cello and guitars help to lift the songs onto a higher level. Wind through Casper, North Star and Winter Fever are all fine examples of the themes of longing and immigration that run through her songs and the cover of Kate Wolf’s Across the Great Divide is a fitting way to bring matters to a satisfactory conclusion. 

Wednesday
Oct152014

Wurster 'Raw' - Self release

This is the 13th release from Florida based singer-songwriter Jim Wurster. It contains 5 original compositions and 5 cover songs; all recorded in a live setting. The acoustic feel is very important to the artist as a true representation of the live shows performed. The playing is understated with various guitars and vintage pedals augmented by stand- up bass and drums.

The roots feel of the music is true to traditions of the American heartland with stories of love affairs and rough justice, city living and hard lessons learned.  Covers of Neil Young (Southern Pacific), Sonny Bono (Bang Bang), the Doors (Riders on the Storm) and Fred Neil (Dade County Jail) join forces with the original songs of Jim Wurster. Big Surprise and Ojus both work well in this context and the final track, a cover of Sunshine Melody by Jimmie Davis and Bill Withers, closes the recording with a Johnny Cash style delivery that is both unsettling and mellow at the same time.

Wednesday
Oct152014

Blind Lemon Pledge 'Evangeline' - Ofeh Records

This singer-songwriter, based in San Francisco, has released three previous records and this collection of ten songs clocks in at just over 40 minutes with a variety of musical styles. We visit the blues, prison chants, salsa beats and ballads from the heartland. The playing is sparse and rootsy with an authentic feel and the ensemble of 8 musicians blend well together, as they deliver a mix of all that is strong in folk, roots and blues based music.

From the southern swing and jive of Brimstone Joe we visit the prison farm Jubilee singers and we can detour into a light jazz workout with Go Jump the Willie before parking into the salsa beat of The Language of Love.  The easy shuffle of Ham and Eggs is an early morning blues, while the closing title track is a deeper version of the slow blues with some fine playing.