Reviews By Paul McGee

Gypsy Soul True Off the Beaten Track

Cilette Swann and Roman Morykit met in Edinburgh during the 1990’s and have recorded and written together as Gypsy Soul for many years now. They walk an independent path with a music career which has been funded mostly by the continued patronage of their loyal fan base. They have an intimacy in their music that touches a number of sources with their unique blend of roots rock, blues and jazz.

Morykit, is a multi-instrumentalist, composer, and producer whose musical roots reach back to his childhood training in classical piano.

Canadian-born singer/lyricist, Cilette Swann sings with both clarity and power across these eleven songs that make for a very enjoyable release. The instrumental, Magic Carpet Ride, shows off the talent and maturity at play here with a gentle and considered arrangement while the attractions of 6000 Miles, Long, Long Ride, We Are What We Believe and You’re Everything To Me unfold with repeated listening.

One small complaint would be the inclusion of yet another cover version of Hallelujah (Leonard Cohen). I don’t see what can possibly be added to the numerous covers that are already out there and this version brings little to the table. Better by far is the arrangement of Amazing Grace (revisited) which has a nice bluesy groove to the timeless classic.

All other songs are written and performed by Gypsy Soul and they are definitely worth checking out if you enjoy fully rounded, mature music played with an authentic feel. 

Mark Mandeville & Raianne Richards Grain By Grain Nobody’s Favourite

This folk duo from Massachusetts began in the local venues around the New England area and this is their latest release. American contemporary Folk music played with a quiet confidence and the vocal harmonies of Mark Mandeville (vocals, guitar, harmonica) and Raianne Richards (vocals, ukulele, clarinet, penny whistles, electric bass) are a real joy to experience.

The 10 self-penned songs make for a very enjoyable listen and these acoustic arrangements are supported by Doug Williamson (upright bass, piano, papoose, mandolin, vocals) and Peter Hart (dobro, pedal steel).

Pleasant uncluttered songs that visit such subjects as time passing the (title track/Across The Morning), having self-belief (Don’t Ever Stop Believing/Diggin’ Me A Hole), living in the moment (Hang On To The Day/Worn Down), relationship woes (Temper) and shutting down local industries (That Old Machine).

Mandeville and Richards are co-founders of the Massachusetts Walking Tour - promoting local music, arts and culture on foot and have released a number of concerts that were recorded on previous tours. Nice playing and great production by Mandeville & Kyle Swartzwelder, with plenty to enjoy.

The Danberrys Give & Receive Self-Release

Ben DeBerry and Dorothy Daniel are from East Nashville, Tennessee and have been influenced by the traditions of bluegrass, old-time country, blues, and soul music. They have very distinct vocal harmonies and their first recording Company Store, was released in April 2011, followed in 2013 by The Danberrys.

Their latest album Give & Receive was produced by Ethan Ballinger (Lee Ann Womack, Tim O’Brien) at Southern Ground Studios in Nashville and these ten songs provide a musical landscape that reveals a broad range of moods and sounds, reflecting the continued growth of these two artists who wrote all the music & words included here.

Receive has fine vocal harmonies with mandolin and fiddle interplay giving the song arrangement a gentle laid-back feel. Indeed this sense of timeless music is repeated across the ten tracks with a strong presence from producer/musician Ethan Ballinger on mandolin, a variety of guitars, bazouki, banjo,organ, piano, wurlitzer  & percussion. With subtle fiddle on most of the tracks supplied by Christian Sedelmyer and the steady bass playing of Sam Grisman, the project delivers an overall sense of real quality and restrained mood.

The bluegrass sound of Long Song is followed by the slow moody groove of Don’t Drink the Water. Let Me Go visits the subject of escaping a suffocating relationship and Life Worth Living visits the urge to seek real meaning in our lives. We’ll Be Done highlights the superb vocal talent of Dorothy Daniel and brings proceedings to a very satisfactory conclusion on a sea of sweet melody. Recommended.