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Dan Bubien – Grinding These Gears

Dan Bubien is set to release his sophomore studio album “Grinding These Gears” on August 12, 2016 (pre-order commencing July 15). “Grinding These Gears” is a self-produced rootsy collection of original songs written by Dan and long-time friend and co-writer Roman Marocco, and recorded by legendary Pittsburgh musician Joe Munroe. Crossing genres from roots and blues, to R&B and soul, Dan’s sound is tied together by classic instrumentation, soulful vocals, and contemporary songwriting. “Grinding These Gears” is the follow up to the successful debut “Empty Roads.”

BIOGRAPHY

Dan Bubien is a singer-songwriter-guitarist from Aliquippa, Pennsylvania. With a career that spans over two decades, Dan is constantly refining and redefining his craft with a wide palette of tones and textures, sounds and styles, to express his songwriting through an open, honest and wide catalog of real songs. Rooted in soul versed in styles from blues to funk, roots-rock to reggae, alt-country to singer-songwriter.

Dan began his career in his mid-teens by working the bar and club circuit in and around his hometown of Pittsburgh, PA. In 2004 Dan started the band The Sun Kings which would carry him through the next decade. In 2006 they released an album of original material called “Rub Up In It” which was very well received and garnered the band a significant following and Dan as a fixture on Pittsburgh’s music scene.

In 2013 Dan released “Empty Roads”. A self-produced solo record recorded with four-time Grammy Award Winning Producer/Engineer Jay Dudt at Audible Images Studio in Pittsburgh. “Empty Roads” was selected as one of the top 5 albums of 2013 in 91.3 WYEP’s Year in Review Publication by deejay Rob O’Friel, charted has high as #14 on the PA Roots Charts and #41 on the Worldwide Blues Charts and was selected by the Blues Society of Western Pennsylvania in the “Best Self-Produced CD” category at the 2014 International Blues Challenge in Memphis, TN.

Festival appearances include People’s Choice Festival, PA, Creekside Blues & Jazz Festival, OH, Canal Winchester Blues Festival, OH, Pittsburgh Blues Festival, PA, Heritage Music Festival, WV, Blast Furnace Blues Fest, PA, Dream On Fest, PA, Carnegie Blues Fest, PA, Strip District Music Fest, PA and Blind Raccoon Showcase, Memphis.

Dan Bubien has opened for or performed with 311, John Browns Body, Robert Randolph, Anthony Gomes, The Bros. Landreth, Patrick Sweany, Indigenous, Quinn Sullivan, Anna Popovic, Magic Slim, Bernard Allison, Tinsley Ellis, Shemekia Copeland, Debbie Davies, Guitar Shorty and Michael Burks.

Rebekah Long

It is always a cool thing when an artist who has been in the music business for a long time is suddenly “discovered.” In the bluegrass world, this is hopefully about to happen to Rebekah Long who, through her many talents, is no stranger to some of the most successful folks in the genre.

Long grew up in Lincolnton, Georgia near the famous musical kinfolk The Lewis Family and spent time touring and playing upright bass with Little Roy Lewis and Lizzy Long, Rebekah’s twin sister. She also played bass in Valerie Smith & Liberty Pike.

Rebekah was one of the first students to graduate from the Glenville State College Bluegrass Certificate Program after it was created in 2002. With a BA in Bluegrass Music and a BA in Music Education under her belt, Long immersed herself in the bluegrass business working as a recording engineer, graphic designer, video editor while also playing in various bands.

Collaborating closely with the legendary songwriter Dixie Hall, the late wife of Country Music Hall of Famer Tom T. Hall, Long was the recording engineer and graphic designer for the acclaimed “Daughters of Bluegrass” box set, also adding bass, guitar and vocals to the project.

Now, finally, Long steps in front of the microphone with the appropriately titled album “Here I Am,” a fresh solo take on one of America’s true original genres; bluegrass music with heart and soul.
“Here I Am” is an album filled with wonderful new original songs and some classics redone in the bluegrass style. Produced by the renowned singer-songwriter Donna Ulisse, the album features Long’s distinctive vocals and songwriting brought to life by some of the best musicians in the bluegrass genre.
On “Here I Am,” Long is backed by an all-star cast of session musicians who also record and tour with some of the top acts in the roots music world. The gunslingers that play on this dynamic new album include the International Bluegrass Music Association (IBMA) Banjo Player of the Year Scott Vestal, five-time IBMA Bass Player of the Year Mike Bub, two-time IBMA Mandolin Player of the Year Jesse Brock, Grammy-nominated and IBMA Award winner Dustin Benson on guitar and the Grammy-nominated fiddler and Dobro player Justin Moses. Backing Long up on vocals are producer Ulisse and her husband and band mate Rick Stanley.

Out of the gate comes the rollicking opening song “Ain’t Life Sweet” that Long co-wrote with Ulisse and Stanley. The cut brings to life the everyday tales of those who live out in the country. Unlike many modern-day country acts who could not relate to the vivid imagery in this song, Long grew up in rural Georgia and knows plenty about the matters of this song. When Long sings about Papaw Davis clearing his throat to try and catch the preacher’s eye as he has preached “way past noon” and “it’s suppertime here,” or you hear the tale of Cleetie Mullins passing around a jug of moonshine that she got “from a friend, but we all know where Cleetie’s been, We keep some secrets here,” Long keeps it real.

Other standout songs on “Here I Am” include a soaring version of Cheryl Wheeler’s “I Know This Town,” which may be the break out hit of this album; the creepy and otherworldly murder song “Hairpin Hattie” penned by Long, Ulisse and Stanley; Tom T. Hall’s life-on-the-road story about the injustices of this world called “I Washed My Face in the Morning Dew,” and Long and Ulisse team up again for the beautiful heartbreak song “He’s Never Coming Back Again.” Long and co-writers Ulisse and Stanley also pay tribute to the deceased songwriter and humanitarian Dixie Hall with the upbeat and biographical cut “Sweet Miss Dixie Deen”.

Long also pays tribute to the recently departed Country Music Hall of Famer Merle Haggard on this album. Recorded before Haggard’s death, Long puts a feisty bluegrass spin to his classic song “The Fightin’ Side of Me.” “I’ve always been a fan of Merle but didn’t really start listening to him until about 10 years ago or so,” said Long. “The Fightin Side of Me” has always been fun and in some ways runs in line with what I believe in. I guess most everybody knows I run along the line of hot about certain things, like a switch.”

Says producer Donna Ulisse, “Rebekah has an X factor that I can’t put into words. She’s a little edgy, like a new puppy!”

Danielle Miraglia

Danielle Miraglia comes armed with a strong steady thumb on an old Gibson, an infectious stomp-box rhythm and harmonica with tunes ranging from heart-felt to socially conscious that will move both your heart and hips. On her latest “Glory Junkies” she’s joined by a killer cast of musicians blending the classic rock vibe of The Rolling Stones and Janis Joplin with Danielle’s signature lyrical ability to explore human nature at its best and worst.  Danielle was nominated for a 2015 Boston Music Award for Singer-Songwriter of the Year.

“Danielle is a dynamic and captivating musician; her rich soulful voice and blues guitar mastery resonate in a performance both rare and unforgettable.”
– Paul Patchel, State Street Blues Festival – Media, PA

“The genius of Glory Junkies is that Miraglia successfully pokes fun at a proverbial “selfie nation,” while also fully owning that tendency. Glory Junkies offers up deeply narrative lyricism and carefully crafted compositions…Glory Junkies boasts a song about reality TV, and one (the title track) that pokes fun at immortalizing one’s own image. Others stray into more personal territory, hitting close to home on Miraglia’s family dynamic, but the concept of the album remains a mainstay throughout.” – Liz Rowley, BestNewBands

Danielle has toured and played major venues across the United States and beyond, shining in both the Folk and Blues circuits including New York State Blues Festival, New Bedford Summerfest, The Narrows Center for the Arts (Fall River, MA), The Birchmere (Alexandria, VA), The Ramshead (Annapolis, MD), Sellersville Theater (Sellersville, PA) and the list goes on….

She has shared the stage with the likes of Johnny Winter, Bettye Lavette, John Hammond Jr., Joan Osborne, John Mayall, Sonny Landreth, John Oates, Colin Hay, Robert Cray, Rodney Crowell and many more.

Raised just outside of Boston in Revere, MA, where its famous beach is better known for girls with big hair than its history as a popular tourist attraction, Danielle was raised on a variety of popular music, from her parent’s Motown records to the classic rock influences like The Rolling Stones and Led Zeppelin that encouraged her to learn to play guitar at thirteen. A passion for the arts and an outstanding gift for writing lead her to Emerson College in Boston’s downtown theater district. After graduating with a degree in Creative Writing, she put her writing skills, originally intended for novels, towards songwriting and began performing at open mike nights in the Boston area.  Here she “found her tribe” as she describes it and set out on a full time musical career.

Danielle’s debut full length record  “Nothing Romantic” was a breakthrough for Miraglia as a serious songwriting force, who could put into words what so many feel – a true explorer of the complexities of the human condition.  Jon Sobel of Blogcritics.com described her song “You Don’t Know Nothin'” as “One of the best new folk songs I’ve heard in years. Its depiction and dissection of human misunderstanding is both sharp and tender. All you need to know about what drives people apart and what draws them together can be witnessed in a few hours spent in a bar. Many of us feel something along those lines, but Danielle Miraglia is that rare songwriter who can put it into words.”

Danielle’s second release “Box of Troubles,” explores the highs and lows that life has to offer with bare bones instrumentation.  Alternate Root says “Danielle Miraglia’s guitar work keeps Delta traditions alive. Her steady thumb and playing style trace a direct line to the blues of the field and chicken shacks. Vocally, Danielle’s voice digs in, twisting within the delivery, seeming to break but more likely soaring before the fall. ‘Box of Troubles’ balances good times with the bad, her characters’ roles’ defined and believable.”

Darryl Purpose – Still The Birds

The 11 songs on STILL THE BIRDS paint compelling vignettes exploring the human condition — the tension between dark and light, despair and hope, vulnerability and triumphs. The songs on the album are as unique and diverse as the stories from Darryl’s kaleidoscopic life. An internationally acclaimed touring musician, Darryl is also a member of the Blackjack Hall of Fame. He’s walked across the country for peace, been banned from casinos on six continents, played the first stadium rock concert with Santana and Bonnie Raitt in the former Soviet Union, studied with global spiritual leader Thich Nhat Hanh and co-founded The Second Strings Project, an organization that has delivered over 20,000 sets of strings to musicians of third world and developing countries.

Exactly how many touring musicians can start out their story with, “I left home as a teenager and became a professional gambler.”? There really is only one…. Darryl Purpose.

STILL THE BIRDS was produced by Billy Crockett at Blue Rock Studios in Wimberly, TX and features 11 songs co-written by Darryl Purpose and Paul Zollo. Musicians joining Purpose (vocals/acoustic guitar) in the studio, include Roscoe Beck – bass (Leonard Cohen, The Dixie Chicks, Robben Ford), Eric Darken – percussion (Jimmy Buffet, Carrie Underwood), Daran DeShazo – electric guitar, Grammy-winning accordion and keyboard player, Joel Guzman (Joe Ely) and Billy Crockett. STILL THE BIRDS features a duet with Eliza Gilkyson (“The Meaning Of My Love”), with additional guest vocals by Jonathan Byrd, Carrie Elkin, Matt Nakoa, Betty Soo, and others.

Before Darryl started touring, during a period of playing open mics and showcases around L.A., he found himself in a tough situation. “I cashed a couple of checks for a ‘friend’ that I owed a favor to, and ended up getting arrested for laundering drug money. I didn’t have great boundaries with the law in those days.” He was facing eighteen years mandatory sentence (he would have been getting out about now) until the prosecutors figured out that he wasn’t a big time criminal, and reduced the charge. They sentenced him to three months in a halfway house. During the intake meeting there, they told Darryl that this was a work-release program, and that he could go home during the day if he had a job. Thinking quickly, he told them he was a national touring singer-songwriter, and he would have to go home during the day and work on his career. So he did, and in that three-month period he found himself a record label, and a booking agent, and started touring nationally. He was now a professional songwriter and musician. “That brush with the criminal justice system led to my career”.

Starting in 1996, Darryl clocked in thousands of miles, playing for tips, sleeping in his truck and basically getting his music out there any way he could. By 2004 and about 1500+ shows later, he had played many of the top venues in North America and Europe and had released 6 albums that all did well on folk radio. Then in 2004, “I won a couple million dollars within a few months and bought a house in my favorite place in the world – Nederland, Colorado, where I still live.” He said, rather casually. That winning year changed his life in many ways including being able to concentrate more on his music.

Darryl likes to say that luck is a residue of design — and he has been crafting his own luck for some time now, out of whatever wreckage has come his way. Though he always wanted to be small, the universe gave him acromegaly, a disease of excess growth hormone. So he went big, and lived his life for the story.

“Darryl Purpose’s music hits all the vital areas; the heart, the mind and the gut.”

Austin Plaine

Austin Plaine wasn’t looking to become the next great singer-songwriter. Sure, the 20 odd-year old Minneapolis native loved music. Played guitar since he was 13. Revered Ryan Adams and Bob Dylan. Idled his teenage days writing songs in his bedroom.

But… “Being a musician full-time was the last thing I thought I would do,” Plaine remembers, on the eve of his album release, a folksy, immensely satisfying self-titled debut on Washington Square/Razor & Tie. “I mean, at one point, I was studying for my LSATs to be a lawyer. But as I was writing more songs, I realized I could see myself doing this.”

On his debut, you can hear why Plaine’s plaintive lyrics and calming rasp have earned early praise. His music, at times both unsettling and a comfort, has been hailed as “the soundtrack for nostalgia-drunk road trips.” And his voice: “Like worn flannel and faded jeans.”

His influences are varied: the storytelling of Dylan, of course (“Coming from Minnesota, it’s hard not to be influenced by him….“Boots of Spanish Leather” is one of the first songs I really felt a connection with.”). You’ll be reminded of the breadth and genius of Conor Oberst. Listen closely, and you’ll hear bits of his other childhood heroes: Kurt Cobain, Springsteen, Ryan Adams.

Plaine’s journey from unknown to rising talent started innocuously. He was invited down to Nashville to record a few tunes. No pressure, no expectations. Just him and producer Jordan Schmidt (Quietdrive, Motion City Soundtrack), out to try a few songs.

Somebody caught on early. MasterCard starting featuring his track “Your Love” in a national commercial. Song appearances on the CW shows Hart of Dixie and NBC’s The Biggest Loser followed. Remembers Plaine: “It’s about that time I was like, hey, maybe this is something I should pursue.”

New songs were written. Others took new shapes. Album closer “Beautiful,” for example, is almost orchestral in its reach. “Some songs started differently in my head,” says Plaine. “And that song ended up being a really unique, bigger production when we started working on it.”

Plaine’s debut is certainly diverse: the thumping “Hard Days” is an uptempo, handclapping anthem, while “The Hell If I Go Home” and “Never Come Back Again” embrace beautiful pop harmonies. “Houston” has the breadth of an Arcade Fire song, while “Your Love” is a folksy foot-stomper.

Lyrically, Plaine teeters on the autobiographical, with the singer’s personal life mixing seamlessly with his knack for colorful storytelling. Take “Houston,” for example. “We just started with a chord progression I was working on and two lines: ‘Losing don’t mean nothing when there’s nothing to lose/living isn’t living when I’m missing you,” he explains. He later adds, laughing, “No idea why I chose Houston for that song, except I love Texas”.

When Plaine tours later this year, expect a more stripped-down affair, just a man, his guitar and some stories. “It’s definitely more folky, more Dylan-esque,” he explains. “Sometimes there’s a band, but sometimes it’s just me, my guitar and my harmonica.”

In the end, Plaine is happy with his unexpected new path.

Bringing the sort of picked guitar strings and banjo harmonies that would threaten Mumford and Sons on a good day, Austin Plaine’s self-titled debut is instantly smashing. There has always been an unprecedented honesty and modesty to folk music, and this is no stranger to that rule. With production also from Jordan Schmidt, who has tinkered around for groups such as All Time Low, we should really be in safe hands.
The fact that Plaine has been crafting this album for six years, and is still only the tender age of 23, is rather baffling; his vocal quality boasts accomplishment and triumph, with each of his songs melodic and humble. First single, Never Come Back Again, is a really spectacular piece, packed with warmth and wistfulness, so much so, it largely mimics the class of any Band of Horses number. It’s fairly clear why Plaine picked this to be his initial single; if you can’t glean a few pockets of support from such a quaint piece, then something hasn’t clicked properly.
Hard Days is driven, once again, by a gentle acoustic guitar. This is more unsettling, lyrically, speaking of uncomfortable surroundings and situations. However, it’s Plaine’s gruff tones that separate this from being one of Mumford’s older hits. I think the issue with some tracks such as this is that they are often only enjoyable to hear when you’re in a troubled mood, but Austin Plaine need not strive to create some up-tempo notes; his musings are soft and sultry, but very good indeed. Another great example of Plaine’s subtlety is The Other Side of Town, a mellow offering made up of strings, keys and poetic visions of childhood. The seeming portrayal of being unaware of the growth through adulthood so effortlessly discussed in this track would have lent itself well to a mid-series episode of One Tree Hill; so much so, it’s rather annoying that the TV programme isn’t still in production.
Alas, I digress. One to tap your toes along to is Houston; I guess there must be at least one obligatory cheery track, but this is fun, sweet and possesses a similar cheekiness to many of Vance Joy’s emergent few. The atmosphere does alter slightly, though, when Only Human comes around. This is a really emotional offering, showcasing weakness through such mildly plucked strings. The Cost is sharper, yet adheres to a similar pattern, outlining that this album is going to be fairly slow, but with a delicate optimism, lyrically, with Wait possessing jerky drum beats as accompaniment. The latter is another strong point on the album, because this is just that bit more musically expansive; some of the slower items rely only upon Plaine’s lyrics to project what makes them so superb. The Hell if I Go Home also must be tipped a focal point, too; it fits the mould well, but the echoing female backing vocals add character and this really begins to round the collection off.
So, indeed, this might not be particularly outside the general strings box, but it’s one to hear and appreciate for its intensity and breadth of appeal.

Hannah White – Whose Side Are You On

An interesting press release from Keiron Marshall, Hannah’s Manager and representative from Sound Lounge Records, accompanied this album. It addressed the task of introduction from a more creative perspective than is normally the case and sets out the artist’s aims for this release and beyond. Of course the normal bases are covered, the voice, the playing, the producer and plaudits collected so far. However, the narrative then shifts to the first person and Hannah takes up the story behind this particular collection of songs that make up ‘Whose Side Are You On’. Hannah describes playing a song of hers, ‘Whoops’, at a live show after which a man said it had given him a glimpse of what it was like to be a single mum. This appears to have had a profound effect upon Hannah also and inspired her to gather and record all the songs she had written over time that loosely related to her experience of being a woman.
An active feminist, Hannah is at pains to point out her wish was never to make claims about ‘right or wrong’ but to simply share her story in the hope of starting a conversation.
The press release describes some of the songs on this album in depth, but does not give any real historical information about Hannah. None of the usual ‘started playing the guitar at 16’ or ‘found her voice in her teens’ type biography and it is almost as if Hannah has just ‘arrived’ at this point in her career, so clearly a lot of thought has been given to the image she wishes to project. I did a bit of online detective work and found her website had much the same information as in the press release. However, the online ‘shop’ section shows two previous full length CD’s and a Christmas single that are still available. ‘Poetry’ a thirteen track album was released in 2009, the eleven track ‘Noughts and Crosses’ in 2013 and the single ‘Almost Christmas Day’ in late 2013.
A quick listen through on iTunes showed these to be well written and recorded songs, so clearly Hannah has been busy performing for sometime now.
Lastly, she has a good, active profile on Facebook and Twitter and an up to date website with some particularly well recorded videos. Therefore, the sense is not so much of Hannah being without a past, but more that of her experiences, as detailed in these songs, helping shape how she wishes to define herself now.
The album itself is beautifully recorded and produced by multi instrumentalist Nigel Stonier. He is well known and respected for his work with Fairport Convention, the Waterboys and Thea Gilmore amongst many others, as well as for being a fine performer in his own right. I also came across him very recently through his contribution to the folk singer Kelly Oliver’s CD ‘Bedlam’.
Most tracks consist of Hannah on vocals and guitar with Nigel then adding further acoustic guitar, electric guitar, bass, mandolin, ukulele, various keyboards, piano and backing vocals across the various songs. The only additional musicians featured are Alan Lowles on Accordion for two tracks and the drums of Che Beresford on three.
Without doubt, Hannah has a stunning voice, flexible, sensitive and conveying of a vulnerable power, particularly on the slower songs. Production wise this album covers many musical bases and she traverses these demands without apparent difficulty.
The first track ‘Stupid Little Fruit Tree’ is a great album opener, driving along in lively fashion on a breezy rhythm track with some lovely little musical flourishes, topped off with Hannah’s vocal sitting sweetly in the mix.
Second song ‘I’ll Make You Strong’ is similarly breezy and ridiculously catchy.
The musical stylings and production are, in the best possible way, almost ‘Eurovision’ in nature, the quirky accordion fills, the almost squeaky break in Hannah’s voice when she sings ‘baby’ and the universally sing-along chorus.
As engaging as the first two tracks are, the next two raise the bar several notches in my view. ‘Whoops’, Hannah’s tale of being a suspected drug trafficker by customs officers purely because her children had different surnames to her, sleazes in on a lovely drum shuffle and heavy bass line and sounds for all the world like the mighty trip hop of Morcheeba at their finest. The vocal really sits on top of the mix and it is a particularly warm take, which helps push home the pithy lyrics. I could easily imagine this song picked up by some R&B heavyweight, given the big sound treatment and maybe even a guest rap popped in the middle to add a little urban grime!
‘Whose Side Are You On’ though surpasses even this. Hannah’s song is unflinchingly personal and she has the ability to marry a searingly honest lyric to a beautiful melody performed in a simple, straightforward manner. Her voice sounds stunning here and just does not need any excess or affectations to carry the song. I think her strength as a songwriter is most evident in her first person songs and the ability to make a stark, almost harsh lyric, poetically moving. I defy anyone not to be moved by the heart breaking beauty of the “Do I tell them that my Father lay dying with no hospital bed” line, which is just slipped in without fanfare and moves the song to somewhere almost unbearably poignant.
On the subject of first person songs, for me the other two stand out tracks on the album are both in this vein. ‘His Perfect Mind’ is a pure piano and vocal song,An interesting press release from Keiron Marshall, Hannah’s Manager and representative from Sound Lounge Records, accompanied this album. It addressed the task of introduction from a more creative perspective than is normally the case and sets out the artist’s aims for this release and beyond. Of course the normal bases are covered, the voice, the playing, the producer and plaudits collected so far. However, the narrative then shifts to the first person and Hannah takes up the story behind this particular collection of songs that make up ‘Whose Side Are You On’. Hannah describes playing a song of hers, ‘Whoops’, at a live show after which a man said it had given him a glimpse of what it was like to be a single mum. This appears to have had a profound effect upon Hannah also and inspired her to gather and record all the songs she had written over time that loosely related to her experience of being a woman.

An active feminist, Hannah is at pains to point out her wish was never to make claims about ‘right or wrong’ but to simply share her story in the hope of starting a conversation.
The press release describes some of the songs on this album in depth, but does not give any real historical information about Hannah. None of the usual ‘started playing the guitar at 16’ or ‘found her voice in her teens’ type biography and it is almost as if Hannah has just ‘arrived’ at this point in her career, so clearly a lot of thought has been given to the image she wishes to project. I did a bit of online detective work and found her website had much the same information as in the press release. However, the online ‘shop’ section shows two previous full length CD’s and a Christmas single that are still available. ‘Poetry’ a thirteen track album was released in 2009, the eleven track ‘Noughts and Crosses’ in 2013 and the single ‘Almost Christmas Day’ in late 2013.
A quick listen through on iTunes showed these to be well written and recorded songs, so clearly Hannah has been busy performing for sometime now.
Lastly, she has a good, active profile on Facebook and Twitter and an up to date website with some particularly well recorded videos. Therefore, the sense is not so much of Hannah being without a past, but more that of her experiences, as detailed in these songs, helping shape how she wishes to define herself now.

The album itself is beautifully recorded and produced by multi instrumentalist Nigel Stonier. He is well known and respected for his work with Fairport Convention, the Waterboys and Thea Gilmore amongst many others, as well as for being a fine performer in his own right. I also came across him very recently through his contribution to the folk singer Kelly Oliver’s CD ‘Bedlam’.
Most tracks consist of Hannah on vocals and guitar with Nigel then adding further acoustic guitar, electric guitar, bass, mandolin, ukulele, various keyboards, piano and backing vocals across the various songs. The only additional musicians featured are Alan Lowles on Accordion for two tracks and the drums of Che Beresford on three.
Without doubt, Hannah has a stunning voice, flexible, sensitive and conveying of a vulnerable power, particularly on the slower songs. Production wise this album covers many musical bases and she traverses these demands without apparent difficulty.
The first track ‘Stupid Little Fruit Tree’ is a great album opener, driving along in lively fashion on a breezy rhythm track with some lovely little musical flourishes, topped off with Hannah’s vocal sitting sweetly in the mix.
Second song ‘I’ll Make You Strong’ is similarly breezy and ridiculously catchy.
The musical stylings and production are, in the best possible way, almost ‘Eurovision’ in nature, the quirky accordion fills, the almost squeaky break in Hannah’s voice when she sings ‘baby’ and the universally sing-along chorus.
As engaging as the first two tracks are, the next two raise the bar several notches in my view. ‘Whoops’, Hannah’s tale of being a suspected drug trafficker by customs officers purely because her children had different surnames to her, sleazes in on a lovely drum shuffle and heavy bass line and sounds for all the world like the mighty trip hop of Morcheeba at their finest. The vocal really sits on top of the mix and it is a particularly warm take, which helps push home the pithy lyrics. I could easily imagine this song picked up by some R&B heavyweight, given the big sound treatment and maybe even a guest rap popped in the middle to add a little urban grime!

‘Whose Side Are You On’ though surpasses even this. Hannah’s song is unflinchingly personal and she has the ability to marry a searingly honest lyric to a beautiful melody performed in a simple, straightforward manner. Her voice sounds stunning here and just does not need any excess or affectations to carry the song. I think her strength as a songwriter is most evident in her first person songs and the ability to make a stark, almost harsh lyric, poetically moving. I defy anyone not to be moved by the heart breaking beauty of the “Do I tell them that my Father lay dying with no hospital bed” line, which is just slipped in without fanfare and moves the song to somewhere almost unbearably poignant.
On the subject of first person songs, for me the other two stand out tracks on the album are both in this vein. ‘His Perfect Mind’ is a pure piano and vocal song, which pushes and pulls with a lovely rhythmic pulse that really displays Hannah’s phrasing. It was wrote after the relationship breakdown with her Daughters Father but as another reference point, it is easy to imagine this one as the central number in a Andrew Lloyd Webber musical such is its majestic scope.
‘Tracey Emin’ is my favourite song on the album. Starting with what sounds almost like a Bontempi keyboard drum machine track along with a treated guitar arpeggio, it enters in very courtly, atmospheric fashion. Hannah provides another perfectly understated vocal that tempers the very personal nature of the lyrics but without diluting their impact in any way. It also highlights yet again her ability to slip in heartbreaking lines without fuss or showiness and there are several examples in this song alone. It is also a song without a real chorus as such; more of a lovely refrain and this lends a restless, unsettling feel that quietly adds to the drama.
The other three songs that I have not covered in depth are still fine, very commercial numbers. ‘Beautiful Dresses’ is an acoustic driven track with another hooky chorus and some particularly fine drumming. ‘I See Sky’ is very poppy and uplifting, that again demonstrates Hannah’s winning way with a chorus and I can imagine this being a real live favourite. Lastly, ‘It’s All That I know’ brings the album to a close. It starts with some crackly static before a guitar that sounds rather like a harpsichord arrives with a picked line which feels like the ’round and round’ of a music box. Hannah’s vocal is very ‘back’ from the track and recorded in a distant fashion, which again lends to the music box feel. However, no chance of saccharine here as the lyrics are quite dark against the musical lightness. “But I have a secret, I don’t really like it, but it’s all that I know”

The only slight reservation I have about this CD concerns the very eclectic sound and many musical bases covered. I can see that this potentially would appeal to a wider audience but an inherent problem could be that of a core market or location becoming harder to find. For me, one of the attractions of the four songs I have spoken at length about is that there is less going on musically and all are recorded ‘straight’. I would like to have seen this spread across all the tracks so there was more of a cohesive sound and less genre hopping maybe. However, I am also aware that is just personal preference and the commercial nature of several of these tracks cry out for radio play!
Of course, most people that buy this CD will do so without the information that accompanied this review copy. As sympathetically presented as this was, I have done my best to hear these songs without reference to that and listen with open ears and mind. Safe to say it has been a wonderful listen and as with all great songs, the stand out tracks here perhaps reveal themselves and speak to the audience in ways the writer had not originally intended.
This CD has clearly been a labour of love for both Hannah White and Nigel Stonier. Nine songs that display a great voice, assured song writing, lyrics of heartbreaking honesty and emotional force, balanced with other tracks that are commercial and sassy, but maybe never far from revealing their darker underbelly if prodded a little.
If the purpose of this album for Hannah was to start a conversation, it’s already started! which pushes and pulls with a lovely rhythmic pulse that really displays Hannah’s phrasing. It was wrote after the relationship breakdown with her Daughters Father but as another reference point, it is easy to imagine this one as the central number in a Andrew Lloyd Webber musical such is its majestic scope.

‘Tracey Emin’ is my favourite song on the album. Starting with what sounds almost like a Bontempi keyboard drum machine track along with a treated guitar arpeggio, it enters in very courtly, atmospheric fashion. Hannah provides another perfectly understated vocal that tempers the very personal nature of the lyrics but without diluting their impact in any way. It also highlights yet again her ability to slip in heartbreaking lines without fuss or showiness and there are several examples in this song alone. It is also a song without a real chorus as such; more of a lovely refrain and this lends a restless, unsettling feel that quietly adds to the drama.
The other three songs that I have not covered in depth are still fine, very commercial numbers. ‘Beautiful Dresses’ is an acoustic driven track with another hooky chorus and some particularly fine drumming. ‘I See Sky’ is very poppy and uplifting, that again demonstrates Hannah’s winning way with a chorus and I can imagine this being a real live favourite. Lastly, ‘It’s All That I know’ brings the album to a close. It starts with some crackly static before a guitar that sounds rather like a harpsichord arrives with a picked line which feels like the ’round and round’ of a music box. Hannah’s vocal is very ‘back’ from the track and recorded in a distant fashion, which again lends to the music box feel. However, no chance of saccharine here as the lyrics are quite dark against the musical lightness. “But I have a secret, I don’t really like it, but it’s all that I know”
The only slight reservation I have about this CD concerns the very eclectic sound and many musical bases covered. I can see that this potentially would appeal to a wider audience but an inherent problem could be that of a core market or location becoming harder to find. For me, one of the attractions of the four songs I have spoken at length about is that there is less going on musically and all are recorded ‘straight’. I would like to have seen this spread across all the tracks so there was more of a cohesive sound and less genre hopping maybe. However, I am also aware that is just personal preference and the commercial nature of several of these tracks cry out for radio play!
Of course, most people that buy this CD will do so without the information that accompanied this review copy. As sympathetically presented as this was, I have done my best to hear these songs without reference to that and listen with open ears and mind. Safe to say it has been a wonderful listen and as with all great songs, the stand out tracks here perhaps reveal themselves and speak to the audience in ways the writer had not originally intended.
This CD has clearly been a labour of love for both Hannah White and Nigel Stonier. Nine songs that display a great voice, assured song writing, lyrics of heartbreaking honesty and emotional force, balanced with other tracks that are commercial and sassy, but maybe never far from revealing their darker underbelly if prodded a little.
If the purpose of this album for Hannah was to start a conversation, it’s already started!
Written by Paul Jackson

Foy Vance

Foy Vance is a critically acclaimed singer and songwriter hailing from Bangor, Northern Island and deeply rooted in the rich musical history and aesthetic of the Southern United States. Traveling through America for much of his youth, Foy eventually settled down in Ireland where he worked to put out his debut album Hope in 2007. Gathering the acclaim of both fans and fellow musicians, Foy was invited to tour worldwide with the likes of Bonnie Raitt, Marcus Foster, Snow Patrol, Ed Sheeran and Sir Elton John. Foy’s second full-length album, Joy of Nothing, debuted in 2013 on Glassnote Records and was followed up by Foy’s first live recording, Live at Bangor Abbey, recorded in Foy’s hometown.

In late 2015 Foy became only the second artist signing to Gingerbread Man Records, a division of Atlantic Records started by Ed Sheeran. Recording for his Gingerbread Man debut The Wild Swan took place at the legendary Blackbird Studios in Nashville, Tenn. with GRAMMY-winning producer Jacquire King (Tom Waits, Norah Jones, James Bay, Kings of Leon, Of Monsters and Men).

Recording legend Elton John is the album’s Executive Producer, and Foy will support Elton on the UK & European legs of his Wonderful Crazy tour this summer. The Wild Swan is available now.
His third album encompasses his usual husky-voiced folk, blues and soul-rock, with solemn, gospel-fuelled choruses and lyrical nods to his hometown (Bangor Town) and love (Burden, She Burns).
The standout is Upbeat Feelgood, a soulful, Van Morrison-style folk zinger that’s impossible not to get swept up along with, while Coco’s James Taylor vibe and the mystical Wild Swans on the Lake temper the rousing tempo.

Beat Root Revival

AUSTIN BASED MULTI-INSTRUMENTALIST FOLK DUO BEAT ROOT REVIVAL
RELEASED SELF-TITLED ALBUM MAY 13, 2016

TOURING WITH JONATHAN JACKSON + ENATION BEGINNING MAY 19

ALBUM RELEASE PARTY AT THE CONTINENTAL CLUB IN AUSTIN JUNE 1


Beat Root Revival, A new duo of folk, roots, howling blues & classic pop, have a pretty interesting sound, an Americana mesh of folk, rock, and blues that is similar in tone to the Waterboys, without the epicness, traditional instruments played by Andrea giving the celtic connection,or The Avett Brothers on their less bluegrassy tunes. And there are some very good tracks on this debut album, making even the simplest songs on it feel like epics, take “Before it gets to Late” which manages to be bright and chiming while also being sad and mournful. Not everything here clicks together at that level, but each track is inventive, and when the songwriting of Ben and Andrea and the arrangements cross paths perfectly, as they do on most songs, this makes for a delightful album.
Hopefully over the coming weeks there will be plenty of excellent reviews for BRR appearing on the internet but till then this one will have to do,one thing for sure BRR will be getting plenty of airplay  here at TME.fm to help them climb the roots charts.
Not many of the numerous albums we receive here via the internet and still occasionally via the post get reviewed never mind played so BRR are a stand out duo and their album is an outstanding effort.


I dislike writing reviews but I love listening to BRR,get yourselves a copy and enjoy the music and write yourselves a review and post it here.

Ben Jones and Andrea Magee, the folk duo known as Beat Root Revival will release their self-titled album on May 13, 2016 through New Orleans based label Toulouse Records (distributed by Sony/RED). They are the label’s first signing and the album, which was recorded at Mesa Recording Studios in Austin, TX and produced by Jones (except “Fire” which was co-produced by Magee), will be its debut release.

Both multi-instrumentalists, Jones, who is from England, plays almost all of the instruments on the album including guitar, bass, piano, drums, bass harmonica, melodica, Hammond organ, ukulele, banjo and mandolin while Magee, who’s style is deeply rooted in her Irish heritage, plays guitar, bodhran, Irish whistles and flute.

Magee’s exposure to music came at an early age. “When I was ten, I started playing the flute, and began playing in bars in Ireland with my sister and my dad. A lot of my early years in music were in either classical or traditional Irish music.” She studied and received an honors degree in music, then became a music teacher in charge of the music department in a high school.  For Jones, “I got started being interested in music relatively late,” he says. “I was about twelve.” His father was a guiding influence playing him music from The Beatles, The Rolling Stones, and Neil Young. By his teenage years, he was able to put all of those influences together and start his own band.

Magee’s fate changed in 2013 when she wowed Sharon Osborne, Nicole Scherzinger and the other judges on X Factor UK with her original song, “Any Minute Now” during her audition making it through to the next round.  After her experience with X Factor and all of the attention she garnered from it, Magee moved to Kent, England where she began teaching again while moonlighting on the local music scene. After opening up for Jones’ band, they found their chemistry undeniable.  “We wound up sharing each other’s’ songs, and we were both fascinated by the fact that we were both pushing our own material. And we used this to drive each other forward,” says Magee.

After word of mouth spread about their live performances the duo decided to take a chance and see what musical adventures they could find in America.  In 2014, they traveled to Austin, TX to their first SXSW where they experienced massive culture shock. “We were just a little bit shell-shocked when we walked up and down Sixth Street,” says Magee. “We were so much in awe, and thought it was incredible. We were trying to get gigs, and we thought it was going to be impossible.”

But thanks to the hospitality of a local taxi driver who was willing to show them some of the musical hotspots, they made some valuable connections, one of which led to a big performance. “We ended up talking to the owner of one of the clubs who asked us if we would be interested in opening for Dale Watson,” says Magee.  “So, that was our introduction to Austin. He and his band were so taken with our sound that they asked us to come to the Continental to open for him – on our very first trip!”

The duo decided to stay in Austin where they continue to play in and around the local music scene.  They’ve played at at such notable venues as the historic Ryman Auditorium, The Bluebird Café, The Continental Club and The Basement in addition to making frequent trips to Nashville and other cities. With each show they play, their fan base continues to grow charming audiences their impassioned concerts.  They just played Music City Roots outside of Nashville on May 11 and they will be going on tour with Jonathan Jackson + Enation beginning May 19 (tour dates below).  They will also play a special album release party at The Continental Club in Austin on June 1.

Beat Root Revival Tour Dates:
June 1 – Austin, TX @ The Continental Club

Dates With Jonathan Jackson + Enation:
May 19 – Indianapolis, IN @ The HI-FI    
May 20 – Columbus, OH @ A and R Music Bar
May 21 – Pittsburgh, PA @ The Club at Stage AE
June 4 – Kansas City, MO @ Knuckleheads Saloon
June 10 – Huntsville, AL @ Furniture Factory Bar & Grill
June 11 – Memphis, TN @ Minglewood Hall        
June 17 – Atlanta, GA @ Vinyl              
June 18 – Charlotte, NC @ Neighborhood Theatre
June 22 – Dewey Beach, DE @ Rusty Rudder
June 23 – Philadelphia, PA @ World Café Live
June 25 Hampton, VA @ Hampton Block Party

For more information, please contact:
Julie Lichtenstein / 37-Media
[email protected]

Rodney DeCroo

Burnt out by seven straight years of touring and recording five albums, Rodney DeCroo walked away from his band and his label after the release of 2010’s Queen Mary Trash. The double album he left behind—urgent, brash, ragged, full of spleen—now looks like a roadmap pointing to the emotional reckoning that lay ahead.

Five years later the contrast is staggering. For his return to the studio as a singer-songwriter, DeCroo has produced something as beautiful on the surface as a dusk-painted reflecting pool, as shadowy below as his own tumultuous psyche. The gap between his inner and outer life has always been slender, but Campfires on the Moon—his debut on new label Tonic Records—gives us DeCroo at his most intimate.

Between then and now, DeCroo devoted the years to therapy and healing as he stepped up a lifelong battle with PTSD. He also threw himself into a more immediately personal trinity of projects, yielding a spoken word album (Allegheny), book of poetry (Allegheny, BC), and a touring stage play (Stupid Boy in an Ugly Town) that expanded both his critical and popular appeal.

Suitably refreshed, DeCroo was ready to follow Queen Mary Trash. With former Convictions bandmate and stage collaborator Mark Haney on double bass, and long time friend Ida Nilsen contributing piano and vocals—DeCroo had been quietly amassing material with Nilsen in mind—DeCroo returned to Brian Barr’s Vancouver studio and produced a record that outstrips even 2008’s Mockingbird Bible for its ferocious vulnerability.

The arrangements are fragile—three acoustic instruments and two voices; one glue, one honey—and so is the mood. A low, sonorous note brings Haney into the picture on perhaps the most upbeat of Campfire’s songs, the lovely, painfully honest “Stupid Boy in an Ugly Town”. If it’s one of the more openly autobiographical moments on the album, DeCroo is less explicit elsewhere.

“Tear All Lovers Down” captivates with a strident (maybe even poppy!) piano hook, but “White Circles” draws us in with its subtler qualities, its words coming on like a transmission from the darkest hour of the wolf. The language on Campfires on the Moon is frequently cryptic, but meaning surfaces nonetheless. DeCroo is wrestling with regret, loss, aging, love, memory, death, art—always with his own ongoing recovery embedded in the background.

Gradually the album takes on an emotional force all its own, through its combination of quivering intimacy and DeCroo’s greatest natural resource—his poetry. As its 10 songs draw to a close, Haney throws a little discordant shade into “Ashes after Fire”, foreshadowing the envy that grips DeCroo as he visits some old friends at the Railway Club.

“They’re doing well,” he sighs, “their wellness never ends.” But there’s a deep irony at work. Breaking from a past in disarray, Campfires on the Moon strongly suggests that its author’s own wellness has well and truly begun.

Campfires on the Moon was released on Tonic Records April 28, 2015.

Jaye Bartell

Jaye Bartell’s move to Brooklyn, NY in 2013, as well as the work of Spalding Gray and Eileen Myles, heavily influence the content presented on his latest record, Light Enough. In his own words, “Resettlement is an implicit theme in much of the writing, and the process of making the album itself was an act of resettlement, finding out where I lived as a means of coming to live there.” Bartell spent about a year secluded in his Greenpoint bedroom, piecing together the intricate tunes and gentle melodies that furnish his new record.

Originally from from Massachusetts, Jaye Bartell laid the groundwork for his music career after relocating to Asheville, NC in the early 2000’s. During this time, he began to play music among friends, parallel to his poetry and other writing endeavors, which included a reading/performance series and a small magazine. After relocating, again, to Buffalo, NY in 2006, Jaye joined up with the publishing collective House Press and released his first record, Feeling Better, Pilgrim, in the company of Buffalo musicians and writers. The record helped establish Jaye’s sound utilizing field recordings and manipulated loops, centered on vocal melody.

Upon returning to Asheville in 2009, Jaye released his second record, The Dog’s Dinner. This marked Jaye’s departure from the self-production of his earlier work, and the beginning of his collaboration with guitarist Shane Parish of Ahleuchatistas, and visual artists Ursula Gullow and Nathanael Roney. The years 2012 and 2013 saw the releases of Elation, an EP recorded with J Seger, and Loyalty, a full-band record featuring Parish, Seger, and Emily Easterly, followed by a 2014 UK tour with like-minded troubadour, Angel Olsen.

The songs on Light Enough encompass the processes of aspiration, pursuit, and fulfillment, if only to find that “[P]eople don’t change. They only stand more revealed,” as Charles Olson writes in Maximus Poems. In the album opener, “G & Me,” Bartell sings of the joyful illusions of escape, “a whole new life” that’s recognized, without bitterness as a “whole new lie.” “Light Enough” is a declaration of sufficiency, as if to say, Let this be enough then, and if it isn’t now, then it never will be: “I’m ready to come down,” he sings. The record as a whole takes as a kind of informal credo a line from Eileen Myles’ Chelsea Girls: “I have waited all my life for permission. I feel it growing in my breast. A war is storming and it is behind me and I am moving my forces into light.”