CD Reviews

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The Roys - Gypsy Runaway Train

Ever since the release of their last disc, New Day Dawning, brother and sister duo The Roys have carved out quite a successful reputation as one of the rising acts in Bluegrass music. While that was a mini-disc - only containing seven tracks, this is a full blown look at what Lee and Elaine can do - and they do it very well. This disc is a mixture of classics and some songs that qualify as "soon-to-be" classics. Of the...
 
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Dave Davies - I Will Be Me

Ray Davies was the Kinks to most people. Songs like "Sunny Afternoon," "You Really Got Me" and the ahead-of-its-time transvestite or transgender anthem "Lola," were a staple of 1960s pop radio, and writer/vocalist Ray got most of the credit. But those in the know thought that the band's sound had just as much to do with his little brother, Dave. If any doubts about Dave's abilities and contribution to the Kinks haven't already been put to rest, they can be now. On I Will Be Me, Dave Davies plays
 
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Lizanne Knott – Standing in the English Rain

“I’m gonna tear down your walls/Brick by little brick/’Cause if I lead you here today/You’d be in the thick of it/I’m gonna break away the glass/Steal my way in/Gonna pick the pieces up/And make you whole again,” swears Philadelphia-area singer/songwriter Lizanne Knott on “Miss You,” one of thirteen tracks from her fifth album, “Standing in the English Rain.” Previously released by UK label Proper, it was produced by Glenn Barratt and recorded stateside in East Norriton, Pennsylvania,...
 
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Julie Jean White - Self Titled

There's just something about Minnesota native Julie Jean White. First of all, fans of the male gender might be attracted at first to the artwork, as White is simply a stunning woman. That being said, she's a lot more than just good looks. This is one of the top independent singer-songwriter discs I have heard in quite some time, and it is made so by the very effective way White segues from one emotional spectrum to the next. She handles a wide array of sounds, and does it very well. Kicking off with the pain-drenched
 
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Nakia – Drown in the Crimson Tide

“The human heart has no limit to its size,” so sings R&B/soul singer Nakia, perhaps convincing himself that going from Apple store guy to guest artist on CeeLo Green’s Muppets Christmas special is a huge and remarkable achievement. Somewhere in between those two polar opposite jobs, he performed with his Texas band the Blues Grifters, and sang background vocals on Alejandro Escovedo’s “Street Songs of Love” album, and was then discovered by a national audience on the...
 
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Samantha Crain – Kid Face

“I started playing music in order to travel. Living in a small town in Oklahoma, there wasn’t much going on, and I got itchy, so I started going out on the road and playing everywhere that would have me,” says singer/songwriter Samantha Crain. This young Shawnee native of Choctaw heritage is still on the road, but her restlessness always takes her full-circle to her roots. “Coming back home brings me perspective and focus,” and the wherewithal to release her third full-length album, the autobiographical...
 
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Monster Truck - Furiosity

Take Black Sabbath and add some harmony vocals. Add a little Molly Hatchet without the South. Then some Black Country Communion without the big virtuoso names. Put it all in a blender and you've got the Monster Truck sound. On Furiosity, the high-charting new album from Ontario, Canada's Monster Truck, this four-piece band combines classic rock guitar playing and nicely understated keys with the singing of bass player Jon Harvey, who has a limited range and uses it perfectly, knowing...
 
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Robert "Top" Thomas - The Town Crier

“He had a deep, fierce passion for playin’ the blues/Gen-u-ine real, sho’ nough paid his dues,” growls Robert “Top” Thomas on his debut album with WildRoots Records, “The Town Crier.” The Florida bluesman is singing about the Midnight Creeper here, but he might as well be singing about himself. This founding member of Smokehouse has definitely put in the mileage to prove his mettle, and is pure, unpretentious, unadulterated blues as it gets. Thomas is a storyteller first, who takes ...
 
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Elizabeth Lyons - Self Titled

Hailing from just outside of Chicago, Elizabeth Lyons can't lay claim to being a small-town southern girl. That being said, Country Music was never too far. As a youngster, she would spend summers at her grandparents' house in rural Iowa, where the musical menu included such legends as Hank Williams, so the music definitely made an impact on her. You can tell it on her EP. Decidedly in the modern-country vein, Lyons knows...
 
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The Mallett Brothers Band - Land

The Mallett Brothers Band - based out of Portland, ME, have been racking up the accolades wherever they go. With critical acclaim from No Depression and Dispatch, the six piece band knows when to push the musical envelope, and when to just sit back and let it simmer a little bit. How do you classify them? Well, just like so many acts today - and I know that sounds like a broken record - you don't. They definitely know...
 
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Underhill Rose - Something Real

You know, I am not really sure why we have definitions for music anymore. Few acts - maybe a Alan Jackson being a rarity - paint within the same lines with their music. Most acts today have many different layers and sounds to their music. North Carolina-based trio Underhill Rose is one such act. Take a listen to the music of Eleanor Underhill, Molly Rose, and Salley Williamson, and you will be transported to a sound that has...
 
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Shannon & Heather Slaughter & County Clare - One More Road

Hailing from Alabama and Florida, Shannon and Heather Slaughter have that tangible ingredient to their music called "It." What that word means is hard to describe, other then to say that it works. You can hear their natural blend on the opening cut of this collection, the classic "If I Were A Carpenter." They know what they are doing, and do it very, very well. I came away from this album very impressed with Heather's vocals, especially...
 
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Louis Prima, Jr. and the Witnesses - Return of the Wildest

Louis Prima, Sr. was known as, first and foremost, a showman, a guy who held audiences all night, night after night, for years in Vegas. And then, when David Lee Roth cut his "Just a Gigolo" in 1990, his material was exposed to a whole new generation, though most Roth listeners were probably never even aware that Roth didn't write it. No matter. Where some artists eschew what their parents did, Louis Prima, Jr. is smart enough to recognize the gift...
 
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4 Jacks – Deal With It

They all have their separate gigs going on, but when the members of blues band 4 Jacks come together to join musical forces, the sound they produce is tight. Made up of Texas blues guitarist Anson Funderburgh, D.C. drummer and singer Big Joe Maher, Nashville bassist Steve Mackey and keyboard player Kevin McKendree, this first-rate quartet has released “Deal With It” – an album on EllerSoul Records. Produced in Franklin, Tennessee by McKendree, who is Delbert McClinton’s band leader...
 
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Valerie June - Pushin' Against A Stone

Every now and then, you hear an artist that makes the word special seem like such an understatement. West Tennessee native Valerie June is such an artist. There's really nobody to compare her to, because I have never heard an artist who can do what she does and do it so effortless. Blues? Check. R&B? Check. Country? Yes, check. June even flirts with a mountain vibe on several of the cuts here, and can at one time bring...