Music Reviews

Single / Video Review: Lewis & Leigh – Devil’s in the Detail

Last October the self labelled Celticana duo Lewis & Leigh released their debut EP, Night Drives. I never got round to reviewing it at the time, which is my bad, as it’s a fantastic collection of 4 songs, showing off their prowess as musicians, songwriters and superb vocalists. Fast forward 6 months and their 2nd EP, Missing Years, is set for release in April and can be pre-ordered on iTunes. I’ll be doing a review of the EP at a later date, but just today they released the video for the one of the songs, Devil’s in the Detail.

A bit of information about the video shoot: We filmed the video ourselves at an old mansion in Suffolk using just our iPhones and the brilliant 8mm app. We stumbled upon the location in between gigs earlier this month and felt like the ghostly, old-world vibe suited the song perfectly. It tells you something about how far technology has come when you can produce a piece of film like this, just using a phone. Granted the average new smartphone costs more than a laptop, but still – it’s very impressive.

They are absolutely right about the location, which fits the haunting vocals like a glove. I urge you to watch and listen with headphones on, as the intro starts off with a different track in each ear, and that continues throughout the song, with vocals and other instrumentation coming through both. The song is about a relationship that is not quite as all might seem from afar. The timing of this song is uncanny, given that I watched Gone Girl last night, but that’s neither here nor there!

The tone of the video is creepy and quite scary, and given the message of the song that suits it down to the ground. Especially when two thirds into the song we get Years gone missing, time is chipping away repeated to a crescendo, that will have anyone looking at their own relationship and worrying it could relate to them too. The close ups of certain parts of the decor in the mansion at parts of the song where The Devil’s in the Detail is mentioned is a great double reference of the title.

As ever, Lewis & Leigh’s vocals are outstanding, with the power and emotion of their harmonies really making their mark, and showing once again, that few can match them. The video is a great accompaniment to a superb song, but I do wonder what this would be like performed live. In a dimly lit room, and if they managed to get candlelight, it could be something very special indeed. I have a growing list of people I want to see play live in 2015, with Lewis & Leigh firmly on that list. As for Celticana, it’s certainly on the Americana spectrum, and I want to hear more.

Website: lewisandleigh.com
Facebook: /lewisandleighmusic
Twitter: @LewisandLeigh

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EP Review: Liv Austen – Workin’ Man’s Dream

EP Review: Liv Austen - Workin' Man's Dream Liv Austen is yet another example how powerful a music discovery tool Twitter is these days, as we crossed paths on there last year, and I was immediately drawn to her voice, and piano playing. This debut EP from Liv actually came out late last year, but with Christmas and man flu (what, no sympathy?) I’m only now getting round to giving it the attention it so richly deserves.

The first track, Rain On My Side, opens with some unmistakably country stings, before Liv’s voice joins them. It’s almost instantly that you hear these vocals that have such wonderfully smooth tone and clarity, and wonder why you haven’t heard them before. It’s great to hear a song that extols the virtues of rain and storms, as they are both things I love to sit inside and watch, and listen to. The metaphor of rain washing away the lonely feeling works well too, away from my literal interpretation!

Breathe Out starts a bit rockier, thank to the guitar intro. The song softens with Liv’s vocals, but then builds nicely to the chorus. It’s a song that has Liv assuring us that she’s fine on her own, but she later declares there is nobody out there for her, and the confidence turns to vulnerability. Even when taking it up a gear, Liv’s voice never falters, and retains that creamy resonance throughout.

I’m almost certain that The Guts You Always Had is the song I heard last year, as the tip toeing piano feels very familiar. That’s Liv on Piano in case you were wondering, because as well as a singer and an actress, she’s a pianist too. This is one of the song’s where I visualise (if you’ve read my reviews before you’ll know the visualisation is a big part of music for me) Liv sitting at the piano with a spotlight picking her out on an otherwise dark stage. This is the one, while not taking anything away from the other songs, that takes Liv to the next level, and is a gorgeous song, both in the sound and the lyrics. It tells the tale of her relationship with her sister and the contrasting traits they possess. There are times when the song makes me question whether both sisters are still with us, but it works just as well either way.

The EP ends finishes the title track Working Man’s Dream, which could be just as much at home in a honky tonk bar in the southern states of America as it is in Liv’s hometown of London. It’s an incredibly catchy song talking of the desire to succeed as a singer, which ends with a back to reality slowing of the tempo and stripped down vocal. It’s as if the end of the song is Liv waking up from her own dream. It’s an incredibly radio friendly and upbeat song that would give Liv the opportunity to have a lot fun performing live.

It’s an EP of such high quality that I do think Liv Austen is a name that deserves to be known by a lot more people, and coincidentally she was announced to be performing at Country To Country 2015 on one of the pop up stages just today. You can catch her in the Brooklyn Bowl on Saturday 7th April at 4pm, and based on the evidence of this EP, I urge you to do just that. In just 4 songs, Liv shows incredible versatility in her voice and style and is obviously a very talented singer / songwriter, appealing to both fans of modern and traditional country music.

Get Working Man’s Dream on iTunes and follow Liv on Twitter and Facebook.

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EP Review: The Shires – The Green Note EP

The Shires - The Green Note EP

The Shires – The Green Note EP

The world conspired against me last year, meaning that I missed out on seeing The Shires perform live in September and November. I was however lucky enough to be in attendance at the their showcase with Cassadee Pope back in May, so with the singles I had heard on the radio, I had some idea of what to expect from this EP. It had a few things in its favour already, and those being 1) it was recorded at my favourite venue, The Green Note in London, 2) it is a live recording, rather than a multi track studio recording which I love, and 3) the cover of the EP is a photograph from Flex, who is the most inspiring music photographer I’ve encountered to date.

The EP starts off with Ben on piano, and already I’m taken back to the aforementioned showcase and I can imagine him tickling the ivories as he did so masterfully back then. Crissie’s sweet vocals soon join and I’m reminded of what a beautiful sound these guys make when they perform. I know from personal experience that the acoustics are great in The Green Note and State Lines sounds magnificent. This is a song that likens the personality and traits of the protagonist to areas in America and characteristics of those areas. It’s a very clever song, that builds to some of the most brilliant harmonies in the business today, something The Shires are getting somewhat of a name for.

Nashville Grey Skies is their most famous song to date, and the more stripped down treatment it receives actually suits it really well. It’s the second song in a row that talks of America, well Nashville to be precise, and bringing the feel and scene to the UK. Hey, if anyone is going to do that it’s going to be The Shires, and along with their gigging buddies from last year Ward Thomas, we are well on the way to having that Nashville they talk of.

Black and White takes on a more delicate tempo about Love, and for the first part is almost a capella, if not for Ben’s finger picking on guitar. One of my must haves for music is believability. I’ve been to gigs where the performer is phoning in their performance and it’s not an enjoyable experience for them or for me in the audience. That’s one of Ben and Crissie’s greatest strengths, as every word seems to come directly from the deepest part of their hearts. When that’s a love song like this, it makes all the difference and turns it from a just song into a stunning piece of art that grabs you, holds you and envelops you in it’s glory. I particularly like how the song builds up as the message is emphasised and the song progresses.

Sounds Like Nashville Showcase Featuring The Shires

Sounds Like Nashville Showcase Featuring The Shires

When the next track started I had an inkling I recognised it, and then when Ben’s vocals kicked in I knew it was a song I had heard before. In fact I even found myself singing along when Crissie joined, but such was their take own take on Place Your Hands that I got completely and utterly lost in the song. It was only after it had finished that I was able to get my thoughts back and have that of course, that was by Reef originally moment. You don’t just listen to The Shires, you experience them.

With the final song I get the impression that this duo from Bedfordshire and Hertfordshire have a liking for America, as Same alludes to that big land across the Atlantic. It’s an up tempo song that talks of how things may be different depending on where you are, some things stay the same. It’s a great way to close the EP, and helps to reinforce the impression one gets from just 5 songs, that The Shires are a versatile act with lots to offer and much more to come.

The Green Note EP may only be 5 songs long, but has such depth that it feels like more, and on loop it feels fresh every time. It’s an old cliche, but it really does get better with every listen, and I talk from experience because as I type this I’ve probably listened to it approximately 10 times today. Brave is The Shires’ debut album and it comes out next month. Based on The Green Note EP it’s going to well and truly put them on the map and will be an early contender for album of the year. Today is Thursday, and tomorrow morning tickets go on sale for their first solo headline tour, so be sure to check out their website from 9am tomorrow.

You can order The Green Note EP and pre-order Brave on theshiresmusic.com

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EP Review: Luke & Mel

Luke & Mel EP Luke Thomas I knew from his gig playing guitar with Gary Quinn at Country To Country last year, but Melanie Greggain is someone I didn’t know until her gorgeous voice heralded the start of Don’t Cry (Because It’s Over), the first track from Luke & Mel’s self titled debut EP. This opening track combines the country staple of a past relationship, but with a positive spin of good memories rather than sadness. Mel’s vocals are smooth and delicate, with just the right amount of emotion to keep it upbeat. Luke’s harmonies add a great depth to the chorus, and his guitar playing compliments the vocals perfectly. Written by themselves, this kind of acoustic track will always appeal to me, and is a fitting way to start.

The next three songs are co-written with Matt Greaves and Ann Bailey, who you may recognise from their writing credits on last year’s exceptional From Where We Stand by Ward Thomas. Somethin’ about a Woman has a definite air of Lady Antebellum, back when they were good, and manages to keep the soulful sound of Luke & Mel, but with a contemporary feel. This really is country music 101 about a man cheating on a woman, and is very catchy. While Don’t Cry I imagine being played in a small dimly let room, I see Somethin’ about a Woman being played on a big open air stage.

It’s back to the more ballad driven and acoustic, and for me better, sound for Never Greener. This is a song about reaching a point in a relationship where, in this case, the guy wants something different. It’s always the guy that gets the bad rap in songs, but maybe that’s just reflective of how it actually is in real life – stats anyone? Much like Don’t Cry, this has Mel driven vocals, which I’m beginning to think every song from here on out, by anyone, should have. With Luke’s harmonies and guitars, there are some piano parts which add an extra layer to a contemplative song that will surely resonate with a lot of people.

We finish off with Enjoy the ride which features Luke taking the lead vocal – it’s as if they haven’t just read my request about Mel 😉 If I’m being honest, which I always am, then I do prefer Mel having the lion’s share of the vocals, and I think for my preferences, I’d like to see Luke take some of the twang out of his voice. I still like the song, which with Don’t Cry, bookends this EP with positivity and a reminder to cherish and enjoy every moment.

On its launch Luke & Mel’s debut EP was only pipped to the number 1 spot on the iTunes Country Music chart by Dolly Parton and I can see why it charted so highly. I’ve listened to it 6 times today and am left wanting two things: to see Luke & Mel perform live, and to hear more of their songs. Luke and Mel are a winning combination musically and creatively, and I’m sure this is just the start on the road to success. You can get a physical copy of their EP from their website or you can download it on iTunes.

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Album Review: Ben Glover – Atlantic

Ben Glover – Atlantic

Ben Glover – Atlantic

I first became aware of Ben Glover last July, when I saw him support Gretchen Peters at a gig in The High Barn, in Essex. I was a fan from the first song of his set and after chatting to him later in the evening, I had a feeling his 4th album was going to be something very special. Well that was an understatement, to say the least.

When Atlantic popped through my letterbox I was excited, and proceeded to tell my wife that this the one I had been talking about. She gave me that look that quite often follows me saying something, but undeterred I scuttled off to listen. The World Is A Dangerous Place sets the mood for album with delicate and beautifully atmospheric guitar picking. Ben’s soft vocals join a few seconds later, and immediately it’s that voice that oozes passion. That’s the beauty of Ben’s signing, whether it be a song like this, or a more gravelly track like Oh Soul that follows it, you feel every single word, every bit of pain, joy or whatever mood Ben is putting across.

Mary Gauthier said at this year’s Maverick Festival that it’s hard to define Americana, but you know it when you hear it, and I’m pretty sure I hear it in this album. It’s song-writing of the absolute highest standard, and when you consider as well as Ben’s own hugely skilled writing ability, he drafted in the likes of the aforementioned Mary Gauthier, it really should come as no surprise to anyone just how good it is.

The songs on Atlantic have so much depth and substance that I almost feel like I can reach out and touch them, and none more so than Blackbirds. Gretchen Peters is another of Ben’s friends and writing partners, and on this song, singing partner too. This is a song that I don’t want to say to much about, as like a good film or book, I don’t want to spoil the story for you. Let me just say that this one of those rare songs that can have a very profound effect on you, and I was moved on the first listen and every time since. It’s a pretty dark song, but there is such beauty in the vocals and the lyrics, with Ben and Gretchen pulling off one of the most intense and magnificent duets I have ever heard. If I drunk whiskey I think I’d want too drink it listening to this song, but gin and tonic will have to do.

While there is incredible weight to a lot of the songs, Atlantic does offer some great upbeat tunes too, Sing A Song Boys is a great example of this, which in both words and sound harks back to Ben’s Irish roots. I can imagine this being sung with Ben sitting on a stool in a pub just as much as on a bigger stage. True Love’s Breaking My Heart brings in more of a country sound and could quite happily have been written and performed 50 years ago in Nashville – both the vocals and sound have a sumptuously classic old Nashville feel.

Ben has a such a great way with words, personified by How Much Longer Can We Bend, a song about a strained relationship, and questioning it’s future. I really can’t say enough good things about Atlantic, an album that has come along at the same time as some pretty huge releases from mainstream American Nashville, and blows them all away, with ease. Lyrics, vocals, instrumentation, moods, atmosphere, emotion – there really is nothing missing from Atlantic, an album that is pretty much perfect. In an ideal world Atlantic would be played on every radio station the world over, and become a classic album for years to come. For me it will do just that, and if you have as much love for music as you think you do, you’ll grab a copy and join me in waxing lyrical.

Atlantic is out on September 1st and available on CD and download on Amazon

Find out more about Ben Glover:
Website: benglover.co.uk
Facebook: /benglovertunes
Twitter: @benglovermusic

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Single Review: Dexeter – Slow It Down

There’s always a risk associated with getting to know a band – what if they create some new music and I don’t like it? Well if I can’t be honest then there would be no reason to keep this blog going. If when I’d heard Slow It Down and not liked it, I’d have had to tell them it’s not for me and then not write about it. I decided some time ago to only write about music I like – that makes it more enjoyable for me to write, and you to read!

So back to Dexeter, and their new single Slow It Down, which starts out with Dee’s ever improving vocals and infectious guitar and drums – the latter of which I know is Jim hitting the drum rims, after seeing them shoot the video this past Sunday. When I say Dee’s vocals are improving, they were of a pretty damn high standard before, but with each new song and more confidence they are reaching new heights, both in tone and strength.

Penned by guitarist Gareth, Slow It Down is a song about the protagonist’s desires for a mystery man who seems to already be in a relationship, and that being the main complication. A subject that many can probably identify with, but few would admit to. It’s a very catchy song, with a very bouncy and soulful melody that is certain to get stuck in your head and you’re going to be singing that chorus at every opportunity. Don’t worry though, that’s a good thing, I can assure you of that.

Slow It Down - Dexeter

Slow It Down – Dexeter

Dexeter are a band of 6, sometimes 7 at live shows, but you never feel like that’s too much. The accordion, bass, drums, guitars and vocals all blend so smoothly and add depth and character to their sound. The backing vocals are very much that with Slow It Down, and there are far fewer harmonies than previous songs. It feels like Slow It Down is not only the break out song for the band, but it’s also the definitive positioning of Dee into the spotlight as the front woman of Dexeter.

Slow It Down is a country song with mainstream country pop appeal, but it also oozes class, and the setting of the video is everything I had imagined when hearing the song before seeing the venue. When it comes out in August it’s going to put Dexeter on the map as one of UK country’s finest, and rightfully so. Do check out where they are playing because Dexeter live are an experience that very few can match.

Website: dexeterband.co.uk
Facebook: /DexeterBand
Twitter: @dexeterband
YouTube: Dexeter Channel
Bandcamp: dexeter.bandcamp.com

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Album Review: Ward Thomas – From Where We Stand

Ward Thomas - From Where We Stand

Ward Thomas – From Where We Stand

I became aware of Ward Thomas shortly after Country 2 Country earlier this year, but unfortunately missed seeing them play at The O2 on the pop up stages. Soon after they started making waves at the BBC and were featured on Radio 2 with the one and only Terry Wogan. They released their Footnotes EP which I bought and loved, and then off to Nashville they went to record their album. On their return they released Push For The Stride and announced said album, which was to come out on July 21st – sooner than I was expecting.

I had plans to buy the album when I go to see Ward Thomas play live at the Green Note in London, so when I was asked to review it I jumped at the chance, but with a slight feeling of trepidation. Why is that you may ask? Well the songs on Footnotes are brilliant, all 4 of them – as is Push For The Stride, which also comes with an accompanying music video. So why is that a problem? Based on those 5 songs I had very high hopes for this album, and there’s a possibility I had set my expectations unfairly high. What if it turned out From Where We Stand was not as good as I’d hoped?

So that sets the stage for my first listen of the album, which happened on the way to work this morning – 2-3 hours of commuting every day gives me lots of time to listen to new music. The album starts with Push For The Stride, which I already knew to be the triumphant showcase of their writing, signing and harmonies that can only be achieved by people who share the connection possessed by twins. Way Back When is the second track on the album, and the first that was new to me. Funky guitar intro – okay, so far so good. Vocals kick in and we have a song about comparing the present to the past, of what I’m thinking is their Mum, or another figure from the previous generation. Anyway, the quality is there – the song is, as always with Catherine and Lizzie, superbly written. Credit must also go their co-writers on the album, Ann Bailey and Matt Greaves – great job guys. These girls are poets, and fine ones at that. They also have tremendous voices, which they blend well either together, or with contrasting tones.

Tracks 3 and 4 are on the EP, so I know the quality is continuing with Footnotes (Happy Ending) and The Good and The Right. From Where I Stand is where things change, as this a lot slower than the previous tracks, and we have a piano to start with instead of the usual guitars, much like Caledonia on the EP. When I say things change, this is a song that made the hairs on the back of my neck stand up – beautiful vocals, and a heartbreaking story of their parents’ divorce. The guitar break towards the end is perfectly positioned, before those sensational vocals take us to the end. 20 years old, that’s how old the Ward Thomas twins are, which when you hear this sung, written by them, you’ll find hard to believe. Every time I’ve heard From Where I Stand today it’s hit me emotionally, like a freight train of memories as I recall my own parents divorce, and my ignorance at the time.

Later on Try is a similar ballad style, and every bit as stunning. The one thing this album showed me was just how versatile Ward Thomas are, both as songwriters and singers. As I listened to the whole of From Where We Stand I was relieved, surprised and delighted. My lofty expectations had been met head on, shrugged off and exceeded. I will admit, that at first I was a bit disappointed that the EP tracks I already had were included, but when you listen to the whole album you realise that Take That Train has to come after From Where I Stand, and that Caledonia has to sit before the album ending Town Called Ugley. There is also the fact that not everyone buying the album will have the EP, so it makes perfect sense to include them – that and the songs are far too good to leave off.

Ward Thomas Singing A Town Called Ugley at Maverick Festival

Ward Thomas Singing A Town Called Ugley at Maverick Festival

I’m was born in Essex, and you might ask why I’m telling you this, and I’ll tell you why. Ugley is an actual place in Essex – more of a village than a town, but I’ll allow them poetic license. This song showcases their ability to have fun, and is a superb contrast to the more serious songs on the album. I like that they actually refer to each other by name, and talk of throwing the TomTom out the window – something I almost did last Saturday en route to the Maverick Festival, where Ward Thomas were playing. Small world isn’t it?

Caledonia is the only song not written at all by the Ward Thomas twins, and is a 1977 ballad from by Dougie McLean. But you know what – it could have been written for them, it’s such a Ward Thomas song, as you can hear when they sing it. The whole album is brought together with a bunch of very talented musicians, both modern and traditional, who do the girls proud, and the whole package comes together superbly. It’s brilliantly created modern country, country pop in some cases like the almost Taylor Swift-esque Guest List, but with a very distinctive Ward Thomas country style. Right now Try is playing, and I’m reminded of how it builds and Catherine and Lizzie are joined on vocals by a choir, and just as I really want to hear just them again, I do. The arrangement of the songs is just absolutely perfect.

Without a single word of disingenuous sycophantic hyperbole, From Where We Stand is one of the finest albums I have heard in a very long time. Every now and then an album comes along that is so special that you just want to listen to it over and over – this is one of those. To and from work, whilst at work, and as I write this review, From Where We Stand has been on almost all day and I still get pangs of excitement every time I listen. If I rated albums I’d give this the highest rating, be it stars or marks out of 5 or 10 – it gets the lot. It’s the 11th July as I write this – you have 10 days to pre-order From Where We Stand, and I can’t emphasis enough how much you need to do this. It’s available on iTunes here or you can get it directly from their website and get a signed CD here.

After I has listened to the album I thanked my lucky stars that I’d bought tickets to see them play in London. After pre-ordering the album go check out where they are playing and see them live – from the one song I saw them preform at Maverick Festival, you won’t be disappointed. From Where We Stand is truly incredible debut album and Ward Thomas are without a doubt a very big part of the future of both country music, in the UK and beyond, with huge mainstream crossover appeal.

Website: wardthomasmusic.com
Facebook: Ward.Thomas4
Twitter: wardthomasmusic
YouTube: CatherineLizzy
Instagram: wardthomasmusic

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Single Review: The Rising – Still Coming Home To You

The Rising - Still Coming Home To You

The Rising – Still Coming Home To You

For a debut single, Still Coming Home To You has an air of familiarity, like a song from band that I have followed and loved for years. It’s not one of those songs that takes time to grow, I got it right from the very first listen.

Still Coming Home To You starts with a banjo riff that continues throughout the song, and is joined with some soft, almost husky vocals, which like the song build towards the very anthemic chorus. It doesn’t have the most original lyrics, but then it would feel wrong to try to make this song any more than it is, because it works so well. It’s a summer evening, windows down in the car blasting out loud kind of song, with feel good factor turned up to 11.

You know what else works? That guitar solo just where I’d want one, about two thirds into the song. It takes it to the next level and bridges the song nicely into the going home (no pun intended) return to the chorus. No drinking beer, no scoring with the ladies, just a good old fashioned story of love and told from via a great voice and accompanying instrumentation. For someone like me who whose love of music started with 80s rock bands, and only recently came over to country, Still Coming Home To You is kind of perfect.

The Rising are a modern country rock band from Belfast who have come out with a debut single that is full of confidence and worthy of of a band more than their fledgling status. Still Coming Home To You comes out on July 20th on iTunes and comes fully recommended as a song you’ll be playing all summer and beyond. There’s more good news in the form of their album, Coming Home, which comes out in August. I have waited until talking about the single before listening to the album, but that is something I can now do and am very much looking forward to doing so. A review will of course be forthcoming.

Website: therisingmusic.com
Facebook: therisingofficial
Twitter: @TheRisingMusic
YouTube: therisingonline

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Album Review: Dennis Ellsworth – Hazy Sunshine

Dennis Ellsworth - Hazy Sunshine

Dennis Ellsworth – Hazy Sunshine

I’ve had this album for a couple of weeks now, and while I like it, in fact more with each listen, I still couldn’t quite put a finger on what genre of music I’d call it. There are definite Elvis Costello similarities, but I also feel Bruce Springsteen and Johnny Cash in certain songs. I decided to read the PR notes, and they say a seamless blend of modern East Coast folk, rock and roll with shades of classic Americana, roots and country haunting the edges – well no wonder I had problems narrowing it down.

The opening track, Things I Want, is the one that most sounds like Elvis Costello, and with it’s strings intro is a song that whenever I play the CD, feels like welcoming an old friend back. It’s a love song, but penned and sung in such a chilled way that you just want too sit in a field in summer and have this playing next to you. That’s actually a common theme of this album, as it gives me the impression that Dennis is a pretty cool and unflappable guy. His music has the ability to make you forget about the mundane and enter his world of, well you read the description above, so let’s call it Ellsworth to make it easier.

I’m not going to analyse each song, so it’s just a coincidence that I’m talking about Coke Machine Glow next and it’s also the second track on the album. I Googled Coke Machine Glow as I couldn’t work out one word, which I found to be pink, as in pink coke machine glow. Google didn’t help but I did remember the lyrics were on the inside of the foldout CD case – though is case the right word? What do we call these cardboard presentation packs that are very common these days? Just to carry on his ridiculous tangent, but I used to hate cardboard cases and much prefer the plastic ones – today it’s the complete opposite. Anyway, whatever the name of the packaging, the photo on the front of the album captures the mood of the music to perfection. Google did tell me however that Coke Machine Glow actually started off life as a poem by Gordon Downie

It’s not just Dennis singing though, as songs like If I Find The Truth sees harmony vocals from, I think, Kinley Dowling. With the gentle vocals and viola, this is quite the haunting number that can be quite chilling and almost dark at times. It’s an album that seems to cover all emotions but with a laid back optimism that can’t keep a smile from your face and reflection on where you are and what you’re doing.

Happiness feels the most country is a charming little song that almost feels like it stops to soon at just under 2 minutes, until you realise that’s it just perfect as it is, and any longer would spoil it. Though not so much in sound, the last song, Can’t Turn To You covers the classic subject of unrequited love and is the perfect optimistically melancholy way to end the album, if you’ll excuse the juxtaposition.

Hazy Sunshine is a showcase of Denise as a singer, songwriter and musician and is so far in 2014 the best album I have found that I’d want to listen to on a Friday or Saturday evening, maybe with a glass of wine or a bottle of beer. It’s good on first listen, but it’s a grower too – so the more you listen the more you are going to get out of Hazy Sunshine and the more you’ll appreciate it. The only negative is that he’s just been over here in the UK on tour, and I missed him. Here’s hoping he comes back again soon.

Website: dennisellsworth.com
Hazy Sunshine: iTunes | Amazon

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Single Review: Claydon Connor – The Kind Of Man I Am

When the first few bars of The Kind Of Man I Am started playing, and the classic country instrumentation kicked in, I wasn’t expecting the vocals that followed. You could easily be forgiven for thinking this was a song from 20-30 years ago, but once Claydon’s voice joins the fray, it brings a quirky contemporary feel to the song. The Kind Of Man I Am is a love song, but the bouncy style of the track means it’s not sickeningly schmaltzy, but at the same time being the antithesis of the tawdry bro-country that is being peddled on US country radio.

The Kind Of Man I Am is also not over produced like a lot of music these days, so we can actually hear the instruments and Claydon’s voice as they naturally are. The classic musicianship works, as this is a tale of a man who going against the grain of modern hedonism, and plans to devote himself to the woman in question. No getting drunk, no one night stands, just a guy in love who wants to treat the object of his affection with respect. Sorry if it sounds like I’m on a soapbox, well actually I’m not sorry at all. It’s just refreshing to see a young guy bring out music in the country genre that doesn’t feel the need to pander to the frat demographic. There are others too, I’m not discounting every young male singer, but kudos to Claydon for writing from the heart.

The Kind Of Man I Am is a really catchy song, that blends classic and modern with a Claydon’s almost pop country voice. This is the first single to come from an upcoming album, which I for one am looking forward to hearing. Claydon comes from the Isle of Wight, and I’m struggling to think of another country artist from the small island off the south coast of England – could he be the first?

Have a listen for yourself – your foot is tapping now isn’t it? The Kind Of Man I Am – another song to add my ever growing list of summer songs for 2014.

Categories: Single Reviews | Tags: | Leave a comment

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