Single 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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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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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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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.

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New Music Video: SaraBeth – That’s The Sound

New Music Video: SaraBeth - That’s The Sound

New Music Video: SaraBeth – That’s The Sound

Back in January 2013 I wrote an article titled Twitter Has Become My #1 Resource For Discovering Country Music. Why am I telling you this? For two reasons; 1) I’m thinking of posting a weekly article where I discuss what country music I have found via Twitter, and 2) that article from 14 months ago featured SaraBeth and her then new single Kicikn’ and Screamin’. So here we are over a year on and I’m talking about SaraBeth again, and this time about her brand new song and video That’s The Sound, which you can now watch here.

The video is hosted on ZUUS which is a music video streaming site (think Songza or Pandora for music videos) that launched mid last year. Being the brain child of former Sony, Viacom and MTV execs, ZUUS has the most extensive music video catalogue available anywhere. Its unrivalled collection dates as far back as the 70’s (no one else’s catalogue comes even close!)

Before we get to the song, did you see the cool decoration on the guitar in the background of the intro clip? It’s the same style as I used on a graphic I made to show what live acts I saw last year, as you can see below.

Acts I Saw Live in 2013

Acts I Saw Live in 2013

I praised SaraBeth’s voice previously and will again, as we see another song that I can easily see becoming a summer anthem. While there’s always a place for fun and frivolous songs, I’m a huge fan of songs that tell a story, and That’s The Sound does that. Not only that, but the video is a mini film of said story, and not just 4 minutes of SaraBeth singing into the camera. We get to see SaraBeth singing, but the emphasis is on the story of the song.

As for the story told in the song, well it’s about an unappreciated young lady who decides to leave her boyfriend/husband and the sense of freedom that gives her. There is some great humour thrown into the video and I especially like the part where he’s on the phone, no doubt giving his ex a hard time, and his pans catch on fire. Karma’s a bitch! It’s also great to see the video come full circle, and have our heroin end up on a beach, the same environment SaraBeth is shown singing. Dog isn’t always Man’s best friend, as we see this particular canine choose the same getaway path as our lady, and who can blame him! I did fear for a second when she looked at her phone whilst driving that she may end up like the female protagonist from Highway Don’t Care, but thankfully she just ignored the call.

That’s The Sound is incredibly catchy and it’s the kind of song I want to listen to a lot, hence the 3 times I’ve played it just while I write this. I’m surprised SaraBeth isn’t more well known than she is, with a very marketable voice and image, combined with great songs, it surely is only a matter of time. I’d love to see her come over to the UK, especially with the amount of acts Country 2 Country now accommodate.

See more of SaraBeth here: That’s The Sound music video ¦ Website ¦ Facebook ¦ Twitter

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Review: The Band Perry – Better Dig Two

I thought it only right that I start this blog by writing about my favourite country song at the moment, that being Better Dig Two by The Band Perry, which you may have guessed from the title of this entry! The Band Perry were one of the first bands I heard when I got into country music in February of last year, by virtue of them being the second band featured on the Now That’s What I Call Country 4 CD, the first country album I listened to back in 2012. I wrongly passed it off as too morbid because of the If I Die Young track title, but it’s actually a beautifully written song with moving lyrics such as these: Lord make me a rainbow, I’ll shine down on my mother, She’ll know I’m safe with you when she stands under my colors. Dismissing it so freely also meant I missed out on the gorgeous vocals from singer Kimberly Perry.

Anyway, fast forward to last week and I find myself watching The Band Perry’s latest single, Better Dig Two, on YouTube. I’m not one for watching music videos a great deal, but that’s changed somewhat since my journey into country music began, primarily because they do such a good job with them. Better Dig Two is a fantastically shot video, which along with the song, the me of 12 months ago may have labelled morbid. Au contraire, Better Dig Two is a deceleration of everlasting love, which sees Kimberly bringing more rock than usual, without us losing out on those grand banjo melodies we love. Speaking of that banjo, I love the intro, which I find quite haunting and almost menacing, especially with visuals of the video to compliment it. I can’t get enough of this song – both visually and audibly it’s absolutely brilliant. A fantastic mix of country and rock that can only endear The Band Perry more to their legion of hardcore fans and bring them more cross over appeal from the mainstream music audiences.

My one big complaint is that Better Dig Two is not actually available here in the UK; not on iTunes, Amazon or anywhere I’ve searched. I have sent a tweet to the official Twitter account of The Band Perry requesting it become available to buy in the UK – I’ll just have to wait and see. There is some solace in that it’ll be on their forthcoming second album, Are You With Us, due out April 2nd – in the US at least!

Their first self-titled album seems to have held its price remarkably well and is still selling for £10.06 on Amazon. You can imagine my surprise and delight when I found it in HMV for just £3 yesterday, on sale from the £12 it had been just one day earlier.

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