Totally Biased Fan Review: In the Moment – Brendan McMahon

Brendan McMahon In the Moment

I didn’t know much about Brendan until a little while ago. I am actually stunned that he has released 5 albums. There are some standouts on this album, but it is kick started with vocal alarm clock in the first song, which nearly knocked me off the couch.

I am, On this fine occasion and Only Highs and Scars of the Past are probably my favourites.  This album grows on you. Every track is so different that you have to listen to it a few times to get the idea of the whole package. It is good to mix things up but if you are not used to an artist, it can take a few times to let it all flow over you and sink in.

The problem, sometimes, with artists that I have known and loved for a long time, is that you become too comfortable. You get the occasional twist and surprise from them but you buy their albums and love their music know matter what they produce and you also know ahead of time that you are going to love it and why.

With someone that you don’t know, the whole album is full of surprises, you don’t know what is coming because you haven’t heard them before. In the case with this album, I had no idea what to expect. I think that I had heard one song on community radio, and maybe caught a video clip in part, on Facebook, but I really did not know a lot of information and could not find much information.

I guess this album could fit into a few genres, outside and inside country music. Of the 79 types of country music, I think Brendan covers about 15 on here. It is a very polished album, well produced and open to ears who may not usually listen to country….though that is becoming a very popular statement these days, as people are changing their views towards country music.

Brendan’s vocals are strong and variable, fitting the mood of the songs and feel of the album in general. There is nothing left to say but Rittdiddeedooooh or something like that. You will get that when you hear the opening of the first song.

 

 

 

Tracks:

Lost My Way

Limitless Fluidity

I Am

Relate

No Rush Today

Only Highs

On This Fine Occasion

Tethered

Rescue Me

Scars of The Past

Hold On

 

Totally Biased Fan Review: Threads – Sheryl Crow

SherylCrowThreads

There is a rumour going around that this is quite possibly Sheryl Crow’s last album. After a life that could easily be portrayed on a soap opera – not her fault, just the way that it has been – and a career that has had more highs than lows, this eleventh album would be a great way to go out.

Sheryl is well known for gigs and performances with her friends. Friends that would fill a hall of fame and in this case, an album. I think the count is 23 on this album, with some unnamed artists on here too.

The first song features Maren Morris and Stevie Nicks….not a bad start. To be honest, Sheryl could sing Mary Had A Little Lamb and make it sound like a classic. However, with her friends, things not only are enhanced but it is a curiosity to see how it all goes. One critic said that some of the performances on here are lost, that they are not as prominent as they could be.

I don’t think that need to be. I think that they are cherries on Sheryl’s already fabulous cake. It is just lovely to have them as part of the ingredients.

Live Wire features Bonnie Raitt and Mavis Staples, who are probably more obvious in the song than Maren and Stevie were in theirs. It is fair to say that legendary Mavis has been extremely prominent in country music circles the last few years.

Chris Stapleton sings with Sheryl in the next one. The voices have mostly been carefully chosen on this album. They are voices that blend with Sheryl’s perfectly and the songs are very much suited to Sheryl’s bluesy style.

Story of Everything sees two co-artists who you wouldn’t expect to sing a song with Sheryl. Good on her for giving it a go but I am not totally into this one.

Beware of darkness features Sting, Brandi Carlile and Eric Clapton in more what you would expect.

Redemption Day is one of the best songs on the album. I am not sure how it came about, considering that she sings it with Johnny Cash, but it is bloody awesome.

Cross Creek Road features Lukas Nelson (son of Willie) and Neil Young, which is also one of my favourite songs on the album. It is classic Crow.

Everything is Broken is sung with latter day idol of many, Jason Isbell.  The Worst is sung with Keith Richards, a very listenable duet.

Lonely Alone is sung with Willie Nelson and Border Lord with Kris Kristofferson. Sheryl has collaborated with both of these guys before, and they seem comfortable with each other.

Eagle great Joe Walsh and a couple of out of sync guys feature on the next two songs.

Ironically, a song called Nobody’s Perfect is probably the most perfect pairing on the album. Sheryl and Emmylou Harris. Hard to beat that combo. Simply beautiful.

They maybe Sheryl’s friends, but there are a lot of my heroes on this album, particularly, Kris and the next two, James Taylor on Flying Blind which is an awesome song and Vince Gill on the final track, For The Sake of Love.

Yes, it is choc-a-bloc full of superstars, with some reviewers saying that she has over done it. If this is her last album, I can understand that she wanted to finish with a huge complement of people who have supported her and who have collaborated with her over the years. Sheryl doesn’t really need to prove anything to anybody. She has fought more battles than Churchill, Robert E Lee and Grant have altogether. She has proved herself as a dynamic performer, singer and songwriter. If she wants to go out on what seems like a party album, then she has earned it. The songs are a mixture of ballads, blues, country and gentle rock songs.

As a fan, I think that she has still got a couple of albums left in her, it would be nice to hear her go around again. Still, either way, this is an amazing effort and it has something for everyone.

 

 

 

 

 

 

SherylCrowThreadstracks

Totally Biased Fan Review: We’re Still Here – Tom Curtain

Tom Curtain We're Still Here

Tom Curtain’s world has changed a lot in the last few years, personally and professionally, but there has been one constant – his love of the outback and the songs that reflect it.

His style has changed a bit musically, but the content is still reflective of the life that he leads. The opening song is a catchy, up tempo track which is still about the great big country that we live in.

The title track is next and a more thoughtful and slower song that is pretty much how it is on the land at the moment. Kimberley Girl is just a lovely love song that has the Australianisms marked carefully in it.

She gave us the song features Lee and Sara and tackles the same subject as his mate Luke O’Shea has in the past, Joy McKean.  Joy turns 90 in January and she will be honoured by many at a special gig in Tamworth. My Dad turns 90 exactly a month later. It is a beautiful tribute.

Get Around It is a thigh slappin’, foot tappin’, finger pickin’ fun song.

Raised Up Right is a song that most outback or farm grown young Aussie lads can relate to, and even some of us Tamworth cowgirls too!

Rock the Rock is one of my favourite songs on the album. It has a country backbeat but it is essentially the soundtrack of many folks’ lives. You can get up and dance to it.

Hitchhiker is semi or maybe totally autobiographical. I have heard Tom tell a story about this before, so I figure that it is. The chorus is definitely sing-along material.

Speak Up is a song that has been out for a while with Sara Storer, as part of the anti-bullying campaign.

Mannuem Falls is probably my favourite song on the album. It is just beautiful.

The last song is a nice gentle way to finish the album. Something going on out here.

Tom is staying true to the lyrics and the subjects that his music is about, and at the same time he is evolving, not afraid to tackle a different style – even if it is only a slight change.

His music truly embraces Australian culture and our way of life. Tom is here to stay.

 

Tracks:

1. In The West
2. We’re Still Here
3. Kimberley Girl
4. She Gave Us The Song – with Lee Kernaghan and Sara Storer
5. Get Around It
6. Raised Up Right
7. Rock The Rock
8. Hitchhiker
9. Speak Up – with Sara Storer
10. Mannuem Falls
11. Something Going On Out Here

Totally Biased Fan Review: Walk Away – Karin Page

Karin Page Walk Away.png

This is Karin Page’s official debut album. The Western Australian who seemed to come out of nowhere to win the 2016 Toyota Starmaker award, has finally released an album which begins with a duet “Box” which is somewhat out of the box….not quite what most of us expected. It is good to start an album off with a surprise and indeed it is a surprise. The rest of the album is what you might expect from Karin, not to say that it is tedious or predictable or that the first track is any less significant. It is just the type of music that we would have hoped for.

This album has been a long time coming. While Karin hasn’t exactly been hiding under a bush, recording wise, we haven’t experienced as much as we probably expected. She has been busily writing a fine collection of songs, with my favourite being Time Travelling Gypsy. Anybody who knows my obsession with 50’s, 60’s and early 70’s music will understand why.

Loving Man, which features Hussy Hicks and Ash Grunwald (who also features on Box) is a soulful, catchy song.

Most of the songs are at a nice easy tempo similar to that of Carole King  in a folky way or some hints of Motown. and some gentle ballads. It is a fast paced album with sweet slow songs bookended by two punchy tracks.

Shame has a nice sway to its rhythm, and reminds me of that 60’s female singer stuff (often featured in nostalgic shows and movies like China Beach and The Sapphires. Kings and Queens is a gentle love song that I imagine will be a wedding song favourite soon.

Under My Skin is a bit of a change of pace and not the positive song that the previous one….maybe this one can be for the divorce party.

Lonely Night is the kind of song that would go to number one. It will appeal to many radio stations and it will be a favourite amongst the women who listen to this album.

The title track is very timely, with the current climate focussed on women speaking out and standing up. In many ways, probably the most country sounding song on the album.

Having said that, Jessie would be very close to that as well. By country, I mean what is perceived to be “country”.

I think that this album is very carefully put together. It will appeal to a broad audience, those who don’t particularly listen to country music may be converted or at least realise that there is more to country music than torch and twang…..not that there is anything wrong with that.

A stellar performance by a lady who can sing.

 

Tracks

Tracklist:
1. Box (2:57) (with Ash Grunwald)
2. Shame (3:05)
3. Kings And Queens (2:56)
4. Under My Skin (3:06)
5. Lonely Night (3:14)
6. Walk Away (2:51)
7. Take Me Down (3:52)
8. Jessie (3:33)
9. Time Travelling Gypsy (3:39)
10. Loving Man (2:50) (with Hussy Hicks and Ash Grunwald)