Totally Biased Fan Review: Three Crows – Phil Doublet

three crows phil doublet

One of the Kazzie awards given each year by yours truly, goes to the album review most liked/shared by readers. Phil Doublet has won this award 3 times. Is he going for a fourth? Benny Allen won it last year, and Cleila Adams has shared it, but Phil is the King. Apart from being loved by many of his peers and appreciated for his crossings of the ditch from NZ to Oz on many occasions to perform with Luke O’Shea and The Medicine Wheel, by the fans, Phil is one of the most talented guitarists and one of the most versatile in the Southern Hemisphere.

Since he started releasing his solo efforts (though he still appears with good buddy, Luke), and having collaborated with his lovely and talented wife, Lana, he has gained a new audience and he has been doing the songwriters circuit in NZ and when he and Lana come over to Australia.

Each of his albums has been categorized differently. Rock, Country, Blues. He is all of that. Even though this album is categorized as Blues, it has a bit of everything, including instrumentals and a song which is a mixture of 50’s Rock and Roll and Cajun. Phil is quite capable of covering most of the 79 types of country music, but not the new 80th, which Allan Caswell has dubbed Temporary Country. He will never be that.

This album is quite different to Phil’s other albums, with a mixture of songs that have you getting ready for a tumbleweed rolling down a Western town street (The Outlaw), the abovementioned fusion with Rattlin’ Bones (not the Shane/Kasey song), the subtle plucking of the strings and then the sound of crows and fast paced flying fingers on the strings in The Trickster, the haunting opening instrumental, The Great Depression,  some in your face songs and some more bluesy ballads, Phil doesn’t disappoint.

Although he is a proud Kiwi, Aussie fans have embraced him and treat him like one of us. We have adopted him not just because of his wonderful music but also because of his personality.

This album is a classy collection of songs, a mixture of styles and a polished production of original and soulful material.

The last track is powerfully good and it does not feel like 5 minutes and 10 seconds long.

You don’t have to love a particular type of music to enjoy this album. There is something for everybody and the perfect album for a lazy Sunday afternoon.

 

Tracks:
1. The Great Depression

3:04
album only
2. Dustbowl Circus

4:19
album only
3. Come Hell or High Water

4:13
album only
4. The Runaround

3:33
album only
5. Where’s the Love?

3:37
album only
6. The Hunter & the Scarecrow

2:14
album only
7. Rattlin’ Bones

3:01
album only
8. The Outlaw

3:25
album only
9. The Trickster

2:55
album only
10. Blood in the Water

5:11
album only

 

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)

Totally Biased Fan Review: Blood – Allison Moorer

Allison Moorer Blood Cover.jpg

 

I loved this Alabama girl from the moment that I heard her voice in The Horse Whisperer, singing one of my favourite songs, A Soft Place to Fall. It even distracted me from staring at Robert Redford, and that ain’t easy.  Her album, Alabama Song (which contained that song) is still one of my favourites….and that was 1998.

To say that Allison has had a colourful life is probably a massive understatement. At 14, Allison and her older sister, Shelby Lynne, a wonderful country singer in her own right, were left alone, after her father killed her mother then killed himself. That is only one chapter in a full life. With a voice as pure as driven snow, Allison has covered a lot of ground musically as well as personally in her life.

This album is a companion piece to her autobiography of the same name. This album was released today, the book in a few days time.

I guess the best country songs come from the songwriter’s own experiences. This album is a book in song form. Sure, given the subject matter, it has its share of sad songs. Sad songs are always great, but they are made even more poignant by the fact that they are taken from the pages of her life.

Allison does something very interesting in a few of her songs here….she includes parts of well known songs in them. It would not surprise me if these were songs that her mother sang to her as a child or songs that helped her and her sister through it all.

The title track and the last song, Heal are my favourites. I think that the album and the book have probably helped Allison heal a bit. Together with life’s other ups and downs that she has experienced, the telling of these stories must be cathartic for her.

The songs are made even more powerful because of her incredible voice, which has always moved me, but even more so with these songs. I will be interested to read the book as well, but by listening to these songs, I think that I already know the story.

Another incredible effort by one of Country Music’s very best.

Track Listing

Sample

Title/Composer
Performer
Time
Stream

1
Weather
Allison Moorer
Allison Moorer
04:26
Amazon

2
Cold Cold Earth
Allison Moorer
Allison Moorer
03:20
Amazon

3
Nightlight
Allison Moorer
Allison Moorer
04:18
Amazon

4
The Rock and the Hill
Allison Moorer
Allison Moorer
03:39
Amazon

5
I’m the One to Blame
Shelby Lynne / Vernon Franklin Moorer
Allison Moorer
02:28
Amazon

6
Set My Soul Free
Allison Moorer
Allison Moorer
03:08
Amazon

7
The Ties That Bind
Allison Moorer
Allison Moorer
03:54
Amazon

8
All I Wanted (Thanks Anyway)
Allison Moorer
Allison Moorer
03:33
Amazon

9
Blood
Allison Moorer
Allison Moorer
04:08
Amazon

10
Heal
Mary Gauthier / Allison Moorer
Allison Moorer
03:04
Amazon

Totally Biased Fan Review: Hannah Aldridge – LIVE in black and white

Hannah Aldridge

Last weekend, (19/10) I actually saw Hannah LIVE at her last gig in Australia for this tour at a house concert. That led me to by this album to recapture that LIVE quality and obviously have the songs that I heard at the gig.

I met the girl from Alabama in Tamworth in January.  A lot of my Aussie favourites liked her a lot, so I thought that she must be pretty good to get these folks interested. I heard her briefly at Tamworth. When I had the opportunity to see and hear more last weekend, I jumped at the chance, even though I was more familiar with the support act.

It is also apt to review this album so close to Halloween, as it is Hannah’s favourite time of the year, which she celebrates for the whole month of October. Her songs may give you that a clue or two, with a mixture of murder ballads, dark tales and well….just look at the titles……

It is no surprise then that Lachlan Bryan, The Weeping Willows and others of a similar ilk are big fans. It is not just the alt. country feel and the subject matter but the quality of the musicianship and the feel that they are all part of the same family.

Amongst the darkness, Hannah has a great sense of humour….a little quirky and left of centre, which gives a LIVE album a more well-rounded feel.

Her background is interesting and adds a little to her songs and her delivery. Her voice is powerful and  the roots of her music are firmly entrenched in the country sound.

Hannah’s voice is a mixture of Melissa Etheridge, Bonnie Raitt and some of those beautiful gospel voices of African Americans….it is a big, full on sound that haunts and howls as well as gently rocks and rolls.

Parchman, which is not credited on the album, either by oversight or mystery, is one of my favourites, as are Rails to Ride (no surprise to those who know me), Burning Down Birmingham, Goldrush and Lonesome.

Hannah’s Dad, Walt Aldridge, a respected musician in his own rite, has made this LIVE album sound more like a finely produced studio album, with some added character.

The concert was performed in London, which adds a bit more showbiz pizzazz to it.  Like all good songwriters, Hannah is chiefly a story teller, and she has a few stories to tell.

Hannah will be back on our shores in January for Tamworth 2020. If you are there or see her doing a gig elsewhere, go and catch her, she is very entertaining.  In the meantime, this album will give you a good taste of what is on offer.

 

 

Hannah-Aldridge-Album-cover-back

1, 4,5,  written by Hannah Aldridge

2 written by R Clay and H Aldridge

3 written by A. McBryde, J Drinkwine, and H. Aldridge

6 written by J Dean and H Aldridge

7 written by C Rand and H Aldridge

8 written by A McBryde and H Aldridge

10 written by M Johnson and H Aldridge

11 written by A Zelkind and H Aldridge

12 written by M Naramore, T Hill and H Aldridge

9 not credited on the album

Mixed and mastered by Walt Aldridge