August 2017

Doug MacLeod: Break the Chain

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Submitted by Iain Patience

‘Break the Chain’ is the latest, twelve-track offering from leading US steel-guitar and slide master, Doug MacLeod. Recorded once again with Reference Recordings and Prof Johnson’s crystal-clear 24-bit set-up, this is an album that is bound to create enormous interest as is often the case with this guy’s music.

MacLeod is a regular award-winner; indeed, it seems that everything he delivers is destined to pick up national and international awards. Success is pretty much assured with this guy. As usual the tracks feature MacLeod picking and sliding with a remarkable ease and enormous talent and confidence. Accompanied by his usual, preferred sidemen of Jimi Bott and Denny Croy on drums and bass respectively, this outing also sees Macleod’s son, Jesse, and percussionist Oliver Brown step up to the plate. The result is a fuller sound than we have come to expect from MacLeod, who normally delivers stripped-back, pared-down acoustic blues with his signature sound and hints of wit and humour at the heart of his story-telling song-writing.

Ali Handal Is Fearless With New Album That’s What She Said

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Submitted to Cashbox Canada

If you like Sheryl Crow, Bonnie Raitt, and Kasey Musgraves, you will love Ali Handal.

Her sass and up-front attitude is refreshing, insightful and beautiful. Her guitar prowess is playful and technically flawless.

The phrase That’s What She Said, has been used in our culture for a while but not really put into a musical connotation like this. Ali takes her natural ability to converse and connect while being poetic and authentic.

Songs cover the gamut of love, life, cats and surviving cancer… with a sly-grin on her face, she makes the listener fidget in their seat. She plays off her guitar licks; her rhythms are like a pair of black boots with spurs. While cancer isn’t a laughable situation to be in, sometimes laughter is the best medicine.

Moved early on by wise and resilient women, singer/songwriter Ali Handal wore out Carole King’s Tapestry album. As a cat-obsessed six-year-old (some things never change), Ali honored her initial musical heroine by naming her very first kitten “Carole.” Over the years, the sweet melodies and lyrics penned by musical sages King, Dylan, Lennon, and McCartney captivated her. She had an epiphany when, as a teenager, she heard Led Zeppelin for the first time. Completely mesmerized by Jimmy Page’s seductive guitar riffs, Ali quit her piano lessons to pick up the guitar.

Geoff Gibbons: Buffalo Hotel

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Submitted by Don Graham

Geoff Gibbons, a veteran singer/songwriter from Vancouver, has an excellent new body of work that really deserves to be heard. I was alerted to this talented performer by Canadian Pop Encyclopedia of Pop Music author Jaimie Vernon who had worked with Geoff with his band Silverlode. The band released two albums and garnered some airplay and recognition with the band.

Geoff started out with an acoustic guitar and a host of great role models, Cat Stevens, Neil Young and Joni Mitchell to name a few and of course The Eagles. All these influences are evident in his work.

Geoff has collaborated as a songwriter with artists like Jeff Carlisi of .38 Special-Lynard Skynard, Dawn Langstroth the daughter of Anne Murray and Nashville writers James Dean Hicks and Peter McCann to name a few. His songs have been used for TV shows such as Higher Ground, Just Cause and Robson Arms. Geoff also wrote the score and the songs for Lions Gate Film's "Wolf Moon" aka "Dark Moon Rising.”

But the real pinnacle for Geoff is his new album Buffalo Hotel , a twelve song collection of carefully crafted songs, reminiscent of Jackson Browne and even a little J.D. Souther. Working with producer John Ellis the pair have come up with a well balanced and hook heavy album that emphasizes the strong lyric content of Gibbons’ songs. The opening track “Ain’t Going Back” should get airplay and would make an excellent film track. Other standouts are “Carolina Bound”,” Back To You” , “Ever Get To Georgia” and “Where Midnight Rolls.”