Album Reviews

David Sinclair Four

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Submitted by Iain Patience

To me, there are some ringing, raging undertones of the best of punk rolling around in this mix from Londoner David Sinclair, here joined by Maxi Priest, Scottish jazzer Lorna Reid, and supported on a couple of tracks by the wonderful Paul Jones on Harp. I have my personal doubts about labeling this a blues album, however, it still works as a good, solid bit of lyrical modern light blues-rock with positively piercing lyrics and gripping, groaning insight. The musicianship is second-to-none while the ten songs included each tell a story, a vision of heaven or Hell, a metropolitan take on life in the slow-lane, tinged with melancholy, perception and sharp, visceral vision.

Sinclair's fretwork is strident and soulful, varied and victorious, with ripping, rippling riffs that might even make dear ole Keef sit up and take notice. His lyrics are rhythmically mesmerizing, evidence of a genuine love of the power of words and rhyme, dripping with powerful poetic nuance and irridescent influences. This is not an album that will necessarily please lovers of hard-nosed traditional electric blues; there are no BB King-esque licks or Hendrix power-plays here. Instead there's a delightful light touch and an album absolutely jam-packed full of catchy music, subtle lyrics and sheer pleasure. Highly recommended. A fabulous fourth offering from Sinclair.

Sam Broverman Leftover Dreams 100 Years of Sammy Cahn and Jimmy Van Heusen

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Submitted by Sandy Graham

Quote from Sam Broverman’s website: Life is all about the decisions we make. Whether they’re the right ones or the wrong ones, we live with them. Timing, as they say, is everything.

So true. I received this CD a little while ago but the ‘timing’ wasn’t right to give it a listen. Travels to MIDEM, pressing deadlines got in the way until I finally opened it up and put it on the player.

I must explain that I am a huge Sammy Cahn fan so this did originally catch my eye when I saw the title and I wanted to give it the time it deserved as the song titles alone had me from the first read. So let’s begin with the artist:

Billy Price & Otis Clay This Time For Real

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Submitted by Iain Patience

Soul music at its best here. As usual, there's nothing to fault with Otis Clay, a genuine voice of southern soul from backwoods Mississippi who learned his craft in the churches, bars and Juke Joints of his native deep south before moving, like many musicians before him, to the northern blues capital, Chicago. Here he refined his craft and became an important and popular soulster.
Price, his partner on this 12-track recording, hails from Pittsburgh on the East Coast.  A long-time fan of Clay and his music, he developed his own impressive vocal delivery and skill in the 1970s as singer and frontman on the road and in the studio with blues guitarist, Roy Buchanan.

The album itself was recorded in Chicago and produced by the great Duke Robillard who also lends his own band for the excellent backing on this release.

This is music grounded in the Gospel tradition of the South but with a modern, searching soul and secularity at its very heart. Robillard's band gives the whole thing a supremely soulful and gripping edge with bags of glorious feeling, understanding and sheer class.

The result of this quality partnership is a wonderful album of enormous quality and deep soul style.

Dan Livingstone & The Griffintown: Jug Addicts

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Submitted by Iain Patience

This is a delicious album full of traditional, acoustic blues music from an American picker now based in French Canada, Montreal. The music comes from a bellowing, billowing Jug Band of the old kind, full of whomping sound, style and love for the music.

The nine tracks cover the usual gamut of acoustic blues from Fred Mc Dowell's 'Write Me A Few Of Your Lines' -  a seldom heard number from one of blues musics true greats - through Blind Blakes 'Chump Man Blues' and 'Black Dog Blues' to the Rev Gary Davis classic 'Death Don't Have No Mercy'. There's even a neat take on John Fahey's wonderful 'Last Steam Engine Train' for lovers of slightly more modern material.

Produced as a studio 'live' take, like many these days, this album does indeed sound like a gang of buddies jamming, grooving and getting down and dirty with the blues music they clearly love. The now rare sound of a jug band backing gives the whole thing a delightfully different, captivating feel and sound.

Dan - aka Doc - Livingstone is a mighty fine guitar picker, with a seemingly natural affinity and empathy with that old-time country-blues. A recommended find, for sure.

Iain Patience

Hot Chip: Why Make Sense

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Submitted by Lenny Stoute

That this sixth album from these dance pop darlings references the Talking Heads flick Stop Making Sense is but one of its blatant retroisms. In laying bare the funk and vintage r'n'b that juices the album, Hot Chip impart a kind of freshness to the group's flawless brand of electro pop. In that regard the standout track is 'Easy to Get', whose minimalist production and love of slippery funk guitar and fatback bass, with lots of space for appreciation for each instrument. Top that with an anthemic chorus with the killer chant-along “Fear doesn’t live here anymore!” and you've got your chart toping single.

A strong period signpost, 'Love Is the Future' has a hip hop flavour somewhat referential of the Pharrell Williams and Snoop Dog 2003 hit 'Beautiful' and including an old school rap from De La Soul's Posdnuos. 'Started Right' is another, stripped down bass and backing vocals bringing da funkified groove.

Elsewhere, and in the best way, it's Hot Chip house dance bizniss as usual. As is Alexis Taylor's dance punk lyrics and subject matter. Opener 'Huarache Lights' gets all bro boy about a pair of limited edition Nike trainers, and the joy of going out, while 'Need You Now' is a spooky state of the world account from Taylor lamenting 'Never dreamed I could belong to a state that don’t see right from wrong,' as the synths go swirling along. Then there's the oddly soulful "White Wine and Fried Chicken", a wink at the band's high/low culture aesthetic.

Teresa Hart sky +air

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Submitted by Lenny Stoute

Award-winning Toronto musician Teresa Hart's fourth CD sky + air is a thematic follow up to 2014's breakthrough CD I Want Your Fire in its mix of  poprock, r'n'b and chillwave ballads. It's a little more experimental and wile that's to be applauded, it makes for an uneven listen.

Hart says the material is drawn from "rocky relationships and other life-altering experiences" and it shows in the intensity of the vocal delivery and the incisive lyrics. There's an overarching sense of yearning and sadness backed by a rhythm section of hope and fun.

The sweetly melodic 'Hypnotize' gets things off to a fine start, with Hart working the languid seductive end of her range. The jangly guitars and echo chamber vocals give 'California' a monster mash dance party with a sweet hook, while on 'Make Me Wanna Party' the band unleashes a solid rock'n'roll anthem.

'Spectacle' is a sultry slow burning highlight, driven by a pumping bass line with Hart going from smoky bottom end to cat in heat yowl. There's no justice if this doesn't become a strip club hit.

On the other hand, not sold on the remix of 'I Want Your Fire' and not sure that the overblown dirge of the title track was the best aftertaste to leave. On balance, there's more good than not here so go check it.

Black Patti: No Milk No Sugar

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Submitted by Iain Patience

This is an excellent 12 tracker from a quality German duo.  Oddly enough, Germany seems to be producing some truly interesting pre-war blues acts these days.  Anyone familiar with the work of The Delta Boys, another German duo with a genuine feel and engagement with the music, will have a fair idea of what to expect here. With Mando and acoustic guitar picking and slide work, together with fine Harp in the mix, No Milk No Sugar has a powerful, driving sound that easily belies the fact there are but two guys pouring out the mix onto analog equipment with ribbon mikes and period instruments.

Material ranges from old-style ragtimey pieces and instrumentals to spirituals/gospel numbers and deep South, delta blues. All of it delivered with a sparkling, comfortable ease and style. This is an album that pulses with deep blues emotion and grit. The vocals of the pair, Peter Crow C and Ferdinand Kraemer - aka Mr Jelly Roll, in Germany - combine well and the fretwork of both is always pretty well spot-on. Overall, this album is a great discovery for lovers of traditional acoustic pre-war US blues in general and modern-edge acoustic blues of gripping traditional quality coupled with more than a dash of originality.

I reckon and hope to hear much more of this pair in the near future. A highly recommended bit of cool blues.



Charlie Parr: Stumpjumper

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Submitted by Iain Patience

Leo Kotkke-esque barrelling twelve-string acoustic guitar picking rips this odd mix of modern Americana-cum-blues release to a rocking start. Parr spent much of his youth in one of the USA's lesser-known rural areas, the home of the great post-war menu filler - Spam - Austin, Minnesota, never a noted musical centre, unlike its big Texan brother. Despite - or perhaps because of - this seemingly inauspicious background, he manages to capture the essence and thriving, driving power of modern country roots music, coupled with striking Americana influences to great effect. Strangely enough, Parr also appears from this offering to have clearly swallowed the music menu from the Lone Star State as right from the off, the eleven tracks wash into each other with a marvelous, rolling rhythmic quality that captures the full range of modern country, Appalachian tradition and roots music.

HEIN COOPER Plays May 7th CMW Showcase

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Submitted by Glenda Fordham

In 2014, Aussie indie artist Hein Cooper recorded his debut self-titled EP in Montreal with producer Marcus Paquin (Arcade Fire, The National, The Local Natives, Hey Rosetta). His blend of indie/pop emotive lyrics are woven together by his delicately desperate vocal performance.

Cashbox Canada: Your voice has been likened to that of Jeff Buckley - how did you find your own voice/style?
HC: I’ve listened to Radiohead and love how Thom Yorke uses his voice. I’ve been told that he was inspired by Jeff Buckley, so I think I’ve second-hand smoked him! I spent 5 years playing covers in bars around Sydney, learning all of my favourite songs and taking the best things from them and mixing it up into my own style.

Hein CooperHein CooperCashbox Canada:  Your music has a very other-worldly quality and the video for The Art of Escape is truly a work of art. Did you conceptualize the visuals as well?
HC: Director Ed Triglone came to me with the concept and I immediately said yes. We worked together on the project for a month or so; it was a matter of bouncing ideas off each other until it was finished.

TOM WEST Plays May 7, 8 & 9 CMW Showcases

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Submitted by Glenda Fordham

Aussie songwriter Tom West sings about lost love and getting lost, ranging from very simple folk tunes to grand and moody soundscapes. He learned how to play in Adelaide pubs, eventually recording an album called 'A Spark in the Dark' in a shed in the Adelaide hills. After spending the summer of 2013 composing, West returned to the studio to work with acclaimed producer John Castle. 

Cashbox Canada: Your music has arrived when folk/roots artists like Ed Sheeran are hitting the top of the charts. How encouraging is that?
TW: It certainly is an exciting time when acts like Sheeran can pull off stadium tours, so yes, I do find it encouraging.

Tom WestTom WestCashbox Canada: What first inspired you to pick up a guitar and start pickin’ and singing?
TW: I started writing songs in about grade 9 or 10 of high school, at a time when I really idolized musicians like Ben Harper and John Butler. What they had to say resonated with me and I guess I wanted to be like them, so I think that’s where it all began.

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