Secoya: Ghosts

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Secoya is an ambient/experimental project of George Robinson, a producer from Bristol, UK. He started his musical journey by playing piano at early age. George's music is characterized by commonly extensive dynamic changes. These contrasting atmospheres develop in nostalgic and melodic brand of ambient music. Ghosts is the debut album from Secoya. The album combines reverb laden melodies and nostalgic chord progressions with a lo-fi feel to create an aural reflection of Robinson’s thoughts, feelings and surroundings at that time. The opening track ‘Hey’ starts off with a dreamy, incandescent feel, then builds to a full flowing tune, rippling effects of sound, that fade out with an eerie echo on the end, while the title track ‘Ghosts’ is strangely comforting, making you feel like you are floating through gauze and clouds to gaze to ‘the other side’. ‘Corsica’ is a rhythmic feel with repeating sounds that sound like raindrops on a summer night while ‘Ajuda’ has world sound instruments used to create an effect of water and time colliding, while ‘Realise’ is unsettling and probably trying to draw on your attention to realize your journey ahead. The last track ‘Faded’ brings you back to the comforting sounds of the melodic offering of Secoya and the music.Listening to Secoya is like a gate that opens to the past for all of us. Get ready go through old movies, amusement parks and dusty things in the attic. The nice  touch is the ‘pops’ and ‘clicks’ that make it sound like you are listening to a record.

Monica Chapman P.S. I Love You!

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Submitted by Sandy Graham

The music business, in my opinion, is 50% talent and 50% tenacity. Somewhere in between is who you know and what contacts you can collect along your travels. Monica Chapman is has managed to have it all. She has the talent, no doubt, the connections being produced by the amazing Bill King, and she is tenacious beyond belief.

It took her four years of working with Bill King to release her first CD, But Beautiful, which was released in the summer of 2013 and garnered some great media attention and some wonderful live performances.

Now back with a second offering, King has put the finest renowned musicians in Canada on this album with Bill himself on piano, Dave Young –acoustic bass, William Sperandei – trumpet, Nathan Hiltz – guitar and Mark Kelso on drums. Produced and arranged by Bill King, the CD was recorded at Inception Sound Studios, engineered by Michael Haas, mixed and mastered by Michael Hass and Chad Irschick.

The result – P.S. I Love You !

Mariella Tirotto & The Blues Federation Live In Concert

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Submitted by Iain Patience

This is the third release from Tirotto, an Italian singer-songwriter and long time resident of the Netherlands, where this album was recorded live before an enthusiastic audience towards the close of 2014.

Although her backing band appears to suggest a blues outfit, in reality this album has as much rock as anything else at its core. There are shades of jazz, funk and soul also audible in the mix. Overall this is one of those genuinely gripping albums that rips and roars along from track to track with bags of high energy fun and musical facility evident throughout.

It's clear from the raucous recording that the crowd are with her all the way here and she rises to the occasion to produce a cracking album of rocking blues and soulful music full of razor-edged guitar work from one of Europe's finest guitarists, Micha Sprenger, here doing a guest-spot as emergency stand-in for the bands' usual fretman, Loek van der Knaap. Heins Greten adds some excellent keyboard and soaring Hammond B-3 work, together with Arno Hagemans on both Bass and Double Bass. Jim Kakiay completes the group on Drums with  another guest, pounding extra Percussion, from Onny Tuhumena.

An album that should appeal to lovers of good-time, fun-filled rock-blues at its best.

Doug MacLeod: Exactly Like This

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Submitted by Iain Patience

MacLeod may have a Scottish Islanders name but he's actually American. Long resident in West Coast USA,  Dubbs,  as he's affectionately known, is easily one of the most accomplished and admired acoustic bluesmen of his generation with countless international awards to his name.

'Exactly Like This' is his latest release, an eleven track masterpiece, choc full of recognisable and nimble fretwork on resonator guitar and careening slippery slide sounds that are his hallmark. His voice seems to improve with age, like a fine Malt whiskey or an expensive vintage wine.

All tracks on this release were written by the man himself and range across the usual subject matter of love, life, hope and despair. From the 1950s Louis Jordan inspired boogie sound of the opening track, 'Rock It Till The Cows Come Home' to the echoes of Duke Ellington on the closer, 'You Got It Good (And That Ain't Bad)', this is an album that showcases MacLeod's captivating, talented artistry to the full.

Backed by Mike Thompson (for many years and currently The Eagles keys-man) on piano, the wonderful Jimi Bott on Drums and equally splendid Denny Croy on Bass, this is nothing less than a marvellous album from a marvellous musician.

Sean Webster & The Dead Lines See It Through

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Submitted by Iain Patience

This is the fifth release in about ten years from Webster, who spent a good few years in Australia but was finally tempted back into the studio in 2013 to record this excellent ten-track album.
Two of his previous efforts, the debut 'Long Time Coming' (2004) and follow-up 'If Only', both won critical acclaim with Webster being tipped for great things. Instead, the Brit seems to have adopted a less ambitious and quieter life Down Under for some years. Given his musical pedigree and style, however, it appears clear that any suggestion of a quiet life is far from likely and with 'See It Through' Webster again throws his hat into the ring with considerable flair.

This is good-time rock-blues with a raucous feel, driving energy and high-energy soloing from a guy who is not afraid to fly high.  Webster's guitar soars and sings - it even sighs, when required - with polished licks aplenty and remarkable riffs. His voice is powerful, growling and gutsy. And his songwriting skills are evident here with a maturity and virility that matches his driving vocal delivery.

All in all 'See It Through' is a very fine bit of work featuring an accomplished musician in his prime, clearly enjoying a return to the stage and the studio.

George Shovlin Blues Band: Got Blues…If You Want It

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Submitted by Iain Patience

Shovlin hails from the North East of England. Blues music seems to course through his veins. This album is a simply marvelous mix of old traditional numbers given a singularly individual and fresh lick of paint and colour.

Tracks included in this 13-track self-produced release include classic blues masterpieces from Blind Boy Fuller, Lightnin' Hopkins, Skip James, Furry Lewis, Leadbelly, Muddy Waters, Jimmy Rodgers and Jimmy Witherspoon. All are given a fabulously refreshing make-over, with some striking guitar cover and gravel pit vocals.

Shovlin and his band are clearly aware of the limits of blues norms and unafraid to break the mould and push ahead, beyond the usual constricting confines of traditional form and structures that these revered classics normally generate. And while the usual twelve-bar blues proliferates, the originality of the musical interpretations make this an inspired and inspiring recording.

Coming from the region that produced Eric Burden and the Animals many moons ago, it's hardly surprising to find Shovlin also pushing the blues boundaries to the limit and beyond. This is one of those rare things, a cracking album of classic  traditional blues played with enormous flair, confidence and originality.

Duffy Kane Dead Man Walkin'

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Submitted by Iain Patience

This is an album that rips away from the very off. The opening track, ‘Roadhouse Boogie Woogie’, gives the disc an immediate rolling appeal and Kane makes the most of things here with some mighty fine fretwork, shoring the whole thing up from start to finish.

Kane's sixth release to date, Dead Man Walkin' highlights the Texan's mastery of his home-built guitar while bringing fresh lyrics and power to the 11-track mix. Themes covered include his despair with the state of modern America, love, loss and optimism. Some withering cynicism and humour also feature, though ultimately he clearly remains hopeful for the future of the US despite the warnings that pepper the songs of insight here.

Interestingly, Kane describes himself as being 'a craftsman' rather than an above the wire artist. Nevertheless, despite his protestations, his artistry shines brightly throughout this album, reflected clearly in the quality of the guitar-work, the strength of his song-writing, vocal talent and the overall production values brought to the table with this CD.

He includes, perhaps with some daring, a neatly tailored arrangement of 'America The Beautiful', where the guitar picking is marvelously laid-back yet holds an inherent power to captivate, reflecting his hope and respect for America's fundamental ideals.

Angie Palmer Old Sticks to Scare A Bird

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Submitted by Iain Patience

Angie Palmer is a Brit.  Now resident in France, she writes haunting country music with meaningful lyrics and Nashville-like melodies.  BBC Radio's country guru Bob Harris cites her as one of the finest British country musicians and is a long-time fan. With this marvelously entitled album, it's easy to see why.

The album is split, so to speak, with two 'sides': both feature Palmer's excellent vocals and compelling guitar picking. Reading between the lines it seems clear she comes originally from the acoustic-folk end of the music with themes that at times appear grounded in that genre albeit with a modern country sound and feel to them.

With twelve tracks, all self-written together with Paul Mason, Palmer has adequate time to develop here and from the hard-driving rhythm of the opening track, 'The Ballad Of Jack Everyman' to the subtlety of the closing 'Fresco', she comfortably and easily pulls the listener along in her wake with some beautifully crafted numbers and guitar licks.

At times something of a toe-tapper, this album is more than simply another pleasant modern country release. It's a showcase for Palmer's writing and playing that leaves the listener looking for more.  Angie Palmer is clearly a talented lady and 'Old Sticks To Scare A Bird' is a cracking example of her evident ability and talented musicianship.

Good Times Jim Galloway

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Submitted by Sandy Graham

Jim Galloway aka ‘Jimmy G’ is certainly no stranger to the concert stage or recording industry. It was this incredible ability of songwriting, performing and front man for the CBS Record deal in 1990 for The White Heat ‘we never heard of you either’ album went on to sell more than 130,000 units in Canada and worldwide.

From the first opening track, ‘Drown in the River of Doubt’ this engaging singer/songwriter had me hooked. Reminiscent of Jesse Colin Young, JD Souther and American Beauty Grateful Dead tunes, it is hard to believe this is a Canadian lad, offering up a bit of the South and a bit of rock ‘n’ roll.

‘Sun’ is a refreshingly clean track, that shows the talent of this singer’s voice and offers up wonderfully optimistic lyrics; then ‘These Are the Good Times’ gets funky in a John Martyn kinda way, once again focusing on the great lyrics and solid production you can’t help but smile.’Morning Rain’ sounds like early Boz Scaggs with a really full rock production showing how versatile this artist is; ‘Say Goodbye’ starts off with acoustic guitar and the haunting vocals with a saddened end to summertime or love lost.

‘Leavin’ In September’ shows the influence of rock with Jim Galloway excelling in strong vocals, while ‘Where Do We Go From Here’ asks the eternal question when love hits the rocky road and you have to decide where to to go from here, tasty piano parts and sweet harmonies make this song soar in production.

Malaya Blue Bourbon Street

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Submitted by Iain Patience

Let me say right from the start that I love this wonderful debut release from England. Make no mistake, this is a lady with one Hell of a voice; soulful, bluesy, jazzy and everything in-between. Add some positively splendid, subtle and searing band playing and "Bourbon Street' is a certain winner.

Each of the fourteen tracks featured on this self-produced, first album, is perfectly produced with Malaya Blue's vocals dripping like honey over the whole affair. Self-written together with guitarist Andy Littlewood, the writing is assured and soulful at every twist and turn.

Malaya Blue herself has been clearly surprised - and delighted - by the overwhelming success of the album which has been a popular player with most of the UK's independent blues radio presenters in recent months.  But to classify this as just another blues album would be a major error:  'Bourbon Street' ranges across the entire gamut of blues-based jazz with total confidence and clarity. This is a genuinely classy addition to the blues-jazz genre and skips along effortlessly from haunting track to track.

Preparations are already well underway for a follow-up album and a touring schedule is also being compiled in the UK.  Positively an act to catch if possible.

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