Title: Granny Brown/Introduce Yourself
What is it?: Two songs from the CD Dread Clampitt by Dread Clampitt
Technical Quality: Recording quality is average to above average. The bluegrass type music is well done throughout with very accomplished fiddler and mandolin players. Note there are also guitars and base but no drums. The lead singer's voice is dry and sparse, but itís also very friendly, straightforward, and he sings in a conversational type style. The arrangements and back ground vocals are seamless and well done.
Innovative Quality: Above average. Both songs are well constructed with a mix of good melodies and above average lyrics.
Review: Two songs by Dread Clampett are both fun, spirited, and would sound great performed live.
Granny Brown is the biography of a rural, religious, woman with the gift of ' the discernment', psychic ability. She also shows a real talent for living a full life and taking things in stride. She says, "So much fun to be had. Quit your cryin and yer fussin'" This is an accomplished little biography song.
Introduce Yourself is a fine short little love song about the singer falling instantly in love with the girl coming through the door. Note the melodic chorus.
Granny Brown: 6.5
Introduce Yourself: 5.5
Title: The Blue Sun (CD) / 7 songs from the 2-CD set.
What is it? : 7 Songs from an online 2-CD set titled The Blue Sun, by folk/blues singer Slim McElderry. He accompanies himself on a 12 string dobro.
Technical Quality: Recording quality of voice and dobro is average. It sounds like it was recorded live in one take in the studio.
His voice is strong, growly, low, expressive, and dramatic. He sounds to me somewhat like Leon Redbone. He often narrates parts of his song and/or whistles passages. Both add variety to the straightforward voice/dobro arrangements. His singing is sometimes screechy on the high notes. His playing is excellent and he shines in his folk and blues finger picking style.
Innovative Quality: Average. His lyrics, instead of being about the usual folk subjects , are often about earlier blues/folk singers such as Woody Guthrie and Robert Johnson.
Review: Seven songs are all above average blues/folk pieces. All tell stories in a direct, and dramatic way. The compositions are all above average and stand up to repeated listening. His voice is honest and his playing is excellent.
1. The Blue Sun. Can the sun have the blues? "The soul
of the midnight sun is blue."
2. Street Singer. tells the story of a blind man who advises the singer, "If you are a street singer, you better live your song."
3. Blindman's Blues tells the story of 3 blind blues singers: Blind Lemon Jefferson, Sonny Terry, and Cisco Houston.
4. Woody tells the story of Wood Guthrie and starts out, "Out of the dustbowl 30's..."
5. Robert Johnson tells the story of Robert Johnson, the "Devil King of the Delta Blues."
6. Moby Dick. "Here's an old fable about a madman who sought revenge on a poor dumb brute." Note on this song Slim sings a verse acappella, which adds a lot of drama to the ballad.
7. Desolation Angels that begins, "Did you know citizens that dead or alive we're all angels. Some working for the one boss, some working for the other."
Overall the songs are consistently high quality, old fashioned blues/folk songs. They are a notable testimony to Slim's lifetime of singing and playing. Recommended.
Overall Grade: 6.6
Title: Roughneck Occupation/ Ballad of Robin Winter-Smith/ Turn In the Barrel / She Almost Reminds Me of You.
What is it? : 4 songs from the Richard Dobson online CD "Back Tracks".
Technical Quality: Above average. Singing, playing, and the recording of the music, is all above average and technically well done.
Innovative Quality: Low. There is nothing here that hasn't been done on other country recordings.
There is nothing wrong with any of these songs. They are all performed well. The singing is clear, the lyrics understandable, the playing competent, and they'd sound fine in any honky tonk. Plus the compositions are ok. But none rise above the average.
1. Roughneck Occupation is an up-tempo song about the
redneck way of life working on an oil rig.
2. Ballad of Robin Winter-Smith tells the story of a dare devil that jumps cars.
3. Turn in the Barrel says "everybody's got to take a turn in the barrel sometime." Though it's not quite clear what that means, I'm guessing that it means hard times happen to all of us.
4. She Almost Reminds Me of You. This love song for a waitress is the best of the lot for me, with that old timey country swing to it.
Overall everything is competent enough but nothing rises to the extraordinary level here.
Overall Grade: 4.0
Title: Heart Song (CD)
What is it? : 4 songs by Daisy May (May Erlewine) from the online CD Heart Song that include Simple Secrets of My Heart/ Dust/ Heart Song/ Sun
Technical Quality: The technical quality of the recording is average and straightforward as if it was done mostly live in the studio. The instrumentation arrangements, and voice, are well above average and nicely fit each song.
Innovative Quality: Above average. Daisy May's innovation is in the high quality of the songs, lyrics, and the musical arrangements, which blend all the instruments and voices together so nicely.
When I first heard these 4 songs, I thought they sounded pleasant enough, and maybe a little repetitive. But when they were done, I wanted to hear them again.
From then on they just kept getting better with each play. Their subtle charms worked on me till now I flat out love them - each one - there's no filler here. And I recommend them to you.
The instrumentation is simple, a standard guitar with base and a slide guitar, mandolin, banjo and/or background vocals (by Seth Bernard on songs 2, 3, and 4 and Daisy (?) on song 1). Daisy's voice is dry with a light warble. She sings mostly love songs with bitter sweet lyrics, but her voice is somehow almost magically uplifting, joyous, and hypnotically happy.
She often takes a musical passage and repeat s it with subtle embellishments each time, until she builds to a big melodic chorus. The voice is straightforward but alluring , and dramatic. Also note her occasional country accent.
1. Simple Secrets of My Heart. The song starts out as an on-the-road song and turns into an achingly beautiful love song. Note the cello towards the end.
"Simple secrets of my heart. Don't wear it on my sleeve. I got it locked in a box and you've got the key."
2. Dust. This up-tempo song starts out with a stand up base. Note the banjo. Some lyrics:
"If I got dust in my eyes would it be alright if I cry sometimes - little dust in my tears, a little dust built up after all these years."
And "My heart's a little old but it's not rust, just a little dust."
3. Heart Song. This country style song, featuring a slide guitar, is about two lovers, "... a songbird singer, a girl singer with a twinkle in her eyes," and "a word twister, a mind bender, a writer in the sky."
... "I love you for your misery. And I will spin your pain into a sweater." "But darling I don't want to wear my sorrow. If we're going to love, let's love and make it better."
4. Sun. This Nora Jones or Joanna Newsome type slow song is addressed to the sun:
"Oh sun how do you do it all the time?"... "Shine a little bit more for me today If you've got time while you're riding along that big skyway. ... Shine a little bit more so I can see and maybe someday Sun ... ah you'll see me."
This music is Van Morrison or Joni Mitchell good: excellent songs, smart poetic lyrics, solid arrangements, and that wonderful voice. It's such a joy to discover such a major talent like this. Highly recommended. You'll be hearing a lot more about this singer songwriter. I guarantee that!
Overall Grade: 7.3
Grading system: 9-10 Highest grade - Life's work of a master (ex. Collected plays of Shakespeare, collected symphonies of Beethoven) 8-9 Single best work of a celebrated master's career. 7-8. Best work of an era or genre or decade. 6-7 Best work of the year. 5-6 Very good. 4-5 More good than bad. 3-4 Average amounts of good = amount of bad. 2-3 Mostly bad with some redeeming parts. 1-2 Nothing redeemable. 0-1 So bad it is offensively bad and outrages the reviewer for taking up that time in his life - just awful.
Musea guarantees a review for all art work in any conceivable field IF you follow the rules posted on alt.zines or see our website or e-mail me. Tom Hendricks email@example.com
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