Beto Hale is a Mexican-born musician who has since move to the United States and finds himself creating music that contains many different aspects to the music. Those styles of music make Beto Hale’s music unique and different. That different approach to each song makes sure each track Beto Hale creates has its own sound and feel. And after having already created a catalog of his own music, Hale is celebrating the release of his newest release, Rebirth.
For the music on the new release, Beto Hale took his time creating and shaping the songs and making sure that they felt just right. He also brought in Tony Levin to add his touch on bass and Marc Mann helps to add guitar from one track to another.
Beto Hale’s album Rebirth begins with “Explosiones”. As Beto Hale is Mexican-born, it should come as no surprise that the lead off track for his new album is a track in Spanish. The track finds Hale exploring a very progressive sound on the track. For the music on the track, Beto Hale took his time creating and shaping the songs and making sure that they felt just right. The rock/jazz mix in the music gives the track a slightly unique feel as rock and jazz both find their own place in the track as the guitar and keyboard alternate as the lead instrument throughout the length of the track.
With the next track, Beto Hale changes the feel of the album. The track of “Falling Down” takes on a feeling that seems like a mix of The Police and The Eagles. The track features some of the best bass lines I’ve heard in a while as Tony Levin lays down the groove for the song. The alternating of styles in the track gives the listener a taste of Classic Rock while still containing a little of the jazzy feel that was found on the previous track of “Explosiones”. And while“Explosiones” features Spanish lyrics, “Falling Down” features Hale singing in English.
Rebirth from Beto Hale continues with the track “Sube Al Carrusel”. This track is yet another track that explores the different sides to Beto Hale. As the first two tracks show Hale’s rock side off, “Sube Al Carrusel” shows off his jazzy side. The Spanish vocals on the track also add a touch of jazz to the track. With the different aspects to the track, “Sube Al Carrusel” turns out to be one of the most unusual and entertaining tracks on the album.
Taking the opportunity to change the feel of the album once again, “Fire Away” is the type of track that feels like a rock song with strings. The strings and rock music create a track that feels as if it should be back in the seventies with more of the orchestral rock that was being produced back then. While there is a definite beauty to the music of the track, the one critique I have to make about the track is that this is without a doubt the track with the simplest lyrics on the album. The repetitive nature of the oversimplified lyrics is a bit of a letdown from the rest of the album where the lyrics are a lot stronger.
Beto Hale creates one of the strongest and most fascinating tracks with the song “April”. The folk-rock feel to the track works well with the emotional lyrics of the song. The music of the track with the lyrics that have a greater depth than most lyrics of today’s current songs make the song feel as if it had been written back in the late sixties by Roger McGuinn of The Byrds. The harmony in the vocals on the track brings to mind those of McGuinn and the members of The Byrds. The beauty in both the music and the lyrics of the track makes “April” easily one of the best tracks on Rebirth.
On the track “I Will Always Be There,” Beto Hale takes his music and adds some influence from bands like Rush. When listening to the track, you can all but hear Geddy Lee and the rest of the band of Rush as Beto creates a track that has a very heavy Progressive Rock feel to it. Once again, the music and lyrics seem to transport the listener back to a time when songwriters used to give thought to the meaning of their lyrics. On “I Will Always Be There,” Beto Hale would seem right at home in the company of those writers.
Rebirth from Beto Hale is the type of album you hope for when looking for something new and different. The album provides the listener with many wonderful minutes of different sounds and styles of music from a musician and songwriter who has proven himself as someone who can create songs that will leave you wanting more.
To hear more from Beto Hale, check him out on his SoundCloud account.
A few years after releasing her first album, Everything Happens for a Reason, New York City’s Carly Jamison is back and is just as determined to keep the spirit of rock and roll alive. 2013 marks the release of Carly Jamison’s new album, Ungrounded.
Ungrounded from Carly Jamison proves the old adage of “If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it”. For her new release, Jamison once again calls on the talents of Georgia Satellites’ Dan Baird to add guitars to the album and producer Tres Sasser to give her new album the same magic that was evident on the 2010 Everything Happens for a Reason release.
Like her last release, the first thing that you will notice is the deeper-than-normal alto voice from Carly Jamison. Her voice is unique and automatically identifiable. That strong vocal quality mixed with the straight-out rock style that Jamison has become known for continues to set her apart from most of the other women who have already made a name for themselves.
The Ungrounded release begins with the track “Superman Fantasy”. The lyrics of the track have a theme running through them as they describe a person who acts like a man with superpowers. The driving feel of the music on the track makes for the perfect way to start off the new album from Carly Jamison.
With the second track on the album, “No Easy Way Out,” the song begins with Dan Baird performing a guitar part that will remind some of the playing of George Harrison. The easy but efficient playing style that Baird uses on the track is
The track “I Don’t Think We Have Ever Met” has a much slower pace to the music. The acoustic guitar from Jamison and organ from Chris Tuttle on the track combine with the rest of the instruments to create a sound that sounds and feels like something for bands like The Black Crowes. The easy feel of the song may even fit in with older artists that would have been found on AM rock radio in the 1970s.
The feel of the album changes with the next track of “Small Talk”. This track takes the listener back a few decades. Because of the inclusion of the saxophone from Chris West, the song has a very retro feel to the music and seems to feel as if it should have been created back in the 1980’s. The playing of Chris West on saxophone and the straight-out rock feel to the rock music in the song brings back the sound of 80’s era Springsteen. If you are one who misses real rock and roll music, the track “Small Talk” will give you at least three-and-a-half minutes of pure rock and roll bliss.
On the track “Prison,” Carly Jamison and the band start out by giving the track an easy feel to the blues-inspired rock music. The music on the track alternates between laid back and slightly more upbeat. When the band takes a few measures to jam several times during the song, they show off the kind of power that might be possible if the song would allow them to release their pent up energy and just let go.
The song “Runaway Train” is a track that truly features a real rock and roll feel. The music is very reminiscent of songs from the early days of rock and roll when Carl Perkins, Elvis Presley, Buddy Holly and even Johnny Cash were just starting out. The classic sound of the track even features the playing of K.S. Rhodes on harmonica. “Runaway Train” is one of the strongest tracks on Ungrounded.
Perhaps the most unusual track on the album is the last track. “I Never Loved You but I Lied” is a track that seems to abandon all rock and roll influences. The playing of K.S. Rhodes on the melodic helps give the track its French jazz-like feel. While “I Never Loved You but I Lied” is one of the most unusual tracks on the album, it does make for a very good final track for the album.
Carly Jamison has created a solid release in her second album of Ungrounded. Jamison stays true to the more classic styles of the genre and that’s what makes the new release from Carly Jamison so strong. If you are a fan of the older styles of rock and roll, this is the album for you.
Ungrounded from Carly Jamison will be released in the near future. Until it is out, stayed tuned to Carly Jamison’s website for further details.
(You can also check out my review of Carly Jamison’s last album, Everything Happens for a Reason.)
Dan Hazlett is a singer-songwriter, guitar player from the state of Michigan. With his style of writing, Hazlett’s easy listening music would fit alongside people like Christopher Cross, Jim Croce and James Taylor. Hazlett is a seasoned musician who has several releases in his discography. The newest one, The Corner of My Eye, was released in 2012.
The Corner of My Eye from Dan Hazlett begins with the track “Alchemy of Fish”. The folk-rock song has a simple feel to the music and sort of brings back the feeling of the writing of John Denver. The lyrics to the song about living off the earth also have the same John Denver-like quality.
The next track on the album is “Empty Room”. With this track, you can tell that Dan Hazlett is the type of writer that can tell a good tale in the lyrics of his songs. “Empty Room” is a song about two people on different paths who end up needing each other. The lyrics of the song are written using free verse, making the listener pay attention more to the story than to the music of the track.
On the song “Alien,” the listener gets to experience the true talent of Dan Hazlett as a guitarist. The first third of the song features the guitar as Hazlett plays some very beautiful and moving instrumental jazz. When Hazlett’s voice does appear on the track, the song takes on a different kind of feeling than the first part of the track. The lyrics of the song have a bit of pain in them as Hazlett sings a very touching song about a boy who is dealing with cancer and the kids he calls friends who decide to stand by the boy as he goes through Chemotherapy. The song is sung from the perspective of the kids on the baseball team who are standing by the boy with cancer. The moving song once again shows Hazlett to be a very good storyteller. The music, lyrics and guitar playing from Hazlett on this track make “Alien” one of the strongest tracks on the release.
The song “Postcard from Paris” is yet another example of Hazlett’s ability to create a story in song. The track features music that is part folk and part jazz. The jazz part of the melody goes well with the visuals of the subject in the song reading the postcard he received from someone he knows who went to France.
With the song “The Other Side of Dawn,” Dan Hazlett creates one of the fullest sounding tracks on the release The Corner of My Eye. The addition of background vocals by a choir of voices and the inclusion of the trumpet and piano on the track really add body to the track. The song contains a lot of emotion in the lyrics to the song as the lyrics tell of two people who are going their separate ways.
The Corner of My Eye from Dan Hazlett comes to an end with the track “Where the Blue Meets the Blue”. The song features a folk-like approach to the music and features a fiddle that adds to the beauty of the music. Like the songs that came before it, the lyrics to “Where the Blue Meets the Blue” have a very strong affect on mind as you can almost see the pictures that Hazlett describes in the song.
The album The Corner of My Eye from Dan Hazlett feels very much like a collection of short stories as Hazlett writes very straightforward lyrics that tell it like it is. The music on the album is performed with style and lends itself well to the lyrics written by Hazlett. You only come across an artist like Hazlett once in a while and his album The Corner of My Eye is a joy to listen to.
Click HERE for the video to the song “Alien” from Dan Hazlett.
Boulder, Colorado is home to Lisa Bell, a singer-songwriter who picks up where other acts like Bonnie Raitt, Carole King, Alison Krauss and Norah Jones left off. Bell’s style seems to incorporate many different aspects from those musicians and combines them into one sound that continuously shifts the ground under the listener’s feet. The always changing feel of Lisa Bell’s music is contained within her new release entitled The Italian Project.
With the new album, Lisa Bell has incorporated a little technology to help bring her music to life. Writing with Lisa Marie Simmons and Bob Story, the tracks that make up the new album were created by the three writers using Skype.
Along with the main three artists of Lisa Bell, Lisa Marie Simmons and Bob Story that created the basis for each song, other musicians help bring the music on the CD to life. On the CD, Lisa Bell is joined by several talented and versatile musicians. Bassist Mario Pagliarulo, drummer Cesare Valbussa, keyboard player Marco Cremaschini and vocalist Christian Codenotti all helped Lisa Marie Simmons with her part of the album as she and the rest of the aforementioned musicians worked on the music in their country of Italy. These International musicians and others from right here in America helped to make The Italian Project the strong album that it is.
The new CD from Lisa Bell of The Italian Project begins with the song “Bring the Love”. “Bring the Love” is a Country-based song that will bring to mind the music of Faith Hill. The track has the same high energy feel to the music that many associate with Hill and her music.
The album continues with the next track of “Come My Way”. While “Bring the Love” has a Country flavor to the song, “Come My Way” has a different feel. The track features a pop sound that has a very commercial “crossover” feel to it. It also contains some powerful guitar playing that helps to add a lot of energy to the song.
With the next track, Lisa Bell sends the music in yet another direction. Part jazz, part R&B, “One Face, One Race” features a smooth jazz feel to the music and that helps to allow Bell’s voice to shine through. The jazzy quality to Bell’s voice on the track proves that she has a definite ability to transition from one musical style to another.
The Italian Project from Lisa Bell stays in a jazzy groove for the next track of “A Brighter Day”. The track takes the listener back in time as the song has a “timeless” sound that feels as fresh today as it would have back in the 1960’s during the days of the Rat Pack. Lisa Bell’s vocals on the track are clear and beautiful. The guitar solo from Bob Story on the track adds a lot of depth to the track and also adds to the jazzy feel of the track.
“Walk with Me” is a track that takes the music on The Italian Project from Lisa Bell in a folk direction. The acoustic guitar, mandolin and bass combine to help form the music of the track. The mandolin playing by Chris Malley and percussion from Chris Sheldon truly gives the song a style that make would any folk music fan happy.
The album once again goes in a very direction with the track “Love Hurts”. The blues-rock music of the track feels very familiar and would fit right in with music from 1980’s radio with the commercial feel of the song. “Love Hurts” is one of the strongest tracks on the album.
Just as the listener finishes one of the hardest rockin’ songs on The Italian Project, Lisa Bell presents one of the most beautiful tracks on the release with the song “Quilt”. The folk-rock track brings to mind artists like John Denver, Gordon Lightfoot or even Peter, Paul and Mary. The simple subject of the quilt once again gives the music a timeless feel.
Lisa Bell brings a little Country music feel back to the album on the track “The Best of Me”. The track sounds like Bell combined the music from “Joy to the World” from Three Dog Night with some Country music flavor.
When listening to The Italian Project from Lisa Bell, the variety in the music for the 11 tracks that make up the release is the first thing you’ll notice. And with each track on the album, the talents of Lisa Bell, Lisa Marie Simmons and Bob Story become more and more evident. No matter what genre of music you like, you’ll find a lot to enjoy on the newest release from Boulder, Colorado’s Lisa Bell.
Myloe is a four-piece rock band out of the city of Boston that is made up of Alan Hokom on guitar and vocals, Fred Mubang on guitar, Tom Shani on bass and Zach Mullings on drums. They incorporate many different styles of rock into their sound. Some of their sound comes from classic rock and some of it comes from more modern rock sounds. It is this combining of influences that helps to shape the band’s music. Recently, Myloe created an EP with the title of Empty out Your Mind that features the band’s unique combination of music.
The newly-expanded six-song EP Empty out Your Mind from Myloe begins with the title track. “Empty out Your Mind” is a track that features a jam band-like quality to it. The quick pace to the track gives it a lot of energy. The song’s lyrics feature a very upbeat quality to them as they tell you to let go of all negativity. The four members of the group work well together to create the song and each member takes a turn as lead on the track. The play between guitarists Mubang and Hokom gives the track a fun, loose feel to the music. And when bassist Shani takes a solo, it is just as strong as any guitar solo.
The song “Paradox” is one of the hardest rocking songs on the Empty out Your Mind EP from Myloe. The track begins with a very strong bass riff from Tom Shani. The riff leads into a song that features an alternative rock feel. The song’s lyrics are sung by vocalist Alan Hokom with such energy that you can feel the emotion in his delivery. The track really shows off the talent of the band as a whole and gives the listener perhaps the best song on the release.
With the next track of “In Your Eyes,” the band slows the pace down just a little while not losing any of the energy from the track of “Empty out Your Mind”. The track begins with a very strong guitar riff that is quickly joined by another guitar part to help create a song that has a very commercial feel to it. The track builds to the full band feel and proceeds to create a very commercial track. Like “Empty out Your Mind” before it, “In Your Eyes” contains lyrics that have to do with perception. However, in the case of “In Your Eyes,” the song takes the opposite approach to the lyrics as they describe a person who has a very pessimistic view of the world.
Myloe slows the pace down quite a bit with the track “Sidetracked”. While the rest of the release features a rock feel to the music, “Sidetracked” has a feel that is a lot closer to soul music. The combination of soul and rock on the track makes for a very interesting sound and really sets the song apart from the rest of the CD. The song also gives the band the chance to jam and show off their talents as individual musicians. The drum solo from Zach Mullings is rather impressive. The energy level comes back up just a bit with the song “Standstill City”. On this track, you get to experience some of the blending of styles that Myloe does in their songs. The rock and Latin influences on the track will instantly make the listener think they are listening to something from Santana. The jam band quality in the music feels like something from Santana’s musical history.
The Empty out Your Mind CD from Myloe comes to a close with the track “What is Paradise”. The final track of the EP is another track that has a jam band feel to it with some alternative rock influence mixed in. The song is a great way to bring the EP to an end.
To see the video to the song “Empty out Your Mind,” click HERE.
Bryan Kirschner is a singer-songwriter that creates music that incorporates several different elements to create his folk-rock music. When listening to the music of Kirschner, you can hear more than a few hints of people like Bob Dylan, Willie Nelson and other legends that have made a name for themselves. In fact, with his song “Okie Highway,” Kirschner creates a song that takes the listener back in time to days gone by. And since the lyrics of the song itself were based upon a picture of a family in the middle of trying to escape the drought that cost them their farm, the resulting music, subject and lyrical style in the track are very reminiscent of songs written by Woody Guthrie. For the music of the song, Bryan Kirschner allows the piano, guitar, bass and drum combine to create a track that sounds as much like a modern folk song as it sounds like something that would have been created back during the time of Woody Guthrie. The resulting song of “Okie Highway” brings back thoughts of the drought from 2012 that created the same sort of hardship on the people of the U.S. as they tried to survive the long ordeal. The song’s lyrics about the father trying to plead to the bank because of the lack of money due to the drought also bring the song’s subject matter back to the present-day. With this track, Bryan Kirschner proves himself to be just as talented a storyteller as he is a songwriter.
****(Out of Five)
Take one frontman who sings and plays keyboards and match him up with another musician who used to play jazz guitar, match them up with a drummer to add the backbone to the music and you have the core to the Portland-based band Ravishers. Frontman Dominic Castillo and guitarist Jonathan Barker are joined by drummer Nathan Szytel and several others to complete the music for the band. Together, the resulting group is a musical outfit that features a sound that alternates between guitar-driven and piano-driven. The guitar/piano mix from the band is found on their 2011 self-titled release.
The self-titled release from Ravishers begins with the track “I’m Him”. The track begins with just a light piano and drums before the guitar joins in. The track finally builds to include the bass about a minute in and from then on, the band creates a pop-driven feel to the music that features both guitar and piano equally. The classic line-up of piano, guitar, bass and drums of the track gives the album a great rock feel.
While “I’m Him” has a pop-rock feel, the second track of “You Have It” has more of a sparse feel to the music as the same piano, bass and drums are used to create a much more simplistic feel to the music. And even though Castillo, Barker and Szytel create a much looser feel to the music on this track there is definitely no energy loss to the rock music. In fact, “You Have It” seems to have a much more commercial feel to it than the previous track.
With the next track of “The Chase,” the band creates a song that features an alternating feel to the energy level of the music. At times, the song has a pop-like feel to the music while at other times; the band lets the music’s energy take control of the pace of the song. The resulting track allows the piano, guitar and bass shine as Castillo sings about enjoying the give and take of a relationship.
Perhaps the most commercial track on the self-titled album from Ravishers is the song “Cruel Love”. The lyrics of the track seem to be perfect to follow the previous track of “The Chase”. “Cruel Love” features a much stronger rock feel to the music than the previous song while still having the same lyrical connection. “Cruel Love” is probably the first time on the album where you will find yourself singing along with the song.
Another track on the self-titled release from Ravishers that has a strong rock feel is the song “Underachievers”. This is a track that seems to have Castillo and Barker working together to create a song that doesn’t feature the piano or the guitar more than the other. The seemingly flawless blending of the two instruments helps to give the track a lot of depth. The track features one of the best lines in rock to come along in years: “It’s nowhere or bust.” That little hint of humor give the track even more character.
Probably the best-known track off of the self-titled album from Ravishers is the song “Keep You Around”. In fact, the song was actually created at the time that the band was known as Dominic Castillo and the Rock Savants. “Keep You Around” has one of the best beats of any track off the release and could easily become a fan favorite.
The track “Nobody Falls in Love Anymore” is one track that really brings the piano to the forefront of the music. The piano-based song features a slightly different feeling than the rest of the tracks on the album as it features a horn section. The sad feeling of the music and lyrics also separate the track from the rest of the music on the album as the rest of the release is much more upbeat.
“Happening” brings the album to a close. The track is one song that really allows former jazz guitarist Jonathan Barker to show off his skills as a rock guitarist. The guitar from Barker makes the track feel like an all out rock song….while the song still keeps enough pop feeling to it to not feel out of place with the rest of the release.
From the first track of the self-titled album from Ravishers, the listener gets to experience a band that has a lot of depth to their writing. Because of the piano/guitar base for the band’s sound, the album transitions nicely from one style of music to the next. And with the two different approaches to the band’s songwriting being blended into one album, Ravishers has a sound that many will find to be appealing.
Click HERE for the video to “Keep You Around”.
The previous review is for an album that came out in 2010. Another writer for The Rock and Roll Report, Katherine Miller-Rowan, had created an article for the band at the same time I was going to and I didn’t want to end up with another article on the website. However, I recently discovered the article by Katherine Miller-Rowan was actually an interview of the band and not a review of their album. This review is to make good on my promise to review the album.
Click HERE for the band’s PR Firm, In Music We Trust PR.
Steph Barrak is a Boston-based singer-songwriter that takes folk, pop and other styles to create her guitar-based music that can be described as indie-pop. One of the most evident reasons for Barrak for being included in the category indie-pop is her lyrical phrasing. While most of the time she uses a normal style in her writing, sometimes Barrak’s lyrics take on a more free verse feel to them. The nearly free verse feel to the lyrics makes Steph Barrak a unique musician. The style of music created by Barrak would fit alongside artists such as Tori Amos and other artists that can be found in the soft rock/pop genre.
Steph Barrak’s new album Words to Break Your Heart begins with the song “Connecticut”. The first thing you notice when listening to the song is the unusual phrasing of the lyrics of the song for the first minute or so. That first minute of the song contains a folk-like approach to the song. The song then transitions to a folk-rock song and the lyrics take on a more standard feel as the song’s tempo quickens and gives the listener a song that would easily fit with either rock or folk playlists.
Words to Break Your Heart by Steph Barrak continues with the track “Painted Face”. While “Connecticut” has somewhat difficult lyrical phrasing, the song “Painted Face” takes on a much more commercial feel to the lyrics than that of the album’s first track. The song feels a lot more like an indie-pop track than a folk track. The music of the song is very catchy and could easily be the first single off the release.
The Words to Break Your Heart album finds Steph Barrak creating her music with mainly the guitar, bass and drums but with the song “Hardwired,” the song has a much more full-bodied feel as the previously mentioned instruments are joined by violin, trumpet, saxophone and Hammond organ. The additional instruments give the song a much soulful feeling. The track is one of the best songs on the album.
The pace and energy of the music on the album changes with the track “Fossil Tears”. While the track starts with a slightly low-key style, the pace quickens. The song alternates between low-key and a faster pace throughout the 5-minute track. There is a slight country flavor in both the music with the inclusion of the steel guitar and in Steph Barrak’s vocals on the track.
With a vocal and musical style that may remind you of someone like Carly Simon or Joni Mitchell, the song “Oh Lo Lo” is another track on the Words to Break Your Heart album from Steph Barrak that has a light, easy rock feel that will have you thinking back to the sound of music from the sixties. The lyrics to the song are fun and may have you singing along with Barrak.
The pace of the album once again picks up with the song “Natural Progression”. Like much of the other artists in the folk genre, Steph Barrak explores the pattern of life on this track. The song’s lyrics have to do with what is happening with the weather on the planet. The track is probably the closest thing to straight-out rock music on Words to Break Your Heart.
Words to Break Your Heart comes to an end with the song “Watch for Me”. The track begins with just Barrak and her guitar and then, the song slowly builds to include another guitar and drums. The slightly stronger feeling that comes from the additional instruments really gives the track a folk-rock feel. The words to this track live up to the title of the album.
The Words to Break Your Heart album from Steph Barrak takes the listener on a musical trip that runs from folk music to Indie rock and back again. The eleven tracks that make up the 2013 release from Barrak help to give the listener a well-rounded glimpse into the talent of this singer-songwriter.
***** (Out of five)
Find the Words to Break Your Heart album from Steph Barrak on her Bandcamp account.
Click HERE for the video to Steph Barrak’s song “Painted Face”.
Cleveland’s own Rachel Brown is a musician that has performed with acts like Hillbilly Idol. It is with acts like that that Rachel has started to get some attention by the followers of the local music scene. And with her talents as a singer and as a piano player, Rachel has also proven herself to be a solid solo artist. In fact, her last performance at The Barking Spider Tavern in University Circle that happened in early February was well-attended as many people came out to see her perform.
With Rachel Brown’s abilities as a singer and piano player being what they are, it should come as no surprise that Brown is also a talented songwriter, as well. In fact, she has just completed a new debut album with several talented musicians from the Greater Cleveland area. These musicians help form Rachel Brown’s back-up band. Together, the group and Brown create the band Rachel Brown and the Beatnik Playboys. It is this band that has just created the release called Just Look My Way.
This new album showcases Rachel Brown’s ability as a singer, musician and songwriter. In fact, of the thirteen original tracks that make up the new release by Brown, twelve of the songs were written by Brown. And while the album does include plenty of Country music as you would expect from someone who spends part of her time performing with a band like Hillbilly Idol, it also includes some Honky Tonk influence, some Jazz influence, even some songs that would fit into the “Easy Listening” category.
Rachel Brown’s new album begins with the only song on the release not written by Brown herself. “As We Speak” is a song written bass player (and Hillbilly Idol member) Bill Watson. “As We Speak” is a track that has more of a Western Swing feel to it than a Country one thanks, in part, to fiddle player Denny Jones. With Jones, the rest of the musicians include Bill Watson on bass, Dave Huddleston on electric guitar, Roy King on drums, with Brown on piano and vocals.
The track “Peace in the Valley” is the first instance where the listener gets to experience the writing style of Rachel Brown. As is evident with this track, Brown has been heavily influenced by the style of Country music that was being created before the Rock ‘n’ Roll style became such a big part of the music that is called Country music today. “Peace in the Valley” is a track that sounds like it would have been recorded many years ago by someone like Dolly Parton. The playing style of Rachel Brown on the piano, matched with steel guitar from Al Moss, gives the track its “old-fashioned” feeling. This track is a welcomed reminder of what the music sounded like years ago and would make any fan of the Country stars of yesterday happy.
Many of today’s musical acts enjoy larger success by releasing songs with “cross-over” potential. If any song on Just Look My Way from Rachel Brown could be considered a “cross-over” potential, it would be the song “Another Lifetime Ago”. The simple ballad featuring piano, bass and drums would easily fit on any “Easy Listening” format, while having just enough fiddle from Denny Jones to still be considered “Country”. But it’s Brown’s beautiful vocals on the track that truly makes the song feel “timeless,” as her delivery on this track is reminiscent of Country singers like Loretta Lynn and Tammy Wynette. Along with Brown’s emotional lyrics of days gone by, the thing that makes “Another Lifetime Ago” so strong is the piano. There seems to be as much emotion in the notes played by Brown as there is in the words she sings. And with the subtle addition of Denny Jones’ fiddle to the track, all of the musical elements come together to create perhaps the strongest track on the album.
While “Another Lifetime Ago” is probably the strongest standout track on the album, another song that could easily get played on several radio formats is the track “What If”. Another track with a strong and beautiful piano part, “What If” seems to pick up where “Another Lifetime Ago” left off. As “Another Lifetime Ago” deals with looking back, “What If” finds the singer pondering certain paths that may have made the situation better.
Much of Just Look My Way stays in a Country vein, but some tracks find Rachel Brown making other styles of music. The track “Enjoy the Dance” blends pop music with a touch of jazz to create a song that is beautiful and energetic at the same time. The feeling of the song seems to invite the listener to do just as the title of song says and “Enjoy the Dance”. Plus, the saxophone from Jeff Rice helps give the track its jazzy feel.
As a debut release, Just Look My Way by Rachel Brown is as strong as anything from artists with catalogs of releases to listen to. And with the different styles of music created by Rachel Brown and the Beatnik Playboys, the album is nicely varied and helps to show off the talents of all involved ………especially Rachel Brown.