CD Review: Charming Axe “Gathering Days”

Posted: April 11, 2015 in Music
Tags: , , , , , , , ,

Eugenia Elliot, Hannah Hill and Rob Newhouse are a Chicago-based trio of singers that came together after meeting at the Old Town School of Folk Music. Once they found they had more in common than just their love for the style of music, the three musicians created a group and called themselves Charming Axe. Recently, the group got together with several other musicians to bring the music of the group to life. In turn, they created and released their first album entitled Gathering Days.

The new release of Gathering Days from Charming Axe begins with the James Taylor-penned song “Close your Eyes”. The track begins with Eugenia Elliot, Hannah Hill and Rob Newhouse singing the opening lyrics to the song a’capella. The three-part harmony from the three singers brings to mind the two-part harmony of the James Taylor and Carly Simon arrangement of the song. The song transitions when the keyboards from Rich Rankin are brought in to add just a little accompaniment to the voices. The sparse feel to the song brings out the folk flavor to the music from Charming Axe.

Gathering Days continues with the Rob Newhouse track “Beyond the Blue”. The track exists somewhere between folk music and bluegrass as the track seems to really allow the Old Timey feel to the band’s music to come out. Along with Newhouse’s guitar, the track features mandolin from Rich Rankin, dobro from John Rice and bass from Ben Wright. While the song features mainly Rob Newhouse on vocals, both Hannah Hill and Eugenia Elliot add that signature sound that the listener discovered in the first track on the album. The track works well as the music on the track brings to mind songs from long ago. The original track fits in well with the other tracks on the release.

While many of the tracks that make up Gathering Days from Charming Axe are traditional songs or cover songs, one of the best tracks on the release is the band’s version of the song made famous by Cyndi Lauper called “All Through the Night”. In place of the rock instruments that made Lauper’s version of the song so appealing, mandolins and acoustic guitars bring the song to life in a completely different way. While the hit version from Lauper features a pop-rock feel, Charming Axe takes the song and makes it feel like a folk standard. The track is easily one of the shining moments on Gathering Days.

Another track on the Gathering Days release that is a cover tune is the Bruce Cockburn-penned “One Day I Walk”. With the Cockburn version of the track, the guitar and mandolin give the track a simple folk-based feel with a very gentle pace to it. When Charming Axe went about doing their version, they added a lot of energy to it. The first major different is the addition of a bowed double bass that adds a lot of substance to the track. What once was a simple folk tune in the hands of Bruce Cockburn becomes something more substantial in the hands of Eugenia Elliot, Hannah Hill, Rob Newhouse and their friends.

Gathering Days comes to an end with the song “One Bright Star”. Like the Rob Newhouse-penned “Beyond the Blue” at the beginning of the album, “One Bright Star” is an original composition that was written by Eugenia Elliot. The track features an easy pace with a sound that is part folk and part country. The music features a very strong mandolin and guitar base while the three-part harmony from Eugenia Elliot, Hannah Hill and Rob Newhouse adds a lot of beauty to the song. The track brings the album to a close on a strong note as track ends up being one of the best songs on the album.

Charming Axe has created a very strong release in Gathering Days. The album’s fifteen tracks are a nice mix of known and not-so-known folk tunes with a few originals thrown in. That mix creates an album of folk music that begs to be heard.

Check out Charming Axe’s PR firm, Novo Management and Publicity.

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