Posts Tagged ‘Bruce Cockburn’

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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Tom Levin is a Sweden-born musician who has spent time creating music. Whether in a band or by himself, Levin has created several albums of music. Levin has just recently created a new album called Them Feet. For the new release, Levin called upon several people who helped to flesh out the music on the release. Along with Levin, other people included in the album are Adam Börjesson, who adds vocals, guitar, mandolin, bass, keyboards and percussion; Kalle Persson, who adds vocals, and percussion; Carl Ekerstam: electric guitar and pedal steel and others.

Them Feet from Tom Levin begins with the album’s title track. “Them Feet” is a track that features a strong groove that contains a lot of Blues flavor that goes along with a lot of Folk feeling. While Levin comes from Sweden, the two musical genres come together to form a sound that has a very American feel to it. For that reason and others, Tom Levin can easily be classified as Americana. This is one track that definitely falls into that category. With the strong groove and the Folk/Blues mixture coming together creates a strange but fascinating musical backdrop for what ultimately ends up being a romantic song about a man who will always want to dance with his lover.

While the track “Them Feet” has a simple Blues/Folk feel to it, the track “I Raise My Flag” contains a feel that is a lot more connected with the modern-day music genres. The track feels more like something that would be found on Top 40 Rock radio formats. The lyrics to the track are from the point of view of someone who has found their voice and is ready to stand up and be counted. The song can easily be considered a personal anthem, of sorts.

Staying in a slightly political vein, the track “As Long As it’s Good” seems to fully bleed Folk-Rock in its musical makeup. On the song, Tom Levin seems to channel Canadian musician Bruce Cockburn; in fact, “As Long As it’s Good” seems to bring to mind the sound and mindset of Cockburn’s track “If I Had a Rocket Launcher”. While Cockburn makes no bones about his anger about the situation he sings about, Levin sings about trying to make the world better. And while the two tracks come from different points of view, the two musicians try as hard as they can to get their points across. To that end, “As long As it’s Good” is as much an anthem of today’s world as Cockburn’s song was of that era.

With the track “Company Man,” Tom Levin creates a track that is one of the more unusual songs on his Them Feet album. The track features a rather strong beat from percussionist Kalle Persson while also containing a painfully slow pace to the music. That pace stays with the song throughout the length although the energy of the music does pick up sixty percent of the way through, or so. It actually takes two run-throughs to the song to actually appreciate the song.  When you understand what Levin is going for with the track, it is at that point that you will start to like the song.

While many of the tracks on Them Feet by Tom Levin have a full musical background, the music on the song “June’s Memory Lane” is sparse with just an electric guitar creating the music. As with other songs on this release, Tom Levin knows how to grab on to your emotions. “June’s Memory Lane” features the storyline of a woman on her way to hospice and the driver who takes her on one last drive around places that meant something special to her during her lifetime. The simple and sparse guitar accompaniment seems to amplify the emotional feeling in the lyrics to the song. While it’s a lovely song, it may not be the wisest move to listen to the song if you just recently said goodbye to a loved one. So be warned.

Them Feet by Tom Levin is the type of album that is great to find every once in a while as the feeling in the music changes from track to track and keeps the album from getting stale. Each song on the release has its own style and that adds to the variety in the music. The one thing all of the songs on the album do have in common is the fact that Levin knows how to reach you, emotionally. Because of that, this is one release that definitely proves that Levin is a very good songwriter.

Rating: **** (four stars)

Check out the video to “Them Feet” by Tom Levin.

Check out this album and other music by Tom Levin by going to his Soundcloud profile.

 

 

 

 

David E Johnston is an artist who works between performance, motion graphics, and original music who creates electro-percussive music under the moniker of Gift of Tongues. To help bring his music to life, Johnston called upon several musicians who added their talents to the project. The rest of the group consists of Steve Elliot, Brian Wolfe, Craig Levy, Emiliano Valerio, Mike Shobe and Tom Swafford. With each member of the band having a different background, the resulting band of Gift of Tongues contains many different styles coming together to add depth to the music of David E Johnston. The new album from Gift of Tongues is entitled Songs of My People.

Songs of My People from Gift of Tongues begins with the “Preamble”. While “Preamble” is mostly vocals, the sound and feel of the piece brings to mind the track “If I Had a Rock Launcher” from Bruce Cockburn; the helicopter sound effects on the track matched with the angry vocal quality of the narrator while the words on the track themselves have a slightly humorous feel to them.

Once the “Preamble” is over, the real album of Songs of My People from Gift of Tongues begins. The second track, “The Universe,” features a techno feel to the music while also incorporating the Henry Wadsworth Longfellow poem The Song of Hiawatha into the track. The combination of the two ideas creates a very unique (and unusual) track. The music of the track takes on a stronger dance feel a little later in the track while the lyrics of the song seem to say that you need to speak up if you have something to say.

David E Johnston and the rest of the group prove they have plenty of talent to go around as the album continues. The track “Home” takes on a country/jazz feel while also containing some of the techno approach from “The Universe”. The dobro-meets-techno feel of the track creates another very unique sound on the Songs of My People release. The resulting song has many different aspects to it and stays interesting throughout the three-and-a-half minute play time.

While the music of the tracks is the first thing that catches your attention when listening to the new album from Gift of Tongues, it is hard to ignore the lyrical quality of the songs, as well. The track “Big Bad Wolf” is the perfect example of the quality of the lyrics on the album: The track seems to take a fairytale approach to the words and makes them appeal more to the adult section of the listening audience; it’s like listening to the original text to the Brothers Grimm stories- dark and unforgiving. The music of the track brings to mind the dark quality of a band like Nine Inch Nails. The combination of the dark quality to the lyrics and the music creates a track that will appeal to fans of Goth-like music and those bands that make that style of music.

The off-kilter sense of humor that permeates through nearly every track on Songs of My People from Gift of Tongues adds a lot of substance to the album. One of the tracks that are helped from the sense of humor is the song “I Am a Large Man”. While the words of the song may contain a little darkness to them, the humor seems to decrease the sting a bit. Ultimately, “I Am a Large Man” is a track that is very reminiscent of the style of the music that was created by Michael Nealy and Jock Blaney who were known as a band called 2nu back in the nineties. As “I Am a Large Man” brings to mind visions of songs like “This is Ponderous” from that band “I Am a Large Man” from Gift of Tongues would have fit with 2nu’s music very easily.

Every so often, there comes a band that feels the need to create something just a little different. If you are the type who likes something unique from time to time, Songs of My People from David E Johnston and the rest of Gift of Tongues is just the album for you.

Check out some of the music from Gift of Tongues at their Reverbnation profile.