Posts Tagged ‘Dolly Parton’

The_Sweet_Potatoes_1If you are a fan of the American version of the improv show called Whose Line Is It Anyway, you most definitely know the program’s musical director, Laura Hall. What you may not know is that there is a lot more to her than just the ability to improvise behind those who constantly come up with the humor on the show. Coming as something that should be no surprise to anyone, Laura Hall makes use of her musical training in more than just the role of a musical director on an Improv show. On days when she is not found backing up people who make a living making things up off the top of their heads, Hall puts her musical background to use with the band called The Sweet Potatoes.

The Sweet Potatoes is a trio of musicians who blend together some classic musical styles in order to create their sound. Laura Hall makes up only one part of The Sweet Potatoes as she performs on piano, accordion, ukulele as well as mandolin and vocals. Hall’s husband Rick Hall, who has made a name for himself as music composer for the likes of shows such as NCIS and KC Undercover, joins the two ladies in the group as he performs on vocals, bass and harmonica. Kelly Macleod (the woman who formed The Sweet Potatoes with Laura Hall as a duo before Hall’s husband joined them) completes the outfit as she performs on vocals and guitar as well as being a writer with Laura Hall on the band’s songs. Together, the trio combines their various musical talents to create a musical ensemble that creates music that focuses on the style of Folk music.

As a duo, Laura Hall and Kelly Macleod had already released one self-titled album of music in 2010 before Rick Hall joined the ladies. As a trio, The Sweet Potatoes created one album of music, 2014’s Faith, Good Neighbors and a Telephone. Now, the trio formation of The Sweet Potatoes has released a second album, (third all-around for the band) 2017’s Headin’ Home.

Headin’ Home from The Sweet Potatoes begins with the track “Those Pines”. The track begins with two-part harmony coming from Laura Hall and Kelly Macleod to create a Bluegrass-style vocal before Macleod takes the lead on vocals as the group begins a track that is truly a Bluegrass fan’s dream. The track features a story-like feel to the lyrics. Macleod sings of remembering the pine trees where she grew up. As she sings of the place she called home, she describes the time when she came home to attend her mother’s funeral and then taking a walk within the trees so that she could find peace of mind. “Those Pines” is easily one track that will fulfill any Bluegrass fan’s dream of finding real bluegrass music.

With the next track of “By the Light of Day,” the song finds the trio creating a track that falls musically closer to Country music than it does Bluegrass. In fact, the track’s musical blend is about half and half Country and Folk. As Kelly Macleod took the lead on vocals with the previous track, it is Laura Hall’s turn to sing lead. While many of us already knew Hall was a talented musician, “By the Light of Day” proves that she can also sing rather well. Just like with the song before it, this track once again features strong harmonizing from the three band members.

On the third track entitled “Second Hand News,” The Sweet Potatoes create a track that revolves around two people spending quality time together. With this track, Kelly Macleod once again takes the lead on the vocal. Macleod sings about slowing things down while relaxing out in the grass and allowing things to happen as they will as she proves she is better than the woman who has taken her place in the now-defunct relationship. The lyrics to the song contain enough of a hint at what is being sought after without going overboard. “Second Hand News” contains a gentle feel with a moderate pace to the music.

The next song on the release is “Home”. And with this song, the trio brings a little more wholesomeness back to their music. The track “Home” finds Macleod once again singing lead on a track about looking back at the way life used to be. To go along with a gentle pace to the music, “Home” features a lyrical content that is sure to evoke memories of times gone by as Macleod sings about the good times that made her childhood so memorable. “Home” is one of the shining moments on the newest release of Headin’ Home from The Sweet Potatoes.

Many Folk albums venture from time-to-time into a more Gospel-oriented musical direction. Headin’ Home from The Sweet Potatoes is no exception. On the track “Down to the River,” Kelly Macleod sings lyrics about heading down to the water that will cleanse her soul. The music on the track picks up a little more Bluegrass feel than the previous tracks contained. The track contains enough of a religious overtone without getting too preachy. For those who enjoy Bluegrass music, especially old-time Bluegrass with that Gospel connection, “Down to the River” is a great modern-day addition to the genre.

On the next track on the album, The Sweet Potatoes create one of the most commercial songs on the entire album. The song “Without You” once again features Kelly Macleod on lead vocals as she sings about her romantic desires. Macleod’s vocals about not wanting to spend her life with that someone special join music that is closer to Old-fashioned Country music than Bluegrass. In fact, the feel of the music as well as the contents of the lyrics make the track perfect for inclusion on Country radio formats that deal with more of the Classic sound and style. While this track may being rather unusual when comparing it to today’s contemporary Country music, the formats that focus on the style that would include Dolly Parton, George Jones, Patsy Cline and Marty Robbins would welcome “Without You” from The Sweet Potatoes with open arms.

Just as “Without You” comes to an end, the trio of The Sweet Potatoes creates yet another track that features an Old-fashioned Country feel to the music. “Only Thing We Got” features Laura Hall once again on lead vocals as she sings about the one thing that binds us all together- love. While there is still a strong retro feel to the music on the track, “Only Thing We Got” seems like it would fit more with today’s style of Country than most of the tracks on the album. The track exists somewhere between “timeless” and modern.

As you make your way through the dozen tracks that make up the Headin’ Home album from The Sweet Potatoes, you encounter different musical elements that blend together easily to create an album that feels as if it should have been released several decades ago. And while there is the retro or throwback element to the band’s music, The Sweet Potatoes will appeal to fans of the older style of Country/Bluegrass music. For those who are already fans of that style, be sure to add this album to your collection. And to those who are just beginning to explore the older styles of music, Headin’ Home album from The Sweet Potatoes,  is a good place to start.

For more information, check out the Tiny Desk Contest of “Home” from The Sweet Potatoes.

Click on the album cover below to purchase a copy of Headin’ Home from The Sweet Potatoes. 

Sweet Potatoes Headin Home

Kally O’Mally is a California-based singer-songwriter who creates a style of music that is most easily categorized as Americana as she incorporates many different styles into her music. While she would probably be called “Pop,” she also has a generous amount of Country influence in her style as well. Having already created one release titled Easy Money, O’Mally has returned with yet another album entitled The Wild West Medicine Show.

The Wild West Medicine Show from Kally O’Mally begins with the track called “Fly”. The track is a moderately-paced song with a Pop-rock flavor that also contains just a touch of Country sound to it. While the song contains lyrics that bring to mind a slightly old-fashioned Country track, the song features plenty of pop-rock feel and the addition of the banjo on the track adds that Country flavor to the track. The Country/Pop-rock combination in the music creates a track that would fit as much on today’s Country formats as it would fit on any current Top 40 format; thus, creating the perfect crossover song for almost any format on today’s radio dial.

O’Mally’s most recent release continues with the song “Sweet Delta Breeze”. While the track still contains the same easy feel from the previous track, O’Mally eliminates the Country influence on this track while increasing the Pop-rock influence. The song allows the guitars to create an easy Rock feel that may fit with songs from back in the seventies. And while the track does feel slightly retro in its sound, it would be right at home on today’s radio as well.

The title track on The Wild West Medicine Show finds Kally O’Mally creating a track that is equal parts Folk-rock and Country. The combination of all of the genres creates music that seems very appropriate for the subject matter of the travelling medicine show. The Country setting almost makes you imagine being part of the crowd that is being drawn in by the not-so-honest band of misfits that make up the medicine show.

For the track “Kisses,” the feel of the music changes from everything that came before it. The song brings to mind songs from the early days of Rock and Roll. In fact, the listener can almost hear the influence of the Everly Brothers in the music and the melody of the lyrics sung by O’Mally. The music of the track brings out the Americana sound of Kally O’Mally on this track.

Kally O’Mally once again changes musical directions on the song “Miss Understood”. While the tracks that came before “Miss Understood” contain combinations of music styles, O’Mally decided to compose this track using one musical approach. “Miss Understood” feels much like a Country song that would have been played back in the seventies. The Lyrics even bring to mind that era of Country music. Had it been written back a few decades, “Miss Understood” feels like something that Loretta Lynn or Dolly Parton might have sung. The track feels like it should be included on playlists on radio formats that focus on Classic Country.

With the track “2 Days Gone,” Kally O’Mally adds a little more Blues feel to her new release. The track about being down on your luck has a feel that many can get behind as we can all relate to having experienced something that makes us depressed. The Blues feel of the music on the track sets the song apart from most of the album.

With the track of “I’m Gonna Run,” Kally O’Mally makes a statement about abuse. While the song makes a very serious point about a very serious subject matter, the four minutes of the song is well-played while also being entertaining. O’Mally wrote the song to help get some information out there for those who are actually going through an abusive situation.

The Wild West Medicine Show from Kally O’Mally comes to a close with the track “Bourbon On My Deathbed”. The bluegrass-inspired track brings back the simpler feel of Omally’s music. That simpler feel makes for a great way to bring her newest release to a close.

The newest release from Kally O’Mally brings out the Country flavor within the Americana genre that O’Mally calls home. The music on The Wild West Medicine Show changes directions from one track to another and Kally O’Mally is able to keep the music interesting from track-to-track. If you are a fan of Americana music, The Wild West Medicine Show from Kally O’Mally is a strong new release.

After spending time as a singer in several bands, Norway’s Annette Larsson decided she needed to express her own feelings in her own way and so went solo. She came to the United States and made her way to Nashville where she was able to find the ideal situation for the direction she wanted to be headed in.

Annette Larsson’s dream was to create an album of Country music, a genre of music she fell in love with while living in Norway. With the musicians she met in Nashville, Larsson began recording her debut album. Along with Larsson, the rest of the musicians who have brought her music to life include both American and Norwegian musicians who came together to create a unique musical blend that is unmistakably Country while still containing a slight international edge to the music that makes up Larsson’s debut release. That album, entitled Leave Me Behind, is now available.

Leave Me Behind by Annette Larsson begins with the track “Sucks to Be You”. In the song, Larsson sings of breaking free of a relationship that was very one-sided and now being happy to be able to breathe once again. The track begins with a mix of mandolin and violin that combine to create the basis of the music of the track. That musical basis has a very folk-like feel to it before the track transitions to a more modern-day Country feel. The unique musical approach mixed with the lyrics about being an independent woman should easily appeal to listeners of today’s Country music radio formats.

The album continues with the song “Mean As You”. The song features a large amount of modern Country-Rock sound with the electric guitar playing as big a part in the track as the fiddle while still containing an equal amount of classic Country flavor of songs from the late sixties/early seventies. The slight duet sound of Annette Larsson singing with Wes Hightower also gives the track that classic Country flavor familiar to fans of songs that feature duets between Tammy Wynette and George Jones and/or between Dolly Parton and Porter Waggoner.

The feel of the album changes slightly on the title track of the release. “Leave Me Behind” will remind many of music from Bonnie Raitt. The music of the track has a very Bluesy feel to it while still retaining the Country flavor that the listener has become accustomed to from the previous tracks. The Blues/Country combination comes courtesy of the electric guitar from Brent Mason and the steel guitar from Paul Franklin. The alternating of the two sounds from Mason and Franklin along with the addition of the keys from Asbjørn Nørgaard help to give the track a lot of depth to the music of the track and that helps make “Leave Me Behind” one of the highlights of the new release from Annette Larsson.

Annette Larsson’s Leave Me Behind continues with the song “Hot Headed Woman”. The song easily reminds you of something that would have been released by Dolly Parton several years ago. The music has a classic Country style that goes along with lyrics that have a timeless feel to them. This is one of the tracks that prove that Larsson can hold her own in today’s Country music scene.

While “Hot Headed Woman” takes Larsson’s music back to the time of classic Country music, the track “If That Ain’t Country” sounds like something that would definitely fit with today’s Country music radio formats. The song sounds like something that Martina McBride, Carrie Underwood or even Reba McEntire would have recorded for one of their releases.

Like many Country artists, Annette Larsson’s new release also comes complete with a track that could easily end up being a “crossover” track. The song “Leave Me Behind” has just the right sentiment that Country fans, and music fans in general, could get behind. The song could easily fit right beside Dolly Parton’s version of “I Will Always Love You” or Whitney Houston’s version, depending on format.

Throughout the ten tracks that make up Annette Larsson’s album Leave Me Behind, there is plenty of music that will satisfy fans of Country music. And just like Keith Urban before her, Larsson proves that you don’t have to be American to create Country music that sounds authentic.

Reviewer: Matheson Kamin Rating: **** (four stars)

To hear just a taste of Annette Larsson’s music click here.