Posts Tagged ‘Folk’

Wild Side

The very definition of the musical genre called Americana is: “a genre of American music having roots in early folk and country music”. But every so often, someone from outside of America comes along who adds their flavor to the music. That outside influence from the likes of someone like New Zealander Keith Urban helps to keep the music fresh as that artist helps to push the boundaries of the music. You can now add yet another outsider influence to the Americana music genre as the band Hometown Marie is currently ripping up the Country charts over in their country of Sweden.


Sweden’s Hometown Marie takes the Americana genre and makes it their own. In fact, if you were not aware of just where the band comes from, you would swear they were just your average American Country band. The Swedish band consists of: Oskar Östman, Singer, songwriter, guitarist; Gabriel Carlsson, Bass, vocals; Simon Peterson, Drummer; and Accel  Ramberg, Lead guitarist. Together, the quartet has released one four-song EP in 2016 entitled Wild Side and two new singles that were added to the band’s musical output in 2018. 


Hometown Marie’s Wild Side EP begins with the track “Like We Used To”. Right from the very beginning, the track screams Top 40 Country radio as the track features a strong current Country music feeling. In fact, the song feels as if it was recorded down in Nashville with some of the best professionals in that town. “Like We Used To” features strong mandolin playing and plenty of Country twang. The mid-tempo pace of the track gives it an easy feeling as the song plays out. That tempo works well for the song as the lyrics describe a couple in the middle of a dance that takes them back in time to when they met each other. Being the first track off of the Wild Side EP, “Like We Used To” lets the listener know that the band is serious about creating music in the Country vein. 


The band picks things up a bit with the track “Yours Tonight”. With“Yours Tonight,” the band ventures into a sound where the band combines elements of Folk music with Country. The result is a slightly lighter feel to the music. But that lighter feel comes with a quicker tempo to the music and a slightly heavier groove than what was present on “Like We Used To”. The inclusion of the mandolin at the very beginning of the track helps to set the song in motion. It is that mandolin that truly brings the Folk influence in the song to the forefront. The quicker pace and stronger groove to the song creates a moment on the EP that would fit right in with anything on today’s Country music radio formats.


Just as fast as Hometown Marie changed the pace of the music with a faster tempo on “Yours Tonight,” the band tones things down again on the next track of“Run to You”. The tempo for that song is much slower but the track also comes with a very steady, yet strong beat provided by drummer Simon Peterson. The slow pace and steady beat of the song carry the track throughout its four-minute playtime with no changing of the pace or delivery of that beat. Along with the slow, steady beat from Simon Peterson that is present on the track,the rest of Hometown Marie adds to the track with instrumental deliveries that are rather sparse in nature. The limited amount of playing from the band members on the song help to create a track that rather simple in nature yet somehow also seems full-bodied at the same time.


The Wild Side EP from Hometown Marie comes to an end with the album’s title track. “Wild Side” is easily the hardest rockin’ track of the four songs that make up the 2016 release. The harder guitars and stronger beat on the track blend together to create a track that is perfect for fans of today’s Country music. And the mention of a “Hollywood Smile”in the lyrics adds even more of an “American” feel to the music, which just helps to put the band further into the Americana music genre. For those fans of today’s Country music, “Wild Side” is one track that will fill your need for Contemporary Country music.


While the four tracks that make up the Wild Side EP from Hometown Marie are solid, there is more to the band than just that EP. The band has just recently added two more tracks to their musical library. Those new tracks are “Stay The Night” and “Take Me Back”.


Right from the beginning of the track, “Stay the Night” from Hometown Marie hits the listener with a sound that places the Rock and Roll influence of the band atop the band’s Country influence. While both genres are solidly present in the song, the track contains more of a Rock and Roll influence than Country twang. The track also seems to also contain other influences to the music as well. For instance, the entire track is rather reminiscent of a song from the Scottish rock band Big Country from 1988 called “King of Emotion”. Whether there is a connection between that song and Hometown Marie remains to be seen. However, the resulting track by Hometown Marie would have fit on American radio airwaves back in the eighties just as easily as it would on today’s radio.


The second track that the band just recently released is called “Take Me Back”. The introduction to the track finds the band slowly leading into the track as the track builds. As the song builds, what is revealed is a song that contains a strong influence from eighties-era Rock and Roll with just a little Country twang. The lyrical content about a man asking for forgiveness has a universal appeal to it and the musical approach of the track combine to create a track that fans of Rock and Roll of the eighties and fans of today’s Country music will both enjoy.


Swedish band Hometown Marie may not have an album of music available, but the Wild Side EP and the band’s two newest singles of “Take Me Back” and “Stay the Night” provide the listener with six tracks of strong music with plenty of crossover appeal for those who enjoy Rock and Roll from the eighties and/or fans of Country music. Whichever side of the aisle you find yourself on, Hometown Marie creates music that appeals to a lot of people. 



To hear the music of Hometown Marie, check out the music video to the band’s newest single, “Stay the Night“.

You can find Hometown Marie and their music over on the band’s Spotify account.

  

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Folk duo of Maria Quiles and Rory Cloud are two singer/songwriters that create a folk music sound in the songs they create.Those songs are rather simplistic in nature as they draw upon only the guitars and vocals from Quiles and Cloud. That simplistic writing approach is more than apparent on the duo’s 2012 release entitled Long Time Coming.

Having already released Long Time Coming, Maria Quiles and Rory Cloud (now known simply as Quiles and Cloud) went about adding other musical components to their music to expand their sound. To bring their current musical vision to life, the duo called upon upright bassist Oscar Westesson, vocalist/pianist Julian Muller and Irene Sazer on violin. While the duo’s current sound is richer and fuller, it still has a simplistic approach and still makes use of their folk background. That expanded sound is found on the recently released 2014 Quiles and Cloud album called Seminole Star.

To help bring Seminole Star to life, the participating musicians gathered in the OTR Studios. That “live” feeling is definitely present as you listen to the release.

Seminole Star from Quiles and Cloud begins with the track “All My Trouble Gone”. No place on the album is it more apparent that this release is a “live in the studio” release than on this track as the beginning of the track starts with a beat being established only to be quickly replaced by a faster beat once Maria Quiles begins to sing the lyrics to the song. While that beginning seems a tad awkward, the track soon becomes one of the strongest tracks on the release as the guitars; bass and violin all combine to create a track that is unmistakably folk-like. One of the fun elements of the track is violinist Irene Sazer’s use of her violin to create bird sounds to go along with the lyrics of being able to fly. While the track has a relatively slow tempo that tempo increases about halfway in and the resulting faster pace of the song gives the track a nice amount of energy and it is that fast pace that brings the song to its end.

The quick pace established during “All My Trouble Gone” helps to lead into the next track of “Fool to Run”. Like the song before, “Fool to Run” has a strong pace to it. Like the song before it, “Fool to Run” has a strong pace to it. The track features both Maria Quiles and Rory Cloud on vocals. While Maria handles the majority of the lyrics, Rory joins her on the refrains and the two create a duet-like feel to the lyrics. While “All My Troubles Gone” contained music from Maria, Rory, bassist Oscar Westesson and violin Irene Sazer, it was in an ensemble setting. With “Fool to Run,” the musicians get a little opportunity to show off as both Westesson and Sazer help to create some very strong moments on the track.

If any one song on Seminole Star could be released as a single, it would easily be “Pass”. The song features music that feels as much like the Blues as it does like Folk. The lyrics to the song incorporate such as “baby, it’s cold outside” and “stop and stay a while”. The vocals delivered by Maria Quiles bring to mind artists such as Shawn Colvin and Paula Cole. The track feels very commercial and ready-made for the radio.

On Seminole Star’s title track, Quiles and Cloud revert backto a simple folk approach to their music. The music on the track is createdmainly by the guitars from the two. In fact, while the song does containbassist Oscar Westesson and violinist Irene Sazer, the two are part of the songto more or less just add a little texture to the track. As you listen to MariaQuiles sing the lyrics, the melody in the part of the main body of the song hasa hauntingly-familiar sound to it (Neil Young’s “Ohio,” anyone?).

One of the prettiest moments on the Seminole Star release belongs to the song “Empty Handed”. The trio of Maria Quiles, Rory Cloud and bassist Oscar Westesson create a track with an easy feel to the music. One of the elements that give the track such a beautiful sound is Westesson’s bowing technique on the standup bass. That bowing technique adds both beauty and depth to the feeling of the song.

With Quiles and Cloud having released Seminole Star only mere days before the end of 2014, the album helped the year come to an end on a very strong note. But since many fans of the duo will actually discover the release in 2015, it can also be said that it will help start the year off with a bang.

Check out the full-band version of “Pass,” a track off of Seminole Star from Quiles and Cloud.

Also check out the duo’s YouTubeChannel for downloads of all of the tracks on the release.


(Post script: What you are reading is a re-post of a review that had originally been published back in 2015. Because of a few problems (which started with a simple trying to redo the album cover which had somehow disappeared from the review), the review needed to be redone. 
Since the original publication of this review, the project of Quiles & Cloud disbanded. But they left behind three good albums that are still worth checking out.) 



Matt KjeldsenAustin-based singer-songwriter Matt Kjeldsen spent the year 2015 releasing two albums of original music. Released together at the same time, the albums Consequence and Renaissance plus Clouds and Cages contained a total of twenty-two tracks. But in reality, those twenty-two tracks were just a small sample of the songs that Kjeldsen had written at that time.

The reason why twenty-two songs is only a small amount for Kjeldsen is because he makes his living as a composer who works on supplying instrumental music for music libraries where those songs can and may well eventually be used for something or other. The resulting concept ended up being numerous song ideas that eventually lead him to create full-blown songs. And many of those ideas ended up being extended into songs that became the two albums entitled Consequence and Renaissance plus Clouds and Cages.

Now, three years later, Matt Kjeldsen returns with another release. This time, the singer-songwriter has produced a five-song EP called Last Days.

Matt Kjeldsen’s Last Days EP begins with the track called “Closer to Texas”. To start his new release off, Kjeldsen creates a track with a definite Americana feel to it. While the track features a strong Folk feel to the music in the form of a guitar and mandolin, there is also a Country background to the music if the form of the addition of the banjo that gives the track a feel that falls somewhere between the two styles. Because of the dual feel, “Closer to Texas” would fall firmly into the Americana genre. To go along with the feel of the music, the lyrical content finds Kjeldsen singing about finding his way back to the woman he once fell in love with.

With the song “I Should Know Me Better than That by Now,” Matt Kjeldsen creates a track that falls into the Folk-Rock category. The first thing the listener will notice is the lighter feel of the music. The more laidback feel to the music results in a track that feels as if it would have felt right at home back in the seventies. The acoustic guitar drives the feel of the music which contains a similarly easy feel that the previous track had. The difference between the two songs is that “I Should Know Me Better than That by Now” would have fit right in the middle of an MOR (Middle of the Road) radio format back in the seventies. While the track does have a laidback approach, the song feels as if it would have easily been a successful track at the time.

Last Days from Matt Kjeldsen continues with the title track of the EP. With this track, Kjeldsen creates another laidback tune with a Folk flavor to it. The title track of “Last Days” brings back some of the Americana feel that came from “Closer to Texas” as there is more to the feel of the music than just Folk influence. While the majority of the music falls into Folk, the addition of strings also gives the song a bit of Classical music influence. While the previous two tracks contain the aforementioned laidback feeling, the addition of the strings makes “Last Days” the most laidback of the tracks thus far. The track comes complete with a storytelling feel to the lyrics as Kjeldsen tells of a civilization that fell apart because of bad choices. It’s actually hard not to see some parallels between that time in history and what is currently going on. That may very well be what Kjeldsen is trying to get across with this track.

The first three tracks on Matt Kjeldsen’s newest release contain a certain amount of feeling that connects the tracks together in a similar fashion. But with the fourth song on the EP called “What Once Was,” Kjeldsen changes things up. Gone is the Folk feeling. What replaces it in this track is a much stronger Rock and Roll approach. And in particular, the feel of the music and the delivery of the lyrics on the track bring to mind the music of Tom Petty. As opposed to some tracks from Petty, the track of “What Once Was” has a very current feel to it, as if Petty himself would have recorded it not that long ago.

The latest EP from Matt Kjeldsen called Last Days comes to a close with the track “Ghosts and Shadows”. With this final track, Kjeldsen creates the strongest, hardest-rocking track of the five songs that appear on the EP. Gone away is the feeling of Folk…anything. Instead, what Kjeldsen creates is a Rock and Roll track that contains a strong, driving feel to the music. The track contains a feeling that feels like a combination of late sixties Psychedelic Rock and Rock and Roll from the late eighties. The track also contains lyrics that seem to suggest a time not unlike the days of Halloween. The track’s lyrical content also suggests something of a darker nature, like a haunting or something like that. With that combination, “Ghosts and Shadows” stands out as perhaps the most unusual of the five tracks that make up the Last Days release.

While only five songs long, Last Days from Matt Kjeldsen seems to present two different sides to the singer-songwriter. The first three tracks show off the more Folky side of his personality while the final two tracks help to bring out his more rocking’ side. That division creates an EP with a split feeling in its music. That isn’t a bad thing, however. It just means that there different influences that feed Kjeldsen’s writing. As it is, the five-song EP is a good place to start if you are unfamiliar with the music from Matt Kjeldsen.

For more on Matt Kjeldsen and his music, check out his website called Matt’s Music Box.

For a taste of Kjeldsen’s music, check out the title track off of the Last Days release. 

To hear the Last Days EP, click on the album cover below:
Kjeldsen

ProvidenceSinger-songwriter Gordon Thomas Ward splits his time between creating music that would fit into several different genres and writing books that cover just as many topics as his music seems to cover genres. That stretching of his talents means that Ward continues to add to his many different influences. And those influences, in turn, influence each other. As far as his music is concerned, Ward has already released one album with the title of Welcome to the Past. Soon, however, he will be adding to that album with another release. The newest release from Gordon Thomas Ward is titled Providence.

The Providence EP from Gordon Thomas Ward is a short, five-song release that begins with the track “Acadia Lament- Names Into Stone”. This beginning track makes it rather obvious that Ward has influences that stretch the gamut as the song begins with a Classical music influence that feels very medieval in nature. The lutes and guitars in that section of the track create a moment of about two minutes consisting of relaxing music before the song segues into something a lot more intense. The second part of the track turns up the heat as the Folk-Rock created features a strong electric guitar and a strong driving feel to the music. Near the end of the track, the music seems to combine the Classical flavor from the beginning with the later musical approach with the strong Folk-Rock feel.

Gordon Thomas Ward changes the direction of the music with the next track. While the previous track takes two different paths in its music with widely different sounds, the song of “Destiny” takes on yet another approach. With this song, the music seems to be rather influenced by the music of the band The Eagles as the track’s Folk-Rock music appears to have a touch of Country flavor to it, much like much of the aforementioned supergroup from the seventies. The lyrical content to “Destiny” finds the singer pondering life as he travels down the road. For those who enjoy some of the music from the seventies, this song will take you back to those days while still containing a fresh feel to the music.

Providence from Gordon Thomas Ward takes on a more emotional feel with the next track of “Just One More”. Like the track before it, “Just One More” finds Gordon Thomas Ward creating a track with Folk flavor to it. But with this track, the emphasis is squarely on the Folk genre as the track contains more Folk feeling than the rest of the tracks on this EP. To go along with the Folk sound that exists inside of the track, Ward writes lyrics that have a lot more of an emotional tug than the rest of the release. The lyrics to the track deal wanting only one more time with those you love, especially those who are now gone, the ones you will never have the chance to spend that time with again. “Just One More” will grab you by the heart and never let go throughout the four-an-a-half minutes of playtime.

As “Just One More” features the most Folk flavor of any of the tracks on the Providence release, the track “The Horseman” finds Gordon Thomas Ward creating a song with the most Country influence to it. It turns out that the Country/Folk combination on the track is a good base to go along with the lyrics to the track. The lyrics, it seems, revolve around the tale of The Headless Horseman. The use of the Country/Folk musical blend goes well with the setting of the story which takes place back in the late 1700’s. With “The Horseman” being a story set to music, the track puts both sides of Ward’s personality to good use, blending the storyteller and musician together on the track.

With the song “One Kiss,” Gordon Thomas Ward seems to be channeling the spirit of John Denver as his vocals, lyrical content and all-around sound to the music of the track bring to mind the style of the now-deceased Denver.  The final track of the EP brings back a lot of the emotions and mindset that had been found on the song “Just One More” as the lyrics deal with looking back at moments that have past too quickly, whether it’s a child growing up, or the loss of one’s mother. The emotional feeling of the track brings the 5-song release to a close in a way that will stay with you long after the last note ends.

Providence from Gordon Thomas Ward may be a short, five-song release, but the tracks that make it up give the listener several different musical approaches throughout those tracks. Because of that, the short but powerful EP gives the listener a good representation of what the music of Gordon Thomas Ward is like.

To check out the music of Gordon Thomas Ward, check out the track “One Kiss“. 

For more information, check out Gordon Thomas Ward’s PR firm of Whiplash PR & Management by clicking on the logo for the company. 

Whiplash

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

Scott Smith picThe Bay Area is where singer/songwriter Scott Smith creates his music. Smith’s music consists of many different elements of found in different genres of music. Smith takes Country, Blues and other genres and blends them together to form his version of Americana. With this style of music, Smith has already released one album entitled Sum of Life. That album was released back in 2016. Now, Smith returns with a two-song single to follow that release. The new music from Scott Smith consists of the tracks “I Will Love You” followed by the track “Spinning Around”. Scott Smith’s song of “I Will Love You” begins the two-song release. With this song, Smith blends together some Folk and a touch of Rock and Roll to create the song. The mostly Folk-flavored song contains a driving feel to the pace of the music that is courtesy of the banjo that helps to shape the Folk part of the track. And it is the Folk flavor of the music that stands the most when listening to the song. There is also a strong beat that accompanies the banjo on the track. That beat gives the song more of a Rock and Roll feel than Bluegrass feel. The combination of the different genres of music on the song once again re-enforces the reason as to why the music of Scott Smith would it is that his music falls into the Americana genre.  Sometimes when a single is released with two tracks, it is rather easy to tell which of the two songs the single is and which of the tracks was chosen to back the single up. This is clearly the case with the new single from Scott Smith. Between the two songs of “I Will Love You” and “Spinning Around,” it is sadly obvious as to which is which as “Spinning Around” fails to live up to the magic contained within “I Will Love You”. Going from one track to the next, is seems as if the lyrics for the track of “Spinning Around” were written with less effort on Smith’s part. The magic fades from one track to the next. That being said, while the lyrical content on the track is not as strong as on “I Will Love You,” “Spinning Around” does contain a stronger musical approach as Smith focuses on more Rock and Roll flavor and less Folk influence on the track. The “I Will Love You”/“Spinning Around” single from the Bay Area’s Scott Smith finds the singer-songwriter continuing to make use of many different musical elements to form his songs. And while the two tracks may not be as collectively strong as Smith’s Sum of Life release, the track of “I Will Love You”  is a song that finds the writer continuing to create music with an overall appealing feel to it.

To check out the music of Scott Smith, click HERE for the track of “I Will Love You”. 

For more information, check out Scott Smith’s PR firm of Whiplash PR & Management by clicking on the logo for the company. 

Whiplash

 

 

Moccasin BenderRandy Steele has spent time as part of the band Slim Pickens Bluegrass. But after a few years in that musical ensemble, he went out on his own while taking the style of music that the group had been known for with him. Now as a solo artist, Steele has begun making a name for himself taking that style of music and making it fit his own personality. That resulted in the 2017 album entitled Songs from the Suck, a title that had to do with the location where Steele was from, Suck Creek, Tennessee.

Having released one solo album and finding a fanbase that was positively receptive to his music, Randy Steele returns with a new EP of music. This release is entitled Moccasin Bender.  And just like his previous album, the title of this new collection of music comes with a reference to the area where Steele comes from. Moccasin Bend is both an archaeological site and national park located in Tennessee.

With a lot of Bluegrass/Country music being influenced by real life, it comes as no surprise that Randy Steele would create a song that came straight out of his life. The EP lead-off song “Mabbitt Springs” deals with Steele being thankful that his son beat cancer. For this track and its upbeat message, Steele creates a musical background that contains a completely full sound consisting of banjo, slide guitar, fiddle and drums. That full sound leads off the EP which switches to a much simpler feel on the very next track.

Moccasin Bender continues with the track “Adam and Rose”. The simple musical accompaniment of just the banjo creates a relatively simple Bluegrass track. Like the previous song, “Adam and Rose“ finds Randy Steele creating a track with a real-life feel to the lyrics of the song. “Adam and Rose” features lyrics about two young adults making their way in the world and coming upon life’s everyday difficulties. The music’s slow pace seems to be a perfect fit as the music acts like the perfect bed for the lyrics that spell out the story.

The new six-song EP from Randy Steele continues with the track “Big Talkin’ Woman”. With this track, Steele creates one of the most commercial moments on his release. The track features a full-bodied feel to the music including a slide-guitar solo in the body of the track. While the song easily has a throwback feel to the music, that retro feel would have fit in well with songs in the seventies/eighties. “Big Talkin’ Woman” from Randy Steele will give fans of Old-fashioned Country music something to truly enjoy.

With the next track, Randy Steele touches on a subject that is rather difficult: Drug Addiction. The track called “Age of Ben” features lyrics that act as a storyline as Steele tells the story of as boy who never really had a real chance at life. The main character in the song is born with a developmental problem that gets worse later in life. And having been given up for adoption, he never got to know his real mother. When all gets too difficult to deal with, “Ben” turns to opium which just makes things worse. Just like with the track “Adam and Rose” earlier in the release, “Age of Ben” comes complete with a rather simplistic feel to the music. But unlike the other track which featured the banjo, this track finds Steel creating the simple music of the track with the guitar. The guitar-only background to the track seems to add to the sadness contained within the lyrics.

While several of the tracks on this release find Randy Steele exploring his storytelling side, the track “Rummies” finds him creating a track that has a rather familiar feel to those who know artists such as Gordon Lightfoot. In fact, if it wasn’t for the fact that this song was written around To Have and Have Not, a novel written by Ernest Hemmingway, it would have been a good guess that Steele had used Lightfoot as an influence for the track; which he may have as far as the music of the song is concerned. “Rummies” shows off Steele’s ability to take a storyline and set it to music.

Randy Steele’s new six-song EP comes to a close with the track “Pretty Little Girl with a Blue Dress On”. The track closes the EP out with one of the simplest musical approaches. The lone banjo and Randy Steele’s vocals on the short track bring to mind something that could have come from someone like The Stanley Brothers or someone else that are easily just as well-known from the Bluegrass genre.

Randy Steele stepped out on his own with his first release entitled Songs from the Suck. Taking the next step with his second release, Steele proves that his songwriting skills are still just as sharp. With the track “Adam and Rose” which features a rather simple musical back ground, or “Rummies” that shows off his ability to take an idea and make it his own, the Moccasin Bender release proves to be a well-made second release from the Tennessee-based Randy Steele.

For more information, check out his PR firm, Whiplash PR

Moccasin Bender from Randy Steele is due to be released in the near future. Until then, check out Randy Steele’s live version of “Adam and Rose,” a track that will be on the Moccasin Bender release.