Posts Tagged ‘Joni Mitchell’

Paula Boggs Band | Songs of Protest and Hope (Live)By day, Washington State-based singer-songwriter Paula Boggs has spent many years working inside of the corporate world. But no matter how impressive Paula Boggs’ personal and corporate achievements have been, she still finds time to allow for her artistic side to shine through.

As a singer-songwriter, Paula Boggs has released three albums: 2010’s A Buddha State of Mind, 2015’s Carnival of Miracles and 2016’s Songs of Protest & Hope. It is with that newest release that Boggs and her band are currently touring.

Paul Boggs’ newest release of Songs of Protest & Hope features not only Boggs on guitar, ukulele and vocals, it also features Mark Chinen on guitar, banjo; Tim Conroy on keyboards, accordion, melodica, trumpet, vocals; Tor Dietrichson on percussion, vocals; Jarrett Mason on bass, vocals; and Sandy Greenbaum on drums. Together, the members of The Paula Boggs Band create Folk Rock that lives up to the spirit of the songs that had been created back in the sixties during an earlier time when the nation was experiencing the same type of political unrest that seems to be happening right now.

For her new release, Paula Boggs created her new EP with her band live in the studio at Empty Sea Studios. The inclusion of the audience responses throughout the EP gives the songs a feeling of real urgency as Boggs sings about issues that are sure to resonate on a very personal level with today’s audiences.

Songs of Protest & Hope from The Paula Boggs Band begins with one of the most notable tracks from back in the sixties. It was during that era leading up to the U.S. involvement in Vietnam that the tune “Get Together” from The Youngbloods had become an anthem for the youth of America. Paula Boggs and her band took “Come Together,” added a little more folk influence to the Folk-Rock song and slowed the pace down just a little. This created a slower, easier version of the tune. This keeps the spirit of the track alive while still making the song feel fresh for a new generation to discover.

The next track on the Songs of Protest & Hope release keeps the Paula Boggs Band in the same time period as they cover the song “Woodstock” from Joni Mitchell. The major difference that the listener will find when listening to Boggs’ version of the tune is that her version is guitar-based while Mitchell’s version was piano-based. The slightly more upbeat version from Boggs gives the track a new life and it gives the track more energy, as well. Just like “Get Together” before it, “Woodstock” finds the Paula Boggs Band creating a track that keeps the spirit of the original song alive. And because of the fact that Boggs has a vocal style that contains a very unique quality to it just like Mitchell’s voice is rather unique, Boggs’ vocal delivery on “Woodstock” is a rather good match of Joni Mitchell. Together, “Woodstock” and Get Together” take the listener back in time to another era where some of the music is just as relevant today as it was back then.

With the remaining three tracks on the Songs of Protest & Hope release from the Paula Boggs Band, Boggs and Company focus on some of her original material. The first of these original songs is “Edith’s Coming Home,” a track that contains lyrics about a woman whose final days are made more difficult because of the Alzheimer’s that is afflicting her. “Edith’s Coming Home” brings Paula Boggs’ jazz influences more to the forefront than the previous tracks. The band creates music that contains a much stronger groove that is reminiscent of the music that would have been found backing up beatnik poets. But with Paula Boggs’ vocal delivery, the song would feel right at home with a band like the Manhattan Transfer.

The next track of “Look Straight Ahead” finds Paula Boggs revisiting material from her earlier release of A Buddha State of Mind. While the track about trying to avoid seeing the bad things that are happening all around was relevant back in 2010, the track feels even more relevant today. Together, the entire ensemble helps to bring the song to life while staying true to the original studio version of the track.

The new release from the Paula Boggs Band comes to a close with the track “Get Along Song”. Like several other tracks included in the Songs of Protest & Hope release, the track “Get Along Song” makes a strong plea for people to find a way to live together. Although set in modern times, the track’s sound and message once again sends the listener back into the sixties when civil unrest was tearing the country apart.

Songs of Protest & Hope from the Paula Boggs Band is one current release that feels both fresh and dated at the same time because of the overall messages that are contained within it. But because of the political climate of the world today, it’s great to see someone from today creating the same type of messages that would have been welcome fifty years ago.

With this release, Paula Boggs proves herself to be a strong singer-songwriter as well as an individual that cares about very strong issues that haunt today’s youth. Songs of Protest & Hope from the Paula Boggs Band makes good use of two sides of Paula Boggs’ personality as the singer-songwriter side and the activist side come through in this release.

For more information, check out Paula Boggs’s website.

To check out a little bit of Paula Boggs’s sound, watch this live performance of “Get Along Song“.

 

 

Cleveland-based singer-songwriter Maria Jacobs has one of the most beautiful voices in the Greater Cleveland music scene. It is easy to tell why she has been able to work with many different people in the area including the Cleveland Orchestra and the MLK Celebration Chorus for the Martin Luther King Jr. Maria Jacobs’ clear, melodic vocal delivery is just perfect for orchestral and jazz settings. Because of that, it’s easy to see why the music of choice for Maria Jacobs is jazz.
Having already created several albums of music that have been widely well-received by the Greater Cleveland area, Maria Jacobs has just returned with her latest offering; the new album is entitled Here Comes Winter. The 2014 release is split between Maria Jacobs’ original compositions and jazzy arrangements of songs that were made famous by other singers.
To bring Here Comes Winter to life, Maria Jacobs teamed up with several well-known Cleveland musicians to help create the songs. Guitarist Bob Fraser, keyboardist Cliff Habian, bassist Bob Curry, standup bassist Brian Wildman and keyboardist/organ player David Strieter all contributed to the music that is contained on the album.
Here Comes Winter from Maria Jacobs begins with the album’s title track. “Here Comes Winter” features Jacobs as both singer and keyboardist, plus Bob Fraser on guitar and standup bassist Brian Wildman. The resulting trio feeling that fills the track creates a solid jazz sound in the music as Jacobs sings about the changing of the seasons to something a lot colder. While the lyrics of the song speak of that approaching coldness, the vocals from Jacobs contain a nice amount of warmth. The song ends up having a nice balance between the cold and the warmth.
While the track of “Here Comes Winter” ultimately became the title track of the new release from Maria Jacobs because of the underlying theme of winter that is also included on the later track of Joni Mitchell’s “River,” it is the song “Till Forever Comes” that is truly the standout track on the album. “Till Forever Comes” features Jacobs, guitarist Bob Fraser, electric bassist Bob Curry and also includes string patches from Cliff Habian. The tune contains a nice Smooth Jazz feel to the music and the inclusion of the strings from Habian gives the track a nice orchestral feel. Maria Jacobs’ vocals delivery on the track feels jazzy but will also remind the listener of something that might have been produced back in the 1970s. The resulting musical feel of “Till Forever Comes” is very timeless and instantly comes across as a newly-minted jazz standard.
“Art of Saying Goodbye,” another Maria Jacobs original on her new release, also makes use of that same orchestral feeling that is featured on “Till Forever Comes”. And just like that song, “Art of Saying Goodbye” contains almost the same musical lineup with the exception of standup bassist Brian Wildman who replaces electric bassist Bob Curry. With the subject matter of saying goodbye being very universal, the track feels like something that would appear in a theatrical production on Broadway. Because of that theatrical feeling, you could easily imagine someone like Barbra Streisand or another well-known singer of standards incorporating the song into their musical repertoire.  
As Here Comes Winter is split between Maria Jacobs originals and arrangements of songs from other people, there are plenty of moments within those cover songs that are worth mentioning. Here are just a few of the highlights:
The classic song of “Time After Time” that was written by Sammy Cahn gets a very simple treatment as Maria Jacobs is joined by only one other musician. The single guitar on the track and Jacobs’ vocals create a track with a very timeless feel to go along with that timeless composition.
Another highlight that occurs on the album is the arrangement of Joni Mitchell’s “Case of You”. Like “Time After Time,” the arrangement of the music on this track is rather simple with Bob Fraser once again backing Maria Jacobs up on guitar. The multiple-guitar sound creates a very nice texture to the music and also gives the song more body than “Time After Time”. Cliff Habian’s strings also help add a nice orchestral feel to the piece. The guitar and string arrangement gives new life to Joni Mitchell’s song while still keeping some of the folk flavor that Mitchell is known for.
The aforementioned song of “River” from Joni Mitchell once again finds Maria Jacobs and Bob Fraser teamed up to create yet another intimate track. The Christmas-inspired song begins with a simple guitar and vocalization arrangement of “Silent Night” before transitioning into Mitchell’s lyrics about the holiday season and longing to be where she can experience a White Christmas. The jazz/folk combination in the music helps to create one of the most beautiful moments on the new release from Maria Jacobs.
Maria Jacobs returns with a solid album with Here Comes Winter. If you’re a fan of jazz music or just want to listen to something a little more relaxing from time to time, this album is something that is definitely worth checking out.

Austin, Texas-based Lizzy Lehman has made a name for herself in the folk music scene in that area. And now she is making a new identity for herself as part of the very recently-founded band Carry Illinois. Along with Lehman, the rest of the band consists of guitarist Darwin Smith, bassist Nick Droz and drummer Rudy Villarreal. Together, Lehman and the rest of the musicians in the band have created a group that builds on Lehman’s Folk music identity and takes her songs in a new direction that truly gives her songs a new life. The resulting Americana sound from this new musical ensemble blends folk and rock and other genres together to create a sound that is very enjoyable. This blending of genres can be found on the band’s new release entitled Siren.

The first track from the Siren EP from Carry Illinois is the track “Weakest Limb”. The song features a slow-placed Indie Rock sound. The drums from Rudy Villarreal provide a very strong beat that creates that slow pace in the track. Along with that strong beat, the rest of the band combine to create music that has a very infectious feel. And when Lizzy Lehman adds her lyrics about trying to make it through an unforgiving world, you end up with a track that many people can get behind. With the various elements of the song playing together, the track ends up being one of the best moments from the Siren release.

While “Weakest Limb” finds Carry Illinois creating a track that has an Indie Rock sound, the title track of “Siren” incorporates many more musical aspects to create a song that is just as strong as that first track. The track starts off with a quietness that quickly gives way to folk-influenced music. With banjo and cello added to the music of the track, there is a definite folk influence to the music that is undeniable. While “Siren” does contain some folk music influence to it, there is so much more to it as the band incorporates drum loops and other instruments that help add elements to the track not normally found in folk music.

With the song, “Jackson,” the music takes on the most folk-like of any of the tracks on the Siren EP from Carry Illinois. The addition of the banjo and standup bass to the music of the track helps give the track that folk base that will be so familiar to fans of Lehman but like the rest of the song, the folk base is only part of the track. The strong yet simple drum part, the simple electric guitar and keyboard parts on the track help give the song a lot of energy while still allowing a lot of the folk flavor to shine through. With all of the various musical elements, the song easily falls into the folk-rock category as the music of the song has an easy feel to it while still containing a rock influence, as well.

Carry Illinois returns to a more rock-like sound with the track “Nothing to Despise”. The track begins with a feel that may remind of songs that were created by more traditional folk singer-songwriters like Carole King and Joni Mitchell. But very soon, the drumbeat and loops on the track helps bring the track back to an Indie Rock feel to the music. The song features lyrics that seem to focus on an upbeat look at the afterlife as opposed to songs with lyrics that focus on the finality of death. While still not a very upbeat track because of the subject matter, “Nothing to Despise” does seem to say to live life to the fullest while you can.

The Siren EP from Carry Illinois comes to an end with the track “A Good Farewell”. The music takes on the most folk-like of any of the tracks on the release. With the simplicity of only a guitar and banjo as the main instruments on the track, the track contains a very minimalistic approach to the music. With this track, the listener gets a good idea of what Lizzy Lehman’s songs sound like when she is the only one creating the music. The addition of RP Oates on the banjo helps give the track some depth while still allowing a certain amount of simplicity to exist in the music.
Taking the songs of Lizzy Lehman and giving them some depth that was not there before, Carry Illinois has created an album in Siren that will make folk music fans happy while also giving rock music fans a lot to smile about. Whether you are a fan of Rock and Roll or of Folk music, Siren is a release you should really check out.

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

Click HERE to hear the song “Nothing to Despise” from Carry Illinois from the band’s Bandcamp profile.

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”.