Posts Tagged ‘soft rock’

Like every ex-military personnel, Nebraska native (and current resident of Norfolk, Virginia) Logan Vath is now living the second part of his life. Vath is a singer-songwriter who has changed to that path in life after spending time in the military where he did four years serving as an Aerographer’s Mate, preparing soldiers for whatever weather conditions they may encounter. And now, not that long ago, Logan Vath joined up with the group known as Operation: Encore, an organization that helps former military personnel realize their full potential through training. Operation: Encore then helps those individuals (which includes people such as Vath) with many different opportunities which includes networking to truly begin living their dreams as real musicians.

After leaving the military, it was the musical heritage of Logan Vath’s family that reached out to him (his grandfather having been a gig musician who died before Vath was even born). The guitar left to Vath by his grandfather would inspire him to explore the world of music. And as a singer-songwriter, Logan Vath has put that musical background and inherited guitar to good use. Vath’s discography includes 2013’s Better Man or Ghost and 2016’s In the Presence of the Kingdom. Vath’s music has also been featured on the second compilation album of Operation: Encore artists called Monuments, where you can find track entitled “Once Was”.

Logan Vath is currently promoting his newest release, a five-song EP called Lost on Leaving. For this new EP, singer and guitarist Logan Vath is joined by Matt Hoffman & Andrew Montgomery on Keys and Organ, Nolan Thies on Bass, and Daniel Mendez on Percussion & Guitar. Together as a group, the musicians help to bring Vath’s latest release to life. The various songs included on this five-song release feature a good amount of Rock and Roll, some Folk-Rock and other influences. The songs contained within this release also contain a very intimate feel as Vath takes the listener on a very personal journey through the thoughts running through his head. Nowhere is that more evident than on the very first track.    

The 2018 release of Lost on Leaving from Logan Vath begins with the track “Enough Good”. The beginning track of the release features a strong Rock and Roll approach to the music with a driving feel to the drums as well as strong guitars. That musical approach gives the song a rather timeless feel as it could have come from the eighties, nineties, even today. With the lyrics to the song, Vath seems to be exploring the concept of trying to survive while living with your inner demons. The final words of the chorus seem to say it all: “Pretend I’m better now than I have ever been”. 

On the very next track, Vath slows the pace of the music down as the release continues with the song “Guard”. With that slower pace, the song’s lyrical content appears to continue the same train of thought that was present in the previous track as Vath explains that he wants to throw his cares away and try to regain a little freedom from the worry that consumes him. The listener experiences some of the emotional side of the lyrics on the track as those words are matched up well with a gentleness in the music that creates a Soft Rock/Adult Contemporary approach.

Lost on Leaving continues with the track “Winter”. Much like the previous two tracks, “Winter” once again finds Logan Vath turning inward for self-examination of his feelings and thoughts. The lyrics of the song find Vath feeling out of place even in the places where he belongs. The sadness and lonely feeling of Vath truly comes through in this track as he sings of being okay once the winter season comes to an end. The sadness contained within this track is only intensified by a slow pace as well as a light, easy feel to the music.

Logan Vath’s latest release continues with the song “Dover”. While it contains a similarly easy feel to the music, the music on this track ends up being closer to Indie Rock rather than Soft Rock and/or Adult Contemporary. The lyrical content about experiencing life in the city as the rain falls down feels as if it had been influenced by the likes of Bob Dylan and/or Tom Waits. Vath’s words seem to tell a story, very much like poetry set to music as he sings of awaiting the inevitable, as if he knows something bad is about to take place. While “Dover” contains a slightly dark feel to it, it also contains one of the most commercial musical approaches on the five-song EP.  

The Lost on Leaving EP from Logan Vath comes to a close with the song called “I’ve Been Told”. And like much of the EP, the final track of the release contains a slow pace to the music as well as a laidback feel to that music. That laidback feel to the music once again seems to add even more sadness to the track’s already somber lyrics about trying to find some sort of feeling of home when you are constantly on the move. The laidback feel to the track courtesy of the slow pace in the music helps to gently bring the Lost on Leaving EP to a close.   

Logan Vath’s Lost on Leaving EP is a very personal release. The five songs on it find the singer-songwriter looking at the world that surrounds him and questioning what it is all about while also doing a lot of reflecting on his inner feelings. The five songs on Lost on Leaving may not add up to an overly energetic release, but they do end up creating a solid grouping of tracks that feel truly interwoven because of their common theme of personal reflection.  

(For more reading about Operation Encore, check out the review for the first album, the second release of Monuments, the first review for Rachel Harvey Hill, the review for Andrew Wiscombe, the review of Steve D. Wilson, the review for The Real Doug Lane, the review for Stephen Covell, the review for Unknown Rider, and the review for Jerry Maniscalco by clicking on the links that are highlighted.)  

Every so often a musical artist comes along who decides to create music for the younger generation. Just like Raffi, or Sharon, Lois & Bram, there are those who want to be the entertainment that keeps the youngsters happy. One such artist that is currently creating music for the younger generation is Jonathon Sprout.

Jonathon Sprout has created several children’s albums to date. A few years back, having read an article that asked children about their greatest heroes and then reading responses such as Bart Simpson, SpongeBob SquarePants and other questionable answers such as Beavis & Butthead, he took up the challenge of writing songs about the real heroes of our country from today and throughout history. The result of that writing has created several albums that feature songs about some of the real heroes of the United States. Having already released several American Heroes albums, his latest addition to that series is 2014’s American Heroes #4.

American Heroes #4 from Jonathon Sprout begins with the track “Unstoppable”. While other songs in the series focus on Ben Franklin, Abraham Lincoln and other such legendary people, “Unstoppable” is a song that focuses on Juliette, a real hero who leads an ordinary life as a mother as she does all she can and all she has to in order to make sure her children are taken care of. This track features a very pop-like feel to the music and the lyrics are very upbeat. The pop-rock song will make you see mothers in a different light and will make you realize how much they really are like real-life heroes.

The newest release from Jonathon Sprout continues with the track “Come with Me”. The song brings the time right before the founding of the United States to life as one person who has discovered the beauty in the freedom that can be had by one and all if one was interested. The track once again features an upbeat “pop” feel to the music as the singer invites the listener to the colonies in what would become the country of the United States.

Heroes can be anywhere and anyone. That is very apparent as you listen to the track “E=MC2”. Without Albert Einstein, many of the universe’s mysteries would never have been answered. Because of that, Einstein was a hero as he helped provide answers to what had been unknown until that point. While the song deals with some of the well-known facts about Albert Einstein, the lyrics also say that it is okay to be a dreamer, as dreamers are the ones who come up with ways to solve problems.

One of the “heroes” on American Heroes #4 by Jonathon Sprout is one who can be included in both the “real life hero” and “sports hero” categories: Roberto Clemente made a name for himself on the field as a great baseball player. He also made a name for himself off the field as he was known for having a kind heart. While he had been a star during his time, it was his last humanitarian act of going to help after the 1972 earthquake in Nicaragua when his plane went down on December 31, 1972. The track of “Hall of Fame” by Jonathon Sprout pays tribute to Clemente and everything he meant to baseball and the human race as a whole. The inclusion of horns and Latin flavor to the track gives “Hall of Fame” a very authentic feel to the music for the song.

A hero can be anyone or can be known for anything. One particular person that Jonathon Sprout includes as a “hero” on his newest American Heroes release is Walt Disney. The track “Through the Eyes of a Child” shows how Disney brought joy to many as he created his movies. The soft rock music on the song somehow feels right when describing Disney as the track feels as if it would belong within one of Disney’s movies today.

American Heroes #4 by Jonathon Sprout is an album that makes learning about past events and historic figures fun. It is the perfect release for both children and adults alike. And the inclusion of many different people like Dr. Seuss, Walt Disney, even Albert Einstein within the subject matter of the CD makes for an interesting listen. While this is the fourth installment in his American Heroes series, this particular release proves that anyone can be a hero if you look at them in the right way.

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

To learn a lot more about Jonathon Sprout, check out his YouTube channel.

Within the music industry are a few artists who are influenced so much by the music of the past that they fall in love with that music. One such musician is singer Barbara Gracewood.

Barbara Gracewood recently got together with a band of musicians who were capable of creating a variety of musical styles so that the resulting music created by the musical ensemble had a very full feel to it. With this band, Gracewood recently created a self-titled album of covers in the style of albums like The Classics by Tony Bennett or The Great American Songbook by Rod Stewart.

The self-titled release from Barbara Gracewood begins with the track “Cold Cold Heart”. Having already been one of Hank Williams’ best loved songs when he released it, the track had one life as a Country and Western classic. When Barbara Gracewood and her band took hold of the song, the track took on a totally different feel as the ensemble created a track that feels more like something that Tony Bennett would sing than something from a Country star. The lyrics to the song still contain a certain amount of sadness to them as Barbara Gracewood gives them the emotional feeling they deserve.

Barbara Gracewood’s self-titled release continues with the song “If”. Originally recorded by the band Bread, the song initially had a very laidback soft rock feel to it. While the song still has a bit of that soft rock approach to it, Gracewood’s arrangement of the song adds some of the energy the original hit version by Bread seemed to lack. The version by Barbara Gracewood even outshines the version of the song that was later released by actor/singer Telly Savalas when he did his spoken word version of the tune. Of the three versions of the song that I am aware of, Barbara Gracewood’s version definitely has the most energy to it.

One of the most unusual arrangements of any of the songs included in the 2014 release from Barbara Gracewood has to belong to her version of the song “Torn”. Originally a hit single by Natalie Imbruglia could easily be categorized as pop/rock, Gracewood and her band make the song their won. The track feels as if it had been created by someone like Bonnie Raitt. The song now has a deeper bluesy feel to it. This version is so strong that if Imbrulia had not had her hit version of the composition that is now such a bit part of pop/rock or Top 40 radio formats, this version could easily have made its own history on those same radio stations. As with people like Jimi Hendrix, Manfred Mann and even Link Wray, Barbara Gracewood adds her name to the long list of musicians who have created a cover version to one of Bob Dylan’s songs. Along with the aforementioned musicians who have done covers of songs like “All Along the Watchtower,” “Quinn the Eskimo (Mighty Quinn),” and “It’s All Over Now, Baby Blue,” Gracewood adds her version of “Make You Feel My Love” to that list. And just like the others, Gracewood has put her mark on the song. While the original version of the song had an unmistakable Bob Dylan feel to it, the new arrangement for Gracewood takes the song back in time so that it would feel right at home on soft rock formats of the seventies. With this arrangement, both the band and Gracewood sound very relaxed and comfortable while they create a track that truly brings new life to Dylan’s words.

As on the song “Torn” earlier in the release, the track “Come Away with Me” finds Barbara Gracewood and her band creating their own special take on the song made famous by composer Norah Jones. While “Come Away with Me” by Jones has a very jazzy and laidback feel, the version found on this release again finds the band making the song their own. Instead of a jazzy and soothing pace to the music, the ensemble trades the jazzy feel for some blues and creates a track with a bluesy groove to it. The vocals by Gracewood seem to find a balance somewhere between the original jazzy delivery from Jones and the bluesy delivery of the music by Gracewood’s band. The track stands out as one of the strongest moments on the self-titled from Gracewood.

You can tell who a person’s influences are if that person happens to include several songs fronm that influence on their release. One such influence for Barbara Gracewood must be Rhonda Vincent as Gracewood included several tracks from Vincent on her self-titled release. Songs like “The Lucky One” and “Now That I Found You” are absolutely recognizable as part of the playlist for Rhonda Vincent and The Rage. And while the versions of the songs by Rhonda Vincent and the Rage have that undeniable country twang, the versions by Gracewood and her band fall into a more pop-oriented category. The versions of the two tracks that are included on this release as just as well arranged as any of the other tracks that make up the release.

While the ten tracks that make up the self-titled release from Barbara Gracewood come from many different writers with different writing, they all fir together as each arrangement seems to have been done to create one specific style that helps to bind the ten tracks together into one solid release that still features plenty of variety in the music. And although some of the songs are better known than others, they all show off the talents of the musicians involved and most importantly, help show off the talents of one Barbara Gracewood.

As Barbara Gracewood has no videos for any of the songs from this release up on YouTube, check out her CDBaby profile to preview tracks from the album.