Posts Tagged ‘Timeless sound’

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.

Everett Young found himself looking for a new direction in life over a decade ago. Wanting that new direction, he became motivated to learn to play the guitar, an instrument that he had picked up and put down several times before. However, this time was the charm and he added the ability to play the guitar to other talents including playing the keyboards. Now able to play the guitar, Everett Young turned his focus to being a musician full time. Both a music teacher and a musician in his own right now, Young took that talent and created a musical outfit called Kicklighter.

In Kicklighter, Everett Young has created music that has a truly timeless sound and feel. That timeless feel is mainly because the music created by Everett Young exists somewhere in the late seventies, early eighties between the Glam Rock and New Wave eras of music, an era where the music was still evolving before it started catching the ear of the music-buying people at the time. To help bring the music of Kicklighter alive, guitarist/keyboardist/singer Everett Young is joined by album producer/bassist Tim DeLaney, drummer Sam Owens and several others who add a few musical contributions to the album to help flesh out the music.

Because of their sound, if there was one person that you could compare Everett Young and Kicklighter to, it would probably be English New Wave musician John Foxx. The two musicians have much in common: Neither seem to follow the norm, both are multi-talented musicians, and their respective songs are written not for the everyday music buyer but for those who want something more substantial than the cookie cutter pop music that exists in the music industry.

Kicklighter’s music can be found on the album entitled The Fascinating Thinking Machine. The 2014 album begins with the track “Until You See the Sun”. The track features a strong guitar-based feel to the music that easily falls into the New Wave era of music. The gentle driving feel pace to the rock music and the background noise bring to mind the feel of the Thomas Dolby while the sound of the music also brings to mind John Foxx. The track truly brings back the sound of the early eighties.

While the first track had a guitar-driven feel, the second track of “Says a Tender Mind” finds Everett Young and the rest of the band creating a track that features a sound that is equal parts guitar and keyboards. This track is the perfect track to show off Young’s ability as a lyricist. Lyrics like “it is a world without any right angles” and “I think too much, drive myself mad” bring into focus the fact that Everett Young was, at one point, a political psychologist. While lyrics like those do seem a little unusual for today’s pop music; they are not so unusual that they would put the listener off. “Says a Tender Mind” is a good spot to enjoy Young’s playing on both the keyboard and the guitar. The track allows for both instruments to shine.

Tackling a subject like robotics and making it work as a song is very difficult. But somehow, Everett Young has managed to create lyrics about a robot and makes them work in the song “Making a Robot”. The lyrics about making a robot that thinks and behaves just like a human creates a moment on the release that will make people stop and think. Along with the thought provoking lyrics, the song has a much more commercial feel to it than the first two tracks on The Fascinating Thinking Machine. The guitar-driven song features Young creating the track with both electric and acoustic guitars. That combination helps to create the commercial sound featured on the track.

With the track “The Sultan of Brunei,” Kicklighter goes away from the rock music that came before and they take the music in a slightly jazzy feel. The music from Young, bassist Tim DeLaney and drummer Sam Owens creates a smooth groove. With the inclusion of Joe Gransden on horn, the combo sounds as good as if it were an actual jazz combo. The light vocal delivery from Young adds to the jazzy feel of the track. The jazzy track makes for a nice break from the rock music that came before.

Staying with a slower, lighter feel to the music, The Fascinating Thinking Machine continues with the song “After the Healing”. While “The Sultan of Brunei” has a jazzy feel to it, “After the Healing” finds Everett Young and the rest of Kicklighter moving towards a “lite rock” feel to the music. The lyrics of the song help add emotion to the song.

The Fascinating Thinking Machine from Kicklighter is an interesting album of music that features music that could be from almost any decade. The music on the release is nicely varied and that keeps the album interesting. And while some of the topics covered in the lyrics by Everett Young may seem a bit outside of the norm, the songs never stray too far. The result of that is an album that is listener friendly while still being unique.

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