Tuesday, March 24, 2009

Romi Mayes - Achin' In Your Bones

With honest emotion and raw guitars Romi Mayes is emerges from Canada and delivers a gut punch on her new release Achin’ in Yer Bones. The album was produced by none other than Gurf Morlix, who also plays and contributes vocals to the project. Mayes is at times as unfiltered and plain spoken as Mary Gauthier. At other times her sound is more refined. Then there are songs like “Tire Marks” where she is just a bad ass. She is a Country singer with a Blues attitude, but Dusty Springfield also haunts the dark recesses of the album. Even when Mayes displays her softer side it has a hard edge. On “I Won’t Cry” she watches her lover go and although it hurts, she puts it in perspective and vows to move on. “I’ve been around the block I know the pain of loss. It ain’t nothing new. I’ve lost my father, my sister, my heroes and lovers like you … I won’t cry, not for you.” Almost as if proving her point, she follows that song with “If the Lord Don’t Love You,” a straight on in your face Blues rocker.

Mayes has previously won the WCMA Songwriter of the year award and I feel certain more notoriety is in her future. She is about to head to Europe where she has already developed a following. I hope she can increase her following in the US. There are certain artists that are just honest and sing from the heart. Listening to Romi Mayes you can feel the earnest emotion. This is real. Most people avoid reality. They chose instead to watch reality television , which is anything but real. On Achin’ in Yer Bones you can’t avoid reality. It is right in front of you.

Tuesday, March 10, 2009

The Flatlanders - Hills and Valleys

Nobody in this band has anything left to prove. Individually Joe Ely, Jimmie Dale Gilmore and Butch Hancock have established their reputations so deeply in their home state that you can not talk about the Texas Music scene without mentioning them in the same breath. The collaboration of the three as The Flatlanders goes back about thirty years to their days living in Lubbock. By this point in time, what they have together is beyond collaboration. It is kinship. Indeed Hills and Valleys which will be released on March 31st by New West Records sounds as relaxed as a family reunion. In fact, I feel like it is as good as anything they have done in the past. I understand that is saying a lot, given their long history of recording together; but Hills and Valleys floored me.

The album opens with “Homeland Refugee” sung by Ely. It is an extremely powerful reflection on the current state of our country told, in typical Ely fashion, from the perspective of someone living in the thick of it. The album is not all serious though, in typical Flatlanders fashion, they can bring a smile to your face on songs like the Tex-Mex infused “No Way I’ll Never Need You.” Also, they have not forgotten how to rock the roadhouse. On “Just About Time” Ely sings as the band lays down house rockin’ crunchy guitar licks. As if great songwriting was not enough, the trio brought in ace producer Lloyd Maines to bring it all together. The album is not perfect. There are a couple of weaker tracks on the album, but the best songs on Hills and Valleys are truly great.


This review also appears on Twangville

Tuesday, March 3, 2009

SBBS New Video

My thanks to the Sarah Borges Fan Club for giving me a shout about the new video from the album. If you haven't figured out by now, I love the new Album.
Fan Club MySpace

Get out the Vote for Fiction Family

The first video from Fiction Family "When She's Near" is nominated to be put on the regular rotation on MTVU. In case you haven't heard the band is comprised of Nickel Creek's Sean Watkins and Switchfoot's John Foreman. It sounded like a strange partnership when I heard of it, but the result is a Pop masterpiece. The vocal harmonies and guitar work of Watkins make for a combination that works. I for one am just excited there is an MTV network that still shows videos.

Vote at MTVU