REVIEW: 20 x 20 – Little Village Foundation Singer-Songwriter Compilation


20 x 20 – Little Village Foundation Singer-Songwriter Compilation

This 20-song compilation was produced by Vicki Randle, Jim Pugh & Maurice Tani & assembled & mastered by Kid Andersen. Each song self-produced by the artist.

Released by Little Village Foundation – a non-profit record company focused on presenting artists not otherwise visible respond to hard times — the confusion faced today politically, socially, & perhaps with pandemic fatigue. These musicians show how music can help get one through challenging times.

20 x 20 – Singer-Songwriter Compilation (drops Nov 19) begins with a cello-guitar driven song from Nic Clark (harmonica-fingerstyle guitar) on “Things to Learn” that treats kids as humans. Margaret Belton follows with “Lullaby of New Orleans.” Ms. Belton portrayed Patsy Cline in “Always…Patsy Cline” & possesses a velvety voice, deep warmth of yesteryear ballad singers – comfortable in easy listening styles. She’d probably be a great Christmas song singer.

While not all are engaging, they’re to be admired. Few have a voice & material that can carry an entire LP. As for short-story lyrical writers, Ira Marlowe provides the wonderfully clever “If We Were in Love” – mindful of Gershwin & Cole Porter. With earnest lyricism Be Steadwell has ingenuity on “Worthy,” & repeats words in a Gertrude Stein manner with over-lapping vocals performed with aplomb.

Though many songs haven’t been recorded in a professional manner (due to COVID-19) this is forgivable. Many performances are stripped down because of the circumstances. Solo artist Aireene Espiritu’s folky Melanie Safka quality on “Genuine,” is quite appealing.

As a curiosity, Alabama Mike’s “Money Tree,” projects like a field recording circa 1930. Add a few scratches & it would pass as a lost classic. Mike is in a Taj Mahal crossed with Keb’ Mo’ genre. Nice. Though rooted more in a hip-hop/soul genre Kofy Brown offers “Love, Love, Love,” with an acoustic guitar. Somewhat in an early Joan Armatrading-Pam Nestor tradition. Genesis Fermin is loaded with a bright old-style folky voice. “Southern California,” will hook those who enjoy that music. Not quite as powerful as Toshi Reagon she hovers in that sky.

Jim Bruno is exquisite – having written & performed with Shawn Colvin his “Too Many Times,” showcases his pure voice. The most outstanding voice is guitarist, drummer & bassist Vicki Randle (an artist with The Tonight Show Band & with many major artists). Her “Ruth 1:16” is acoustically poignant & her voice — dazzling.

Many artists mentioned or not are all accomplished. Some are typical singers, average songwriters & will never be a Bob Dylan, Leonard Cohen, or John Prine. But that’s why they’re here & worthy.

If you like Chip Taylor, or even Hoagy Carmichael – David Jackson is a must. He’s played with Andy Williams, Judy Garland up to Jackson Browne & Bo Diddley. His hard-edged voice is filled with experience – like a Guy Clark & straddles many eras. That’s where his versatility is.

Tired of formula songs & the pandemic? This is where you’ll find something refreshing — to give you hope.

The 1 hour 7-minute CD is available at Amazon


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