Grooves and Cuts Music Reviews

GROOVES & CUTS: DECEMBER 2020 – Artists Under the Radar – Part 2

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Continuing with artists under the radar with Chris Rea – a musician that average Americans still say “who?” Despite recording & performing since 1973 & having sold more than 30 million records worldwide.

“Never heard of him…” but Elton John did. He recorded a duet with Chris who had a prior hit in the US charts in 1978: “Fool (If You Think It’s Over)” #12 — that also was #1 for 3-weeks on the adult contemporary charts. He garnered a Grammy Nomination: Best New Artist.

Rea’s lead guitar is similar in tone & soars as Pink Floyd’s David Gilmour’s does – both at about the same time. Presently, in a more blues-based showcase, Rea’s prolific songwriting parallels Elton John, Billy Joel, Neil Diamond, & Springsteen.



Let It Loose:


Greg Copeland (his 1982 critically acclaimed “Revenge Will Come” Geffen Records LP was produced by his high school friend Jackson Browne) included “El Salvador,” — covered by Joan Baez.
Copeland resurfaced 12 years later with the independently released “Diana and James,” (2008-9) but remains an ignored singer-songwriter. Copeland’s in the same mold as John Mellencamp & the late Robert Hazard who possessed a lovely deep baritone storytelling style. “Muddy Water” has dynamic fiddle sawing.

“Revenge Will Come” –


“Muddy Water” –


I may be getting long in the tooth since much new music has good voices, proficient playing, but seem lacking in originality. Songs border on lame, elementary, juvenile, old-hat, unchallenging, or with any merit. It’s formula-based & the talent has little to say lyrically. Many voices blend into others & sound the same. I understand many can only play 3 chords. New artists do excel with their instruments, but it doesn’t make them effective melody writers or literate lyricists. Enough with songs called “Hold On,” & simply “I Love You.” You’re an artist, think of a title or a more intense subject with enough originality to announce your arrival. Warren Zevon did.

At the risk of pontification, I realize for many young artists what’s redundant to me is fresh & new to them. But many great songs have a pinch of cleverness, (not novelty), a few lines listeners can relate to without a cliché. Roger Miller — “The Last Word in Lonesome Is Me,” as was Mickey Newbury — “She Even Woke Me Up to Say, Goodbye.”
Some artists have lyricists. Elton John had one. Hoagy Carmichael, Richard Rogers, Procol Harum, King Crimson, the Grateful Dead, Cream, & wait…even Bob Dylan. Yes, Dylan had Jacques Levy’s words on the Desire LP.

Of interest: Singer-songwriter Anna Elizabeth Laube’s LP Annamania (songs from 4 previous studio LPs) drops Jan. 22. Bright pedal steel guitar & clear acoustic picking spread out generously on “All My Runnin,” & it echoes of early folksier Joni Mitchell. Anna runs her finger along the rim of a little lyrical cliché, but Ms. Laube rhymes cleverly with a wispy vocal filled with sincerity in a lullaby-like delightful showcase.


Room for improvement. Yes. While others say she sings like Blue-era Mitchell – one must not forget that for Joni it was a soul-bearing LP. For that, Anna needs to dive deeper, more confessional, search the realms of Judee Sill’s work (“The Kiss,” & “Jesus Was a Cross Maker”) & set herself apart in a crowded field — edgier. She has the voice, musicianship & grit. She has a fish on the line. Reel it in.

To gain sympathy, not pity she needs to write with a hint of sadness, poignancy, optimism, but with more personality in her words. For now, her words could be construed as Hallmark card poetry set to good music. I want to hear her “voice” through the words. Her titles are juvenile — not her music. Anna Elizabeth on “Sunny Days,” is a wonderful sultry jazzy Julie London protégé. “I’m Gone,” is down, dirty & soulful. Excellent lead guitar tone. An example of Anna’s diversification. But then comes a creamy “Sweet Boy from Minnesota,” — worlds away from “I’m Gone.” But good.

Diversification is alright – but tread carefully.  With the right guidance & producer (she already has the dedication) Anna may still see her determined personality rise like yeast in her songs. Then, watch out. Anna Elizabeth Laube on Spotify:

Find part one here: Grooves & Cuts: NOVEMBER 2020 – New Christmas-Holiday Music

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