GROOVES & CUTS – John Apice
I’m surprised by how many interesting songs/LPs have slipped between the cracks over the years that may be of interest to the curious. The duo Aztec Two-Step (Rex Fowler & Neal Shulman) for example has been around since 1971. They released a song in 2004 on their “Days of Horses” LP. Willie Nelson would’ve had a hit with if he only knew “Tonight, I Wish I Was in Texas,” existed. It features a nice Seth Farber accordion & is a lovely homage to going home & reminiscing with an acoustic guitar mindful of Nelson’s style.
The late 60s pop singer Bobby Vee (“Run to Him”) had a pianist briefly in his band named Bob Dylan (admitted by Dylan in concert when he was told Bobby Vee was in the audience. Dylan acknowledged Bobby from the stage & sang one of Vee’s hits to the delight of the audience).
Vee passed away in 2016 but his last studio LP The Adobe Sessions was an Americana-Roots effort. “Tucson Girl” will surprise many & Vee (Robert Velline) was actually quite a good musician.
A young lady with a silky voice, Heather Mullen’s entire 1991 sole major-label LP despite excellence, & poignancy, was one LP & gone. “Night by Night” is a dynamic cut on this memorable self-titled LP.
Readers may not like everything — but if they find one. Good. Production on many is often exceptional, melodies memorable, musicians proficient. This is where singers fish. To find songs they couldn’t write.
SPILLED MERCURY – Toronto singer-songwriter Isabel Fryszberg (rhythm guitar/vocal) returns with a sneak peek video & song that drops on Feb. 26. Available on a forthcoming CD.
“It’s the End of an Era,” (about the possibility of losing live music) features Isabel in her own dwelling. Created in isolation with split-screen effects & tight band The Uncommons: Cleave Anderson (drums/Blue Rodeo), John Switzer (bass/Jane Siberry), Bob Cohen (lead guitar/Jesse Winchester) & Asher Ettinger (piano/song’s co-writer).
Rebecca Campbell (vocals/co-writer — who in the video appears as a well-animated wacko wild-haired hippie with great facial expressions is absolutely charming).
This could easily be construed as a novelty song but isn’t. In the skillful hands of Ms. Fryszberg & cohorts, they created a serious commentary with balanced humor. Considering the circumstances, this was produced quite well.
Her last video was also a commentary as she walked through Toronto’s winter streets. The exemplary “Each Day a Little Less,” (on YouTube & Bandcamp). It won Best Music Video for the Moondance International Film Festival. Isabel never disappoints.
Some engaging singles include a fine cover of Lloyd Cole’s classic “From the Hip,” by Baltimore vocalist Kurt Deemer. Having an equally deep & melodic voice as Cole, Kurt’s new LP “World Upside Down,” should be equally striking (due March 5).
March 12 finds a diversified vocalist who changes lanes musically. This time out Jean-Paul De Roover provides a poignant 2/song showcase with “The Letter,” & the classic Louis Armstrong hit “What a Wonderful World.” A singer-songwriter/guitarist Roover’s voice on these 2 songs are comforting & optimistic. It falls between lounge singers (Jack Jones – “Wives & Lovers”) & MOR jazz-like Harry Connick. Roover does it effectively & if not, he can always fall back on his more aggressive showcase.
Another deep vocalist is Buffalo, NY’s Marc Scibilia who’s soulful “Seed of Joy” deluxe edition is being re-released April 9th with additional tracks. “Rivals” has a Cat Stevens/Marc Cohn feel but weaved together Marc emerges delightfully original.
Coming March 5 — the soft satiny voice of Megan Lacy with her Judee Sill/Eva Cassidy quality. Her 5-cut debut EP recorded in Austin is personal: “Salvation,” includes songs like “Carolina,” with a beauty that continues in the tradition of early Carole King. She doesn’t have a powerful tonality but does hold notes with clarity.
What attracted me to Sara Petite was her unique voice & well-recorded tunes. The producer leaned heavily on ambiance & presence. My Klipsch speakers just thundered with Sara’s wonderful band. Released Feb 26th “Rare Bird” her 6th LP rocks the way a roots LP should.
“Feel Like an Angel” is an infectious cut & “Runnin’” is energetic. Sara has a more distinguished voice & showcase from mainstream female vocalists.
Another unique female vocalist is Shannon McNally. She covers “Ain’t Livin’ Long Like This,” from her new LP “The Waylon Sessions” (due May 28). A hot country tune with modernized performances that never veer far from tradition. Clean, excellent playing. Guest vocalist Rodney Crowell adds to the intrigue. This is a craft, with Shannon’s expressive voice & proficient musicians.
London-based singer Emily Moment has another wonderful unique feminine voice evident on “Santa Maria,” from her LP “The Party’s Over” (available March 26). Beautiful Spanish-flavored trumpet brings out the musical flavor. Produced with finesse & class there’s nothing primitive about it.
LPs can be bought at the artists’’ respective websites.