Quinn Sullivan WIDE AWAKE

QUINN SULLIVAN
Wide Awake
Provogue Records

A Second Album That Elevates This Talented Young Man To A Whole Other Strata Altogether.

For many people who were once heralded as a child prodigy, the path to prolonged success can be fraught and disappointing; so many never seem to fulfil all that early promise.
That ‘prodigy’ badge is both a blessing and a curse, plus for the artist, an unnecessary millstone.
Quinn Sullivan certainly qualifies for the description and follows a long line of such ‘prodigies’ in the music world; i.e. Doug Sahm, Billy Preston, Stevie Wonder, Steve Winwood & Derek Trucks to name a just a few.

At 21 years of age, this inchoate musician from Massachusetts has already experienced so much more than 99.99% of aspiring performers, having the benefit of being under the guidance of Buddy Guy and releasing 3 previous albums (since 2011), all involving multi-Grammy winner Tom Hambridge. You can also add to his resume all the various live TV appearances and an array of gigs that include three Montreux Jazz Festivals and an Eric Clapton Crossroads Festival.

Wide Awake marks a vicissitude crossroads of his own, with a significant change of producer/collaborator, this time travelling to LA to work with Oliver Leiber (Paula Abdul, Ke$ha and Adam Lambert) with an obvious prescient to encompass much more than just his fabulous pluripotent guitar playing and strong singing voice. Although Quinn has always considered himself a songwriter, preparing for this album has seen him increase his efforts with pen and paper, concentrating on the lyrics and melodies with Leiber that will elevate his craft, not just for Wide Awake but for further albums down the road.

So, I hear you ask, has it worked on this, his fourth album. Well, from my perspective it’s very much a resounding yes. Much more of a mainstream rock effort with lots of hooks, overall it contains scale, scope and colours (not just blue) that project a whole gamut of sub-styles.
Baby Please” could quite easily have been a cover of a Ed Sheeran effort, while “In A World Without You” has a distinctive Latin feel, and then “She’s So Irresistible” has the twin cities funk of Prince Rogers Nelson all over it.

She’s Gone (and She Ain’t Coming Back)” starts off like a Coldplay classic but then vocally it moves into different territory; whilst lyrically there are some superb references,
we made love to Marvin;
singing girl let’s get it on;
baby I’ve heard it all through the grapevine;
that we’re done, that we’re done
followed by a beaut of a chorus.
It gets a little harder and bluesier with the punchy “Strawberry Rain;” with its ‘Oasis sounding like The Beatles’ chorus bolstered by an iconic wah wah guitar solo straight out of the Hendrix catalogue.
Jessica” provides some further poignant lyrics that recall another long lost love, with yet another memorable chorus “what do you see when you look in the mirror;
cos I see an innocent child;
Jessie I know you’d feel better inside;
if you could just see yourself through my eyes”.
For a 21 year old many of these lyrics are quite remarkable.

Honestly, there are no iffy fillers on here, but the King Magpie will want me to select my favourites.
The accolade almost fell to the song that was released as a teaser single, earlier this year, the anthemic “All Around The World” with its empowering message of positivity and hope.
But, I’m now leaning toward the blue eyed Soul of “How Many Tears” that sounds like it has come straight out of Philadelphia; sung by Hall & Oates at their almighty zenith.

Sullivan and Leiber have cast their net far and wide to encompass an entertaining range of musical influences into creating this enchanting album; and without any shadow of a doubt Messrs Guy & Hambridge helped create the very sturdy platform from where Quinn evolved and developed his awesome natural guitar skills and robust singing style. However, Wide Awake elevates this talented young man on to another strata, an altogether higher level that ought to ensure that he reaches a much, much wider audience.

Jack Kidd AKA “Messin’ with the Kidd” on lionheartradio.com

Released 4th June 2021
https://quinnsullivanmusic.com/

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Allison Russell OUTSIDE CHILD

Allison Russell
Outside Child
Fantasy Records

An Album Full of Stark Contrasts, But With a Light That Ultimately Shines Through The Cracks.

For a change, I’m gong to start at the end with this review, as I believe the closing track “Joyful Motherfuckers” holds the oxymoronic key to this release – if ever there was an album which was a cathartic release, this is it.
Allison Russell has seen and experienced a lot of the dark in her life; but her attitude is
If you’ve got love in your heart,
but it’s way down in the dark
You better let it see the sun
.”
– it’s a message of hope that cuts through the centre of everything on this debut Solo Album.
There’s a gratitude for experience that is seen from the off with “Montreal” a jazzy opener that veers between Taylor Swift, Richard Hawley and especially Jane Birkin its delivery.
The last time I saw Allison was alongside husband JT in concert as half of Birds of Chicago was in a tiny pub in Glasgow; and on that occasion she told a lengthy tale of the genetic/spiritual bond that links generations – and “Nightflyer” takes that as its core – again there’s oxymoronic tension in the deep lyrics
I’m a violent lullaby”,
but set this time it comes out as laid-back Gospel-Soul.
“Persephone” takes a more Countryfied vein and is a celebration of salvation through the strength or existence of a sympathetic other
My petals are bruised but I’m still a flower
– placing the past in context and making sense of a person and a time.
“4th Day Prayer” is a really tough listen
Father used me like a wife
Mother turned the blindest eye
Stole my body, spirit, pride
He did he did each night

but even amongst this horror, there’s the preservation of strength and an indefatigable desire to survive despite everything …
One for the hate that loops and loops
Two for the poison at the roots
Three for the children breaking through
Four for the day we’re standing in the sun

– this section is a unified, determined chant, which underscores the sentiment’s absolute strength at its core.
“The Runner” continues this theme and uses Indie-Soul to tell a tale that listener’s to the Velvet Underground’s “Rock’n’Roll” will be familiar with
– the redemptive power of music.
“Hy-Brasil” is another song that deals with the the theme of ancestry, but this time, it’s a deep dive into the mystical, set against a Celtic heartbeat rhythm and distant echoed parallel vocal, all washed in a serving of reverb.
“The Hunters” returns to the dark story of Russell’s abuse by her step-father and is verbalised in childlike, fairy-tale language.
It’s darker side is insidious – you could hear this on Radio 2 or in a high street chain store and it’s radio-friendly soul would wash over you – until you started to listen a little more closely to the lyrics.
“All of the Women”, set against a simple banjo rhythm creates an ode to the universal –
the women who disappeared” from a personal story of connection.
“Poison Arrow” is somewhat of an outlier in the settings of the album in that its starting point is based in the present, rather than a past experience – it’s about dealing with a place that was once painful, but which now offers new hope, seen through the fresh eyes of Russell’s young daughter
Je te souhaîte une deuxième chance” (I wish for you a second chance)”.
Its light Philly Soul reinforces this sense of optimism.
Penultimate track “Little Rebirth” is a musing on our insignificant/significant place in the universe
Chimes in the morning
Feet to the Earth
We’re all transforming
A little Rebirth

– set against a sparse arrangement, it places Russell’s voice to the for; adding extra gravitas to the singers’ sentiments – and her use of the French language throughout (which happens frequently across the whole album) adds a cosmopolitan universality too….and then it’s back to where I started, with ‘that’ powerful closing track “Joyful Motherfuckers”….
There are some albums that are just heard and some that need to be intently listened and then thought about – Alison Russell’s debut solo release is very much the latter – it’s an album of stark thematic lyrical contrasts in which the light ultimately shines through.

Review by Nick Barber

Released May 21st 2021
https://allisonrussellmusic.com/

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Eddie Turner CHANGE IN ME

EDDIE TURNER
Change In Me
7-14 Records

A Man Who Doesn’t Follow the Well-Worn, Accepted Format in Creating His Art

Born in Cuba and raised in Chicago Eddie Turner was exposed to a cornucopia of musical influences growing up; jamming with his pals at school, hanging out in alleys or; better still, even sneaking into shows whilst underage to watch true icons such as Muddy Waters, Jimi Hendrix or later; The Clash.
Turner grabbed an early opportunity to be part of Zephyr for their last album in 1985 and was then invited by his buddy Kenny Passarelli to form The Otis Taylor Band, a commitment that lasted 10 years and included recording 5 albums, up to 2004.

As a solo artist Eddie has previously released 3 studio solo albums; plus the one live effort of ‘Naked In Your Face’ which nicely leads us to the ten new tracks on Change In Me.
Again, he involves his good pal Passarelli, as well as Tim Stroh, to assist with the production duties whilst the album was recorded in both New York and Colorado. With a plethora of styles clearly developing from his eclectic taste in music this is not just any old genre bending album.
In fact, the magazine Classic Rock Here And Now states that “Turner has developed a sound that’s informed by tradition, yet adventurous enough to not be limited by it.”

The title track Change In Me starts off proceedings with a cool tempo, subtle guitar and B3 working together, supporting the lyrics with an added bonus of a sultry female backing vocalist.
It’s an impressive start highlighting the fact that unlike so many of todays artists Eddie knows when to leave things out of the mix.
One of 3 covers, Hendrix’s “My Friend” provides a very effective, albeit pedestrian vocal, almost like Jimi’s own droll delivery on his posthumous ‘The Cry of Love’ album.
Lou Reeds “I’m Waiting For My Man” again paints a vivid underworld of danger and intrigue, complimented by further effective female backing vocals.
The third and most distinctive cover comes from the pen of Chicago Blues Legend – Willie Dixon and is as vastly a different version of “Hoochie Koochie Man” that I’ve ever heard, but you know what … it works.

Jazzy piano keeps “Whoa, Whoa, Whoa” yomping at a pace with the familiar female vocals providing answers to some of Eddie’s comments and observations.
The lyrics to “This is Your Night” tell another haunting almost mysterious tale starting with the scene setting lines
Revenge is a serenade that lasts through the night,
Jealousy’s soft parade,
the Angels are right”

with the repeated memorable lyrics of
You pour me another wine, then you realise,
This is your Night”

completing each verse.
Just for a change, drums and bass prominently feature on “Standing on the Frontline” before some Ernie Isley type guitar licks punch through the funky backbeat.

It’s not exactly easy listening as you plough your way through this album; but the more I’ve listened, the more I like it. Push me for my Favourite Track then it would have to be “Dignify Me” which steps the pace up a gear or three, each verse ending with catchy punch-lines

“You’ve got to dignify my presence,
Dignify my soul, my soul…..Dignify
”.

Undoubtedly, Eddie Turner doesn’t follow the well-worn, accepted format in creating his art, with mostly machinating lyrics and downbeat melodies that ignore the well-worn paths to popularity. To me this borders on him being somewhat enigmatic and probably an acquired taste that will fly over the heads of the masses.
However, all power to his elbow for sticking to his personal idiom and patently not changing himself just to optimise any potential sales.

Jack Kidd aka “Messin’ with the Kidd” on lionheartradio.com

Released on 14th. May 2021
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Will Porter TICK TOCK TICK

Will Porter
Tick Tock Tick
Gramofono Sound

A Real Humdinger For the Soul and R&B Cognoscenti .


As is my won’t I’d played this through twice before I picked up the Press Release to ‘tick the boxes inside my head’ …… only to find that this is a far more important release than I’d anticipated!
TICK TOCK TICK is actually a re-release, something we normally avoid; but this 2015 LP was only a Limited Edition in the USA, and only barely distributed across Europe; but is now finally getting World Wide distribution; and rightly so as it’s a real humdinger.
The title track TICK TOCK TICK starts the party and verily oozes out of your speakers like a late night Everglades mist. WOAH, WOAH and thrice WOAH! Will Porter’s voice?
Man …. it’s right up there with Bobby Womack, Barry White and even Brook Benton and Gregory Porter (no relation btw) and the groove will have you inadvertently shuffling feet, shoulders and hips regardless of age, sex or creed.
I instantly recognised the *second voice on the track; but I’m not going to spoil the surprise this early.
This is followed by the beautiful ballad Why Do We Get Blue; full of swooshing and cinematic strings that will whisk you off to a whole new dimension …… and one that Porter will keep you in for the next half hour or so.
There’s a whole lot of everything good and Soulfully Righteous on this album; Porter will melt your heart one moment with the scintillating and heart-breaking duet Make You Feel My Love (this time the lady’s *voice will be instantly recognisable to the Soul and R&B Cognoscenti) then pick you up and fill the dancefloor with Treadin’ Water and the ubiquitous Tear it Up!
Why have I never heard of Will Porter before?
In many ways this is Classic R&B but with some really neat Jazz and Soul tinges in the shadows that mean this is aimed at Old School Clubbers rather than hipsters; but they too are going to instantly fall in love with I’m Blue and the swoonsome Don’t Go To Strangers; which is just begging for a monochrome video set in a Harlem night club to accompany the release.
Choosing a Favourite Song here has been both difficult and awkward; as there is so much to choose from; and all classy and cool in equal measures; but two songs sprang to mind earlier today …..
Everything’s Going to Be Alright closes the album in timeless fashion; and baring in mind what has been going on across the world in the last 18 months; actually sounds like a Soundtrack to the second Roaring Twenties.
The second and actual RMHQ Favourite Song, has been a case of ‘right place/right time’ for the mood I was in the first time I played this LP; I Can Do Bad By Myself ……. WOW! A big production somehow manages to still allow a razor sharp set of love lorn lyrics to breathe and flow like volcanic lava flow of S.O.U.L right into the dark crevices of your heart; and that guitar solo half way through; sounds like a metaphor for heartbreak, all by itself!
There’s nothing else left to say; this album and Will Porter are finally going to get their just rewards as the public at large are now going to be able to buy it and wallow in its beauty for years to come.


PS Don’t let the inclusion of *Guest Stars Dr. John and Bettye LaVette fool ya; they are only here as accompaniment for a bonafide STAR!

Released April 16th 2021
https://www.willporter.com/

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Big Harp George LIVING IN THE CITY

Big Harp George
Living in The City
Blue Mountain Records

Simply Smokinnnnnnnnnnnn’ Friday Night Rhythm, Blues and All That Jazz !

I can’t possibly keep up with what everyone in the music industry is up to; so when Big Harp George released this follow up to UPTOWN COOL at the tail end of 2020, I was blissfully unaware; until his new publicist was recently trawling through some old reviews and stumbled on the little known Rocking Magpie website …… so here we are; the dynamic duo is back together again.
First and foremost; how much does the impeccably dapper George look like Sean Penn on the album cover? As I’ve said before; if I’d been idly trawling through the racks of a record shop and alighted on this; well ….. you’d have to, wouldn’t you?
Opening track Build Myself an App; sort of takes a Blues Brothers formula but adds a lively and slightly tongue in cheek, contemporay set of lyrics about a musician ‘of a certain vintage’ having to get ‘with it’ and move with the times; all set to a suburb Classic Rhythm & Blues riff.
One of the many joys on his previous album was the divergency in his musical styles; and that continues here with George and his cohorts swinging like a set of horny Aristocats on First Class Muck Up, Smoking Tires, Co-payment and Don’t Talk, where is harp playing is as sharp as a carpet tack on both those last two songs.
But; and only musicians of the highest calibre can pull this off; they never let their golden thread unravel, even when they take things down real low and cool on the jazzy Bayside Bounce and Heading Out to Itaipu and not forgetting the rather slinky ballad, Enrique, which shows a path I’d love to hear more of in the future.
I wasn’t sure what to expect from the title Pusher In a White Coat; but I was pleasantly startled by the Film Noir sounding bittersweet love song; which features a guitar solo from the late Little Charlie Baty, that’s worthy of Kenny Burrell; really needs an accompanying video in the same dark and steamy vein.
I’m really in a pickle trying to choose an individual Favourite Song; as so many have their merits; but I’m probably erring towards the title track Living in The City which starts with a really funky bass line then swings and sashays like a fat lass on a Friday night somewhere your Mother doesn’t want you to go; and George’s story is along those lines anyway …. and, not for the first or last time, his harmonica playing is simply smokinnnnnnnnnnnn!
The other that I’m rather taken with is another with a double entendre title; Chew Before You Swallow, and it’s the type of racy and Classic Big Band Rhythm & Blues that you fantacise about stumbling upon; but presume nobody records songs like this anymore ….. well, Big Harp George does!
There’s not a level that you can’t enjoy this album on; be that as background in the living room, cranked up to 10 in the car or …… if you are that way inclined, in the bedroom too.

Living in the City features a moveable feast of musicians. It’s dedicated to the late Little Charley Baty whose guitar talent shines on six cuts in some of his final recordings, sharing six-string duties with Kid Andersen who contributes bass, too.
It was produced by Chris Burns who plays keyboards throughout.
The extensive line-up also includes Ben Torres (sax and flute), Michael Peloquin (sax), Mike Rinta (trombone), Carlos Reyes (Paraguayan harp and violin), Firas Zreik (zither/qanun) and Doug Rowan (baritone sax). June Core holds down drums throughout augmented by Derrick “D’Mar” Martin and Loay Dhbour, who plays iique, an Arabic percussion instrument. Joe Kyle is the bassist on six tracks, and Amal Murkus is featured on vocals for one cut. Backing vocals are delivered by Lisa Leuschner Andersen, Loralee Christensen and the Sons of the Soul Revivers (brothers James, Dwayne and Walter Morgan).

Released 10th October 2020
https://www.bigharpgeorge.com/

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John Paul Keith THE RHYTHM OF THE CITY

John Paul Keith
The Rhythm of the City
Wild Honey Records

A Wonderful, Entertaining Love-letter To the Heart, Soul and Rhythm of Memphis.

The last time I came across John Paul Keith in the flesh (so to speak). He was suitably attired and sporting a Telecaster, was at the Basement, East Nashville ‘Tribute to Memphis’ night at the last Americanafest in 2019. Spookily, this album, his first self-produced one, is also Memphis themed; maybe there was something in the air that night?
The big change on this album compared to previous releases, is the addition of a 10 piece horn section throughout which adds punch and S.O.U.L Power everywhere you look and listen.
Opener “How Can You Walk Away?” is an instant Bluesy/Soul classic, with response female backing vocal singers that you can visualise doing synchronised dance-steps too.
The main man chips in with his smooth and exciting guitar solos – but there’s no noodling fret-wankery counter, to the expense of the song – everything is tidy and just as it should be.
”Love Love Love” which follows, keeps everyone on stage, but style-wise it’s a shift to a big dollop of Rockabilly swing with it’s “Rock around with Hollie Vee “ guitar runs.
Dance-tastic, too…btw.
Things are taken down a soulful notch with the white soul groove of “The Son’s Gonna Shine Again,” which skirts with Boz Scaggs territory and never loses its groove – melodically there are some lovely minor shifts, taking the melody and mood into quite clever territory.
Title track “The Rhythm of the City” is back to the Blues and Soul of the opening track; and is the album’s manifesto
my heart beats to the rhythm of the city/I move my feet to the tempo of this town”.
“Keep on Keep on,” which links into the second half of the album is something that could have leapt straight off the Blues Brothers’ soundtrack – it’s a narrative strut of a song.
“I Don’t Wanna Know” lives in the territory around 1962/3ish, when Soul, Doo-Wop and Rock’n’Roll were merged into one and barely distinguishable from each other – and it’s as lovely as it sounds.
“I Ain’t Done Loving You Yet” jumps forward a couple of years stylistically into Beatle-ish/Pettyish Twang areas -and it’s yet another hook-laden mini-symphony.
Mr Keith sure does know how to craft a hook, that’s for sure.
UK readers might hear some similarities with our own Bennett, Wilson Poole on this one too.
“If I Ever Get the Chance Again” is the sort of plaintive end of the night blues that Nick Lowe excels in, but here JPK is the man in charge of the dynamics; and those horns and backing vocals add extra punch to the descending lines, where Mr Lowe would probably just leave space.
It works.
“If I Had Money” starts with a bit of JPK that echoes the late SRV (Stevie Ray Vaughan – pay attention at the back) but shuffles with Ska-style horns countering and making it impossible not to move your feet and hips along to the beat – It’s all in the rhythm and JPK knows it.
Matters come to an all too soon conclusion with the deep soul of “How Do I Say No?”
It’s Valentine’s day soon – grab your partner (with permission) and schedule your last dance smooch to this one.
John Paul Keith has crafted a wonderfully entertaining love-letter to the heart, soul and rhythm of Memphis here.
Ideally this needs to be heard in the same dark, atmospheric and soulful bars like the one I last saw him back in 2019.
In the meantime, there’s nothing stopping you grooving around your kitchen and getting some practice in for when gigs make a welcome return.

Review by Nick Barber

Released 19th February 2021
https://johnpaulkeith.com/

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Wily Bo Walker TALES OF THE MESCAL CANYON TROUBADOURS

Wily Bo Walker
TALES OF THE MESCAL CANYON TROUBADOURS
Voodooville

Swish, Swagger and a Staggering Blend of Southern Fried Blues.

It’s really hard to keep up with Wily Bo Walker’s releases; with re-mixes and re-hashes mingling and supplementing brand new songs at will and that’s what we appear to have here; but I do like a challenge!
But; and it’s not even a very big ‘but’ even if you have heard some of the previous versions of his songs on earlier albums; the new ones are always as interesting as they are exciting, so yet again I’m treating this as a shiny new release in all its swish and swaggering glory.
Technically TALES OF THE MESCAL CANYON TROUBADOURS is a companion album to last year’s Ain’t No Man a Good Man with Danny Flam, but you don’t need to have heard that to understand and fall in love with this; but it wouldn’t do you any harm to own both albums.
While still eschewing his love for New Orleans and Tex-Mex inspired Blues, I swear Wily Bo has been listening to the same Surf albums as me recently; as opening track, Drive (Mescalito Mix) certainly has that ‘fuzzy’ Dick Dale feel as the bass and drums pump more adrenaline than a teenage boy on a promise!
This is obviously more ‘obvious’ on Jawbreaker (Surf-O-Rama) which sounds just perfect for a Tarantino remake of Point Break (or Aloha Hawaii?).
There must be someone that Wily Bo reminds me of; but I can’t for the life of me think of any singer that sounds this seductive, yet dirty at the same time (Zappa circa Hot Rats? A young Tom Waits? ) and he just oozes Rakishness on Walk in Chinese Footsteps (Bardo Thodol Mix) and even more so, later on the sleazy Who’s Lovin’ You Tonight which will send a shiver down the back of wives everywhere.
Wily Bo’s love of all things Mexicana stretches way beyond the artwork (which is rather wonderful in it’s own rite) but comes across rather subtly in the rather shady and inspired Time to Forget (Bourbon & Candlelight Mix) which is brimful of smoky atmosphere and superb guitar from the dirty end of the fretboard.
Two song title certainly ring bells for me; but I hardly recognised either Chattahoochee Coochee Man (Southern Slide) or album closer Moon Over Indigo in these guises; but that’s the beauty of having someone like Wily Bo Walker at the helm; there’s always something he can add or subtract to make a thing of beauty even better.
There’s always a cinematic or theatrical feel to the sequencing on Walker’s albums; it’s as if he’s trying to tell a story through music and words; but without the added weight of calling it a Rock Opera; which loosely brings me to the two songs I’m struggling to decide which is most worthy of the accolade, RMHQ Favourite Song.
Velvet Windows is a whole new direction with a staggering blending between electric and steel-guitar (a Resonator?) that sounds as if it’s been dug up by Music Archaeologists and given a new lease of life.
The other actually precedes it; and I think I’m now erring towards For The Children (When The Nightmares Call) whose title instantly attracted me when I first received the album; and actually lives up to such a bewildering title; with Walker slowing things down to a cracked croon on a song ‘with a message’; which I’m not going to spoil for you.
Wily Bo Walker is another one of those acts that baffles me as to why they aren’t filling Concert Halls across the world and headlining TV Shows too; but until justice is done; you and I both know he’s the real deal whatever guise he’s taking with his music.

Released February 12th 2021
https://wilybo.com/

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Joyann Parker OUT OF THE DARK

Joyann Parker
Out Of The Dark
Hopeless Romantic Records

Timeless Jazz Infused Blues Songs For Swinging Lovers and Lonely Hearts Clubs Too.

With new music in all its formats taking over my office at the moment I nearly overlooked this album; but there was something ‘interesting’ about the picture on the cover, so a couple of morning ago I put in the CD player.
YIKES!
I was neither expecting or ready for the slow burning and powerful opener, Gone So Long. An a capella Gospelish harmony leads into a stark steel guitar, then ‘that voice’ comes in; quite restrained, but in a way that makes you avoid eye contact; because she threatens to flare up at any moment.
Man ….. this IS the Blues!
Track #2 Carry On is a lot more contemporary; although still Gospellish in concept and just oozing passion and Soul in a way so many try ….. but most fail.
That first morning had me putting my book to one side at this stage and I just kicked back and let Joyann take over my life for a couple of hours.
There’s a little bit of everything here; with every song revolving around Joyann Parker’s wonderful voice and a band that are as tight as the metaphorical drum.
Because of 2020’s pandemic and an assortment of Lockdown’s means this album was recorded and produced over several seperate months; but with hindsight that gave some of the songs time to grow and breathe and let Joyann and guitarist Mark Lamoine the opportunity to come back and tweak and adjust accordingly.
I love the way the songs are sequenced; something that is sadly no longer as important as it used to be; so here you get the beautiful introspective ballad Either Way followed by the punchy and jazzy Predator; which leads into Dirty Rotten Guy, which is Juke-Joint at it’s funkiest and Pianist Tim Wick, a Professor Longhair devotee, executes the song’s standout keyboard work like he was born to play this way; and all three songs may or may not be about the same woman; as these are three of the stages ‘love’ finds us in at one time or another ….. and the variant genres Ms Parker uses are just perfect for her story telling.
When I came back to this album the next day, the cover photo makes complete sense; as Joyann Parker takes us on a timeless journey through the Blues as if she’d been transported from the 40’s into the latest 20’s and gives an age old gutsy performance on the likes of Hits Me Like a Train and What Did You Expect; but utilising modern technology and the recording studio to make her voice stand out but still let us hear every drum beat and bass note too.
This album sizzles from start to finish and has many stand out songs; but two in particular would have had me coming back to them time and time again.
The finale Out of The Dark is almost claustrophobic the way Joyann turns the lights way down low and pours her broken heart out, leaving male listeners feeling guilty; even though they’ve never met the woman …. or perhaps that was just me.
I’m going to take a deep breath here and whisper; this song and my actual Favourite Track Bad Version of Myself are both the type of songs that Amy Whitehouse may and should have gone on to record. Introspective, Bluesy, Jazzy, heartbreaking but still leaving you believing she’s not a survivor but a powerful woman who wants a man in her life but doesn’t need one.
It doesn’t matter a joy where you file this album; Jazz? Blues? Singer-Songwriter? Roots? As they all apply with Joyann Parker and Mark Lamoine have created some really grown up astute songs here that cover all of the bases and will appeal to music lovers of all persuasions and hopefully ages too.

Released February 12th 2020
https://www.joyannparker.com/

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PS if there’s a Hopeless Romantic Records t-shirt in XL going spare, I know a good home for it!


Zed Mitchell ROUTE 69

Zed Mitchell
Route 69
Z Records

Laid Back Bluesy Grooves For Winter’s Evenings And a Summer’s Days Too.

In principal we like to be ‘ahead of the game’ with our reviews at RMHQ, trying to get them to you before release; but that’s not always possible …… which is why I’ve only gotten around to playing this album by Zed Mitchell from Essen, Germany, a month after it first came out; and only then via a gentle push from Pete Feenstra who wrote four of the songs here.
In my defence I’ve been very busy – it was Christmas after all!
So; as is my won’t I gave it a try last weekend, which was frosty and sunny on a short car ride (honest guv) to do my daily exercise.
While most of my journey was on the A693, ROUTE 66 proved a delightful companion in both directions.
The first thing heart squeezing opening track, By Sundown You’ll Be Gone was how much Zed Mitchell reminded me of Chris Rea (and therefore Mark Knopfler by default) in the way his guitar playing is both intricate and fluid while his vocals are soft, purring and almost velvety in texture.
Once I got into open country, with frost covered fields for as far as I could see; Mitchell’s sublime Freedom Trail, Life Will Always Find You and; of course the uber-cool I Like to Drive – I’m Ready To Live meant once I’d hit 4th gear I found myself gliding along on a musical cloud of Blues dipped loveliness.
I’ve said many times that The Blues comes in a million guises; and sometimes laid back grooves like these are just what the Soul needs; and when you hear Blue In Your Eyes and I’m Still Waiting (To See You) I’m pretty sure you’ll agree with me.
There are no outright commercial ‘singles’ here; but a couple of songs have really tantalised me this week.
The finale Fake is as edgy as Zed Mitchell gets, with his sad tale that covers many parts of our lives; with it one day being about a relationship or a Media Star and on another it may be about the politicians that run and sometimes ruin our lives. But, I will let you decide.
The other; and the song I’m selecting as my Favourite Track is ……. Is This Life? Mostly because of Mitchell’s hypnotic guitar playing; but the song; and the way he drops his voice an octave or two is as perfect an example of Contemporary Blues that I expect to hear this year.
Zed Mitchell is no ‘new kid on the block’; he’s been appearing on albums for over 50 years as a ‘go to’ session player, but also releasing 7 previous solo albums; but that just goes to show that it’s never too late to discover a new talent.

CD/Download Released December 10th 2020
LP January 2021
https://www.zedmitchell.com/

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Ordering in Zed’s shop is easy. Send an e-mail to:  zed.mitchell@gmx.de 
or via PayPal with this e-mail address. 


The Rocking Magpie Radio Show Pt3 Top 10 North American Albums of 2020

The Rocking Magpie Radio Show Pt3
Top 10 North American Albums of 2020

Well; I’m getting there …… the new fangled faders, knobs and buttons are no longer scaring me in my shiny new Home Studio, so ……. cue drum roll ……… I now plan going ahead with a Weekly RMHQ Podcast, bringing you new tracks from albums we are reviewing and the occasional single that doesn’t get onto the site, alongside a few oldies from across the vast Americana Landscape that tickle my fancy.
The one thing that I plan doing every week, will be bringing you ‘Gateway’ tracks and albums that took me away from Pop Music and into a much more grown up and thoughtful world ……. it’s going to be interesting, that’s for sure.

This Test episode is Part II of my own personal albums of 2020, this time it’s 11 (I know, I know) eclectic songs from ‘Game Changing’ albums that I can’t recommend highly enough .

10Terra SpencerPilot USA 10Chasing RabbitsCoyotes06/11/20
10Sam JoynerPilot USA 10When u need a friendNatural Born Luvah10/08/20
9Maceo ParkerPilot USA 10SOUL FOODHard Times26/06/20
8Grant Lee PhillipsPilot USA 10Lightning Show Us Your StuffLeave a light on04/09/20
7RookiePilot USA 10RookieMiss United States13/03/20
6Ben Adair MurphyPilot USA 10Lets make a kingSame kind of Fascist09/07/20
5Sarah Jane NelsonPilot USA 10I’m Not BrokenReap what you saw
4Drive By TruckersPilot USA 10UnravellingBabies in cages31/01/20
3American AquariumPilot USA 10LamentationsA Better South01/05/20
2LeRouxPilot USA 10One of these daysLucy Anna24/07/20
1Marshall ChapmanPilot USA 10Songs I cant live withoutWill you still love me tomorrow15/05/20