Randy Lee Riviere WYOMING

Randy Lee Riviere
Wilderness Records

Real Heartbreakingly Honest and Raw Native Americana.

An epiphany point in the life of Randy Lee Riviere, the man originally from Northern California but now residing in the Big Sky State, occurred when he decided to make an album using his real name, as opposed to his previous incarnation of Mad Buffalo. Not that there had been anything wrong with the former moniker, 4 albums all with a cast list of the very best musicians and producers containing songs with strong melodies and even stronger subject matters, eloquently delivered without any shadow of recrimination.
Recorded at Grammy winning producer Kevin McKendree’s Rock House studio in Franklin Tennessee, Wyoming has 13 original songs that have the benefit of granite solid contributions from McKendree’s own undoubted keyboard and guitars skills, plus the talented multi-instrumentalist James Pennebaker. Add into the mix the renowned drumming of Kenneth Blevins plus David Santos on Bass and you have one very high class backing band.
I was initially drawn to producing this project because of the depth of Randy’s lyrics,” Kevin McKendree states. “He cares deeply about our environment, his family, Native American culture and the beauty of the Western land. His lyrics illustrate those things in a very moving and poetic way. The songs all have something ‘classic’ about them, though they are brand new. Randy made it clear to me that he wanted the music to paint a picture of the vast Wyoming landscape.
I think we accomplished that.

Musically, I personally found it impossible to categorise and fit into any accepted genre (which is a good thing from my point of view). Lyrically the subject matters contain a fair element of frustration and angst. Ostensibly, Randy is a storyteller and a very good one, at that.
Wyoming rightly kicks off with “Lots to Say” which has a chug-along tempo and Randy declaring
I know what I need to do
complimented by the chanted chorus of several “whoas” and Pennebaker’s sweet pedal steel.
Our Town” slows things down with Randy pleading
why tear it down, this old town, it’s got worn down.
This is our town, don’t let them bring it down”.
Throughout, there is a good balance between the up-tempo and slower numbers, nicely sequenced, ensuring musical variety. Further good examples of the ballad types are the very melodic “Fences”, “What I Want” with more great pedal steel and then some beautiful fiddle on “Eighth Wonder of the World”.
Of the more upbeat tracks “Keep Your Eyes on Your Station” has a catchy refrain of
get your mind off vacation”,
Break my Heart” contains some Keith Richards type power chords and stinging electric guitar solos from Kevin.
However, there’s a very special resonance with “Boys” which has young Yates McKendree guesting on terrific lead guitar. Randy wrote the song about his own children, so getting McKendree Junior to illustrate how the musical DNA flows to the next generation is a masterstroke in making family connections.
In “Red Rain”, which has some gentle piano and sensitive mandolin, Randy recollects time spent with his Grandpa and his tales referring to a Native American boy who lives through so many changes, eventually ending in horrific violence, at the historic Battle of the Little Big Horn, a hard rain ….. indeed a Red Rain.
It was tough deciding which was my favourite track, whilst I liked the piano & pedal intro to “Morning”, and the opening lyrics “Hey misty dawn, tell me when are you coming home
I kept coming back to “Riverdale” with it’s punchy guitar licks and the repeated lines of
All I have has gone for sale, there ain’t no river in Riverdale
culminating in an apt definite, musical dead end.
The album actually concludes with the title track, a soulful, meandering instrumental that allows all the musicians to shine. Kevin McKendree has, yet again, completed another very fine job producing an obvious set of well written songs without ever letting the instrumentation to over-ride the prose.
However, for me, inviting his long time friend James Pennebaker to sprinkle his ‘pixie-dust’ on numerous stringed instruments is what magically brought the songs to life.
Forget the usual, banal lyrics of lost love and drunken rejections, there’s no baby done left me or dog dying in any of these compositions.
Randy Lee Riviere has dug deep, his consciousness empathetically highlighting the stupid, illogical, irrational decisions made by man in the misguided pursuit of the dollar bill at the inevitable cost, not just to the land but sadly to all of us, as mankind.

Jack KiddMessin’ with the Kidd” on lionheartradio.com

February 26th 2021



Kalyn Fay
Good Company
Horton Records

The Sound of An Oklahoma Lonely Heart.

It doesn’t happen as often as you’d think; but this album arrived on the from not just it’s American publicist but the British one too on the same day last month; both of whom only work with ‘interesting and articulate’ artistes, so it had to be worth a listen.
Sadly, because of work commitments and an ever increasing backlog of other albums I’ve struggled to find the time to give GOOD COMPANY the time I felt it deserved, until much earlier this morning……. sitting eating breakfast in the conservatory as the sun rose in a beautiful clear Winter sky.
Timing is everything; and the title track, Good Company was the perfect accompaniment as Kalyn’s smoky world-weary voice telling a tale of someone at a crossroads in their life questioning what the future holds, was just what I needed to hear.
Now I’ve played the CD three times, and writing during the fourth it’s apparent that that song is the gateway to what follows; as Ms Fay dictates her thoughts on many things in a very intimate and personal manner, none more so than Come Around which might even conjure up memories of Roy Orbison’s darker masterworks.
By her standards Highway Driving is uptempo and very nearly a ‘rocker’; but the tale of the pleasure you get from driving late at night, interspersed with electric guitar solos that sound like a bullwhip Kalyn describes that fragile loneliness like nothing I’ve ever heard before; but can associate with perfectly.
In the Press Release Kalyn describes these songs as being ‘quintessentially Oklahoma’ and they probably must be, as a couple have a slight ‘Native America’ melody from her Cherokee heritage in them; but Long Time Coming, Faint Memory and of course Oklahoma Hills when you delve deep into their lyrics are as international as they come and will resonate with listeners all over the world; such is Kalyn Fay’s magical way with words and storytelling.
There is also a cover song here; and an old personal favourite…… although I didn’t actually recognise it. Well, you wouldn’t would you? Kalyn’s warm purr turns Malcolm Holcombe’s grizzled Dressed In White into something Gothic, but warm hearted too; which is quite an achievement.
You must get tired of me saying that ‘this is an album that needs to be heard in it’s fullness, rather than cherry picking songs on streaming sites’; but it’s true. This is a fully formed ‘grown up record’; Kalyn’s’s second and songs like Alright In The End, Wait For Me and Baby, Don’t You Worry are all wonderful little vignettes; but heard in context alongside or juxtaposing each other are heard in a completely different light.
That theory is the same with my Favourite Song here, Fool’s Heartbreak. It’s everything you would hope it would be with a title like that; and could easily be the type of 45 we would play on repeat for an hour on end as heartbroken teenagers; but here as it tail ends the disc and as it’s steel-guitar and Hammond B3 plus Kalyn’s honey covered voice bleed into Holcombe’s Dressed in White it will crush you, but also let you know that you’re not alone out there…… Kalyn is suffering with you.
In 2019 Kalyn Fay sits very comfortably in the section marked Americana; but there’s so much more here; in my younger years she would sit in the Singer-Songwriter section somewhere between Linda Ronstadt, Melanie and Emmylou Harris.

Released February 15th 2019

Buffy Sainte-Marie – MEDICINE SONGS


Buffy Sainte-Marie
True North Records

Potently Raw and Emotional Native Americana.

If my maths is right MEDICINE SONGS is Buffy’s 17th album; and baring in mind the state of the world in 2018 any new music from the woman who refused to go on Sesame Street unless they let her tell the world about the history of Native Americans has to be worth investigating hasn’t it? Well; it has!
The album opens with the feisty You Got To Run (Spirit of the Wind) a full on commercial ‘wall of sound’ based around a Native American chant and backbeat; which when pealed away reveals a very angry song indeed. Boy; would I like to hear this on the radio! Do you think it’s worth holding my breath?
It’s no real surprise to find that this ‘golden ager’ and renowned Feminist and activist is righteously angry at what she sees around her; and as songwriter of some renown manages to get her feelings across in such a way on My Country Of Thy People You’re Dying and The War Racket that will not just educate you but make you want to march down a street too.
After all these years it’s more than a surprise to tell you that Ms Sainte-Marie’s voice is absolutely wonderful and has hardly changed since I first heard her in or about 72 or 73.
Not everything here is brand new; with the inclusion of new versions of the magnificent Soldier Blue, Universal Soldier, Starwalker and of course Bury My Heart at Wounded Knee which a new generation of North American schoolchildren should be forced to listen to on headphones every morning.
One of the older songs that I wasn’t aware manages to Buffy’s righteous anger gets to spill over again on an almost Hip-Hop poetic adaptation of The Priests of the Golden Bull, which is so powerful it will spin you around 359 degrees.
Baring in mind Buffy’s ‘age’…….the lady can still ROCK; as is proven on my favourite track here Carry It On. It’s definitely another ‘protest song’ but it’s also a real fists in the air and scream-along the chorus rocker that puts women (and men) a quarter of her age to shame.
I’ve been playing this album on and off  for two months now, and I’m stumped as to where to place it on my shelf…..Folk? Roots? Rock? Any of which would work; but I’m going for Americana or more pertinently NATIVE AMERICANA!
God Bless Buffy Sainte-Marie; the world still needs her and her fiery passion.

PS. The digital version of this record includes a further six songs that appear to be in a similar ilk; and should be well worth investigating.

Released 26th January 2017