Wednesday, February 1, 2012

RECORD REVIEWS - January 2012

Drew Gibson "The Southern Draw"
Southern Draw Cover Art

Drew Gibson is yet another of those classic-styled singer-songwriters that hover between folk and rock with plenty of Americana roots. The really good news for those of us that listen to a lot of this music is that Gibson has the ability to add elements of other genres and styles into his sound while easily keeping his personal identity. The opening cut has brilliant little melodic runs that remind me of John Martyn or Michael Chapman. I can almost picture Danny Thompson playing on this a few decades back. "Lonnie Johnson" has heartland appeal, but there is a light lounge element here. The folkier "Sugar Blue" has a great bluesy sting on the acoustic guitar, which is the sole accompaniment to the vocal. The overall contemplative mood is sustained throughout with these deft arrangements and fine songs. I have enjoyed this material live and it is nice to see the care given to the recording which feels live, but sounds clean and fresh in an intimate setting. This is an album I will return to and it further confirms the abilities that I saw during the live set.

Songs to sample...

I Know I Miss You More - This is the stunner that Grammy winning songwriters wish they could write. OK, and really good songwriters are also jealous.

We Move by Wagon Train - The band establishes a laconic pace that establishes the feel of a migration via wagon train. But of course the lyrics sung with both male and female voice tell a more developed tale.

The Southern Draw - The title cut has excellent vocals atop a folk-blues-rock song that sticks with you even while listening to the fine songs remaining.

The WeatherVanes "Morning Light" ep
This relatively new band from Arlington has truly hit the ground running. The sound and songwriting are far more accomplished than the usual rough and energetic style most newcomers put out. The first song "Black and Blue" has a classic American folk-rock feel to it both in the tight playing and recording and also the vocal work with just a wispy of raspiness added to the clean tones. The title cut featured a good rock 'n' roll feeling with some nice lead guitar. If these guys were the Jayhawks, they would be headed to the Gary Louris side of that equation. The last song "Sold" brings things down a notch with some piano dancing around the voice, guitars, and rhythm section. There is still room for some heavier guitar in the chorus along with a nice slide solo. There is just the right spark evident with these guys that have me wanting to see if they can take the next step and grow their audience. In this crowded field, that is a rather large step, but the WeatherVanes have a real chance with the raw material they possess.

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