Album Reviews

Megan Morrison: MOVIN’ ON

Megan Morrison

(Unsigned)
by Lenny Stoute

Newest country darlin' on the horizon is the real deal; a rodeo ridin’, calf ropin’ big smilin’ blonde from Holstein, ON. Can’t get much more cow town than that nor more hometown girl than Megan Morrison. The lady’s just dropped her second album, Movin’ On and it shows an artist rolling straight up that blacktop to US success travelled by Shania, Terri Clark and pioneer Anne Murray. It’s trafficking in country pop with loads of citified appeal and a knack for a heart-tugging country lyric.

The album kicks off with the catchy one-two upbeat combo of ‘Everywhere I Go’ and the aptly titled ‘Dancing In The Rain’, then swiftly shifts gears for ‘I Can Love Anyone I Want To’, done with a more defiant edge than the version cut by Nashville alt country comer Cindy Roberts. This pattern pretty much continues throughout, a back and forth between upbeat pop and reflective country balladering.

Even as it pays all the right dues to Nashville, ‘Movin’ On’ comes off as an accomplished sophomore offering with a distinct personality. Producer Joel Feeney gets much credit for shaping the sound and as co-writer of three of the album’s tunes. He keeps a radio-friendly ear on the proceedings without applying too much sheen, which allows Morrison to step outside her persona in embracing the protagonist’s cheeky innuendo in ‘Party Girl’ and the downright gritty perspective of ‘Old Habit Town’.

Two Roads to Exile

Simon Wynberg

by Dr. Robert Tomaro

Walter Braunfels – String Quintet
Adolf Busch – String Sextet
by ARC (Artists of the Royal Conservatory)
on RCA Red Seal

German composers Adolf Busch and Walter Braunfels were linked in life by twin tragic destinies of Nazi persecution that decimated their careers. Now, happily, they are linked aesthetically and effulgently on this new release by RCA Red Seal. Their chamber music is performed exquisitely by ARC, one of Canada’s premier ensembles. Comprised of senior faculty members of the Royal Conservatory in Toronto, ARC breathes vibrant new life into these important and long neglected offerings.

The composers, who we find here on parallel musical roads, were actually quite different in life. Busch, a blond, square jawed Westphalian and a famous violin virtuoso, was universally hailed by the public and the Nazis, alike. Hitler dubbed him “our German violinist”. But Busch was a true Cosmopolitan and was horrified at the onset of anti-Semitic hatred. He would admonish audiences from the stage if he saw Nazi salutes in the house: “Go to your brown shirt meetings and do that, but not here”. He would rail at correspondence that closed with “Heil Hitler”, replying: “That’s not a German greeting as far as I am concerned”, both terribly dangerous practices at the time.

Sandro Dominelli – The Alvo Sessions

Sandro Dominelli
CD Review by Bill McDonald

The Alvo Sessions is the most recent addition to Sandro Dominelli’s growing discography. Like his previous recordings, this CD is comprised of a combination of his own compositions and some interpretations of those by other artists. Also, like some of his other recordings, he does not draw strictly from the “jazz world”. In this case, the Alvo Sessions includes Chris Issak’s “Wicked Games” and Keith Jarrett’s “Personal Mountains”.

Accompanied by Rez Abbasi (guitar) and Chris Tarry (electric bass), Dominelli offers up a number of interesting tracks. The common theme throughout all is the balanced interplay between the three musicians and an eastern atmosphere underscored by Abbasi’s guitar.

Highlights include the version of “Wicked Games”. Like the original, the melody is presented in a simple, clean fashion with as much importance placed on space as the line itself. The guitar solo keeps true to this premise, offering only slightly more density. This contrasts nicely with the following track, “Number 11” with musical complexity from both guitar and bass and driving rhythms from the drums.

HIP KITTY

Hip Kitty Cover

by Sandy Graham

If you could harness the raw originality of the 1960s Jefferson Airplane and the dynamic power of Heart from the 1970s and ‘80s and transport them to the 21st century, you’d probably end up with a sound very similar to HIP KITTY.

Make no mistake, this is not an ordinary band with a cute name. These folks can play! And sing! And write great songs!

From the very top of The Art of War CD, with the ethereal orchestral intro leading into the first cut “The March of Tzu” right through to the 14th track “A Same New Day,” this group will grab your auditory attention and will not let you go until the last note stops ringing.

Darrelle London: Edible Word Parade

Darelle London

Unsigned

This 9-song collection is loaded with offbeat pop appeal. Farm girl London writes and performs on piano and while she cites Carole King as an influence, a much more apparent one is Tory Amos, in reference to song structure and offbeat arrangements.

The songs carry sharp observations sheathed in whimsical almost spontaneous sounding melody lines and breezy delivery a la Lily Allen.

The sweetness of the voice and childlike overtones is at once engaging and disarming to the point where it's easy to miss stuff first time around. Much of the lyric is at variance with the shiny, happy surface wrapping and only this tension keeps some songs from being a touch too precious.

REVMATIC: Cold Blooded Demon

Revmatic

Fist Records

This is not exactly a new album but representative of the kind of good work that cane be passed over in the rush to the next big thang.

Cold Blooded Demon is the third album from this Kingston are foursome who over 9 years has refined a catchy mix of vintage Metallica, commercial hard rock and Southern fried grooves.

From the opening blast of Head My Way to the pin ya to the wall power of She’s A Drug and Lie To Love Me, as unlikely a romantic twosome as you could hope for, Revmatic exhibit a balls-out confidence that works in getting even the weaker tunes into the club.

Lotsa fuzzed out guitars and fist pumping anthems, the standout in the regard being Bad Behaviour and for all the overwhelming power, there a commercial sensibility here that’s responsible for some good hooks such as on Lie To Me and the title track.

BASIA BULAT: Heart Of My Own

Basia

Secret City Records

Never mind the obvious differences, there’s a track on this album called “Gold Rush’ that’s a significant clue to what this collection’s all about. More than anything else, it resonates best with Neil Young’s “After The Gold Rush” in terms of scope, ambition and a unique approach to pushing the form forwards.

The tunes here are largely shaped by Bulat’s imagined idea of a mythic Yukon before she’d ever set eyes on the place and the fact they were all written on the road, a new experience for Bulat. Even the ones not overtly Yukon-influenced carry an ambience of re-imagined times and places.

THEE SILVER MT.ZION MEMORIAL ORCHESTRA

Constellation

Kollaps Tradixionales
Constellation

And Godspeed You! Black Emperor begat Thee Silver Mt. Zion Traditional Orchestra and it went on to give itself lo, a different name for each album and yeah, many players came and went but 15-minute songs remained unto this, Thee Silver’s sixth album.

Kollaps Tradixionales comes with a different name and the usual line-up changes but it’s unmistakably the work of main man Efrim Menuck and his band of punked-out experimentalists. The lineup’s down to one guitar now but in fact Kollaps... contains some of the heaviest guitar moments from the band to dat

Sophie Berkal-Sarbit

Young & Foolish

Young & Foolish is comprised of twelve tracks, which include “I’m Gonna Live ‘Til I Die” by Hoffman/Kent/Curtis.

MySpace.com/sophieberkalsarbit

Susan Boyle: Dreams Really Do Come True – Just Have Faith & Believe

I Dream a Dream

By Natasha Slinko

It is said that dreams do come true, and on January 21st 2009, Scottish-born Susan Boyle took one extraordinary leap of faith to achieve her dream by stepping completely out of her comfort zone, auditioning for Britain’s Got Talent to follow her one true passion – singing.

'I Dreamed A Dream’, a song made famous by the Andrew Lloyd Weber musical Les Misérables, was Boyle’s song of choice.

Boyle stepped onto the stage, only to be ridiculed by the judges and the audience alike, as they assumed and promptly judged a book by its cover, disvaluing anything else that was present, such as the human heart and the human spirit. How brave and resilient she was in the light of their scorn.

Then history was made as Boyle began to sing “I dream a dream in time gone by, when hope was high, and life worth living. I dreamed that love would never die, I dreamed that God would be forgiving…” You could have heard a pin drop.

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