Album Reviews

Nollaig Shona Duit ( Merry Christmas) From the Emerald Isle

Linda Welby Christmas Child

By Don Graham 


‘A Christmas Child’  the holiday single by Irish songbird Linda Welby, on Bullet Records, has all the makings of  becoming a new Christmas “classic” to be played annually for many years to come. 


Most of the newer Christmas songs of the twentieth and twenty first century are great songs, no doubt, but they leave out the real meaning of the day. They talk a lot about Christmas trees, shopping, being home for the holidays and being blue at Christmas. I suppose there is, after all, plenty of ‘Silent Night’, ‘Away in a Manger’ and ‘O’ Holy Night’ versions to fill the airwaves, but Linda has managed to create a song that talks about the kids being excited about Santa Claus but that this is the day that Jesus Christ, Our Saviour was born. 


The clever incorporation of ‘O’ Come All Ye Faithful’ into the mix and the clean production, complete with heavenly bells,  and a warm and honest vocal by Miss Welby, serve to make this song a new Christmas favourite. In short, Linda Welby has managed to put Christ back in Christmas.  Merry CHRISTmas everyone and thank you Linda for this great song!

The Good The Bad & The Lucky – Jevon Rudder

Jevon Rudder CD



This CD contains the sounds of the music genre called, “New Country.”  The vocals from track to track are as consistent as I have ever heard from this brand of music.  After years of being the drummer in several bands, Jevon has stepped into the Artist/Performer/Songwriter position and is carrying himself very well.  

The current single, “Country Style,” is taking the airwaves like a Texas tornado and other memorable cuts include: “Apologize”, “Bring It On”, and “ I Want It Back.”  This man pulls off a ballad with ease but shines like a new diamond on the up-tempo, sometimes sassy themes he writes about.  

Of special interest is the song “What Am I To You”, in which Rudder, himself an Army Reservist, addresses the makeup of the new war veterans, most often young men in their 20s, and the need to pay them due respect.

Jevon’s music should be included on any Country Music radio station’s playlist.  It is a perfect fit.


Rusty Russell


Rating 5/5

Michelle Wright - A Wright Christmas

Michelle Wright

Savannah Music


In the early Nineties, Michelle Wright was Canada’s top female country singer, and deservedly so. With a string of hits that included ‘Take It Like A Man’, ‘The Answer Is Yes’, ‘Guitar Talk’ ,’Nobody’s Girl’ and ‘I Surrender’, Michelle firmly embedded herself as a top female country artist. Blessed with a strong voice, great interpretive vocal skills and captivating stage presence, it was only a matter of time before she resurfaced.


Her latest offering on Savannah Music, A Wright Christmas, with it’s mixture of Country Pop,Jazz and Easy Listening styles further shows the broad range of her sweet voice. This is the perfect CD to put on while  decorating the Christmas tree  and the perfect choice to create the festive mood in your home.


Among the standard classics such as ‘Have Yourself A Merry Little Christmas’, ‘Little Drummer Boy’ and ‘Rudolph the Red Nose Reindeer’ is a song written by fellow Canadian singer/songwriter Patricia Conroy, ‘I Know Santa’s Been Here’.


Produced at the Grotto studio in Brentwood, Tennessee by Tony Haselden and Russ Zavison,  this CD is a must have Christmas CD for all Michelle Wright fans and fans of good music everywhere. It will have you dreaming of a Wright Christmas.

Garth Hudson: Garth Hudson Presents A Canadian Celebration Of The Band

Garth Hudson CD


A Canadian concept whose time has come curated by the originator best equipped to do the job. Accordingly, this is not a ‘greatest hits’ project and Garth Hudson’s choice of tunes from The Band to be re-worked by an eclectic crew of Canadians, is bound to furrow a brow or two.

And unless you’re a Raine Maida fan it’s not all good news. For the most part, the match of singer and song makes for tasty treats in a variety of styles.


The Sadies shine throughout and do a damn fine job of re-creating the barroom backing band spirit of the early The Band. Never better than on a rip roarin’ ride through ‘This Wheel’s On Fire’ fronting Neil Young as dude bawls and shreds it like the joint’s ablaze.

Then they turn on a dime with nine cents change to help Mary Margaret O’Hara conjure up the spooky vibe of ‘Out Of The Blue’. 


Elsewhere, Bruce Cockburn brings his A game to ‘Sleeping’, little-known Road Hammers funk up ‘Yazzo Street Scandal’ courtesy of inspired work from the backline and Chantal Kreviazuk does a great job of representing the household by drenching ‘Tears Of rage’ in womanly soul. Underpinning every track, just as he did with the originals, is Garth Hudson’s piano and keyboard playing, weaving the connecting threads between then and this.

Johnny Max Band: It’s A Long Road

Johnny Max Band

Pour Soul Records

The gentleman known as Johnny Max is Canada’s best-loved blues chameleon. He plays it out fronting the Johnny Max Band, an ever-changing who’s who of bluesy sidemen, united in the service of the song.


On this album though, there are signs this particular line-up may be in for the long U-Haul. For one big thing, the band gets full co-credits on production and songwriting, so behind the bandleader are: Vince Maccarone on drums, Wayne Deadder on bass, John Findlay on guitar and Jesse O’Brien on keyboards. For added colour, throw in a four-piece brass section, a backing vocalist and additional percussion and the whole thing cooks with a decidedly N’Awlins gumbo feel.

Right from the get go, the rolling barrelhouse piano lines O’Brien deploys on ‘Daddy’s Little Girl” lets you know how it’s gonna be. The swamp blues vibe hangs like Spanish moss on 'Too Many Fish' and 'One Day’ flexes the hard muscle beneath the slow grind. 



The Mercy



We knew it was just a matter of time before the spiritual children of Ian Blurton started making albums. And looky, this crew of grit rockers even went the extra mile in getting the Most Serene Blurton himself to produce their debut biscuit and he brings it clean and loud.

Still and all, many times we’ve been fooled again by kickass live acts that can’t cut it in the studio.

Well rejoice, this isn’t one of those. This is the other thing, a band that has honed its act on the hard rock circuit and with the help of The Great Loud One, jammed the juice onto the plastic. 

The band say their sound’s a virile mix of classic hard rock, soul and garage rock, and it can all show up in the same song. That sense of impending head-on musical collisions is what keeps The Mercy Now from being just another bar band mining classic rock.

The soul’s mostly from belter Russ Fernandes, former Shikasta shouter; he’s rougher than that but owing a debut to Jagger; the blues rock courtesy of dual guitarists David Viva and Adam Burnett.

Steven Page: Page One

Steven Page



After the grade school finger pointing and gnashing of teeth on the first Barenaked Ladies album without Mr. Page’s involvement, everybody’ was checking to see how said gentleman would deal with that.


On his first full-length without the BNLs, Page takes the high road right past that sordid mess. No breast-beating, name-calling or crocodilian tears, thank you very much.  In striking out away from the adult contempo stuff his former band paid the mortgages with, Page takes us on a tour of the kind of musics he likes. 

You got yer tight’n’jangly indie pop (‘Marry Me’), yer snarky lyrics wedded to bristly electronica (‘Queen Of America’), yer melodic and insightful balladry (‘Indecision’) If you’re still curious about the fallout around Page’s 2008 coke bust, there’s a track called ‘Clifton Springs’ that’s a fairly direct allusion and cocaine does show up in ‘The Chorus Girl’ but in a very different scenario. The most Ladies-esque song here is ‘All The Young Misogynists”, both in the vocals and its poke in the eye with a foam finger stance.


All in all, a busy little menu of coming attractions, which makes the predominant sound here that of a man marking time.

Joel Lightman – “Water on a Butterfly” (5-song EP on Boardroom Records)

Water on a Butterfly

CD Launch & Live Concert – Friday October 22 -  Buddies in Bad Time Theatre, Toronto 

by Kathy Hahn

For the fans that crowded the room, Joel Lightman needed no introduction.  They sang along to his songs as if they were welcoming the return of long-lost friends. This sense of familiarity spread quickly to us newcomers. Whether a fan or a new friend to the fold, the music touched the soul of everyone there, bringing people to tears and laughter.


Lightman drove through a set of material punctuated with five new tracks from a newly recorded EP entitled “Water on a Butterfly”. The debut video single “Shine On” illustrates the inevitable lightness of being that is Joel Lightman.  The songs are original, well-crafted, imaginative, melodious, sophisticated and luminous in arrangement, replete with infectious hooks and memorable melody lines that ricochet around in your head long after the last note has faded.





Two years in the making, a cast of seven, twelve songs about hanging out, relationships and being young and having misery fun in the 21st century. It’s Album, the first full-length album from T.Dot fun popsters Hooded Fang.

Without entirely ditching the loosey goosey exuberance of their debut EP, the Fang are now stepping up the song crafting with a greater confidence. This translates into a lesser inclination to throw everything at hand into each track. Consequently, the merits of the song writing are a little easier to appreciate. Even focus on.

Not a great ol' humungous switch in direction from the debut EP, just a studied coolness, and a surer hand with ‘less is more’ arrangements, a touch that’s becoming a rarity in T.Dot indie ‘orchestras”. Stylistically, it’s a nice mix of upbeat pop, indie rock and orchestral folk, kinda in the Ohbijou tradition. Not a far stretch, as the Fangs are known to consort with the Ohbijou crew and there’s one track one the album, Highway Steam, which first appeared on the second Friends In Bellwoods compilation.

But it ain’t necessarily fun times in the Hooded Fang world; vocalist Daniel Lee sees to that with a style hooking up the melodic misery of Morrissey to the art school disaffection of David Byrne, with a dash of Kevin Drew. This whiff of Eighties art rock gives the proceedings a kind of inherited cool, especially as this is not an over-milked sub-genre at this point.

THE MELIGROVE BAND: Shimmering Lights


Fourth time out and this T.Dot foursome mix up the indie pop with just enough quirk Their usual attention to catchy rhythms and delayed hooks are sprinkled with lotsa small suprises and unexpected ear ticklers.

They come at you right from the get-do with first song, “Ghosts At My Back.”, opening up with a jazzy trumpet line. As well, the title lets us in on the whistling past the graveyard mood that loiters around most of the tracks. The trio of “Really Want It”, “Make Believe It” and “White Like Lies.” exemplify this element in the album, helped along hugely by organ lines suggesting things at the funhouse are about to go sideways.

And if the ligtbulb still hasn’t gone off, “Bones Attack!” has lyrics like: “If I loved you to death will your bones attack me?” that get to the black-hearted humor of the matter. Other tracks, like “Half Light” and “ This Work” are more straight forward in intent, although ‘Work’ has lyrics that can go ironic in the wrong ears.

And everywhere you look, hook after hook , tasty riff piled on tasty riff until “Racing To Shimmering Lights” screches to the finish line bursting at the seams with poprock goodness. It won’t come clear until this album’s been out awhile that what The Meligrove Band has done here is a damm fine job of balancing the wheels and tuning up the indie pop machine This is only their fourth album in 10 years and like it’s predecessors, is an indicator that The Meligrove Band understands that good albums, like good sex, takes time.

James Lizzard

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