Listeners Will All Love The Reverend Shawn Amos’ Latest LP

Courtesy:  Put Together

Courtesy: Put Together

The Reverend Shawn Amos’ latest album The Reverend Shawn Amos Loves You is one of the best of this year’s new blues offerings and potentially one of the year’s best new albums overall. Regardless of listeners’ familiarity with Amos and his music, it can be said in listening to his new album that it is just as impressive of an introduction for new fans as it is a return for those that are more familiar with his work. That is made clear first and foremost through the album’s musical content. From beginning to end, Amos refuses to stick to just one style of blues, opting instead to present different styles of blues. The Delta blues influence is just as obvious in this record as is the Chicago blues sound. It could even be argued that there’s a hint of the Texas blues style included in this record, too. It’s just one part of what makes this record such an enjoyable collection of songs. The album’s lyrical content makes it just as enjoyable. It mixes Amos’ religious background with his more secular roots and never lets either one overpower the other at any given point. Connecting both the album’s musical and lyrical content is the overall sequencing of the album’s songs. The songs have been sequenced in such fashion that the energy never gets too intense or too laid back for listeners. It is so well-balanced that the album in whole will keep listeners engaged from beginning to end. In doing so, The Reverend Shawn Amos will have listeners loving it, too.

The Reverend Shawn Amos’ new full-length studio recording The Reverend Shawn Amos Loves You–his second blues offering and fifth overall album–is a fittingly titled new release. That is because over the course of its twelve songs, ten of which are originals and two covers, it will leave listeners loving it just as much as it shows love for them. That is made obvious first and foremost through the record’s musical content. Over the course of the record’s thirty-nine minute run time, Amos refuses to stick to just one style of the blues. Instead he presents influences from the blues’ different roots. The album’s opener ‘Days of Depression’ hints at a Delta blues influence while ‘Brand New Man’ could be argued to boast something of a Texas blues influence with its guitar-based, up-tempo and boisterous sound. And ‘Brother’s Keeper’ has something of a Chicago blues style sound about it. These are just a few examples of how the different sounds exhibited across the record’s body make the album in whole such an enjoyable collection of songs. They are just part of the different sounds presented throughout the record that make it such an interesting listen. Regardless of which song one chooses, it can be said that all twelve songs make the album a wonderful tool in teaching about the blues thanks to that display of talent and obvious knowledge of the blues. It’s just one way in which this album shows itself to be such a worthwhile listen. The album’s lyrical content is just as important to its overall presentation as its musical content.

The mix of musical influences displayed throughout the course of The Reverend Shawn Amos’ new album is in itself plenty of reason for listeners to hear it. It is just one reason that audiences will appreciate this new collection of songs. The album’s overall lyrical content is just as important to note here as its musical content. That is because just as Amos doesn’t stick to just one style of the blues across his new record neither does he stick to just one lyrical topic throughout the record. Rather he displays both his religious and secular background from beginning to end beginning with the album’s opener. What’s really interesting here is that in the dual message that seems to be presented. At first Amos sings about being so depressed that he could let go of the wheel and go “where the wind goes/with the lord.” He doesn’t stop here. Instead he turns around and makes a statement about time with his brother (actual blood brother or figuratively speaking is beside the point). It gives that line about going with the lord a wholly different message. That is especially considering the changed tone of the song’s musical content. That religious background is just as obvious later in the album’s run in the form of ‘Brother’s Keeper’ in which Amos sings about trying to live according to the word of God. He sings, “Gonna lead with my heart/Open my hand for a start/And be my brother’s keeper.” He goes on to ask “what we gonna do?” before going on to state yet again his reliance on the word of God in order to decide what to do. What’s truly impressive here is that Amos doesn’t get all preachy about the topic. Rather he uses the blues to get his message across both musically and lyrically. In other words, it’s a gospel song that hardly comes across as being gospel; an unorthodox approach, yes. But effective nonetheless. The same can be said of ‘The Outlaw.’ It sounds, to a point, to be more secular than religious. But the song’s story about a rather bad man presents a direct religious story of sorts. It’s just one more way in which Amos’ religious background is put on display in his new album. Of course his religious roots are not the album’s only lyrical influences. His secular roots are just as much on display.

While Amos’ religious background is on clear display, lyrically, throughout Amos’ new album, his more secular roots are just as evident if not more so. Those roots are evident in the form of ‘You’re Gonna Miss Me (When I Get Home),’ ‘Bright Lights, Big City,’ ‘Hollywood Blues,’ and ‘The Last Day I’m Loving You.’ These are pure blues tunes that will impress any blues aficionado just as much as any of Amos’ more non-secular fans. The combination of both lyrical sides together with the album’s musical content strengthens Amos’ new record even more, proving even more why this collection is arguably one of the year’s best new blues albums and potentially one of the year’s best new albums overall.

The musical and lyrical content that makes up the body of The Reverend Shawn Amos’ new album makes this record a solid choice for any critic’s list of the year’s best new blues albums. In the same vein, the balance of secular and non-secular lyrics coupled and various blues stylings makes the album just as much of a candidate for any critic’s list of the year’s best new albums overall. While both noted factors are equally important to the overall success of Amos’ new album, there is still one more element that is just as important. That element is the album’s sequencing. From start to finish, it is obvious that plenty of thought was put into the album’s sequencing. It starts slow with ‘Days of Depression’ before picking up quite a bit in ‘Brand New Man.’ The energy exuded by that song is carried through the first half of the record before Amos pulls back in ‘Will You Be Mine.’ That slower, more laid back vibe established in ‘Will You Be Mine’ carries on through to the album’s end in different degrees. Regardless of the degree to which the music pulls back, it is such that there is a clear separation between the album’s first half and its second. It shows just as much variety as the songs themselves both musically and lyrically. Speaking of that variety, the combined variety in the album’s lyrical and musical content, and between the album’s two halves makes The Reverend Shawn Amos Loves You an album that any listener will love.

The Reverend Shawn Amos Loves You may not be Amos’ first album. But considering the variety exhibited in its musical and lyrical content, and between its two halves, the album shows in the end to be a record that any new fan of gospel and the blues will love just as much as those that are more familiar with his body of work. The Reverend Shawn Amos Loves You is available now in stores and online. It can be ordered online direct via Amos’ official website at http://www.shawnamos.com. Audiences can even hear one of the album’s songs, ‘Brand New Man’ while there. More information on The Reverend Shawn Amos is available online now at:

Website: http://www.shawnamos.com

Facebook: http://www.facebook.com/ReverendShawnAmos

Twitter: http://twitter.com/ShawnAmos

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The Slide Brothers’ Debut LP Makes Its Way Onto The Year’s Best Records List

Courtesy:  Concord Records

Courtesy: Concord Records

The Slide Brothers’ debut self-titled album is without a doubt, one more of the year’s top albums. It is infused with a healthy dose of both blues and gospel that will light a fire inside any truly open minded lover of music. It all kicks off with an amazing cover of the Allman Brothers Band’s ‘Don’t Keep Me Wonderin’.’ The group’s take on this blues classic is an excellent opener, with its high energy music and equally powerful gritty vocals.  The transition to the softer gospel sounds of ‘My Sweet Lord’ makes for quite the change in both tempo and vibe.  Audiences are taken to a high energy song to open the album to something far mellower.

While it isn’t as mellow per se in terms of its general tempo and vibe, ‘Sunday School Blues’ offers audiences a piece that’s mellow in its own right.  Just as impressive is the band’s cover of the spiritual, ‘Wade in The Water.’  The band’s take on this piece is a full on instrumental.  There are no vocals here.  While some might view this as a bad thing, the total lack of vocals makes the entire song that much more powerful and impressive, especially in the blues/rock form presented on this record.  It has a real Blind Boys of Alabama vibe about it.  Things kick back up again from here as the band transitions into ‘Praise You.’  This song is just one more wonderful addition to The Slide Brothers’ debut album as it blurs that line between blues and gospel that much more.  It proves that music doesn’t have to fit neatly into one genre or another to be enjoyable.

As one can clearly see, the first half of The Slide Brothers’ album is top heavy with great material for music lovers across the board.  The album’s second half is no different as it keeps things moving smoothly right off the bat with another bluesy piece in ‘It Hurts Me Too.’  That song is followed up by another song very much in the vein of the Blind Boys of Alabama in ‘Catch That Train.’  The whole thing comes to a head in the album’s penultimate track; a cover of blues legend ELmore James’ ‘The Sky is Crying.’  What really makes this song so incredible is that the band manages somehow to maintain the original song all while making it into its own creation at the same time.  It’s doubtless that this song will become an instant hit with audiences both on the record and at live shows.  Speaking of live shows the band will hit the road in March in support of its new album, beginning with a performance at the Smith Opera House in Geneva, New York on March 6th.  Audiences can get a full tour itinerary and even order the band’s debut album online at its official website, http://www.slidebrothers.com and on its Facebook page, http://www.facebook.com/TheSlideBrothers.  Fans can also get all the latest updates from the band on Twitter at http://twitter.com/slidebrothers.

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Krall Impressive As Ever On Her New LP

Courtesy: Verve Records

Diana Krall has become one of the leading names in jazz over the course of her career.  Her voice and her chops as a pianist have made her a household name among not just among jazz aficionados, but among the mainstream masses, too.  But on this new release, Krall has stepped from her comfort zone, and tried something new.  So far, Glad Rag Doll has become an album that fans either love or hate.  There is no gray area with this album.  In the case of this critic, it’s one more success from an artist who continues to prove herself to be one of the industry’s elite.

Glad Rag Doll presents Diana Krall in a different avenue than in her previous releases.  Rather than take the safe road, this time she has ventured out and gone back in time to the 1920’s and 30’s.  Perhaps the closest that Krall comes to her old sound is in the album’s opener, ‘We Just Couldn’t Say Goodbye.’  This is one of those songs that could easily be imagined in a smoky old jazz club in the heyday of jazz.  Krall’s vocals are just as smooth as ever.  And the backing of fellow musicians Marc Ribot, Jay Bellerose, and Dennis Crouch add even more of a gentle touch to the song. 

From the gentle jazz mood of ‘We Just Couldn’t Say Goodbye’, Krall and company move into something with a little more edge to it in their cover of Fred Fisher’s ‘There Ain’t No Man That’s Worth The Salt of My Tears.’  Fisher wrote this one originally.  But it was made largely popular by singer Martha Wainright.  Again, as with the album’s opener, Krall manages to maintain the integrity of this song from its early days.  The bluesy guitar and light brushwork by Krall’s drummer here make it one of the album’s true highlights.  It proves without a shadow of a doubt that Krall and company can swing it with the best of them both as a jazz and blues artist.  She also proves this on the equally bluesy cover of Betty James’ ‘I’m A Little Mixed Up.’  Her piano work on this song is incredible.  The way she plays shows exactly why the piano is considered more a percussion instrument than belonging to any other instrument family.

All of the songs noted here are excellent additions to Krall’s new album.  They’re not the only enjoyable pieces presented here, either.  All thirteen tracks included on the standard edition (and seventeen on the deluxe edition) will make for an enjoyable listen for any true jazz and blues fan.  Her album is available in stores and online now.  And fans can even see her live now as she is currently touring in support of her new album.  She is currently touring overseas in support of her new album.  Fans can go to her Facebook page, http://www.facebook.com/dianakrall to order her album and to get all of her tour dates and more.

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Peter Green & Co. Bring Back The Best Of The Blues On New Compilation

Courtesy: eagle Rock Entertainment/Eagle Records

The blues is one of the purest forms of American music that exists, next to jazz.  The blues is the root of so much of the most popular music throughout the ages.  Elvis, Led Zeppelin, Lynyrd Skynyrd, and AC/DC all have their music steeped in this classic music, just to name a handful of acts.  Along with those acts, fans might recognize the name of former Fleetwood Mac front man Peter Green among the masses of blues fans out there, too.  Green and his band, Peter Green Splinter Group, have a brand new record out now titled, “Blues Don’t Change.” 

“Blues Don’t Change” is a wonderful record that longtime fans will love more and more with every listen.  The record opens with a cover of Robert Johnson’s timeless classic, ‘I Believe My Time Ain’t’ Long.’  The song brings up memories of a dusty, darkly lit blues club.  It’s almost a musical time capsule.  Green’s musicianship takes listeners back in time with this opener, paying homage to one of the greatest names in the blues.  There is also a rendition of Muddy waters’ famed twelve bar blues hit, ‘Honey Bee.’  Again, it has that quiet intensity for which old school blues is known.  It has that same feeling as ‘I Believe My Time Ain’t Long.’

‘Little Red Rooster’ is another great addition to this new compilation of blues hits.  The gritty feel of the vocals and subtlety of the classic Willie Dixon piece will keep listeners in that musical time warp, back to the days of the old juke joints that dotted the country’s landscape. 

For all the slower pieces on this record, “Blues Don’t Change” does change up here and there.  ‘Don’t Start Me Talking’ is just as impressive as every other piece on the record.  It’s noticeably more up-tempo than other pieces.  But it doesn’t lose any of the flare of the original in Green’s interpretation. 

“Blues Don’t Change” is loaded with so many incredible blues standards that it would take far too long to go into all eleven songs in the playlist.  Needless to say, this record is more than just a compilation of songs.  It’s a musical history lesson of one of America’s greatest musical genres.  “Blues Don’t Change” is available both in stores and online now.  It can be ordered online at http://www.eagle-rock.com.

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New Live Release An Excellent Tribute To An Excellent Singer

Courtesy: Eagle Rock Entertainment/Eagle Records/Montreux Sounds

The world lost one of the greatest singers of all time earlier this year when Etta James passed away.  Thanks to the continued partnership between Eagle Rock Entertainment and Montreux Sounds though, her voice will never be gone, nor will the memory of the vocal titan.  That is thanks to the brand new live release, “Etta James:  Live at Montreux 1975 – 1993.”

The brand new release, “Etta James:  Live at Montreux 1975 – 1993 is a wonderful tribute to a wonderful singer.  She really was a singer among singers.  This compilation of her performances from the famed Montreux Jazz Festival is proof of that, as if she really needed proof.  It’s one more collection that will help keep her memory and her voice alive for many more generations.  The performances culled for this compilation show just how versatile she was as a vocalist.  She showed she was a powerhouse vocalist at times.  And at others, she was as soft and gentle as perhaps Billie Holiday.  It all combines to make an excellent tribute to an excellent singer.

Some of the best examples of James’ powerhouse abilities are in the likes of ‘How Strong is a Woman’, ‘W.O.M.A.N.’ and the compilation’s opener, ‘I Just Wanna Make Love To You.’  The way that she sings in the opener and in ‘W.O.M.A.N.’ gives the songs a gritty, naughty vibe, for lack of better wording.  Her style perfectly catches the sensuality of the songs, making them favorites for any happy couple.  And the power in her voice as she sings, “A woman is strong as a mule/for the man she loves.”  The way that the band drives the song gives it even more of an oomph, especially in the live setting.  It makes for one of the compilation’s highest of points.

James showed how powerful and bombastic her voice was during her performances at the Montreux Jazz Festival.  For all the power in her pipes, James also showed that she could be gentle and delicate, too.  One of the prime examples of this is in ‘A Lover is Forever.’  Again, the mix of her vocal prowess and the music makes for another amazing piece that expertly captures the emotion of the song.  this effect is also heard in the medley of ‘At Last’/’Trust in Me’/’A Sunday Kind of Love.’  She proved on all of these songs that she understood and respected her craft.  She was able to interpret the songs in a way that would translate them with ease to her audiences.  The same thing applies to her more powerful songs, too.

When it’s all said and done, “Etta James Live at Montreux 1975 – 1993” shows to be a fitting tribute to a woman who was a strong woman and an equally strong singer.  It is available in stores and online now.  It can be ordered directly through Eagle Rock Entertainment’s website at http://www.eagle-rock.com.  The companion DVD and blu-ray to this release will be released later this month via Eagle Rock Entertainment.

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Eagle Rock sets the bar again with Muddy Waters, Rolling Stones archived live show

Courtesy: Eagle Rock Entertainment/Eagle Vision

Rock and roll shares a very special relationship with the blues.  If not for the blues, there would likely be no rock and roll.  Any music historian would agree with that sentiment.  Now, thanks to the good people at Eagle Rock Entertainment and Eagle Vision, music lovers everywhere get to experience what is arguably one of the greatest moments in the history of both genres in the new DVD and DVD?CD release of “Muddy Waters & The Rolling Stones Live at the Checkerboard Lounge.”

Muddy Waters, Buddy Guy, Junior Wells, Lefty Bizz and the Rolling Stones all came together in an impromptu show at the famed Checkerboard Club on November 22nd, 1981.  The weather outside may have been cold.  But as it was documented in this new release, the energy of this one off mega show warmed the house and everyone in attendance.  The vibe is set from the very first notes of the piano led, ‘Sweet Little Angel.’  Pianist Lovie Lee shines not only on the keys, but vocally, too.  His talent shows through on ‘Flip Flop and Fly’, as well.  Muddy keeps the positive vibe set by Lee coming when he enters on ‘You Don’t Have to Go.’  And his chops on the guitar are unlike anything that any other guitarist did then or does today.   Things really get moving when Muddy coaxes Mick Jagger and his band mates Keith Richards and Ron Wood to come up and join in.  This is just one of many impromptu moments that make this show such fun.  Audiences will thrill at seeing Mick Jagger in his trademark “Chicken man” stance, hands on his hips, head stuck out.  He, Wood, and Richards show their love and respect for the blues while they play.  It’s proof of what makes the Rolling Stones one of the world’s most beloved bands.

Even when Muddy and Mick take a break, the energy is maintained by fellow bluesmen Buddy Guy, Junior Wells and Lefty Dizz.  The trio take over on ‘Got My Mojo Workin’ ‘, ‘Next Time You See Me’ and ‘One Eyed Woman’ before Muddy comes back up on ‘Clouds in My Heart.’

Audiences get one amazing show from the vault in this newly released concert.  It’s only made that much better with the addition of an audio portion in the bonus CD included in the double disc DVD/CD set.  This inclusion will allow audiences to listen to the show anywhere they go.  The audio transfer from the master tapes was seamless.  In short, the experience is just as grand on CD as it is on DVD.  All involved in bringing this show back to life on CD are to be commended.  The same should be said of those who dusted off the original video tapes of the show, and brought it back to life for DVD presentation.

Eagle Rock Entertainment and Eagle Vision have once more set the bar for live recordings with this latest release.  And while Muddy Waters and the Rolling Stones take top billing, it’s obvious that this performance is less about either one, and more about celebrating the power of music.  It joined two members of the same musical family for one special night.  What’s more it has given eagle Rock and Eagle Vision one more of the year’s very best live recordings. 

The single disc DVD and double disc DVD/CD set are both available in stores and online now.  Fans can order it online at http://www.eagle-rock.com.  There will also be a triple disc DVD/ 2-LP Vinyl release on September 11th

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The ABC&D of Boogie Woogie boogies bigtime

Courtesy: Eagle Rock Entertainment/Eagle Records

Eagle Rock Entertainment and Eagle Records is known as one of the leaders when it comes to live releases.  The companies ahve already released the majority of the year’s best live releases so far.  And now with the release of The ABC&D of Boogie Woogie live in Paris, Eagle Rock has continued to maintain its place at the forefront of live releases. 

The ABC&D of Boogie Woogie is a solid recording from start to finish with plenty of jazz and blues for any occasion.  Being that Summer is now here, lots of people are planning road trips, parties and much more.  This is one of those records that is perfect for any of those events.  The band plays its own renditions of  (Get Your Kicks On) Route 66, Doctor John’s ‘Somebody Changed The Lock On My Door’ and W.C. Handy’s famed ‘St. Louis Blues’ along with plenty of its own original compositions throughout the course of this concert.  There’s even a cover of Leroy Carr’s blues classic, ‘Low Down Dog Blues’ and Don Raye’s ‘Down The Road a Bit.’

The set list on this show is impressive to say the least.  But no concert is a concert without musicians who are capable of interpreting the music and making it pleasurable to the ear.  This quartet of musicians is exactly that and then some.  The pure musicianship of each member shows the respect that the group as a whole has for the music.  Even in the longer pieces, audiences won’t even be able to tell how much time has passed.  That’s thanks to the group’s attention to dynamics, style, and everything else that goes on in each piece.

The ABC&D of Boogie Woogie isn’t the only act out there currently spreading the joy of jazz and blues to the masses.  And while the group may not be the only one doing so, it’s one of the best, without a doubt.  And chances are, regardless of how many acts come and go through the years, this is one recording that fans of jazz and the blues will keep coming back to over and over again for years to come.

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