Somebody’s Baby Lisa Matassa

April 11, 2013 in Music Reviews by Michele Wilson-Morris

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Lisa MatassaCountry artist Lisa Matassa’s latest release, “Somebody’s Baby” is a feel good, deeply moving album that makes it clear why Country music is “the new black.” With a voice that blends the soulfulness of Southern Gospel with a bit of “city polish” and a dose of Country Rock flair, Lisa is the real deal. The New York born singer and songwriter, co-wrote three of the tracks on this project, including “Girl With A Rock ‘n Roll Heart”, “Learning As You Grow”, and “Wouldn’t You Like To Know”, and performs 3 covers of songs made famous by superstars Dolly Parton, Bryan Adams and Nat King Cole. “Somebody’s Baby” is not her first foray into the music scene, as it is her third album, behind “Me Time” and Sunrise Highway”. The single “Me Time” catapulted to to the number one spot on CMT’s video charts, and the operatically trained artist recorded two Top-10 dance singles before the age of 20. Lisa’s an extraordinary artist, this is a great album, so let’s look at it song by song.

“You’re Somebody’s Baby” is a very positive and uplifting song that encourages listeners to Carpe Diem (seize the day and all of the great possibilities of life where everyone matters). The delivery is full on Classic American Rock. Powerful well placed electric guitars and big power drums make the song radio ready, and it should have mass appeal. “Wouldn’t You Like To Know (NY Remix)” has a loud, big rock country sound and once again features powerful guitars, a boogie style piano, and pounding drums. The vocals Lisa puts down are sassy and fit with the attitude of the lyrics. This is without a doubt a dance floor party song. On “Girl With A Rock ‘n Roll Heart,”The bass drives the tune with more rock piano, and a solid screeching guitar solo. The production is clever, and this is a well put together album.

“Learning As You Grow” is the perfect tempo love song to follow the previous songs. The slide guitar with delay is super smooth and catches your ear right off the bat, and the voice of Lisa Matassa displays another wonderful quality. She has a beautiful, passionate, heartfelt side, which she aptly communicates to fans through her music. “Heaven” is welcome as we return to the other side of Lisa Matassa, the charming country ballad singer. Her vibrato and tone are warm, and the band brings nothing less than professional grade backup guitar, bass, drums, and even live strings. The dedication to Whitney Houston was beautiful, and the a capella vocals really show the talent and artistry that Lisa does possess. You can’t fake it “live”. I salute Ms Matassa for choosing to honor Whitney, and the slide guitar solo was on the money. The roots of the great country song written by Dolly Parton are topped by Lisa hitting the big note square on the money with the sweet performance. Lisa’s country version of Mel Torme’s “The Christmas Song”, close out what you will find to be a very enjoyable CD from a vocalist that has the right production team and performers to take her on a long wonderful career. “Somebody’s Baby” should make it to your playlist. Job well done Lisa!!

The Bright Side By Meiko

April 11, 2013 in Music Reviews by Michele Wilson-Morris

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MeikoNot many new independent artists can claim that they’ve record a debut album from which each track is currently in or has been in rotation on major networks, but singer/songwriter Meiko is one of them. Her self-titled debut album “Meiko”, released in 2007, was a major success, and it seems as if the young talent isn’t slowing down anytime soon. Her album “The Bright Side” made its appearance in 2012, and the girl from Georgia (currently residing in L.A.) released her latest album, “You And Me” under the Concord Music Group label in January 2013, which music lovers of all genres and romantics will love. She has become a sensation, with a unique style, which includes strong musical and vocal content. The lady knows how to reach into your soul and touch you there, and music enthusiasts everywhere are so very happy that she does.

“The Bright Side”, an 11 track delicacy, showcases Meiko’s skills and does so impressively. Her breathy vocal style and powerful lyrics are sought after by music directors for television shows. one of the most popular with music lovers and music directors that place music on shows you’d watch on CW, or MTV t.v. programs. Meiko’s music production is a combination of pop, alternative rock, and even big beat retro (“I’m In Love”), and clever, super clean programmed 80’s drum beats with cool drum fills, that contrast beautifully with her voice (“Leave The Lights On”). The sounds of acoustic guitar and bass, and the electric piano fills out the sound of this particular project, in addition to the great vocal over dubs, and effects Meiko has layered over her lead vocals.

“The Bright Side” has a broad fan base appeal, and I guarantee “Lie To Me,” will be heard on a big show like “Vampire Diaries,” in the near future. But hey, why wait? Fortunately, listeners can choose from Meiko’s CDs and single releases on any of the major online retailers. If you’re looking for quality, authenticity, and music that fits any mood, you’ve come to the right place. “The Bright Side” gets a very strong recommendation from this reviewer, and I look forward to hearing “You And Me” soon.

Favorites Eloise Laws

April 2, 2013 in Music Reviews by Michele Wilson-Morris

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Eloise LawsSome families just have music in their genes, and Eloise Laws happens to belong to one. As well as being a talented vocalist and an “evocative arranger for piano, hand drums, violin and the Kalimba” in her own right, she is also the sister of the world renowned flutist Hubert and saxophonist Ronnie, who produced this sweet little Christmas goody of an album called, “Favorites.” The 5 track CD is beautiful, and is so welcome this special time of year, breaking away from some of the traditional songs and incorporating a jazzy vocal spin to the season.

Eloise has a voice that is strong, beautiful, and passionate, and those qualities come across loud and clear on each track, which are also wonderfully arranged. “The Key” is probably my favorite song, as I absolutely love the lyrics and her vocal performance is superb. She digs deep and makes you feel what she’s singing. Great background vocals that are not overdone, along with some lovely, colorful, and enchanting flute playing really makes this a standout song. Eloise’s vocals on the title track, “I Fall So Deep” remind me of CeCe Winans somewhat, but even so, Eloise remains distinctive. The mid tempo cut builds into a song filled with chord changes and anyone who has ever been in love will appreciate this tune. “I Fall So Deep” too Eloise. That makes two of us!

The classic “When I Fall In Love” gets a stellar makeover from Eloise and company, and by the time you’re finished listening to it, if you’re not in love already, you’ll certainly want to be.

This is a supreme production, and one that is deserving of accolades and critical acclaim. It certainly has mine. Two big thumbs up for the talented Ms. Laws and family, who also contribute their musical talents via performances on the album as well.

Chicago Stone Lightning Band

April 2, 2013 in Music Reviews by Michele Wilson-Morris

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Chicago Stone Lightning BandWhen you play in Chicago, you’d better be ready, as this is a city with that is a part of history of music in America. Whether it’s Jazz, Blues, or especially Rock, your band has to be strong to step up in this town. The Chicago Stone Lightning Band is as cool as its name. They have a classic rock sound that fits right next to your Chess and Delmark Records, and play some hard thumpin’ Chicago Blues, Boogie, and on top of that, they have that R&B Rock sound.

I like hearing the count off on the first cut. Ben Pirani is singing a song that would tick some fellas off a bit, with the lyrics “Son I got your girlfriend gone”. The vocals and background sound like it was cut back in the Motown days, and the background vocals all have that sound you’d hear back in the days of Tommy James, and the Shondells on “White Girl”. There’s no doubt that these guys know how to play some Blues on “Oh No”. The drum beat is a 4 on the floor with a tamborine, and the guitar hook is a great blues line. The crowd will be dancing to this cut without a doubt. This track would do well on Blues radio. It’s the longest cut on this 10 song CD because it kicks ass!

Props to the producers, as they cut this band with just the right balance of rawness to the mix and the sound is very live. “Do Yourself A Favor”, is one my favorite boogie blues cuts. Pirani lays into the notes, and he breaks the notes on his phrasing in a way that reminds of a lot of my favorite rock records of the past. Did I mention that he has a superb voice and that the band is excellent as well?  The Chicago Stone Lightning Band more than lives up to its name and city.
Bandmembers:
Ben Pirani: guitar/vox/keys
Nick Myers: guitar/backup vox/handclaps
Gabe McDonough: bass/backup vox/handclaps
John Dugan: drums

Sweet Relief (Gigi Love)

April 2, 2013 in Music Reviews by Michele Wilson-Morris

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Sweet Relief Gigi LoveGigi Love has a voice that is a mix of great american rock, jazz, and R&B, and she puts it into high gear on “Sweet Relief”. She has a bright “easy on the ears” kind of sound, with a band of very good players that fit her to a tee with soulful organ, piano, steel string guitar, 2 saxophones, and electric bass. The title track “Sweet Relief” has a rock hymn sound like ”Let it Be”, where the piano and sax solos are relaxed and laid back. The lyrics allow for the interpretation of the song to be about either a spiritual or love experience.

“Coyote Bones” is an interesting song about self introspection. There is a very nice tenor sax solo, and the lyrics provide interesting visions of the desert, and a respect of the people of that land. “Mercy” was an instant favorite of mine because the opening guitar chords in the introduction were reminiscent of the great Neil Young (“On A Horse With No Name”). The tempo is laid back, and the guitar answers Gigi, along with harmony from the saxes. Then, there’s a nice, but surprising tempo change with the guitar solo. Great song. What sounds like a mandolin is a nice change on the track “Planets Align”.
“Quench Your Thirst” is another song that makes “Sweet Relief” so distinctive, as she belts out a song about loneliness with a 3 quarter waltz meter.

“Sweet Relief” is a fine CD, Gigi Love is a gifted artist, and the band on this well produced recording is a winner.

The Guitar Man (Johnny Bodley)

April 2, 2013 in Music Reviews by Michele Wilson-Morris

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The Guitar Man Johnny BodleyI like hearing a performer who sings and narrates the way that Johnny Bodley does, with a rich baritone voice. This CD is Urban Gospel with rock solid music to match. The styles range from classic soul (“I Owe You”) to hip hop (“Praise Him”), so there’s something for everyone.
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The first cut is “Mr. Guitar Man”. Over a mid tempo ballad, Johnny conveys the story of a man who is out there on the street playing his guitar, and the troubled people who approach him in need of help. In need of prayer. Johnny talks, and then sings as the man witnessing the need for prayer. He’s joined by a full complement of female background singers and musicians who perform their duties well.

I was very impressed with “End Times”. It’s filled with huge harmonized vocals, and the lyrics acknowledge the difficulties of where the world is headed today. Johnny sounds like a one man version of the Temptations. This song has a definite dance vibe, thanks to superb musical production. I know this song would get a great response on the radio.

“The Guitar Man’ features 12 selections. This was my first time hearing Johnny Bodley’s music, but I can proudly admit that I’m a new fan. His music is a blessing and true to the purpose of spreading the good news of the Gospel. Great CD!

Visions: The Music Of Stevie Wonder Yoron Israel

January 8, 2013 in Music Reviews by Michele Wilson-Morris

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Yoron IsraelYoron Israel’s recently released CD, “Visions: The Music Of Stevie Wonder” is unique in that it is a rework of Stevie Wonder’s music, but as Israel hears it. He says this is always the way he heard Wonder’s music, and he has put it into a form where we can share and enjoy his concept with him. Musically sound and full of innovations, I really enjoyed his approach to making the music in the form of jazz. Israel states that Wonder, in his opinion, was always a Jazz composer even if his music was more mainstream R&B. Leading his band from the drummer’s position is amazing, and his playing is consistent and fabulous.

Always making his presence heard and felt, Israel’s abilities are reminiscent of the late great Art Blakey. “Visions” with spoken word is bad to the bone with perfect balance, and the spoken word adds an interesting touch. The musicians backing Israel up do a tremendous job in their playing as well, exploring the works of one of the greatest American artists to ever preform. The amount of love and respect for Wonder’s music comes pouring out song after song on the CD. I did not mention other songs because I liked them all so much that I could write a review of each one and I’m sure you’d rather hear the music than to read my writing. I almost wanted to do just that, but I instead recommend you get this CD and listen for yourself. Trust me, it’s a journey of discovery that you won’t soon forget.

The 10 track CD is interesting in another way, that being the fact that Israel doesn’t just choose the most recognizable of Stevie Wonder’s songs, but reaches deep and conceptualizes some of those that are lesser known. “You Are The Sunshine Of my Life” is an exception of course, and I can clearly hear what Israel means when he says Wonder’s music has always been composed for jazz. This is one classy CD with wonderful renditions that will make you smile inside and out. This CD is a big winner for fans of jazz and R&B, and I highly recommend it.

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